Reciting the goddess: Narratives of place and the making of Hinduism in Nepal

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7 Scopus citations


This book presents a new perspective on the making of Hinduism in Nepal with the first book-length study of Nepal’s goddess Svasthani and the popular Svasthanivratakatha textual tradition. In the centuries following its origin as a short local legend in the sixteenth century, the Svasthanivratakatha developed into a comprehensive Purana text that is still widely celebrated today among Nepal’s Hindus with an annual month-long recitation. This book interrogates the ways in which the Svasthanivratakatha can be viewed as a medium through which the effects of important shifts in the political and cultural landscape that occurred among Nepal’s ruling elite were taken up by the general public and are evidenced within one decidedly local, lay tradition. Drawing on both archival and ethnographic research, the book begins with a detailed examination of Svasthani (“the Goddess of One’s Own Place”) and the Svasthanivratakatha within the shifting literary, linguistic, religious, cultural, and political contexts of medieval and modern Nepal from the sixteenth century to the present. It then widens its scope to explore the complementary and contentious dynamics between Nepal’s heterogeneous Newar Hindu and high-caste hill Hindu communities and those of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom vis-à-vis Hindu India. The Svasthani tradition serves as a case study for a broader discussion of the making of Hindu religious identity and practice in Nepal and South Asia, and the role of religion in historical political change. This book brings to the fore a neglected vantage point on the master narratives of Hinduism on the Indian subcontinent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages322
ISBN (Electronic)9780199341160
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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