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Exploring The Divine Mother’s Glory – A Workshop


Indic Academy and Pancajanya Cultural Heritage Initiatives are pleased to announce a half day workshop focusing on four aspects of the Adi Shakti, which will be covered by four women scholars.

Introduction

Sharadiya Navaratri is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in India dedicated to the Devi. The Rigveda has many Suktas dedicated to goddesses like Aditi, Sri, Prithvi, Ushas, Ratri as well as the river Goddesses like Sarasvati. Prithvi in the Rg Veda is the Mother Earth. The Devi Suktam in the tenth Mandala of the Rg Veda is generally considered to be the point of origin of Shakti Worship in India. The other Veda Samhitas like the Yajurveda Samhita and Atharvaveda Samhita also have numerous references to the Mother Goddess. The Brahmana texts like the Taittiriya Brahmana make a reference to a goddess called Ambika in connection with Rudra. The Itihasas Ramayana and Mahabharata have some instances of Shakti worship but it is the Puranas, specially the Devi Bhagavata Purana in which we we find Shakti or the Mother Goddess becoming the Supreme Being.

Icons of Shakti in the forms of Sri and Mahishamardini are present from the 2nd century BCE and 1st century CE respectively. Mahishamardini is the most popular iconographic forms of the Mother Goddess and is found in temples and rock-cut caves through out India. By the 9th century CE the Shakta Sampradaya became a very dominant Sampradaya of Sanatana Dharma. In India there are 52 (according to some texts the number is 110) sacred centres or Shaktipeethas which are the holiest centres of Shakti Worship in India.

Objectives Of The Workshop

  • To give a historical overview of the origin and development of Shakti Worship in India from the earliest times and to understand the significance of the Shakta Sampradaya in Sanatana Dharma in shaping Indic Culture.
  • Clearing miconceptions about Shaktism. Many associate the Shakta Sampradaya with animal sacrifices and other violent rituals. A thorough study of original texts like the Devi Bhagavatam can help in clearing such misconceptions and help us understand the deep philosophical thought underlying the Pauranic narratives. Every Purana has to be understood with respect to its unique religio-cultural contexts and this workshop aims at promoting this understanding.
  • Understand the symbolism behind the various icons of the Devi and their cultural context. We aim to explore the Vedic and Pauranic narrative of the Devi icons and study the same in the context of the iconographical details as given in the Agamas and seen in actual icons. Every aspect of Devi is represented in a unique way with its own characteristic features.
  • The workshop also aims to present how the greatness of the Mother Goddess is seen through music and dance and the role played by these arts in Shakti worship. This lecture will have be a lecture-demonstration where the resource person Ms. Kanakavalli Santhanam will be also performing a few kritis.
  • Our final aim is to communicate to the people that Shakti Worship is not merely Dandiya Dances and visiting public Puja pandals for the sake of ‘fun’. Shakti Worship is a very deep rooted and profound tradition of Sanatana Dharma and has to be performed strictly according to the Shastric guidelines. Also the philosophy and spiritual aspects of Shakti Worship will be communicated to the participants.

Speakers

  • Dr. Prachi Moghe, Assistant Director, Mungalal Goenka Post Graduate Department and Research Centre, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai. She will be speaking on the origin and evolution of Shakti worship in India. She is a senior and very reputed scholar of Ancient Indian Culture with more than 20 years of experience in the academic field.
  • Dr. Madhavi Narsalay, Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai. Dr. Narsalay will be speaking on the Devi Bhagavata Purana. She is a very well known scholar of Sanskri, Vedanta, Itihasa, Puranas and has a number of publications.
  • Ms. Kanakavalli Santhanam, Research Assistant, Dharmawiki. Ms. Santhanam will be speaking on Shakti worship and performing arts. She is a brilliant young scholar of Sanskrit with a double Masters- one in Sanskrit from Mumbai University and the other in Music from Madras University. She is also an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer and a visiting faculty at the Department of Sanskrit , Mumbai University.
  • Ms. Sneha Nagarkar, Archaeologist, Indologist and Independent Researcher. Ms. Nagarkar will be speaking on The Iconography of Shakti. She is a visiting faculty at the Centre for Archaeology, University of Mumbai. She also has her own cultural heritage education venture called Pancajanya Cultural Heritage Initiatives which aims at promoting Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology.

Target Audience

This workshop is open to everyone above the age of 15. if there is a person below this age limit but has a genuine interest, he/she is most welcome. Apart from this there are no other qualifications. Our target audience is any serious minded individual who is genuinely interested in Indic Culture. We specially want teachers and students (Undergraduate and Post Graduate) of Sanskrit, Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, History, Architecture, Fine and Performing Arts to attend this workshop. People working in the cultural sector like performing and fine artists, tourist guides and content writers will find this workshop useful.

Expected Outcome

  • The participants will get an objective overview of Shakti Worship in India and the rationale behind the rituals of the same.
  • The misconceptions about Shakti Worship which were propagated by the British will be cleared and the participants will understand how the Devi Bhagavata Purana has to be understood in its right context.
  • The significance of the icons of the Mother Goddess and the deep cultural and philosophical thought underlying them will be understood by the participants.
  • The lecture-demonstration on Shaktism and performing arts will give the audience an authentic idea regarding the worship of the Mother Goddess through music and dance and that these performing arts have their origin in devotion and worship and not just entertainment.
  • This workshop will enable the participants to understand the essence of the Shakta Sampradaya in particular and Sanatana Dharma in general. Certain pseudo-feminists, self proclaimed mythologists and liberals have tried to use the motifs of the Mother Goddess to show how women were exploited in Sanatana Dharma and how the two male gods Siva and Visnu are given more importance than Shakti without bothering to read the original texts. Unfortunately most common people believe them as there is lack of awareness and apathy regarding Sanatana Dharma and Indic Culture. This is our own way through which we want to stop or at least reduce the assaults on Sanatana Dharma by spreading proper awareness academically.

Details

Name of the Workshop: Shaktirupena Sansthita: Exploring the Glory of the Divine Mother
Date: Sunday, 6th October 2019 (Mahastami)
Venue: M L Dahanukar College, Vile Parle East, Mumbai 40057
Time: 9.30 am to 1.30 pm (4 hours)

You may also checkout Pancajanya Cultural Heritage Initiatives via their facebook page and promotional video.

For registration, call (or whatsapp) at +91 9920679409


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