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Devī worship as point of departure for a comparative project

Sakta Conference 2011
Somerville College, Oxford
Professor Marianne C. Qvortrup Fibiger
Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 12:00pm

In the history of religion especially in the comparative study of religion goddess worship is a very underestimated and under prioritized exploratory field. General books on the history of religion either mentions goddesses in the periphery as the spouse of a god or as seen in a evolutionary scheme, where goddess worship is either placed as part of the archaic state of religion, as a part of a primitive fertility cult or maybe mentioned in relation to small isolated non patriarchal societies. And some scholars even tries to explain the nowadays veneration of goddesses as for example the Virgin Mary in Christianity as weak survivals of these earlier stages.

My paper will try to outline how research on devī-worship in the Hindu tradition is a very important exploratory laboratory to overcome this deficit. It is not only a fact that among the world religions, Hinduism has by far the most vigorous and diverse goddess mythology as well as independent goddess worship, it is also a fact that in Hinduism we find the most elaborated understanding of the Goddess.
Marianne C. Qvortrup Fibiger, Ph.D. and associate professor at the Section of Religious Studies at the Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University. She is especially interested in contemporary Hinduism and has done fieldwork different places in India as well as in Sri Lanka, Kenya, England, Mauritius and Denmark. She is interested in Śāktism from at least three perspectives: 1) As an important part of the Hindu tradition also in Diaspora 2) How or if local goddess worship corresponds with or relate to the textual background. 3) How research on Śāktism could be an important stepping stone in an understanding of Goddess worship as such.