Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw

By Miranda Shaw

The Indian Buddhist international abounds with goddesses--voluptuous tree spirits, maternal nurturers, powerful healers and protectors, transcendent knowledge figures, cosmic moms of liberation, and dancing woman Buddhas. regardless of their value in Buddhist inspiration and perform, those lady deities have got really little scholarly awareness, and no finished learn of the feminine pantheon has been to be had. Buddhist Goddesses of India is the basic and definitive advisor to divinities that, as Miranda Shaw writes, "operate from transcendent planes of bliss and information for so long as their presence may gain advantage residing beings."

Beautifully illustrated, the ebook chronicles the histories, legends, and creative portrayals of 19 goddesses and a number of other comparable human figures and texts. Drawing on a sweeping diversity 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 features similar 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 accomplished reference, this e-book lines the attention-grabbing heritage of those goddesses as they advanced throughout the early, Mahayana, and Tantric events in India and located a spot within the pantheons of Tibet and Nepal.

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Example text

The volup­ tuous Kurukulla, with her flowered adornments, extends an enticing invitation into the realm of spiritual transformation. The female Buddhas are regarded as ultimately inseparable from one another, for the sphere of non<)ual awareness they inhabit admits no distinctions. WHY "GoDDEss"? The use of the term "goddess" to refer to the female divinities of Buddhism is not a widespread practice in western scholarship on the tradition. " Definitional equivalence alone, however, has not been suf­ ficient to establish the term in the scholarly lexicon.

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.

Aparajita displays the same lunging pose and upraised right hand, a gesture designated as a "slapping motion" (capetiidanii-abhiniiya) in texts on Aparajita. The fingers of her left hand, too, are held at her breast in the threatening tarjani mudra, in some cases clasping a noose (Fig. 8). Moreover, Aparajita consistently takes her stand upon an elephant-headed creature. This figure resembles and in scholarly works is generally assumed to be a popular Hindu deiry, the elephant-headed Gal)eSa, an identification that suggests a theme of sectarian triumphalism.

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