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Book Review: On Philosophising, Philosophers, Philosophy and New Vistas in Applied Philosophy, by Dr. Sharmila Jayant Virkar

A little bit of context before you begin reading this book review. I have recently enrolled for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Mumbai. Philosophy is something I have been getting interested in, over the past few years, as those of you who have been reading my blogs and Instagram posts would know. During the pandemic, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next, and this is what I eventually came up with. It has been a challenge, getting back into academics as a student at this age, especially in a subject I have no academic background in. However, it has also been very exciting, especially thanks to my wonderful classmates (who, surprisingly, are of all age-groups, including some quite near my own) and my teachers, who have been very supportive and understanding. How well I will do is something that remains to be seen, but so far, I am enjoying this new journey and look forward to where it leads. Now that you know the background , you probably get an idea of how

Navaratri 2015 - Matrikas of Masroor

This group of seven figures caught my eye as I wandered around the ruins of the rock cut temples at Masroor. “Sapta Matrika!” I exclaimed, surprised to see them here.




Then, after a closer look, I wondered – “Are they Sapta Matrikas, or simply seven figures? I can hardly make out if they are women. Besides, they are seated on lotuses.” They were certainly important figures, going by the detailed carvings above and below them, though the figures themselves are too ruined to identify. 

We moved on, and stopped once more, at the sight of this panel…



Another group of delicate, standing figures, certainly feminine this time. The first was almost certainly Indrani – going by her vehicle, the elephant; and the third must be Maheshwari, mounted on her bull. So, are they Sapta Matrikas too? Well, there were more than seven figures here, so they couldn’t be. Could they be Ashta Matrikas? No, there were more. Nava Durgas? By now, we were confused.

This group, once again seated on lotuses, was the last panel we saw. At first, we thought they were just three. Then, we noticed the almost completely ruined figures on the left and right. So, five goddesses… who could they be?



The central one was surely Gajalakshmi – see the elephants by her side? Could this have been part of an Ashta Lakshmi panel? The gods only know. The archaeologists certainly don’t seem to, there is so little information on these temples available!  

There were other panels, with other groups of deities, but they were certainly male. I was more fascinated by these panels, depicting the goddesses.However, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. The Kangra Valley is associated with a number of temples dedicated to the Goddess, prominently among them, Jwalaji, Chitpurni, Bagalamukhi, Vajreshwari, and Chamunda. Many of these shrines are considered the most sacred to the goddess, and counted among the Shakti Peethas. No wonder so many of her forms are depicted at the Masroor Temple, which is also in the Kangra valley.


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