In Hindu theology, Divine Power is conceived as a divine woman-the Goddess. Sometimes she is wholly autonomous and sometimes she is the divine spouse of the creator God, Siva or Visnu. She is also held to be the evolving material source of every created phenomenon. Religious texts like Puranas and Tantras have thoroughly investigated the mysterious nature of the Cosmic Goddess. Tantra as a religious practice endeavoured to show how through ritual and Yoga one may achieve the realization of the mystery of the Supreme Goddess. Authors in Sanskrit and modern Indian languages have poured out their ecstatic devotion to the Goddess. She is close to the heart of the passionate devotee, who adores her as mother or daughter - a mortal emotional bond with the divine so peculiar to Hindus. She is also sovereign Power a little part of which reigning royalties covet to possess in order to be good rulers. AS the divine woman she is represented in all women. Therefore women should be holding a high position amongst Hindus. But the question is, do they? In spite of the obvious contrary evidence, women do succeed in carving out a very important position in Hindu religious practices by having their alternative religious rituals highly valued by Hindu women have a very complex interrelationship.
The book focuses on the great cosmic Goddess and her ritual worship, Tantric theology and praxis in a wider sense, the attitude of her devotees towards her authority and the social character of the Tantric practitioners, and the position of Bhakti. It also figures out the position of women inside the Tantric and non-Tantric Hindu religious milieu. The Goddess symbolizes the supreme divine authority that activates the creation, protection and governance and necessary dissolution of the world in accordance with the ancient Indian concept of cyclical time. But She also discharges the divine sovereign privilege of punishing evil-doers and rewarding true devotees. Finally, the relevant forms of the Cosmic Goddess in this book are Sri/Tripurasundari/ Lalita; Goddess Kali and Her various emanations; and Laksmi and Her powers in the Pancaratra canonical texts.
Dr. Sanjukta Gupta is an authority on the early Pancaratra (Vaisnava) cult and sectarian system. She taught for almost twenty years at the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and is now teaching in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford.