KUMAR! is a goddess who has been a recognized member of the Hindu pantheon for at least 2,500 years. Throughout the long history of her worship she has displayed qualities of a highly ambiguous2 kind: on the one hand, she is literally by name 'virgin' or 'chaste young girl'; on the other, she is classed as one of a group of mother goddesses who are also the sexual partners of leading male deities. For example, in the Taittiriya Ara~1yaka, a third or fourth century BC text, Rudra's spouse Ambika is addressed as Kanyakumali (Muir 1967, IV: 426-7 and Chattopadhyaya 1970:153-5 5).
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