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This vibrant collection presents 145 brief Bengali lyric poems dedicated to the Hindu goddesses Kali and Uma. These poems—many of which are presented here for the first time in English translation—were written from the early eighteenth century up to the contemporary period. They represent the unique Bengali tradition of goddess worship (Saktism) as it developed over this period. Included are forty poems by the most famous of all Sakta poets, Ramprasad Sen (c.1718-1775) and ten lyrics by the renowned 20th-century poet Kaji Najrul Islam. McDermott's lucid introduction places these works in their historical context and shows how images of the goddesses evolved over the centuries. Her lively translations of these poetic lyrics evoke the passion and devotion of the followers of Kali and Uma and shed light on the history and practice of goddess worship.
She is Matter,
then complete Void.
It's easy to see
thinking these things
Oh Mind, you don't know how to farm;
your human field has fallen fallow.
Cultivate it, and the crops you'll grow
will gleam like gold. Fence it round with Kali's name
so your harvest won't be harmed.
The Wild-Haired One is strong;
Death won't come near that fence.
Don't you know? Your crops will never fail--
not in a day, a year, or a century.
So apply yourself, Mind;
work to reap your harvest.
The Teacher sowed the mantra;
now water his seed with devotion's showers.
And oh, if you can't do it alone, Mind, take Ramprasad along.
|Pathways to the Sakta Poetry: Sources, Precedents, and Influences||3|
|Poets for the Goddess||7|
|Family Resemblances: Sakta Padavali as Bhakti Poetry||11|
|The Challenges and Choices in Designing an Anthology||12|
|Notes on Transliteration, Translation, and Word Definition||14|
|Kali among the Corpses: Poems of Battle||19|
|The Cosmic Goddess of Transformation||38|
|The Magician's Daughter and Her Playful Deceptions||47|
|"What Kind of Mother Are You?" Cries of Complaint||52|
|Petitioning the Compassionate||66|
|"Oh My Mind!": Instructing the Self||76|
|Prioritizing Paths: Tantra, Devotion, and Ritual||92|
|The Experience of Kundalini Yoga||103|
|In Defiance of Death||118|
|Adoring the Daughter: Agamani and Vijaya Poems for Uma||123|
|A Guide to Selected Names, Terms, and Texts||173|
|Index of Poems by Author and First Line (English)||183|
|Index of Poems by Author and First Line (Bengali)||187|
Posted December 25, 2010
No text was provided for this review.