over the moon to share that i have submitted by MA dissertation, entitled: “Mapping the Absolute: The Iconography of the Daśa Mahāvidyās”
my dissertation has been fuelled by Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan’s books & courses addressing the lustrous wisdom embodied by the ravenous sequence of the Mahāvidyā Goddesses. my intention (icchā, if you will ) to explore the deities from a cosmogenic standpoint was sown during a retreat i attended in 2020 that was centred on the first five of the Mahāvidyās, led by Kavithaji & Hareesh Wallis. i was spellbound listening to Kavithaji present the Goddesses as non-dual expressions of cosmological creative forces and i was concomitantly dismayed to realise that all the material i had encountered which addressed them was rooted in strong misconceptions. poignantly, the distortion & appropriation of the Goddesses in popular culture & western scholarship appear to majorly stem from the legacy of colonialist writings – and, i tried to offer my small contribution towards the deconstruction of the colonial / orientalist gaze through this thesis. if there’s one thing i know for certain after writing my dissertation is that one needs dozens of lifetimes to come to grasp the vidyā embedded in one Goddess – and my 100 pages have barely scratched the surface:
“The six systems of philosophy remain powerless to describe Her.
She is the inmost awareness
of the one who realises
that Consciousness alone exists.
She is the life blossoming within
the creatures of the universe.
Both macrocosm and microcosm
are lost within Mother’s Womb.
Now can you sense
how indescribable She is?”
Śākta poet Rāmprasād Sen, translated by Lex Hixon.
very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Brian Black, who has encouraged and guided me through the entirety of my MA. (and who shares my obsessive love for the Mahābhārata!)
*the painting appearing on my cover-page: Mātaṅgī by Kailash Raj.