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Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine The Ten Mahavidyas

  • by David Kinsley (Author)
  • August 1997
  • First Edition
  • Paperback
    $31.95,  £25.00
  • Title Details

    Rights: Available worldwide
    Pages: 289
    ISBN: 9780520204997
    Trim Size: 6 x 9
    Illustrations: 55

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Ten Hindu goddesses form a group known as the Mahavidyas. This group is important in tantric Hinduism and contains a few very well known goddesses, such a Kali and Kamala (Laksmi), and several obscure goddesses, such a Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, and Matangi. The book first deals with the group as a whole, discussing several theories and theological structures that might shed light on the goddesses as a unified collective. It then looks at each of the ten goddesses individually, tracing her history, describing her nature, and interpreting her meaning within Hindu tantra. Distinctive characteristics or themes emerge as central in Mahavidya theology and iconography. Several of the goddesses vividly represent inauspicious, polluting, or dangerous qualities. Several seem to represent "antimodels" for women, that is, they display characteristics that are opposed to the virtuous qualities of women as described in Hindu scriptures. Both sex and death feature prominently, and in conjunction with each other, in Mahavidya iconography. The book interprets the Mahavidyas as "awakeners," as spriritual "devices" that tantric adepts might employ to stretch their categories or expand their awareness beyond the conventional. The Mahavidyas have the potential to deconstruct accepted moral, religious, and social paradigms by elevating for reverence goddesses that embody the forbidden,