Mahavidya is a site intended as a resource for the scholarly study of the Hindu tradition. Derived from Sanskrit, Hinduism’s sacred language, Mahavidya may be translated as “Great Wisdom.” This is appropriate, because not only is this site designed as an aid to learning, but the Hindu tradition itself is a vast repository of beliefs, practices, and teachings renowned for its inherent wisdom.
In Hindu literature, the god Siva and the goddess Sakti, male and female complementary components of Absolute Reality, are often represented in a loving embrace. They ask each other questions about the nature of existence, one acting as the inquiring student and the other serving as the wise and compassionate teacher. They are, in essence, wondering about themselves. The underlying tenor in this symbolic setting, and within the sort of answers that they provide, is that there is an intimate relationship between asking and answering, between inquiring and discovering, between learning and teaching, and between wonder and revelation. This is a thread that runs through much of Hinduism’s religious scripture and philosophies: that divine wisdom is inherent within each of us, and that the sincere and determined quest to discover it is a hallmark of its latent presence. In some formulations, Absolute Reality conceals itself from itself, differentiates itself into male and female, student and teacher, and so on, only to delight in the play of re-integration and Self-discovery. God and Goddess hide themselves from themselves, and then ask each other the fundamental questions that form the basis of all religion and philosophy. What is the nature of this mystery and our place within it? Wisdom is not found only in the answers but in the questions; not only in revelation but in inquiry. This interplay characterizes Mahavidya, Great Wisdom.
This attitude informs the philosophical orientation of this website, which is designed for students and teachers, both of whom are engaged in the oscillating activity that is learning. Mahavidya thus serves as a site where the work of students in select Religious Studies courses at the University of Lethbridge will periodically be posted. It is our hope that others may, in turn, learn from these student projects. Academics engaged in the scholarly study of Hinduism are encouraged to submit links to useful sites (including their own) for consideration.
In Hindu mythology, on one occasion in the interaction between Siva and the Goddess, she produces ten different forms. These goddesses are known as the Mahavidyas, some of whom are fearsome and while others are benign. In Tantric Hinduism the Mahavidyas serve as contemplative instruments for the acquisition of supernormal powers and liberating insight by courageous explorers of consciousness. Aligned with some of these orientations, it is hoped that this website serves as a source that offers empowerment through knowledge. In the holistic spirit of Tantra, the site also seeks to embrace the widest array of materials concerning the study of Hinduism.