Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw

By Miranda Shaw

The Indian Buddhist global abounds with goddesses--voluptuous tree spirits, maternal nurturers, effective healers and protectors, transcendent knowledge figures, cosmic moms of liberation, and dancing lady Buddhas. regardless of their significance in Buddhist idea and perform, those woman deities have acquired fairly little scholarly consciousness, and no complete examine of the feminine pantheon has been to be had. Buddhist Goddesses of India is the fundamental and definitive consultant to divinities that, as Miranda Shaw writes, "operate from transcendent planes of bliss and understanding for so long as their presence may gain advantage dwelling beings."

Beautifully illustrated, the ebook chronicles the histories, legends, and inventive portrayals of 19 goddesses and a number of other comparable human figures and texts. Drawing on a sweeping variety of fabric, from devotional poetry and meditation manuals to rituals and inventive photos, Shaw finds the nature, powers, and perform traditions of the feminine divinities. Interpretations of interesting characteristics equivalent to physique colour, stance, coiffure, garments, jewellery, hand gestures, and hand-held gadgets lend deep perception into the symbolism and roles of every goddess.

In addition to being a finished reference, this ebook strains the interesting historical past of those goddesses as they advanced in the course of the early, Mahayana, and Tantric activities in India and located a spot within the pantheons of Tibet and Nepal.

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Stone reliefs of Aparajita portray her with rwo, four, or six arms. Her added implements include a bow, arrow, elephant goad, discus or Dharma-wheel, and vajra scepter. 57 That her worship flourished in Bihar, home to Bodhgaya, accords with her original association with the enlightenment event. ONGOING RoLES AND WoRSHIP Although Prthivi's main role in Buddhist mythology is her legitimation of the Buddha's enlightenment at Bodhgaya, she also finds mention in other contexts. According to a Vinaya tradition, Shakyamuni instructed his chief disciple, Ananda, that monastic robes should be pieced together in a patchwork pattern to resemble the furrows of-ploughed fields, in honor of PrthivL58 Moreover, each stitch should be the length of a grain of rice, as a reminder of her gift of sustenance.

In view of our more advanced stage of cross-cultural awareness, I have chosen to adopt the term "goddess" in part to include Buddhism in the ongoing conver­ sation regarding the many forms that theism may take. I have also opted to use the term "goddess" in order to situate my work within the field of goddess srudies, which is emerging as a serious branch of academic inquiry. Scholars have documented significant historical and contemporary goddess traditions throughout the world and developed increasingly sophisticated theoretical approaches to this burgeoning body of research.

Thus, there is a sense in which the deities are "more real" than humans, for the illusions and suffering that characterize human life are ephemeral phenomena, whereas the wisdom and compassion impelling the deities are irreducible elements of reality. It was important for early western scholars to distinguish between Bud­ dhism and the forms of theism and monotheism with which they were familiar. However, religious scholarship now recognizes a broad spectrum of views of divinity. Contemporary readers typically have a broader comparative base that includes traditions with ontologically and psychologically nuanced views of deity that are in many respects comparable to those of Buddhism.

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