Reciting the Goddess by Birkenholtz
Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz’s recently published book Reciting the Goddess:Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal presents the first critical study of the Svasthanivratakatha(SVK), a sixteenth-century Hindu narrative textual tradition. The extensive SVK manuscript tradition offers a rare opportunity to observe the making of a specific, distinct Hindu religious tradition.
Birkenholtz argues that the SVK serves as a lens through which we can observe the creation of modern ‘Hinduism’ in the Himalayas. She mines the literary historiography that is contained within the SVK text itself, chronicling the text’s literary and narrative development as well as the development of the Svasthani goddess tradition. She also examines the elusive character of the goddess Svasthani, whose identity is tied to the pan-Hindu goddess tradition, and the representation of women in the SVK and the ways in which the text influenced local and regional debates on the ideal of Hindu womanhood. Reciting the Goddess presents Nepal’s celebrated SVK as a micro-level illustration of the powerful ways in which people, place, and literature intersect to produce new ideas and concepts of identity and place, even in a historically non-literate culture.
Reciting the Goddess can be purchased at a discount through Oxford University Press.