Devi: The Great Goddess

Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
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Devi Through the Ages
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Mother goddess figurine. Courtesy of Mark Kenoyer.
Devi Through The Ages
The goddess has been worshiped since prehistoric times in India. This section outlines the evolution of Devi through the ages. Each segment reveals that as Hinduism evolved and changed through the centuries, the roles and functions of Hindu goddesses also went through dramatic changes.
Click for full image and description
Full image and description.
Goddess or yakshi. Lent by a private collection.
Goddess worship in India goes back to prehistoric India. Archaeological remains from the cities of the Indus civilization (2600-1900 B.C.) include large numbers of crudely fashioned female clay figurines, generally called mother goddesses.
Starting around 1300 B.C. a group of nomadic peoples who called themselves Aryas, or Noble Ones, became dominant in northern India. Their sacred literature was composed in Sanskrit and known as the Vedas. The Vedas reflected a world view that was overwhelmingly masculine. While the male gods became predominant as the Aryans settled in north India, archaeological excavations show that peasants in numerous villages continued to worship the mother goddess.
By the start of the Current Era, three major deities had come to dominate the Hindu religious scene: two male gods, Vishnu and Shiva, and Devi, the Great Goddess. At this time, the goddesses of India slowly emerged from their hibernation and made their presence felt in a significant, if subdued, role as dayini (givers). Finely fashioned terra-cotta plaques that featured a female deity were made by skilled artisans, probably for use in the home shrines of wealthy and sophisticated townspeople. Click for full image and description
Full image and description.
Nagini. Lent by the collection of Anupam and Rajika Puri.

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