Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger

Encountering Kali

In the Margins, at the Center, in the West

Rachel Fell McDermott (Editor), Jeffrey J. Kripal (Editor)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 339 pages
ISBN: 9780520232402
May 2003
$34.95, £28.00
Encountering Kali explores one of the most remarkable divinities the world has seen—the Hindu goddess Kali. She is simultaneously understood as a blood-thirsty warrior, a goddess of ritual possession, a Tantric sexual partner, and an all-loving, compassionate Mother. Popular and scholarly interest in her has been on the rise in the West in recent years. Responding to this phenomenon, this volume focuses on the complexities involved in interpreting Kali in both her indigenous South Asian settings and her more recent Western incarnations. Using scriptural history, temple architecture, political violence, feminist and psychoanalytic criticism, autobiographical reflection, and the goddess's recent guises on the Internet, the contributors pose questions relevant to our understanding of Kali, as they illuminate the problems and promises inherent in every act of cross-cultural interpretation.
List of Illustrations
About the Cover Art and Chapter Silhouettes
Notes on Transliteration
Introducing Kali Studies

1. Kali
2. Kali the Terrific and Her Tests: The Sakta Devotionalism of the Mahabhagavata Purana
3. The Domestication of a Goddess: Carana-tirtha Kalighat, the Mahapitha of Kali
4. Dominating Kali: Hindu Family Values and Tantric Power
5. Kali in a Context of Terror: The Tasks of a Goddess in Sri Lanka's Civil War
6. Kali Mayi: Myth and Reality in a Banaras Ghetto

7. Wrestling with Kali: South Asian and British Constructions of the Dark Goddess
8. "India's Darkest Heart": Kali in the Colonial Imagination
9. Why the Tantrika Is a Hero: Kali in the Psychoanalytic Tradition
10. Doing the Mother's Caribbean Work: On Shakti and Society in Contemporary Trinidad
11. Margins at the Center: Tracing Kali through Time, Space, and Culture
12. Kali's New Frontiers: A Hindu Goddess on the Internet

Appendix: Documentary Film and Video Resources for Teaching on Kali and Fierce Goddesses
Sarah Caldwell
Select Bibliography
Rachel Fell McDermott is Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College and author of Mother of My Heart, Daughter of My Dreams: Kali and Uma in the Devotional Poetry of Bengal (2001) and Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal (2001). Jeffrey J. Kripal is the Lynette S. Autry Associate Professor in the Humanities at Rice University and author most recently of Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism (2001).
"The editors have assembled a South Asian/History of Religions dream team, and the result is a book that captures the sexy, gory power of the dark goddess who is the most exciting of all Hindu deities-and perhaps the most controversial and notorious of all deities. Academically profound and theoretically subtle, these essays are also vivid and juicy."—Wendy Doniger, author of The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade

"If any subject ever called for a book of many parts, it is Kali. These original and provocative essays, well chosen and thoughtfully organized, point to all sides of the Goddess's character. The result is a sharp and challenging book-the essential starting point for a new century of encountering Kali."—John Stratton Hawley, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion, Columbia University and co-editor of Devi: Goddesses of India

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more