16 May, 2021

Shakti: An Indian Unifier

A panoramic survey of the subcontinent’s shakti peethas, soaked in myth and tradition

Shakti: An Indian Unifier
outlookindia.com
2021-04-30T17:39:34+05:30

Curator Alka Pande of the Visual Arts Gallery of the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, has written a book very close to her heart. On the acknowledgements page she writes, “This book is a divine gift. The belief in the divine has been ingrained in me ever since I can remember. It is the complete belief in the supreme energy that guides our lives—the Adi Shakti.” This very personal belief finds focus in the image of the goddess, Sha­kti. Pande sets out to map all the 51 peethas, or the sacred spaces, where the goddess abides over four countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

At the heart of the book lies the Hindu legend most of us are familiar with, the legend of Sati, one of the 24 daughters of Daksha. Each of the daughters exemplified some aspect of Shakti, be it Shraddha (respect), Buddhika (intellect) or Priti (aff­ection). Sati was the youngest, and she exemplified truth. Much against her father’s wishes, Sati married Shiva, whom Daksha hated. Soon after Sati’s marriage, Daksha organised the supreme sacrifice, the...

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