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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Devi Temples of India – a literary masterpiece by Anuradha Goyal providing significant insights on several Devi Mandirs

As Hindus celebrate Devi this Chaitra Navratri, author Anuradha Goyal has brought out her latest offering in the Devalaya (temple series). The book titled Devi Temples of India explores several Devi Mandirs and provides significant insights about them. HinduPost reached out to Anuradha Goyal ji to learn more about her work.

Devi temples of India & other books

Devi Temples of India is the third book in Anuradha’s Devalaya series with the first two books covering Unusual temples and Cave temples of Bharat. The book takes you to different Shaktipeethas, Siddhapeethas, Kula Devi temples, Kshetra Devi temples, Yogini Temples, and Navadurga Yatra across Bharat and some outside Bharat.

Cave temples are the oldest forms of temples and many prominent temples continue to be in the form of a cave. She has co-edited a book titled Navratri with Bibek Debroy making this her second book on temples dedicated to Devis. Navratri documents how Navratri is celebrated in different kshetras of India.

A state is a modern definition while a Kshetra is an area or region that is spiritually and culturally connected to a temple. For example, the Batukamma festival is celebrated in Telangana but not Andhra Pradesh though both are Telugu-speaking and the former was a part of the latter.

The main purpose behind writing about temples is to help people understand them that is when a person visits a temple he/she is able to understand it in a better manner. When we talk about Devi temples there are Shakti Peeths, Kshetra Devis, Gram Devis, Kul Devis, and Sati temples. The idea is to acquaint readers with the fact that there are different types of Devi temples. “I will consider my work very successful if it helps at least 100 people identify their Kshetra, Grama, or Kul Devis”, says Anuradha.

In her book on unusual temples, she has covered temples having unique customs and unusual sculptures among other things that set them apart from the regular temples. “Some of these have unique deities, some have gathered modern-age beliefs, some worship the illustrious ancestors and others worship a guardian spirit that still safeguards everyone on borders, some promise cures for diseases thought uncurable while others have unique sculptures”, says the book description.

Each temple has a story of its origin, its deity and the faith of its devotees that makes them unique. She explained that temples are usually classified on the basis of architecture but she is attempting to make her own classification of temples on the basis of how we worship.

She has written about discovering faith, spirituality, and temples in her book Lotus in the Stone. The book details her journey of uncovering faith across Bharat and how it connects us. The book provides insight into how lives around sacred spaces and ancient temples reflect Bharat as it has been for thousands of years. Here common people keep traditions alive by simply living them out. The invisible threads and sacred geography that bind her people together come alive in this book.

Anuradha Goyal’s journey

Anuradha has been travelling and visiting temples for about 18 to 20 years. She runs Bharat’s biggest travel blog called Inditales which documents her temple visits. She is also researching Yatras (pilgrimages) and she taught a course on Yatras as part of Hindu studies at BHU (Banaras Hindu University).

She is also publishing a series of stories on temples on her Instagram account. These are small visual stories that give details such as the presiding deity, who built the temple, and when was it built. Stories about 276 temples have been published on her Instagram account.

Many books are yet to come in the Devalaya series. A book on reading Indian scriptures for dummies is also in the pipeline. Readers can purchase Devi Temples of India and other books by Anuradha Goyal ji on Amazon.

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