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‘The Goddess, the Emperor and the Tantric: Re-examining Śivāji in the light of the Śākta traditions of early-modern Maharashtra’

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>South Asian History and Culture
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)39-52
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/11/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Śivāji Bhonsle (1627–1680) is largely held to be the champion of Vaidika ‘Hindu’ identity, a view apparently demonstrated by his Vedic consecration by Banarasi priests in 1674. In this article, I present religious narratives of the court of Śivāji, that represent his interactions with a much more diverse local religious milieu. This heterodox environment comprised of local cults, saints, priestly groups, and scribes involved in composing and popularizing religious texts and messages. I consider two kinds of narratives that emerged out of the socio-religious networks sustained by Śivāji: one in a Marathi hagiography (bakhar) portraying his association with the Maratha patron goddess Tuḷjā Bhavānī and another, a Sanskrit account of Śivāji’s Tantric consecration, the Śrīśivarājyābhiṣekakalpataru. These accounts contain depictions of the critical role of a powerful goddess cult and the Tantric priests from the Konkan coast in ritually sanctifying and granting power and affirmation to the Maratha court.