She is benevolent and nurturing, yet fierce and terrible, a warrior and a lover. She creates and gives life, is death personified, and the one who grants eternal salvation. She is the ultimate form of reality, the cosmos. As the Saundaryalahiri says, "Only when Shiva joins with you, O Shakti, can he exert his powers as lord, on his own he has not even the power to stir. You are worshipped by Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, and other gods. How dare I, meritless mortal, offer you reverence and praise?" The Goddess inspires deep devotion and it is not surprising to see Her being worshipped and revered across homes in India.
Nilima Chitgopekar's Shakti (DK Publishing, 2022) will delve into this rich tradition of the Divine Feminine as She is represented across India and the subcontinent. Shakti will be a one-of-a-kind linear exploration of Goddess worship, neither a basic guide nor a dense academic treatise. Instead, it will invite the reader to learn about the Shakta culture, while telling the story of its birth and evolution, the many manifestations of the Goddess and their worship, and the myths, legends, and rituals that make up the tradition. This title will position itself as the first point of entry for anyone interested in the world of the Devi and Her culture.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.