From the Jacket :
The worship of Sakti (mother Goddess) is almost universal phenomenon and its manifestation is seen in different forms. Indian contribution has also been laudable and it is amply noticed through the figures of Mother Goddess even from the pre-Indus Culture. This was followed in the subsequent ages throughout India, and Varanasi being a great religious centre has also left an indelible imprint in this regard.
This book incorporates a good number of papers on multiple aspects of Sakta traditions practiced in Varanasi continuing from hoary past to-date. Beside philosophical, religious and cultural leanings the contents expose the iconographic, ritualistic and artistic rendering of the Divine Mother. Kasi or Varanasi has been a stronghold of religious and spiritual fervour; and several religious sects have contributed to its present texture. Saktism has also been a forceful current in the cultural stream of this holy city. This is evidence by several Devi temples, Sakti-pithas, yantras, fairs and festivals associated with the worship of Mother-Goddess.
About the Author :
Prof. R.C. Sharma headed important Museums of the country like Government Museum, Mathura; State Museum, Lucknow; Indian Museum, Kolkata and finally, the National Museum, New Delhi as the Director General, and Vice-Chancellor, National Museum Institute. He also served the Banaras Hindu University as the Director, Bharat Kala Bhavan and Professor of Indian Art and Museology. Presently, he is the Honorary Director/ Acarya of Jnana-Pravaha Centre for Cultural Studies and Research, Varanasi. Besides authoring several books and editing journals and bulletins in the field of early Indian art, he has contributed a large number of papers published in India and abroad.
Dr. Pranati Ghosal is a promising scholar in the field of Sanskrit and Vedic studies and engaged in the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Varanasi Branch. She has contributed brilliant papers in different seminars and co-edited five issues of the Annual Research Bulletin and twelve proceedings of Jnana-Pravaha. Her important publications are Prasnavali and Lifestyle of the Vedic people.
Besides the present volume, the two authors have co-edited impressive books on Buddhism and Gandhara Art and Interaction between Brahmanical and Buddhist Art. The other two books Vaisnava Contribution to Varanasi and Jaina Contribution to Varanasi are in press.
Cover Illustration: Mahisasuramardini, Bharat Kala Bhavan, B.H.U., 11th cent. CE.
It is natural that Varanasi being a great center of Saivism should also have significant dimension of Saktism, as both are interwoven. The worship of the Mother Goddess has been prevalent since hoary past in India and Kasi is no exception to it. The manifestation of Sakti is witnessed in different forms and a variety of mediums. On the one hand, w come across the stock of literature on the Sakta principles and yantras like Sri-yantra, Devi-yantra, Bagalamukhi or Tripurasundari-yantras; and on the other hand, we notice the statues of the Goddess in multiple forms representing her innumerable aspects , like Durga, Mahisamardini or Sarasvati Annapurna, Kali, Camunda and consort of different male deities using almost the same mounts of vehicles. The two navaratris, that is vasantika and saradiya, are celebration with much reverence and the devotees throng into the Sakta-pithas and Devi-mandapas in larger number from different parts of the country. Not far from Varanasi is Vindhyacala, which is again a stronghold of Saktism.
As such, contribution of Sakta traditions has been enormous in giving a religio-cultural texture to Varanasi. Most of the aspects, as stated above, were dealt with in the two-day symposium at Jnana-Pravaha on 1-2 August, 2002 when the academic session of the year commenced. We are grateful to the participants who presented their papers and highlighted the theme through deliberations. The two coordinators Dr. N.P. Joshi and Prof. Kamal Giri also deserve compliments for conduction the event. We hope, the contents of this volume will help the readers and researchers in appreciating the Sakta contribution to Kasi.
We are grateful to Smt. Bimla Poddar, Founder & Managing Trustee, Jana-Pravaha and also Sri S. K. Mittal, Director, D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. for their initiative and bringing out this publication. The assistance rendered by Dr. Niraj Pandey and Sri Chandra Neel Sharma is also appreciated.
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