The Indian Buddhist world abounds with goddesses--voluptuous tree spirits, maternal nurturers, potent healers and protectors, transcendent wisdom figures, cosmic mothers of liberation, and dancing female Buddhas. Despite their importance in Buddhist thought and practice, these female deities have received relatively little scholarly attention, and no comprehensive study of the female pantheon has been available. Buddhist Goddesses of India is the essential and definitive guide to divinities that, as Miranda Shaw writes, "operate from transcendent planes of bliss and awareness for as long as their presence may benefit living beings."
Beautifully illustrated, the book chronicles the histories, legends, and artistic portrayals of nineteen goddesses and several related human figures and texts. Drawing on a sweeping range of material, from devotional poetry and meditation manuals to rituals and artistic images, Shaw reveals the character, powers, and practice traditions of the female divinities. Interpretations of intriguing traits such as body color, stance, hairstyle, clothing, jewelry, hand gestures, and handheld objects lend deep insight into the symbolism and roles of each goddess.
In addition to being a comprehensive reference, this book traces the fascinating history of these goddesses as they evolved through the early, Mahayana, and Tantric movements in India and found a place in the pantheons of Tibet and Nepal.
"This first comprehensive survey of Buddhist female deities fills a gap in academic treatment of the goddess role in the evolution of Buddhism. . . . Each chapter is a complete work on a single goddess and may be read independently. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"Buddhist Goddesses of India will delight and entice students of religious studies, cultural anthropologists, art history enthusiasts, goddess spirituality practitioners, and anyone interested in the divine feminine."--Leah Samul, ForeWord
"Buddhist Goddesses of India is a wonderful contribution to the study of deities. . . . All in all, Shaw's book is a valuable resource for the scholar, the practitioner, and the student of goddess traditions. Her rich profiles provide the necessary historical, iconographic, and ritual background for us to understand the meaning and context of these goddesses, and the art she has chosen and represented with vivid colored plates . . . beautifully illustrates the variety, vitality, and power of the goddess traditions of Buddhist India."--Judith Simmer-Brown, Buddhadharma
"The theme of this fine work is best described as untangling and clarifying the complex early role and appearance of female deities found throughout the Himalayan plateau. There is a dearth of understanding of the symbolism of goddess-deity characters: figures of wisdom, healers, heavenly and earthly mothers, beautiful and powerful beings. [. . .] This is a marvelous study. Buddhist Goddesses of India serves the reader on multiple levels."--New Age Retailer
"This comprehensive study of Indian Buddhist goddesses fills a major gap in knowledge of the breadth of divine female figures in the Buddhist world. . . . Well documented, and with a fine, full bibliography, this book is beautifully and lavishly illustrated in color and black and white."--Choice
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Miranda Shaw: