Heroic Saktism is the belief that a good king and a true warrior must worship the goddess Durga, the form and substance of kingship. This belief formed the bedrock of ancient Indian practices of cultivating political power. Wildly dangerous and serenely benevolent at one and the same time, the goddess's charismatic split nature promised rewards for a hero and king and success in risky ventures. Heroic Shāktism: The Cult of Durgā in Ancient Indian Kingship
(Oxford UP, 2017) is the first expansive historical treatment of the cult of Durga and the role it played in shaping ideas and rituals of heroism in India between the 3rd and the 12th centuries CE. By assessing the available epigraphic, literary and scriptural sources in Sanskrit, and anthropological studies on politics and ritual, Bihani Sarkar demonstrates that the association between Indian kingship and the cult's belief-systems was an ancient one based on efforts to augment worldly power.
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