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CompleteMartialArts.com - Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West

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Manufacturer: University of California Press
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 294.52114
EAN: 9780520232402
ISBN: 0520232402
Label: University of California Press
Manufacturer: University of California Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 321
Publication Date: 2003-05-05
Publisher: University of California Press
Studio: University of California Press

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Editorial Reviews:

Encountering Kali explores one of the most remarkable divinities the world has seen--the Hindu goddess Kali. She is simultaneously understood as a blood-thirsty warrior, a goddess of ritual possession, a Tantric sexual partner, and an all-loving, compassionate Mother. Popular and scholarly interest in her has been on the rise in the West in recent years. Responding to this phenomenon, this volume focuses on the complexities involved in interpreting Kali in both her indigenous South Asian settings and her more recent Western incarnations. Using scriptural history, temple architecture, political violence, feminist and psychoanalytic criticism, autobiographical reflection, and the goddess's recent guises on the Internet, the contributors pose questions relevant to our understanding of Kali, as they illuminate the problems and promises inherent in every act of cross-cultural interpretation.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Great resource for scholars and devotees alike
Comment: This collection of scholarly essays is an easy and enjoyable read for scholars and laypersons alike. What's so great about it is how many perspectives it gives on, as another reviewer noted, "the Kali phenomenon." McDermott and others tear away notions Westerners have of Kali, and present a much broader picture of her mythology, worship and cultural significance. McDermott's concluding essay spearheads the Western fascination with Kali, and dispels many myths along the way - including common etymological mistakes made frequently by feminist scholars and writers on Kali.

Western devotees of Kali should especially consider reading this volume - it will give necessary depth and breadth to your understanding of this complex Goddess, and is exceptionally readable. As this book was primarily written by and for scholars who are familiar with Sanskrit, those unfamiliar with transliteration diacritics will want to refer to online sources. Devotees who have Swami Satyananda Saraswati's excellent Kali Puja book will find a transliteration pronunciation guide in the back, which would be useful in this context.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Who Owns The Kali Franchise?
Comment: It is perhaps a mark of how far Kali has come as a goddess revered and celebrated in the West, that there is a steady increase in cautionary academic studies about "the real Kali." I'm waiting for a spate of corresponding articles about whether Indian Christians have "adopted" the "real" Jesus, or whether there is inevitable distortion, etc.

Are gods culture-bound, mere artifacts of geography, time, and social mores? If the answer to this is 'yes,' then what does that make religion? The sacred? Put another way, the question could be understood as one of what gods are; if they are not universally accessible, then in what sense are they gods?

This is the persistent question that emerged for me as I read through these essays. The writing itself is good, as you would expect. Most of these pieces are written in typical academic fashion, with much reference to the work of other academics, analysis of the literature, and so forth...but there is also the welcome change-of-pace instance of someone for whom Kali isn't simply an object of study and a medium of grantsmanship. One thing these authors should do--and I have seen this failing in several other texts, as well--is provide a legend that decrypts the many dots, underlines, and other markings used to indicate the pronunciation of various Indian words. What good are these symbolic notations without a key of some sort?

That aside--and given the major caveat offered at the beginning of this review--I recommend this as a useful resource to anyone desiring a better understanding of "the Kali phenomenon." As for an understanding of Kali, that is outside the province of academic quibbling and the struggle over who owns the gods.

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