Mother of My Heart, Daughter of My Dreams: Kali and Uma in the Devotional Poetry of Bengal
Rachel Fell McDermott (Author)
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DescriptionThis book chronicles the rise and subsequent fortunes of goddess worship (Saktism) in the region of Bengal from the middle of the eighteenth century to the present. The primary documents are the lyrics directed to the goddess, beginning with those of the first of the Sakta lyricist-devotees, Ramprasad Sen (ca. 1718-1775), and continuing up through those of the gifted poet Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976). McDermott places the advent of the Sakta lyric in its historical context and charts the vicissitudes over time of this form of goddess worship, including the nineteenth century resurgence of Saktism in the cause of Nationalist politics. The main thesis of the book concerns the democratizing and sweetening of Kali and the Bengalization of Uma (and by extension her husband Shiva). The esoteric tantric Kali of Ramprasad, McDermott shows, is transformed, losing much of her fierce, wild, dangerous, bloody character as she increasingly becomes apprehended as mother by her devoted 'children'. The remarkable and extensive body of poetry McDermott draws on in her study has never been translated into English. Her own translations of a selection of these poems will be published as a companion volume entitled Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal.
Oxford University Press Inc
19 July 2001
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