Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz, Assistant Professor of Religion, has published a new book titled Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal (Oxford University Press).
This new work (out April 2) is the first critical study of the Svasthanivratakatha (SVK), one of Nepal’s best-known and most-heard/listened to narrative tradition. The SVK is a sixteenth-century Hindu devotional tradition dedicated to the Nepali goddess Svasthani. The extensive, unbroken SVK manuscript tradition offers an opportunity to observe the making of a distinct Hindu religious tradition. Birkenholtz further argues that the SVK serves as a lens through which one may observe the creation of modern 'Hinduism' in the Himalayas.
Reciting the Goddess is also the first detailed study of the Hindu goddess Svasthani, her mythology, and her iconographic transformations. Birkenholtz examines Svasthani’s elusive character and identity, which is both tied to the pan-Hindu goddess tradition and is grounded in local culture. The author also views the representation of women in the SVK and the ways in which the text influenced local and regional debates on the ideal of Hindu womanhood.
Through this study, Birkenholtz also offers a new perspective of the history of the Sanskrit, Newar, and Nepali languages and literary cultures in Nepal. Reciting the Goddess presents the SVK as a micro-level illustration of the powerful ways in which people, place, and literature intersect to produce new conceptions of identity and place, even in a historically non-literate culture.
For more about the book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/reciting-the-goddess-9780199341160?cc=us&lang=en&.