The Rise of Mahalaksmi Cult in the Deccan: A Goddess of Power, Kingdom and Salvation is the book version of the research titled The Archaeology of religious ideas at Kolhapur with special reference to Shaivism and Shaktism: 9th-13th century CE submitted for the PhD degree in AIHC and Archaeology. The idea of Mahalaksmi, which soon manifested into the most important deity of the Sakta text Durga-Saptasati aka Devi-Mahatmya, was an outcome of sectarian synthesis. The deity was designed to be served by the royalty or polity mainly. From the archaeological evidences it has come up to the surface that the manifestation of the idea of Maha-Laksmi took place in the Deccan region in general and in Kolhapur (then Kollapura) in particular. The location of Kolhapur proved important in propagating the cult of Mahalaksmi so much so that apart from Kolhapur she was distinctly recognized as Kollapura-Mahalaksmi elsewhere. Her temples and eventually cult began to rise in places other than Kolhapur through the means of Kings and merchants. The present work focuses on understanding the Mahalaksmi as a concept, as a cultic deity by studying sectarian synthesis that caused into rise of her cult, its effect on polity and society through the texts, inscriptions and architecture, keeping Kolhapur as a main centre for her cultic activities in the Deccan. The research is a contribution in the field of Indology, Archaeology, Saktism, Saivism, ancient and early medieval history.
Contents: 1. Introduction. 2. Cult formation: Centralization and decentralization. 3. The goddess of power, kingdom and salvation. 4. Summary. 5. Conclusion. References. Glossary. Index.