Asian Languages and Literature jointly offered with Comparative Religion
Hindu Goddesses

Heidi Pauwels

Course description

This course provides a portrait sketch of the most important Hindu goddesses, their mythologies and the some of the philosophical systems, cults and rituals associated with them. It includes a historical overview of the emergence of the phenomenon of goddess worship in South Asia from its earliest origins in Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedic hymns to its crystallization in the Devi-Mahatmya. We will read and analyze the latter text, since it is the sacred scripture par excellence of the goddess and it functions prominently in modern day worship. We will also discuss theoretical issues regarding the goddess's function as role model for women, political and social significance of goddess worship, suttee, the phenomenon of goddess possession and women's goddess rituals at the village level. Students will read both secondary material and primary texts ranging from sacred Hindu scriptures to folk tales.

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Last modified: 10/8/2003 2:25 pm