The Yoni of Kamakhya

The Intersection of Power and Gender in its Mythology

Authors

  • Paolo E. Rosati Independent scholar

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/rosa.19013

Keywords:

Butler, Foucault, goddess, Kaula, pansexualism, śakti, Tantra

Abstract

The mythology of the yoni of Sati was introduced in the early medieval Kalikapurana (ninth–eleventh century ce), a sakta text that linked the sexual symbol of the Goddess to the Kamakhya-pitha in Assam. This article will analyse the medieval Puranas and Tantras compiled in northeastern India—focusing on their mythological accounts of the cosmogony of the yoni pitha—in order to outline a historical evolution of the yoni symbol through the Middle Ages. Combining leftist Freudian, post-structuralist and post-gender theories with religious studies, the yoni will be considered both as a source of power and as a battlefield of sex–gender identity. In conclusion, this article will challenge the idea of a static yoni but will underline a sex–gender evolution of its identity, which encompasses and transcends both male and female powers.

Author Biography

Paolo E. Rosati, Independent scholar

Paolo E. Rosati holds a PhD in ‘Asian and African Studies’ (South Asia section) from ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome; his main field of research is Assamese Tantra and the yoni cult of Kāmākhyā. Since 2015, Paolo has regularly published refereed articles and presented at international conferences on these topics; presently, he is guest-editing a special issue on Tantra for RoSA.

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Published

2021-03-04

How to Cite

Rosati, P. E. (2021). The Yoni of Kamakhya: The Intersection of Power and Gender in its Mythology. Religions of South Asia, 13(3), 317–347. https://doi.org/10.1558/rosa.19013

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