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Does Goddess Worship in India Have a Feminist Underpinning?

July 17, 2014

REVOLUTIONS IN MY SPACE: A BLOG BY RITA BANERJI

Does the worship of goddesses in India have a feminist under-pinning?  This is one of the questions I was looking at while researching for my book Sex and Power.

The answer to my question I found, was both ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’  I discovered that there were two main streams of religious thought that had completely different origins and were diametrically opposite in how they viewed women, feminine sexuality and power.  One of them, based in the tradition of the Vedas, was extremely patriarchal in its leanings, and even though it had goddesses, like Sarawati for instance, it regarded them as passive, inert manifestations whose sole aim was to nurture and sustain the men.

The other stream of religious thought was that of the Shaktas. These were worshippers of ‘Shakti’ which is the female personification of power as a concept.   Below is an excerpt from Sex and Power on…

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