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Paintings > Batik > Ten-Armed Durga Killing Demon Mahisha
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Ten-Armed Durga Killing Demon Mahisha

Ten-Armed Durga Killing Demon Mahisha

Ten-Armed Durga Killing Demon Mahisha

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Batik Painting On Cotton Fabric

2.2 feet x 3.5 feet
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Ten-Armed Durga Killing Demon Mahisha
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Viewed 22493 times since 1st Oct, 2011
This brilliant painting, rendered pursuing an iconographic form of the goddess as prevails in Bengal – the same kind of her crown, features and depiction of force, represents the ten-armed Devi – Goddess, killing the buffalo-demon Mahisha. This powerful image of the Great Goddess charging at the buffalo-demon with her trident is superb in portraying motion and force with which she overpowers him. Unlike routine representations that delineate the demon as half buffalo and half man, the man-part often emerging out of the decapitated figure of the animal, the painting represents in simultaneity the demon in his man form and the buffalo, independent of him, just symbolically to reveal the demon’s Mahisha identity. A parallel to Apasmarapurusha – human figure representing inertness in Shiva’s Nataraja iconography, the buffalo lies motionless and completely inert, its fore-part under the feet of the Devi’s mount, and the hind part, under the demon who pierced by the Devi’s trident seeks his support on it.

While the sublime force and divine energy defines the act of the goddess, the demon seems to be completely baffled and dismayed, and helpless and frightened he submits to her, as if his destiny. The artist further enhances this perception of the relative energies of two domains, the divine and the demonic, when he paints Devi using just two of her ten hands in killing Mahisha, as if suggesting that not more than a grain of her power was required to annihilate him. Mythically Mahisha was the mightiest demon of his time but the Goddess, while battling with him, does not pay even the least attention to him. As reflects on her face, with her eyes turned away from him, she is engaged in some deep thought suggesting that killing a demon, however mighty, is not her primary concern but it was far above it, perhaps the world’s weal and maintenance of the cosmic order.

As reveal various myths, Mahisha, meaning buffalo, believed to have a buffalo’s name and appearance, had won from Brahma by his great penance the boon of invincibility against all male. This made him highly ambitious and arrogant. After he had uprooted all earthly kings he invaded heaven and defeated Indra and all gods and evicted them of Indraloka – their abode. When approached for rescuing them, Brahma disclosed how Mahisha had won from him the boon of immunity from death at the hands of all males, gods, men or beasts. However, Brahma revealed that such immunity has not been granted against any female and hence a woman could kill him. After due deliberations gods decided to create a female divinity out of their own powers and attributes. Besides arming her with various weapons they also decided to bestow on her absolute divine beauty and female graces. They thought that besides representing the absolute womanhood on the earth she should have absolute beauty as beauty itself was the woman’s subtlest weapon. Then all gods assembled and created out of their divine lustre a female form and then each god bestowed on her his power, attributes and weapons. Finally, sage Narada disclosed to the newly created Goddess the sad plight of the gods and the errand for which she had been created. The Goddess delightfully accepted the prayer of gods and later in a fierce war killed the buffalo demon Mahisha. Other myths link her origin to Parvati who created her from a part of her, and some others, to Shiva.

This warrior form of the goddess is popularly called Durga, and as killing Mahisha, as Mahishasura-Mardini Durga, a form prevailing in both traditions, votive or aesthetic. The Devi’s form as Mahishasura-Mardini that blends with the beauty of a feminine form sublime force and divine commitment is unique also in its aesthetic beauty and is the most widely represented theme of aesthetic arts. In the uppermost of her ten arms the goddess is carrying ‘chakra’ – disc, and mace – the attributes of Vishnu, in the next two, trident-cum-spear – the attribute of Shiva, with which she is killing Mahisha, and in other six, bow and arrow, conch, goad, chopper and ‘parashu’ – axe. She is putting on a Bengali style red sari with broad zari-border and is enormously bejeweled. Her crown is the most attractive attribute of her image. It is exactly as the Bengali artisans cast for adorning their images of Durga. A large halo behind her face and upper half radiating like the rising sun appropriately frames her figure separating it from the rest of the background. Devi’s mount lion is as much agile as the Devi. It also has its share in her offensive against the demon.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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