In spite of the intense urbanization process that has been underway in South India since the middle of the twentieth century, the contemporary state of Andhra Pradesh continues to be predominantly rural and agrarian. An important dimension of this rurual culture is the ubiquitous worship of tutelary female deities of local distinction, deities that Sree Padma identifies as gramadevatas or “village goddesses.”
Vicissitudes of the Goddess provides a detailed history of Hindu goddess traditions, not only focusing on the local goddesses of Andhra Pradesh, past and present, but also tracing how and with what motivations the symbols and images of goddesses have been appropriated into the brahmanical (Saiva and Vaisnava), Buddhist, and Jaina religious traditions. Her study examines the evolution of popular Hindu goddesses such as Durga and Kali, and discusses how and in what circumstances women have been deified and worshiped.
Drawing on scholarship derived from archaeological sources, iconography, inscriptions, literature, and current forms of ritual worship and mythology, Sree Padma has reconstructed an unbroken history of the traditions of goddesses from ancient agricultural and hunting origins to the twenty-first century.