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The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition Paperback – October 28, 1994
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"There are two complementary, arresting features of this book. One is the broad sweep of the author's inquiry into the history of three concepts that are fundamental to the Great Goddess. She follows a thread of continuity that has never been so crisply delineated. The result is kind of a conceptual "adventure story" told in flashbacks: we know what the mature conception is, as it is now common knowledge. Where it came from makes for very interesting reading. The second striking feature is the provocative, suggestive linking of this history to contemporary issues regarding gender and women." -- Thomas B. Coburn
"The author provides a thorough discussion of the main concepts relating to the feminine principle in the intellectual, literary traditions of Hinduism. She shows that goddess worship is not a marginal expression but is central to even the most orthodox elements of Hinduism. She also brings together much far-flung scholarship from India, Europe, and the United States without duplicating any of it." -- Kathleen M. Erndl
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Pintchman begins with the feminine principle in Vedic literature (including the Upanisads and Brahmanas), where she explores the Goddess in relation to the elements, focusing primarily on earth and water. The second part of the book focuses on the three main manifestations of Goddess in Hindu theological and philosophical discourse - Prakriti (nature), Maya (illusion) and Shakti (power) - with a thorough review of the relevant literature. Finally, she explores the Puranas, focusing primarily on the Devi Mahatmya, but also surveying Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta puranas. Her discourse on cosmology/cosmogony and the introduction of the feminine principle of creation as the consort of the masculine God is particularly interesting to those studying the Shakta branch of Hinduism.
Again, this may be a challenging book to read if you're not well-grounded in Hindu studies, but it is a wealth of scholarly insight into a fascinating and growing field.