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Heroic ShāktismThe Cult of Durgā in Ancient Indian Kingship$
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Bihani Sarkar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266106

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266106.001.0001

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Heroic Śāktism and the Myths of Civilization

Heroic Śāktism and the Myths of Civilization

Chapter:
(p.177) Chapter 6 Heroic Śāktism and the Myths of Civilization
Source:
Heroic Shāktism
Author(s):

Bihani Sarkar

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266106.003.0007

This chapter begins the third part of the book, which aims to present the belief systems and ritual practices associated with Durgā. Through these beliefs, which conveyed the myth of civilization and imperial kingship for independent rulers to cultivate, the cult made itself meaningful to its adherents. Among beliefs of heroic Śāktism there was, firstly, the belief that a goddess had granted investiture to a king, secondly, the belief that a king defeated in battle would regain power through a goddess, and thirdly, the belief that a goddess was to be worshipped in times of war. These are expressed among various examples of literature from poetry to inscriptions, in versions of the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata that include scenes with Durgā aiding Rāma and the Pāṇḍava brothers, thereby showcasing her role in aiding the deserving hero. The chapter turns to the visual symbols and palladia whereby the relationship of king and goddess was made palpable for inhabitants of a kingdom, exploring rituals of goddess-empowered swords, crests, and fortresses, and chariot processions, whereby the protective, triumphant, militaristic and defensive aspects of Durgā's personality were manifested and enlivened within each and every aspect of a medieval city.

Keywords:   Mythology, fortresses, swords, crests, chariot-processions, Rāmayāṇa, Mahābhārata, Devīpurāṇa

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