Greek, Roman and European Goddesses    
sunday 6th march at Lecture Hall, Crafts Museum 10.00 am - 12.30 pm  



Greek Godesses: From Pagan Life to Inert Art - Dr Bharat Gupt

In ancient Hellenic life, the divinities were 'working forces' which provided, protected and even destroyed the worshippers with whom they had an intimate relation. The Indo European divinity was supposed to respond to any supplicant be he good or bad and fulfill their wishes. The post renaissance Europeans created a sanitised vision of Greek goddesses, focusing on beauty , valour and brilliance, characteristics they wished the natives of the colonies to admire in the colonisers.

Bharat Gupt, an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre.


He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. He was a Visiting Professor to Greece and member of jury of the Onasis award for drama. He serves on the Visiting Faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi, and as resource scholar at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and several other major centres and academies of the arts. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994), Natyasastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996), Twelve Greek Poems into Hindi (2001), India: A Cultural Decline or Revival?(2008).




"Symbolic origins of the Virgins and Magdalene, as Christian interpretations of ancient goddesses" -
Come Carpentier de Gourdon

"Seen in terms of social anthropology, all religions share some common features that address universal psychological needs. The origins and evolution of Christianity evince the lingering presence of a feminine deity, in spite of the biblical legacy of a seemingly male God. The archetype of the goddess endures behind the great figures of the iconography: Virgin Mary, (the Mother of God historically related to the Egyptian Isis and to the Great Ephesian Mother Goddess), Magdalene and Mary Salome, known together as The Three Marias, not to mention various mythical or "deified" women saints of the hagiography. A deeper analysis of that sacred landscape reveals the esoteric and cosmological significance of Christianity".

Come Carpentier is convener of the Editorial Board of World Affairs and a consultant and adviser to various international organizations. He writes and lectures since many years on history, philosophy of science and religion. geopolitics, futurology and international relations. He professes Cosmosophy and psychosynthesis, a syncretistic, holistic account of ancient wisdom and the emerging knowledge of the physical and mental reality.


"Alchemy of Love and Life: Greek and Roman Goddesses" - Dr. ArputhaRani Sengupta

The Roman deities were adopted from the Greek Pantheon in which numerous goddesses are part of multilayered mythology and relationships. Motherless Athena, who sprang from the head of Zeus, usually placed patriarchal principles above maternal bonds. She is goddess of wisdom and mediator of peace. Athena is one of the three virgin goddesses, virgin because she remained outside the spell of Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love and beauty. Athena’s girl friend Pallas was accidentally killed by Athena’s arrow. The grieving goddess adopted her friend’s name and came to be known as Pallas Athena. Athena, the goddess of crafts, fashioned wooden image of Pallas called “Palladium” enshrined in Troy. Aeneas, the Trojan War hero and founder of Rome took the Palladium.  Being the son of Aphrodite-Venus Aeneas received protection and victory from both Athena and Venus Genetrix. Venus and Maia were central to the Imperial cult of Roman Empire and even beyond its Client States. Maia, the “Grandmother of Magic” (Maya) is mother of Hermes and Greek goddess of spring, youth, life, and rebirth. The cult of Demeter and Phrygian goddess Ma Cybele was also popular among Greco-Romans. Demeter is goddess of the earth to whom the seed is consigned and also to whom the dead are committed. Artemis-Diana is twin sister of Apollo, the sun god.  She is also one of the virgin goddesses who preside over birth while Selene is moon goddess that teaches magic and sorcery. Gaia is primordial Mother Earth whom the Romans worshiped as Tellus. Unique to Greco-Romans is personification of women of royal descent as one of their favorite goddesses and offer worship.

Dr. ArputhaRani Sengupta has taught Art History for more than three decades in institutions of higher learning. She recently retired as Professor, History of Art from National Museum Institute and teaches in Delhi Institute of Heritage Research Management. ArputhaRani specializes in Ancient and Classical Art and studies their impact on Early Buddhist Art of Central and South Asia. Her research includes the study of representation and symbolic communication in material culture, including jewellery, terracotta and textiles. Publications include Jewellery from Buddha Zone (2011), Kailasanatha Temple. The Realm of Immortals (2009) and Art of Terracotta (2004). Edited volumes include Cult of the Goddess (2011) and Devaraja Cult in South and Southeast Asia (2004). She has convened several symposiums at NMI and published research papers that examine semiotics of iconography with wide range of meaning. Her primary concern is to study the ways in which trans-cultural non-linguistic phenomena in art history can generate meaning and provide information on the role of culture in knowledge production.   


'Seeking Sarah – saint, saviour and solace of the ‘gitans’ - Dr Punita Singh

As intriguing as the many stories about the gypsies and their arrival in Europe centuries ago, are speculations about the deities they revere. While gypsies have historically taken on the dominant religion of the local population, from Islam to Christianity, the legend of Sarah is perhaps the most fascinating illustration of appropriation of a local mythical figure as a patron saint. Every May, Roma and Sinti gather in the little French village of Saintes Maries de la Mer to honour Saint Sarah, the black goddess inhabiting the crypt in the church dedicated to the Saint Marys. Prayers, pleas and the procession to the sea are highlights of the pilgrimage, even as music, commerce and networking happen alongside.

Punita Singh is a scholar and educator in the field of communication, speech, hearing, linguistics and musical acoustics. She has taught at Washington University in St Louis, USA, McGill University in Montreal, Canada and been visiting faculty at the School of Convergence and other institutions in India. She has also worked in the publishing industry, leading the Education and Digital Media divisions of Dorling Kindersley and then Rough Guides, the popular Penguin travel guidebook series. She has a special interest in the Roma and their language, music and culture.




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