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Sakti Cult in Orissa

In the Hindu world-view, Shakti is the Mother of the Universe: the highest primal power. She is, accordingly, the all-pervading, intagible energy principle that propels the cosmos and its endless human dimensions with the life- below

About This Book

In the Hindu world-view, Shakti is the Mother of the Universe: the highest primal power. She is, accordingly, the all-pervading, intagible energy principle that propels the cosmos and its endless human dimensions with the life-throbs of activity and culture. Many are her songs, countless her stories, numerous her names. Worship of Shakti, as a pan-Indian phenomenon, predates Sanskritic influences of every kind. Combining his extensive fieldwork with diverse published and unpublished sources: archaeological, historical and religious, Francesco Brighenti's study traces its presence in Orissa. Which, perhaps, provides the best paradigm of an age-old Goddess cult, deeply rooted in the autochthonous religious traditions of Eastern India.

It is the first, all-encompassing study, in an ethono-historical perspective, exploring the multilinear evolution of Shakti worship in Orissa: from the pre-/proto- historical times to the late medieval epoch, and even its continuity into the modern period -- with contextual focus on its probable genesis, historical development, festivals, ritualistic patterns, and cultural sources including myths, legends and folklore. The book also incorporates, besides a description of important Shakta centres in Orissa, a study of the Divine Mother's iconographic features in Her multifarious manifestations.

Together with around hundred illustrations highlighting the varied representations of Shakti in sculpture, this study will interest not only the scholars of archaeology, history and religion, but historians of art as well.

  • Binding: : Hardbound
  • 13 Digit ISBN : 9788124601792
  • 10 Digit ISBN : 8124601798
  • Edition : 1st edition
  • Year : 2001
  • Pages : xx, 510 p.
  • Size : 29
  • Weight (approx.) : 2000
  • Bibliographic Details : 66 B/w Figs., 33 Col. plates; Glossary; Bibliography; Index

List of Black and White Figures
List of Coloured Illustrations


1. Autochthonous Roots of Shakti Cult in Orissa

The Austro-Asiatic Cultural Heritage of Orissa
The Dravidian Cultural Heritage of Orissa
Worship of the Female Principle in Pre-Patriarchal Societies
Worship of Malevolent Female Deities and Spirits
Aniconic Representation of Goddesses

Aniconic Goddesses of Orissa -- The Goddess of the Mountain -- The Shakta Pithas

Links Between Shakti and Naga Cults

The Serpent Symbolism -- The Nagi In Indian Culture -- Nagamatas of Orissa

Links Between Shakti and Yaksha Cults

Yaksha-Yakshi in Ancient Orissa -- Yaksha-Yakshis Malevolent Aspect

Shakti Cult and Tribal Shamanism

Shamanistic Figures -- Demonic Possession -- Ordeals

Dreams Inspired by the Goddess
Worship of Pillar-Goddesses and Pole-Goddesses

Phallic Worship -- lll-Giving Deities Represented in Pillar Form -- Pole-Deities -- Wooden Poles Erected in Connection With Ancestor-Worship -- The Yupa

2. Shakti Cult in Orissa in the Historical Period

Rise of Shakti Cult in the Gupta Age

Antiquity of the Shrine of Viraja -- Identification of Viraja with Durga in the Gupta Age -- Links of Viraja with Ancient Vaishnavism -- Links of Viraja with Naga Cult and with Ancestor-Worship -- Links of Viraja with Ancient Shaivism

Shakti Cult in the Post-Gupta Period

Diffusion of Pashupata Shaivism in Orissa -- The Pashupatas And Shaktism -- Ancient Shakta Shrines of Kongoda -- Ancient Shakta Shrines of Western Orissa

Shakta-Tantrism in the Bhauma Epoch

Origin of the Bhauma Dynasty and its Relevance to Shakta-Tantrism -- Diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Bhauma Kingdom -- Cult Syncreticism in the Bhauma Epoch -- Brahmanical Tantric Art in the Bhauma Epoch -- Tantric Religiousness in the Bhauma Epoch -- Goddesses Connected with Navigation

The Kapalikas and Kaulas in Orissa

Kapalikas -- Kaulas

Shakti Cult in the Somavamshi Period

Evolution of Shaivism -- Evolution of Shaktism -- Shiva and Parvati's Amorous Relationship -- The Triumph of Feminine Beauty in Orissan Sculpture -- The Devadasi Tradition

Cult Syncreticism in the Ganga and Suryavamshi Periods

The Gangas and Shaktism -- Tutelary Goddesses of Forts -- The Suryavamshis and Shaktism

Proliferation of Royal Goddesses in the Later Medieval Period

Bhanjas of Mayurbhanj -- Bhanjas of Keonjhar -- Rajas of Talcher -- Rajas of Ranpur -- Bhanjas of Ghumsar -- Rajas of Baudh -- Cauhans of Patna -- Cauhans of Sambalpur and Sonepur -- Nagavamshis of Kalahandi -- Rajas of Jaypur -- Bhois of Khurda

Final Considerations

3. Important Shakta Centres of Orissa

Purushottama or Puri
Gopalprasad, Talcher
Ekamra or Bhubaneswar

4. Manifestations of Shakti


Origin and Development -- Iconography of Mahishamardini Durga in Orissa -- Functions of the Mahishamardini Image in the Hindu Temple of Orissa -- The Buffalo and the Lion -- The Image of Simhavahini Durga in Orissa


Origin and Significance of the Worship of Camunda -- Camunda's Attributes and Weapons -- The Early Vahana of the Goddess, the Owl -- The Later Vahana of the Goddess, the Corpse -- The Elephant-Skin Spread Over the Goddess' Head -- Development of the Iconography of Camunda in Orissa

The Divine Mothers

The Matrikas a Group of Seven Deities -- The Matrikas in the Epic Tradition -- The Matrikas in the Puranic Tradition -- Development of the Iconography of the Matrikas in Orissa -- Virabhadra and Ganesha, the Associates of the Matrikas -- Early Sets of Matrikas in Orissa -- Later Sets of Matrikas in Orissa


The Neolithic Sow-Goddess -- Iconographic Features of Varahi and their Significance -- Development of the Iconography of Varahi in Orissa

Sixty-Four Yoginis

Hypotheses on the Origin and Significance of Yogini Cult -- Hirapur -- Ranipur-Jharial


The Cult of Manasa in Orissa -- Images of Manasa Proper -- Images of Astikajaratkaru and of Manasa/Jaratkaru


Development of the Iconography of Parvati in Orissa -- The Cults of Gauri, Bhuvaneshvari and Annapurna in Orissa


Origin and Development -- Forms of Lakshmi -- Gaja-Lakshmi in the Temple Art of Orissa -- Development of Lakshmi

Cult in Orissa

5.  Shakta Festivals and Rituals

The Cycle of the Caitra Festivals

Tribal Festivals in the Month of Caitra -- Dandanata -- Patua Yatra -- Jhamu Yatra -- Tantric and Tribal Cultural Elements in the Caitra Ordeals -- Mahavishuva Samkranti -- Vasanti Puja and the Annexed Pot-Worship

The Cycle of the Ashvina and Karttika Festivals

Pitri-Paksha -- Divali and Kali-Puja -- Durga-Puja and the Sacrifice of the Buffalo -- Dashahara and its Links with Durga-Puja

Other Important Shakta Festivals of Orissa

Vaseli-Puja -- The Marriage Festival of Shiva and Parvati -- Savitri Vrata -- Raja Samkranti -- Jagulei Pancami -- Khudurukuni Osha -- Seasonal Festivals Dedicated to Shashthi Devi -- Lakshmi-Puja -- Sarasvati-Puja

The Tradition of Human Sacrifice in Orissa

Human Sacrifice in Ancient India -- Human Sacrifice Among the Tribals of Orissa -- Shaktism and Human Sacrifice in Orissa

Black & White Figures
Coloured Plates

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