Publication Date: Dec 2016
RRP: $39.95
ISBN: 9781925377309
Format: Paperback
Size: 153mm x 234mm
Pages: 336
Category: Monash Asia

Conceiving the Goddess

Transformation and Appropriation in Indic Religions

Edited by Jayant Bapat and Ian Mabbett

Also available as an ebook from your favourite retailer.

‘This wonderful volume brings together substantial new contributions to the burgeoning scholarship on goddesses in South Asia. Jayant Bapat and Ian Mabbett, along with the other contributors, deepen our understanding of the dynamics of Indic goddess traditions.’ Anne Feldhaus, Distinguished Foundation Professor of Religious Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

Conceiving the Goddess is a multidisciplinary exploration of goddess cults in South Asia focusing on the theme of appropriation – when one religious group adopts a religious belief or practice not formerly its own.

What are the motivations behind religious appropriation? Is this appropriation an attempt to dominate – or perhaps it is to resist the domination of others? Is is about adapting to changing social circumstances? Or is it simply to enrich the religious experience of a group’s members?

Conceiving the Goddess explores these questions while examining a variety of South Asian goddesses and situations: a Jain goddess lurking in a Brahminical temple; a village goddess who became the patroness of the powerful Peshwa lords; the millennia-long story of the goddess Ekveera who was adopted by a fishing community; the mythology of Pārvatī, consort of the great god Śiva; the fraught relationship between the humble Camār caste and the river goddess Gaṅgā; the changing political roles of Durgā in the annual celebrations of her cult; the mutual appropriation of disciple and goddess in the tantric exercises of Kashmiri Śaivism; and the alarming self-decapitation of the fierce goddess Chinnamastā.

A rich study, this book will appeal to scholars and students of South Asian religions and all those interested in goddess worship.


  1. On Appropriation and Transformation
    I.W. Mabbett and Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat
  2. Crowns, Horns and Goddesses: Appropriation of Symbols in Gandhāra and Beyond
    Angelo Andrea Di Castro
  3. The Appropriation of the Goddess into the Purāṇic Narrative: Integration/Appropriation in the Vāmanapurāṇa
    Greg Bailey
  4. The Yakṣiṇī Devī of Mangaon: Appropriation of a Jain Goddess by Brāhminic Hinduism
    Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat
  5. Appropriating the Inappropriate
    John R. Dupuche
  6. Ravidās and the Gaṅgā: Appropriation or Contestation?
    Peter Friedlander
  7. The Goddess Chinnamastā’s Severed Head as a Re-Appropriation of the Cosmic Sacrifice
    Ian Mabbett
  8. The Appropriation of Durgā
    Pratish Bandopadhayay
  9. From a Śaktipīṭha to Kuladaivata: The Appropriation of Goddess Jogāī of Ambe
    Madhavi Narsalay
  10. The Female Protector of Yolmo’s Hidden Land
    David Templeman
  11. Ekveera Devi and the Son Kolis of Mumbai: Have the Kolis Appropriated the Karle Buddhist Chaitya?
    Marika Vicziany, Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat and Sanjay Ranade
  12. Modern Appropriations of Devī
    Martin Hříbek

Jayant Bapat

Jayant Bapat holds doctorates in Organic Chemistry and Indology and is an adjunct research fellow at the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University. His research interests include Hinduism, Goddess cults, the Fisher community of Mumbai, and Jainism, and he has published...
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Ian Mabbett

Ian Mabbett, an adjunct research fellow at Monash University, has taught there since 1965 in courses on Asian history and conducted teaching and research in Singapore, Princeton and Nagoya. His main research interests are in ancient Indian history, Buddhist philosophy...
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