Patriarchy and the Sacred Feminine

By: Madhumita Duttta  

The living goddess tradition in India has deep and ancient roots. Vedic-Puranic eulogies have given the Feminine the highest philosophical-theological status as the Supreme Creatrix of the universe. This concept was further reinforced by the pro-feminist Tantra. A daring philosophy of the Sacred Feminine, Tantra depicts the goddess in her most terrible, wild and powerful form, which is not only "a horror" to the intellectual sensibility, but one from which the patriarchal psyche recoils in awe. Over time the Brahmanical systems of thought supplanted the goddess-cult as the mainstream religious practice, and made of the woman a thing evil and impure. This patriarchal imaging of the feminine, working under the banner of religionism helped build up the oppressive social-religious structures, and the "fear" of the feminine resulted in marginalizing Goddesses into the periphery of established culture. This understanding of power as a masculine attribute is a misogynist deviation from the concept of the Divine Feminine. The ancient religious tradition of India violates any idea of the subdued, subjugated, colonized woman, and advocates instead the worship of Sakti---the feminine cosmic power. The condition of the woman today presents a picture of amazing contrast between the repressive masculine culture and the Sakti-cult of India. We need to get back in touch with the "feminine" in us, reclaim our inheritance of Sakti to rejuvenate the atrophied psycho-cultural realms. My paper focuses on how the feminist-oriented theology of India is not only an anti-dote to phallic culture, but also the means of spiritual regeneration.

Tantra, Purana, Feminine
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Madhumita Duttta

Assistant Professor, English, Vidyasgar College for Women, India

Serving as Assistant Professor of English for 17 years. Obtained Ph.D degree for thesis on Sri Aurobibndo's 'Savitri.' Published three books and several articles in books and journals. Presented papers at many International Conferences. Engaged in research on Sri Aurobindo's works, Feminism, Spiritualism and Indian Poetry.