10.12.2005

Durga - her attributes and iconography

Durga: Also known as Mahishasuramardhini, she is the personification of all male energy, and she sure has a lot to hold. She is most often depicted in a standing posture, with one leg over the Buffalo demon mahishasura, while her vahana - the lion- is seen devouring the demon. She is one of the forms of Kali and is worshipped widely across the country as the potent female energy. She often appears eight handed or more, each hand carrying a weapon that belongs to the Gods Here is a glimpse of what her weapons are.

Sculpted most often as a Goddess with many arms, she carries the following weapons:

cakra (disc), pa_s'a (noose), an:kus'a, bow, arrow, mu_s.ala (club), s'akti (spear), axe, khe_taka, vajra, staff or sceptre (yaks.am), bhusundi_ (missile), mudgara. Her hands may also carry a flag, a lotus, a plough, a mirror, a kaman.d.alu (water-pot), honey-cup, rosary (aks.ama_la_)


She is also sculpted with only two hands, one of the hands may hold a s'u_la or pa_s'a weapon.

Her mudras: Mudras are very interesting mediums of expression of emotion and attitude. Each finger is an energy center within itself. The energies are both positive and negative. Depiction of mudras is a sort of sign language, very evolved in nature. Mudras are most often used during ritual and dance, and popularly depicted on sculpture and painting.

Here the goddess is depicted in four mudra (hand-postures); these express attributes of protection, benediction; they also inspire terror or affection.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...
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revathi said...

Thanx for the pics. Highly evocative artworks of the Goddess. Each hand made me long to have a glimpse of the goddessherself!!!

JC Joshi said...

As I have understood and also earlier commented on different occasions, the ancients termed the ‘tatvas’ or ‘elements’ as ‘Panchabhootas’ that go into the formation of the entire physical forms in the ‘Brahmand’, or universe, by ‘Brahmanaad’ or conversion of sound energy into matter, irrespective of the fact that these were considered as illusionary (thoughts inside the head of ‘Shakti’ and/ or Her various innumerable manifestations) or ‘virtual truth’ (On the lighter side, as also reflected through comments of Mr Anon, Earth was stated to be a market where lies are sold!) - as we can easily visualize it today…

Perhaps the simplest model of Creation is the Potter’s Wheel. The pot maker’s heavy wheel - for generating a high momentum to it - rotates around a central point, with the force imparted to it by him initially, as also from time to time as and when needed. Of course, before starting it he already has a properly prepared chunk of clay, made with ‘earth’ and ‘water’. He then works his hands - thumbs pressing close to the centre and the fingers covering the outer periphery - to give to the finished pot (after these are baked in open 'air' directly in the sun or 'fire' in an oven) the preplanned design that lay within his head… It’s a different matter that the finished pot might apparently turn out to be much different from the original thought…

In the present times, the above cited phenomenon is communicated through a PIE chart, where P stands for Planning, I for Implementation and E for Evaluation. The implementation might however get modified with passage of time due to modified feedback - from the planner/ as a result of evaluation at the intermediate stage itself and thus the variance between the original design and the finished product…

However, in the ‘Grinding Wheel’, for the breaking up of existing forms, two wheels are used (compare with moon evolving from earth subsequently). One of these is fixed while the other revolves over it while the forms to be ground are fed from a hole near the centre and the finished powder falls out all over the periphery on to the ground below...

Kavita, the descriptions given above might help to visualize the intended communication through at least the first symbol, the ‘Shankha’ or the conch shell, the source of sound energy…

And, Chakra could be realized as the galaxy of stars that revolves around its centre, and also all Heavenly Bodies’ rotation around its own axis and also revolution around some parent body…

Badhri said...

A wonderful, educative and most importantly, a timely post about Durga.

On a side note, you might want to turn the comment verification on!

Roberto Iza Valdes said...
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JC Joshi said...

Hi Roberto!

I couldn't make out what you wanted to communicate...

I would however inform you that the 'Hindu philosophy' believably is the most ancient one, having been carried over through generations - verbally initially and apparently recorded recently.

The basic idea is that due to inherent characteristic property of 'time', the essence 'OM' represents the universe, where 'O' stands for the basic eternal sound of the formless OMNIPRESENT & OMNIPRESENT while 'M' signfies the end and thus the limited duration of the apparent physical forms...

The Hindu philosophy, as reflected through worship of infinite forms, apparently encompasses all religions, or different paths, to reach believably the one and only formless Creator or the 'Absolute Truth'...

JC Joshi said...

Hi Roberto!

I couldn't make out what you wanted to communicate...

I would however inform you that the 'Hindu philosophy' believably is the most ancient one, having been carried over through generations - verbally initially and apparently recorded recently.

The basic idea is that due to inherent characteristic property of 'time', the essence 'OM' represents the universe, where 'O' stands for the basic eternal sound of the formless OMNIPRESENT & OMNIPRESENT while 'M' signfies the end and thus the limited duration of the apparent physical forms...

The Hindu philosophy, as reflected through worship of infinite forms, apparently encompasses all religions, or different paths, to reach believably the one and only formless Creator or the 'Absolute Truth'...

Anonymous said...

i liked the post.only thing that I couldn't comprehend is the naming of sankha as aweapon.

kavitha said...

shankha is not a weapon in the real sense of the word but it is what is used to declare battle.

it is not used to kill, but it is used to sound war.

JC Joshi said...

I would like to elaborate what Kavitha has already explained above in short…

The ancient ‘Hindus’ had reached the conclusion that man is ‘a model of the universe’, i.e., as per a grand design, it reflected the characteristic properties of the Heavenly Bodies. For example, in the present we have learnt that the moon is a satellite of the earth and if one were to observe carefully one would notice that similar is the Mother& Child relationship, i.e., activities of both revolve around each other. Another example: the planet Mercury is closest to our sun and thus it runs the fastest and completes one revolution around it in just 88 days, compared to 365 days or one year by relatively distant earth and about 30 years by Saturn. Thus some say that ‘planet Mercury runs with fire in its mouth’ and similarly there are humans who are faster, some use foul language, and some are slower, some are gentle and sober, and so on…

Regarding sound related with the conch shell, we have learnt how Voyager 2 while passing near the planet Saturn recorded the sound being emitted by it, which sounded like playing of drums, tinkling of bells and chirping of birds, all combined. Maybe because of this knowledge acquired by the ancients in the long lost past, even today one finds drums and bells, and so on, being used ritually during performance of religious functions at homes and in temples… In the description of the battle of Mahabharata, one reportedly finds different sounds from different personalities, for example, Krishna’s conch was called Panchajanya, i.e., creator of the ‘five elements’, earth, air, water, fire and sky that go into the making of all the physical forms. He thus believably is the Creator of the ‘naad’ or the sound responsible for creation as well as destruction of physical forms. It is well known that sound in the form of soothing music helps growth of plants and animals, whereas if it is loud, like the hurricane’s sound, it fills one with panic and thus the downfall of those who are the enemies of 'Krishna' or the Creator of forms on behalf of the formless, the unborn and the unending…

Roberto Iza Valdes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hi kavitha, great work. i'm a dancer, and i was looking for some variations in durga poses. as i see you are interested in indian temples, and i presume to some extent religion, i would encourage you to experiment with sahaja yoga. (www.sahajayoga.org, and click experience now).

kavita.