Śākta Traditions Lecture Series: Śāktism among the Śaivas of Kashmir
Prof. Alexis Sanderson
21 & 28 October 2020, 2.00-3.00
These lectures will give an account of the history and role of Śāktism, notably of the Trika and Krama, among the Śaivas of Kashmir from the ninth to thirteenth centuries, presenting these developments in the broader context of the history of Śaivism in the early medieval period.
Link to handout for lecture one and two (revised version published 01.11.2020): Śāktism among the Śaivas of Kashmir Lecture Outline 2020
Link to handout for lecture three (published 11.11.2020): OCHS 3 Early Śākta Traditions in Regions Other than Kashmir
Śākta Traditions Lecture Series: Theology and Social Change in Śākta Tradition
Prof. Gavin Flood
4 November 2020, 2.00-3.00
Conversion to new tantric forms of Hinduism took place over a relatively short period within the history of Indic religions, the period from the eighth to early eleventh century. This period of about two hundred years is about eight generations. While it might not be appropriate to call this ‘sudden’ conversion, it nevertheless falls into the paradigm of conversion if by that we mean a process of realignment over time rather than a sudden event (Rambo 1993). In this lecture I wish to use the period of the development of the Tantras, with particular reference to the Netra, as a case study of relatively rapid change and religious innovation in which beliefs of many people altered and how this change impacted upon politics and society as a whole. Although the socio-economic paradigm has explanatory force, it is not the whole story and in specifying the constraints that led to the outcome of Śākta religion, we also need to take into account internal, theological concerns.
Śākta Traditions Lecture Series: Śāktism in Europe
Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen
18 November 2020, 2.00-3.00
In this presentation I make some observations about the presence of Śākta traditions in contemporary Europe. The majority of Hindu traditions in Europe are Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava, but Śāktas and Śākta traditions are not absent. In the presentation I suggest some ways to identify them and the analysis focuses on the role of Śākta temples, the use of the text Devīmāhātmya, the presence of other forms of Hindu goddess worship, and finally female Hindu gurus in Europe being identified with the great goddess. The lecture argues that there is much creativity and freedom of expression involved in the Śākta worship in Europe. The foundation of Śākta temples are often based on the presence and revelations of the goddess at particular places in Europe with the goddess expressing the wish for being present in temples at these places. The goddess has also a living presence in Europe in the female gurus who are believed by the devotees to be the goddess or her avatāra. The recitation of the text Devīmāhātmya makes the goddess present, and she is celebrated all over Europe in festivals associated with the narratives of this text.
Śākta Traditions Lecture Series: Hinduism and the Goddess – Śāktism and Śākta traditions
Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
2 December 2020, 2.00-3.00
Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. Worship of the Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. The Goddess and her network of Śākta traditions is often subsumed under the broad category of ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion therefore provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia.
In this lecture I wish to go up from the particular and provide a brief overview of the state of research. I will address some of the problems and challenges we face in the study of Śākta traditions and propose a model for how we may meaningfully speak of Śāktism as a major Hindu tradition, relating textual details with broader theoretical questions and the longue durée of the history of Śākta traditions.