On the Devīpurāṇa’s Tantric Sources and Adaptations of Tantric Ritual

Location: OCHS YouTube Channel
Speaker: Professor Shaman Hatley
Date: March 2, 2022
Time: 2.00pm – 3.00pm (GMT)

Unique among first-millennium purāṇas, the circa 8th–9th century Devīpurāṇa reveals deep familiarity with Tantric Śaivism. This lecture analyzes the Devīpurāṇa’s engagement with tantric rituals and sources, particularly the goddess-oriented Bhairavatantras, and argues that its integration of these is integral to its construction of a Śākta civic religion. The paper first outlines evidence for the Devīpurāṇa’s familiarity with Tantric Śaivism, including its first-hand knowledge of specific early tantras. The second section examines its re-purposing of tantric mantras for public ritual. Section three concerns the Devīpurāṇa’s blending of civic religion and esoteric ritual in its genre-bending descriptions of pilgrimage to Nandā and Sunandā, the Himalayan mountain-goddesses. The final section concerns how the Devīpurāṇa transformed the propitiation of yoginīs, tantric goddesses of the cremation grounds, into calendrical rituals for the benefit of the state. Far more than a collection of demon-slaying narratives, the Devīpurāṇa proves crucial for understanding the early-medieval religious landscape, and in particular, the roles of Śaiva tantric rituals and sources in the making of public Śāktism.