Abstract: This talk will explore a Vedic myth of the birth of Śrī — the goddess of excellence, her immediate exploitation by the gods, and subsequent restitution of her bodily possessions through Vedic rituals. It will compare this myth with the Devīmāhātmya myth of creation of the body of the goddess through the contribution of various gods of their powers, and then reflect on the motives and ideas embedded in these two myths. It will also explore the concepts of mantric, geophysical, and micro- and macro-cosmic bodies of the goddess, together with the shades of her beauty from devotional contexts.
Prof. Diwakar Acharya is Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at All Souls College, University of Oxford. His research concerns religious and philosophical traditions of South Asia. He studies ancient and medieval texts, inscriptions, and other historical documents significant for the cultural history of the Indian sub-continent. He is also interested in the critical examination of rites, rituals, and customs of the Indian religions and a keen reader of various genres of Sanskrit literature, starting from the Vedas.