Goddesses in the Hindu Tradition

  • Stephan Lewis Universität Marburg Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften und Philosophie Institut für Vergleichende Kulturforschung FG Religionswissenschaft
Keywords: Göttin, Goddness, Hinduismus, Hinduism


This article provides an overview and analysis of the two primary Hindu goddess traditions—the formal tradition (often called the Aryan, Pan-Indian or great) and the gramadevata tradition (also known as village goddesses, Dravidian, non-Aryan, folk or little). A broad sketch of each tradition is followed by an in-depth description of a goddess from each tradition. The overview of the formal tradition looks at six major goddesses in the formal tradition: Kali, Durga, Parvati, Sarasvati, Radha, and Sita. The overview of the gramadevata tradition examines origin myths, typical functions, common forms, and characteristics of worship. For the in-depth description of a goddess from each tradition, Sri-Laksmi is examined from the formal tradition and Mathamma from the gramadevata tradtion. After examining the two traditions, I argue the two traditions are two separate traditions emerging from an ancient goddess tradition. Yet, these two traditions influence each other, resulting in significant similarities, with the gramadevata tradition exerting the most influence.

Author Biography

Stephan Lewis, Universität Marburg Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften und Philosophie Institut für Vergleichende Kulturforschung FG Religionswissenschaft

Stephen G. Lewis, Doctoral Student in World Religions at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Stephen graduated from Cornerstone University with a B.A. in Religion and English in 2004 and earned a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009. Stephen currently lives and works in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. He has taught at the college level in both the United States and internationally.


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