Māte Mahādēvi: a Progressive Female Mystic in Today’s India
Among the Indian female gurus active today, Māte Mahādēvi fromthe Liṅgāyat tradition in Karnataka (Southern India) is one of those attracting an increasing number of followers. Liṅgāyatism is a reform movement which according to certain views was founded by Basava in the twelfth century. The movement arose as a protest against the caste system, against a priesthood that was considered corrupt, and against discrimination against women. In the following paper, I provide a portrait of this religious revitalizer and mystic. I describe Māte Mahādēvi’s background in the light of the Liṅgāyat tradition, discussed briefly here. I also provide an account of some of her central contributions to the renewal of Liṅgāyatism, and of the resistance her work has met with. In addition to providing a cogent introduction to a hitherto relatively unknown religious tradition, my purpose, through giving voice to Māte Mahādēvi’s life and activities, is also to add to previous research by drawing attention to one of India’s contemporary female spiritual masters, largely unknown to westerners.
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