This course will examine the presence of goddesses and the feminine divine in Hindu thought, iconography, and sacred texts. The Sanskrit term “shakti” refers to the dynamic feminine principle or energy that is necessary in all creative aspects of the cosmos. Male gods, for instance, are inert and incomplete without their female consorts. But is the feminine only a “wifely” creative complement or does it manifest itself as an empowered Supreme entity in its own right? And in what ways, if at all, do the power and divinity of Hindu goddesses transfer to real women? Is the Goddess a feminist? Such questions will be explored in discussions on texts such as the Devi-Mahatmya and the Devi-Gita. The histories of women saints of India will also be explored, as well as the presence of the feminine in tantric thought. Throughout the course attempts will be made to understand the goddess in Hindu thought, but especially as she is worshiped and understood in women’s religious lives. The lectures will be fully illustrated by slides of images, and supported by films, music and field trips to local temples.