Making the Devi

R Mahalakshmi of JNU's Centre for Historical Studies has recently published her thesis, The Making of the Goddess: Korravai-Durga in the Tamil traditions.

A fascinating study of the metamorphosis of the indigenous martial deity Korravai into the independent Durgā and the demure Pārvatī The figure of the mother goddess is common to many cultures and she has, over the centuries, undergone substantial changes. The Making of the Goddess breaks new ground by analysing the impact of shifting socio-economic and political contexts upon the transformations. From the seventh century CE onwards, as the state apparatus in the Tamil south expanded, it gave rise to more complex social structures. The expansion was supported ideologically through the spread of institutionalized religions, which transformed the cultural landscape. The agglomeration of the motifs, symbols and myths of cultic practices in existence from ancient times led to the growth of a syncretic goddess tradition that brought various independent female deities within the new brahmanical pantheon. 

 The result of years of rigorous research, The Making of the Goddess offers valuable insights into the understanding of patriarchies, gender and identity through an astute analysis of mythologies, inscriptions and literature. The accompanying photographs of religious iconography provide visual references to understand the processes of absorption, contestation, marginalization and syncretism in the evolution of goddess traditions. 

An unusual offering from Penguin, in our Religion and History sections.  416 pages in paperback, Rs 499. ISBN:  9780143417422