Reasons for devotion to Hindu goddesses
Hinduism portrays feminine divinity in a more exalted way than most other religions do. Though Hindu goddesses are usually depicted as consorts, wives or companions to a Hindu god, cases exist in which they are worshipped independently; Tantrism for example, where it is believed that women posses more spiritual power than men, thus men can achieve divinity through union with a woman (“Tantrism”). Most villages reinforce the mother aspect of goddesses and worship them individually as their protector, regarding them as having originated in the area and thus being tied to the health and prosperity of the village (Caldwell). Others who may devote themselves to a goddess might be in order to conquer or flourish in a particular area, like how someone who wishes to achieve higher wisdom would praise Sarasvati, goddess associated with learning.
Many scholars question the origins of goddess worship, and it is argued that they most probably emerged in the Indus Valley civilization (2500-1500 B.C.E). The civilization, relying mainly on agriculture, likely worshipped female earth deities that represented fertility, regeneration, life and death, to aid in their harvests (Erndl 19). Scenes depicted in their seals also pointed to the fact that the Indus Valley people were perhaps “goddess-revering” (McDermott 3608).
Some people have raised the point of feminism as a notion of commitment to a Hindu goddess, as goddesses that appear strong and independent exist in Hinduism, which is virtually unseen in other prominent religions. A popular question is then raised, “Is the Goddess a Feminist?” Rita Gross acknowledges the difficulty of a concrete answer to the question, and responds with an ‘It depends’. She proposes that the answer lies in the definition of feminist that the person might have, and how the Goddess’s devotees are. The idea is simple enough; if the believer is feminist, then they will worship their goddess as if they...
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