Women’s Authority and Leadership in a Hindu Goddess Tradition

  • Nanette R. Spina

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Nanette R. Spina
    Pages 1-26
  3. The Community and Temple

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 27-28
    2. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 29-49
    3. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 51-97
    4. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 99-127
    5. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 129-162
  4. Women’s Leadership

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 163-164
    2. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 165-198
    3. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 199-210
    4. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 211-235
    5. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 237-255
    6. Nanette R. Spina
      Pages 257-271
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 273-327

About this book


This book investigates women’s ritual authority and the common boundaries between religion and notions of gender, ethnicity, and identity. Nanette R. Spina situates her study within the transnational Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi movement established by the Tamil Indian guru, Bangaru Adigalar. One of the most prominent, defining elements of this tradition is that women are privileged with positions of leadership and ritual authority. This represents an extraordinary shift from orthodox tradition in which religious authority has been the exclusive domain of male Brahmin priests. Presenting historical and contemporary perspectives on the transnational Adhiparasakthi  organization, Spina analyzes women’s roles and means of expression within the tradition. The book takes a close look at the Adhiparasakthi society in Toronto, Canada (a Hindu community in both its transnational and diasporic dimensions), and how this Canadian temple has both shaped and demonstrated their own diasporic Hindu identity. The Toronto Adhiparasakthi society illustrates how Goddess theology, women's ritual authority, and “inclusivity” ethics have dynamically shaped the identity of this prominent movement overseas. 

Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork, the volume draws the reader into the rich textures of culture, community, and ritual life with the Goddess. 


Hinduism Adhiparasakthi goddess Guru Temple Ritual Yoga South Asian Diaspora Transnational mulitculturalism Priestess Women's leadership Tamil Sri Lanka Toronto Asian culture feminism gender migration social science

Authors and affiliations

  • Nanette R. Spina
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-58908-8
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-58909-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site