Category Archives: Durga

Paintings of the Devi : power and glory

Durga is an important deity from the Hindu pantheon. She is revered as a destroyer of evil. She is  a Goddess or a devi. The word devi in Sanskrit means divine or heavenly and a shining presence. The concept of devi first appeared in the Vedas in 200 B.C. but gained focus in Puranic literature with texts like the Devi Mahatmya. Goddess Durga reigns supreme and is the divine feminine as Devi in Hinduism and a divine mother as Mata.

Image result for Durga in miniature paintings

Durga slaying the demon, Nurpur painting, Himachal Pradesh, early 18th century.

The legend of Durga appears as an avatar of Parvati, who is angry, ferocious and has eight to ten arms, holding weapons and skulls, riding a lion or tiger. She is a warrior goddess  who kills Mahisasura whom the male Gods were unable to control. Durga is a unified form of all Gods. She is one who saves a devotee from durgati or misfortune. Her mythology is described in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana from the 4th to 6th century.

The nine manifestations of Durga or Navadurga are worshipped during Navaratri in the month of Ashwin of the Hindu calendar; Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta,Skandamata,Katyayani,Kaalratri,Mahagauri and Siddhidaatri. Durga is associated with two mountain ranges, the Himalayas in the north and the VIndhyas in central India. She is Paravati in the Himalayas; daughter of the mountains. Durga images have been found in Afghanistan(ancient Gandhara) and also in Tibet.

File:Durga in an episode from the Mahesha Mardini (6125116054).jpg

Scene from the Devimahatmyam, painting, 17th century.

The Shiva Purana says Lord Shiva invoked Durga from his left half to create and together both created Shivaloka. As per the Devi Mahatmya ,Mahisasura, son of demon Rambha unleashed terror on earth and defeated the Gods. The Gods then approached Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Together they created a woman on whom they bestowed weapons and she was Durga. Durga as Mahisasuramardini is one of the manifestations of the Divine mother whose primary aim is to combat demons who threaten the cosmos. She has many arms and each has a different weapon. She rides on a lion and defeats the buffalo demon Mahisasura who has been given a boon that no-one can defeat  him except a woman. The demon’s entire army was challenged by Durga. Mahisasura attacked Durga as a buffalo-demon whom Durga kills with a trisula (trident) after a fierce battle.

File:Brooklyn Museum - Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon.jpg

Durga after victory over Mahisasura, the demon, opaque watercolor embellished with applied gold and lacquer strips, 19th century. Brooklyn Museum, U.S.A

File:Ten-armed Devi annihilating demons - Unknown, Kashmir School - Google Cultural Institute.jpg

Durga slaying demons, Kashmir, early 19th century.

File:Kalighat pictures Indian gods f.25.jpg

Durga slaying the demon, Kalighat painting, 19th century.

 

 ”Sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvaartha saadhike Sharanye trayambake Gauri Narayani namosthute ”

”To auspiciousness of all auspiciousness Shiva -to the Good sarvarrtha saadhike – to the accomplisher of all objectives sharanye – to the Source of Refuge tryambake – to the mother of the three worlds. Gauri – to the Goddess who is Rays of Light Naaraayani – Exposer of consciousness Namostute- We bow to you again and again. We worship you”.

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

References and images :

  • Mahisasuramardini by Sanjaya Kumar Mahapatra, Agam Kala Prakashan, 2014.
  • Goddess Durga : the power and the glory, Marg Publications, Mumbai,2009.
  • wikipedia.org
  • speakingtree.in
  • Images are from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

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Terracotta art of Bengal : some Durga images

     The art of Bengal is synonymous with Terracotta . The powerful Durga worshipped as Mahisasuramardini during the Durga Puja every year has been rendered in this medium across the temples of Bengal. She is a most revered Goddess who protects her devotees from evil forces, both internal and external.

      Durga is an important deity from the Hindu pantheon. She is revered as a destroyer of evil. She is  a Goddess or a devi. The word devi in Sanskrit means divine or heavenly and a shining presence. The concept of devi first appeared in the Vedas in 200 B.C. but gained focus in Puranic literature with texts like the Devi Mahatmya. Goddess Durga reigns supreme and is the divine feminine as Devi in Hinduism and a divine mother as Mata. The legend of Durga appears as an avatar of Parvati, who is angry, ferocious and has eight to ten arms, holding weapons and skulls, riding a lion or tiger. She is a warrior goddess  who kills Mahisasura whom the male Gods were unable to control. Durga is a unified form of all Gods.She is one who saves a devotee from durgati or misfortune. Her mythology is described in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana, from the 4th to 6th century.

   The images of Goddess Durga in terracotta are seen in the Bishweshwar temple at Sribati in Katwa, Bardhaman, Girigovardhan temple, Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna Bardhaman, Pratapeshwar temple also at Kalna in Bardhaman, Brindaban Chandra Math, Kalna, Ramachandra Temple at Guptipara, Hooghly, Rajarajeshwar temple at Kotulpur, Hooghly, Radhagovindjiu temple at Antpur, Hooghly, among others. Some terracotta images from the temples of Bengal are showcased for illustration.

    The Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna was constructed in 1751-55 AD.  It is a magnificent brick panchabimsati-ratna temple with an elongated chala type verandah in front having three arches as the entrances. The temple has beautiful terracotta plaques.  Goddess Durga is depicted at the temple flanked by her children.

Krishnachandraji Temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5732938

Terracota Panel in Krishnachandra temple WLM2016 DSC 5371.jpg

Krishnachandraji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981

      The construction of the Radhagovindjiu Temple at Antpur was completed in 1786 AD. It has exquisite terracotta carvings with Puranic stories. The 100 feet temple was built by Krishna Ram Mitra, the diwan of the Bardhaman Raj. Besides the Radha-Krishna images which are predominant,  the temple has the sculpture of Goddess Durga flanked by her children is noteworthy.

Radhagovindjiu Temple, Antpur, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3343649

Radha-govindjiu temple, Antpur,  Hooghly. 

By Piyal Kundu – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3347037

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Inner Panel - 4.jpg

Goddess Durga, Terracottta panel, Lalji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51949876

 

Terracota Panel on Pratapeswartemple DSC 5494.jpg

Goddess Durga, Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951996

Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini, idol at Durga Puja, 21st century.

By AKS.9955 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

Chalukyan art : some monuments at Aihole

     The Gupta dynasty and its successors had declined by the end of the 6th century and several changes took place in the Deccan and Southern India. By the time the Vakatakas had collapsed the early Kaluchuris dynasty established itself  around 520 A.D and flourished till 600 A.D.  The Kaluchuris are noted for Pasupata Saivism, a religious  movement in the Deccan and South Asia. They excavated the Jogeswari caves,Mandapeshwara,Elephanta and the Dhumar Lena at Ellora. They were overtaken by the Western Chalukyas of Karnataka. The Kadambas of Banavasi ruled in South Karnataka and were also overtaken by the Western Chalukyas, who were Dravidian and ruled from Badami (ancient Vatapi) and called Badami Chalukyas. Their ruler Pulakesin I fortified the area of Badami in 543 A.D.  Pulakesin II was its most notable ruler. He defeated Harsha on the banks of the Narmada. He expanded the kingdom to the northern limits of the Pallava kingdom. However in  642 A.D Pallava king Narasimhavarman occupied Badami for some time. Pulakesin died fighting. However the Chalukyas regained power under Vikramaditya I. Later Vijayaditya (696-733) ruled for 37 years and built many temples. Vikramaditya II ruled 733 – 744 A.D and was victorious over Pallava king Nandivarman II. He was a kind ruler, made temples at Kanchipuram too. Thus this early Chalukyan dynasty ruled most of the Deccan for 200 years; from mid 6th century to mid 8th century.  They were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas.This dynasty is remembered for it rock-cutting sculpture and later structural temples. The rock cut tradition is found at Aihole and Badami in Karnataka.

Chalukyan art of ancient India reaches a classical zenith at the group of monuments at Aihole in the present state of Karnataka in southern India.  An amazing example of rock cut temple architecture built by the Chalukyas datable to 550 A.D. is the Ravana Pahadi. These Chalukyas were ware called the Early Western Chalukyas by historians. The Deccan became an interface between the upper north and south below in the Indian peninsula. The Ravan Pahadi cave has a simple facade with two dwarapalas  and dwarves. The cave has a central mantapa (hall) with shrines by its sides. At the back end is a linga within a sanctuary. The mantapa is at a lower level than the shrines and sanctuary. The cave walls and ceiling including the corners of the main mandapa or hall have superb sculptures. A multi armed representation of Lord Shiva as Nataraja along with the saptamatrikas . Legend has it that the saptamtrikas were created during his battle with Andhakasura. The figures are slim and their garments have striations which are incised on stone. The cave has a figure of Durga as Mahisasuramardini  depicting her with her with one left hand and folded leg crushing the bull. She holds her weapons including the trident or trisula which is very prominent.

Ravana Pahadi cave,6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

By Manjunath Doddamani Gajendragad at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55299150

Mantapa , Ravana Pahadi cave temple,6th century, Aihoḷe,Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877895

 

Raval Phadi (Brahmanical Cave) - Image 2.JPG

Linga,Ravana Pahadi ,6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Nagraj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21380047

Relief work1 in the Ravana phadi cave temple in Aihole.jpg

Nataraja, Ravana Pahadi cave temple, 6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877893

Relief work2 in the Ravana phadi cave temple in Aihole.jpg

Mahisasuramardini, Ravana pahadi Cave temple, 6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877894

      Durga temple at Aihole has an apsidal and oblong plan and is part of a fort or durg, hence its name Durga. It was built during the late 7th and early 8th centuries by the Early Western Chalukyas. There is a circumbulatory passage around the temple having pillars,some with sculptures.. There is an entrance area, a mandapa or hall and an inner shrine. The inner shrine has a narrow circumambulatory path.  The temple has a small porch approached by two staircases. The inner wall of the temple has many sculptures.; Durga as Mahisasuramardini having eight arms. A shikhara is present on the temple’s east-side over the shrine. The temple might have been dedicated to Lord Vishnu as many of his avatars  are carved on the temple like Varaha and  Narasimha.

Durga temple, 6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

CC0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37733925

Durga Temple Aihole. Vishnu.jpg

Lord Vishnu,Durga temple, Aihole,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:12, 5 June 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26505253

Kaali Matha.jpg

Durga, 6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Naveenkumarsnayak – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51445322

Aihole 3.JPG

Durga temple,6th century,Karnataka.

By Nithin bolar k – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27944703

Aihole si05-1462.jpg

Celestial couple,ceiling, Durga Temple,6th century, Aihole,Karnataka.

By G41rn8 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40069651

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

Durga in Indian art: some painting and sculpture depictions

Durga is an important deity from the Hindu pantheon. She is revered as a destroyer of evil. She is  a Goddess or a devi. The word devi in Sanskrit means divine or heavenly and a shining presence. The concept of devi first appeared in the Vedas in 200 B.C. but gained focus in Puranic literature with texts like the Devi Mahatmya. Goddess Durga reigns supreme and is the divine feminine as Devi in Hinduism and a divine mother as Mata. The legend of Durga appears as an avatar of Parvati, who is angry, ferocious and has eight to ten arms, holding weapons and skulls, riding a lion or tiger. She is a warrior goddess  who kills Mahisasura whom the male Gods were unable to control. Durga is a unified form of all Gods.She is one who saves a devotee from durgati or misfortune. Her mythology is described in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana from the 4th to 6th century.

image001

Durga on amulet, Rajasthan.

By Vassil – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1877832

The nine manifestations of Durga or Navadurga are worshipped during Navaratri in the month of Ashwin of the Hindu calendar; Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta,Skandamata,Katyayani,Kaalratri,Mahagauri and Siddhidaatri. Durga is associated with two mountain ranges, the Himalayas in the north and the VIndhyas in central India. She is Paravati in the Himalayas; daughter of the mountains. Durga images have been found in Afghanistan(ancient Gandhara) and also in Tibet.

image021

Navadurgas, painting, Banaras.

By No machine-readable author provided. Elishams assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1939544

image018

Mahavidyas and Navadurgas on Amber Fort palace door, Rajasthan,16th cenury.

By Adamina – DSC05814Uploaded by Ekabhishek, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12020687

Durga is Sachika in the Jodhpur area of Rajasthan. She is called Sharika in Kashmir, Meenakshi in the south, Kamakhya in the east. All over India local goddesses are identified with Durga. She is Chandi in Punjab and Haryana. In Kerala she is Bhagavati and worshipped as Bathukamma in Telangana. The Devi Mahatmya is a religious text which describes the Devi as the supreme power and creator of the universe.  This text is used by Shakta groups (who worship the Devi as supreme), Vaishnavas, Shaivas and others.The other important texts are the Devi Bhagavata Purana and Devi Upanishad, important texts of the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism. In fact the earliest evidence for the feminine aspect of God appears in the Rigveda as Devi suktam. Hymns to the devi or Goddess appear in the epic Mahabharata too. By the 3rd or 4th century, the devi became an important aspect of Hindu tradition. The mahadvidyas are a group of ten aspects of Adi Parashakti (Durga) in Hinduism. The mahavidyas include Buddhist goddesses too and are important aspect in Shaktism; and include Kali, Tara,Tripura Sundari,Chinnamasta,Dhumavati,Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala.

The Shiva Purana says Lord Shiva invoked Durga from his left half to create and together both created Shivaloka. As per the Devi Mahatmya ,Mahisasura, son of demon Rambha unleashed terror on earth and defeated the Gods. The Gods then approached Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Together they created a woman on whom they bestowed weapons and she was Durga.  The demon’s entire army was challenged by Durga. Mahisasura attacked Durga as a buffalo-demon whom Durga kills with a trisula(trident) after a fierce battle.

image025

Sculpture of Durga, Kashmir, 9th century.

 By Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-31961402-O3.jpg Gallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/176350, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27253189

 

image011

Devi mahatmya manuscript, 17th century.

By Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-31973441-O3.jpg Gallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/171565, Public Domain,

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27229319

The Devi Mahatmya has three episodes. In the first Durga is the sleep state or yoga nidra of Lord Vishnu. The demons Madhu and Kaitabha are threatening to destroy the cosmos. Brahma calls upon the Goddess to emerge and she comes out through Vishnu’s eyes,mouth,nose, arms and chest. Thus Vishnu becomes awake and vanquishes the demons. The second episode is the story of Durga as Mahisasuramardini. The male Gods have been defeated by demons or asuras whose leader is Mahisasura. A strong rage or the tejas of all the Gods takes the form of a woman, Durga who rides lion and is armed with weapons given by the Gods and slays the buffalo-demon, Mahisasura. In the third episode too, the Gods are defeated by the demons or  asuras  Chanda and Munda and Shumbha and Nishumbha. This time the Devi or Durga emerges from the skin of Parvati who is the consort of Lord Shiva and during the battle from her forehead emerges Kali with a tongue dripping with blood and who wears a necklace of skulls and who finishes off the evil beings.

image026

Sculpture of Durga, Karnataka,13th century.

By Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-34340591-O3.jpg Gallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/236874, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27303644

image014

Kalighat painting, Kolkata (previously Calcutta)19th century.

By Unknown – The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41948601

image016

Wall relief at temple at Aihole, Karnataka,  7th-8th century.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877840

 image009

Goddess Kali and the saptamatrikas in battle, from a Devi mahatmya manuscript, Mysore.

By Unknown – LACMA[1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2374850

image005

Durga fighting Shunga and Nishunga,painting from Devi Mahatmya, mid 19th century.

By Punjab Hills, India – from a Devi Mahatmyahttp://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1907.602, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18230079

In the 10th or 11th century another text the Devi Bhagavata Purana and the Shakta poem Soundaryalahiri became important. Thus Devi or Durga as Lord Shiva’s consort, mahisasuramardini, cosmic power, divine feminine became an important part of Indian religious tradition and culture.

The Devi Bhagavata Purana looks upon the Devi or Shakti as the creator of the Universe and as the Brahman or ultimate reality. This text celebrates the divine feminine and is a mix of mythology, metaphysics and about the conflict between Gods and asuras or good and evil. Durga is described as the eternal truth, the nirguna or formless, saguna, with form, the unchanging reality or purusha and the changing reality or prakriti and the very soul of living beings.

Soundaryalahiri is a poem written by Adi Shankara and sage Pushpadanta about the beauty and grace of Goddess Parvati. It is tantra text book with instructions about pujas, offerings and various yantras.

The matrikas are seven female divinities, together called saptamatrikas; Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Indrani, Kaumari,Varahi and Chamundi. They assist Lord Shiva to battle Andhakusura and assist the devi in their fight with demons.

image020

Saptamatrikas ,red sandstone, Madhya Pradesh, 9th century.

By Ms Sarah Welch – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44761691

Every year during the month of Ashwin(which falls during late September and early October),Durga Puja is celebrated in many Indian states especially West Bengal, Asom, Odisha, Bihar,Tripura,Meghalaya and Jharkhand. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo-demon Mahisasura. She is worshipped as destroyer of evil and protector of her devotees with great pomp and festivities.

image023

Durga puja idols, Kolkata,21st century.

By Aryan paswan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21249252

 

References:

  • Pal, Pratapaditya,ed./Goddess Durga : the power and the glory, Mumbai: Marg Publications,2009.
  •   wikipedia.org

Posted by : Soma Ghosh