In different stages in the history of South Asian religions, the term yoginī has been used in various contexts to designate various things: a female adept of yoga, a female tantric practitioner, a sorceress, a woman dedicated to a deity, or a certain category of female deities. This book brings together recent interdisciplinary perspectives on the medieval South Asian cults of the Yoginis, such as textual-philological, historical, art historical, indological, anthropological, ritual and terminological.

The book discusses the medieval yoginī cult, as illustrated in early Śaiva tantric texts, and their representations in South Asian temple iconography. It looks at the roles and hypostases of yoginīs in contemporary religious traditions, as well as the transformations of yoginī-related ritual practices. In addition, this book systematizes the multiple meanings, and proposes definitions of the concept and models for integrating the semantic fields of ‘yoginī.’

Highlighting the importance of research from complementary disciplines for the exploration of complex themes in South Asian studies, this book is of interest to scholars of South Asian Studies and Religious Studies.

chapter 1|17 pages


Tracing yoginīs – religious polysemy in cultural contexts

part 1|25 pages


chapter 2|11 pages

What is a yoginī?

Towards a polythetic definition

part 2|50 pages

History, cosmography, hagiography

chapter 4|14 pages

The abode of the Pañcamudrās

A yoginī temple in early medieval Vārāṇasī

chapter 5|9 pages

Yoginīs in Madhya Pradesh

An epigraphic study

chapter 6|14 pages

Cosmographic buildings of India

The circles of the yoginīs

chapter 7|11 pages

Relationships and visions

The yoginī as deity and human female in tantric Buddhism

part 3|35 pages

Art history

chapter 8|12 pages

Yoginīs in stone

Auspicious and inauspicious power

chapter 10|13 pages

The yoginīs of the Bayon

part 4|46 pages


chapter 11|15 pages

Yoginīs in Bengali religious traditions

Tribal, tantric and bhakti influences

chapter 12|15 pages

Alternative yoginīs with alternative powers

Singing the blues in the Cauṣaṭṭī Yoginī Devī Mandir of Vārāṇasī

chapter 13|14 pages

Invoking the erotic Mother

The outcaste priestess and the heroic men

part 5|58 pages

Possession, sexuality, dance