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35078636 Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine the 10 Mahavidyas

35078636 Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine the 10 Mahavidyas

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What is one to make of a group of goddesses that includes a goddess who cuts her own head off, a goddess who sits on a corpse while pulling the tongue of a demon, or a goddess who prefers sex with
corpses? Tantric Visions of the Divine

Feminine deals with a group of ten H i n d u , tantric goddesses, the Mahavidyas, who embody habits, attributes, or identities usually considered repulsive or socially subversive. It is within the context of tantric worship that devotees seek to identify themselves with these forbidding goddesses. T h e Mahavidyas seem to function as "awakeners"—symbols that help to project one's consciousness beyond the socially acceptable or predictable.
Kinsley not only describes the eccentric qualities of each of these goddesses, but seeks to interpret the Mahavidyas as a group and to explain their importance for understanding Tantra and the H i n d u tradition. T h i s is a far-ranging and impressively comprehensive book... Kinsley's book will set a new standard for the kind of thorough scholarship that can and ideally should be brought to bear upon the interpretation of H i n d u goddesses and Tantric deities."

"A wonderful study of these fascinating and colorful goddessess...Readable and engaging...this is a very important work."


81-208-1522-x (Cloth) 81-208-1523-8 (Paper)

Rs. 295 Rs. 195

Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine
The Ten Mahavidyas DAVID K I N S L E Y


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First Indian Edition: Delhi, 1998

© 1997 The Regents of the University of California Published by arrangement with the University of California Press All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 81-208-1522-x (Cloth) ISBN: 81-208-1523-8 (Paper)

Abo available at:

41 U.A. Bungalow Road, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi 110 007 8, Mahalaxmi Chamber, Warden Road, Mumbai 400 026 120 Royapettah High Road, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 Sanas Plaza, Subhash Nagar, Pune 411 002 16 SL Mark's Road, Bangalore 560 001 8 Camac Street, Calcutta 700 017 Ashok Rajpath, Patna 800 004 Chowk, Varanasi 221 001

This edition may not be sold outside India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldavies, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan


To my friends and teachers Om Prakash Sharma and Virendra Singh





PART I. T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP T h e Ten Mahavidyas 9; Typical Literary and Iconographic Contexts 14; T h e Mahavidyas as Forms of the Mahadevi 18; Mahavidya Origin Myths 22; Interrelationships among the Mahavidyas 38; Worship of the Mahavidyas 49; T h e Mahavidyas and Magical Powers 55; T h e Significance of the T e r m Mahavidya 57; Concluding Observations 61 PART II. T H E INDIVIDUAL MAHAVIDYAS


Kali: The Black Goddess Tara: T h e Goddess W h o Guides through Troubles Tripura-sundari: She W h o Is Lovely in the Three Worlds Bhuvanesvari: She Whose Body Is the World Chinnamasta: T h e Self-Decapitated Goddess Bhairavi: T h e Fierce One Dhumavati: T h e Widow Goddess Bagalamukhl: T h e Paralyzer

67 92 112 129 144 167 176 193


209 223

Matarigi: T h e Outcaste Goddess Kamala: T h e Lotus Goddess

PART III. CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS Corpses and Cremation Grounds 233; Skulls and Severed Heads 238; Sexuality and Awakened Consciousness 241; T h e Conjunction of Death and Sexual Imagery 244; T h e Roles of W o m e n and Reverence for Women 246; T h e Potentially Liberating Nature of Social Antimodels 251



289 299


I first became aware of the group of H i n d u goddesses known as the ten Mahavidyas while conducting research on the goddess K a l i in Calcutta during the academic year 1 9 6 8 - 6 9 . K a l i is nearly always listed as the first of this group of ten unusual goddesses and in many ways is the exemplary Mahavidya. It was not until 1 9 8 3 - 8 4 in Varanasi, however, that I began to undertake detailed research on this group. W i t h the help of a fellowship from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, I investigated literary sources and did field research on Mahavidya temples, iconography, and worship. I returned to Varanasi in 1 9 9 2 - 9 3 to continue my research, this time with the help of a grant from McMaster University Arts Research Board. During my research in Varanasi I was fortunate to have the assistance of many people. Om Prakash Sharma was indispensable in helping me locate several Mahavidya temples and paintings, putting me in touch with many knowledgeable people, and finding relevant texts. Virendra Singh, who patiently attempted to teach me H i n d i , was always encouraging about my work. Mahant Sri Rama Shankar Tripathi of the Kashi Vishvanath temple held frequent useful discussions with me during 1 9 8 3 - 8 4 and translated several relevant Sanskrit texts about the Mahavidyas for me. Hemendra Nath Chakravarty was especially important in helping me think through the meaning of several of the Mahavidyas and in locating and translating for me several crucial passages relating to the Mahavidyas as a group and to individual Mahavidyas. I also appreciated the many discussions I had with Mark Dyczkowski at his home overlooking Assi Ghat. I remember these chats as a pleasant blend of sober scholarly inquiry and


amusing speculation on the mysteries presented by this unusual group of H i n d u goddesses. Doug Abrams Arava, my editor, has made several discerning suggestions that have very much improved this book and has been unwavering in his attentive support throughout its preparation. I owe special thanks also to the three readers who reviewed the manuscript: Kathleen Erndl, Miranda Shaw, and an anonymous reviewer. Their comments and criticisms proved very useful in revising the book. Victoria Wilson-Schwartz, the University of California Press copyeditor, was attentive, constructive, and unhesitant in scrutinizing my prose—to her, thanks very much. I am also grateful to my wife, Carolyn, for the many hours she spent lending this book consistency and clarity, from an early draft through subsequent stages of production.


What is one to make of a group of goddesses that includes a goddess who cuts her own head off, another who prefers to be offered polluted items by devotees who themselves are in a state of pollution, one who sits on a corpse while pulling the tongue of a demon, another who has sex astride a male consort who is lying on a cremation pyre, another whose couch has as its legs four great male gods of the H i n d u pantheon, another who prefers to be worshiped in a cremation ground with offerings of semen, and yet another who is a haglike widow? Are these goddesses, who are known as the ten Mahavidyas, bizarre creations of radical groups within the H i n d u tradition, obscure beings whose significance is peripheral to the basic themes of H i n d u spirituality? Should we dismiss them as tangential, perhaps even irrelevant, to H i n d u religion? After years of studying and musing on them, it seems to me that there is a logic to the group as a whole and that even its most outrageous members, if understood within their proper context, reveal important spiritual truths. We know the Mahavidyas from a variety of sources. M a n y goddess temples across N o r t h India contain paintings and images of them. C o n temporary lithographs portray them both as a group and individually. Dhydna mantras describe them for liturgical and meditative purposes, and they are the subject of several tantric digests. T h e Mahavidyas have been known as a group since the early medieval period (after the tenth century C.E.). 1 Some of them predated this development and continue to be very well known in their own right, such as the fierce black goddess K a l i . She is also usually the primary, or ddi,


Mahavidya. Kamala, who is the same as the very popular goddess SriLaksmi, is also a member of the group. Tara and Tripura-sundari, lesser known but still far from obscure, are other examples of H i n d u goddesses who are popular on their own and as part of the group. On the other hand, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavatl, and Matahgi are rarely mentioned apart from the Mahavidyas. T h e aim of this study is to reflect on the meaning of the Mahavidyas, both as a group and as individual deities. As a group, the Mahavidyas present a curious collection. It is not at all apparent why these particular ten goddesses have become associated with one another. As for the individual goddesses, several are obscure and have received no scholarly attention. In some cases the sources available on individual Mahavidyas are so limited that it is difficult, if not impossible, to reconstruct their histories or gain a clear impression of their worship. In many respects this study is not definitive or conclusive. I seek here to bring a preliminary ordering to the Mahavidya tradition in the hope that it will encourage other scholars to undertake more detailed studies of the group and of its individual members. Throughout my study of the Mahavidyas, I was told many times by a number of people—priests, scholars, painters, and practitioners—that the Mahavidyas are "all one." Sometimes they were responding to a question concerning the significance of the group as a whole and sometimes to one concerning the peculiarities of an individual goddess. I often took this reply to indicate that the person did not have an appropriate answer to the question and that the main point, in any case, was to understand the group as so many manifestations of one (or the) great goddess. Such questions as, " W h y does Bagalamukhi like yellow?" "What does the name Bagalamukhi mean, and what is its significance?" " W h y does K a l i stand on Siva?" " W h a t is the significance of the name Matahgi?" often elicited a look of incomprehension (why would I want to know this anyway?), followed by the comment that all of the Mahavidyas are the same: they are all different expressions of the same goddess, who enjoys taking many forms for her own pleasure and the needs of her devotees. I usually took this as a formulaic reply, the kind that Hindus often make to non-Hindus who stand bewildered before the fantastic array of divinity expressed in the immense H i n d u pantheon. After a careful study of the individual Mahavidyas, however, it became apparent to me that in many ways this comment, "They are all one," is important in understanding the significance of the individual manifestations and their worship. Texts that dwell in detail on the Mahavidyas—the Tantrasdra, Sdkta-

is strongly individualistic. invoke the goddess's hymns. This type of worship. An ideal match is supposedly made according to the guru's superior spiritual intuition and knowledge of both the initiate and the goddess. Furthermore. Tantric texts emphasize its secrecy. carefully select and "protect" a place of worship with the appropriate mantras and mudrds (hand gestures). the guru chooses the goddess whose peculiarities match the predilections of the initiate. or an abbreviated form of it. "perfect. . In the logic of the worship. no matter how different she may appear from the others. the sddhaka seeks to identify with the goddess in question. and other details of worship. and make his or her wish or wishes known to the chosen deity. set patterns of worship determine how one approaches the deity. to have a vision of her. T h e mantras of the goddesses. correctly imagine and interiorize the goddess. It is uncommon for a person to be initiated into more than one goddess. draw or carefully imagine and worship her yantra. be it redemptive knowledge or the power to annihilate one's enemies. whether one seeks worldly boons or spiritual awareness. transmits the mantra of that goddess.INTRODUCTION pramoda. are always disguised and must be decoded by those with special knowledge before their exact components can be understood. if one is able to become the goddess. The adept must know. T h e overall intent of the worship also has normative aspects. Whether the sddhaka (practitioner) worships Kali or Kamala. She becomes the initiate's special goddess. offer her standard sixteen-part puja (worship). She is made to conform to an accepted structure that has at least two central components: (i) a ritualistic approach to the deity that is individual and tantric in nature and (2) a philosophical/mythological paradigm of the Mahadevi (great goddess) to which the individual Mahavidya is compared or equated. including her hundred. That is." and repeatedly recite the goddess's mantra (japa sddhand) throughout the worship rituals. T h e guru gives this information only after determining the capability of the adept. which are the basic building blocks of tantric worship and represent the essential power of the goddesses. In general. to whom he or she will devote i n tense energy over a lifetime. generally known as tantric (as opposed to Vedic or purdnic). the description and worship of each goddess is outlined in very similar terms. a spiritual master who is expert and accomplished in the worship of a particular goddess. and many others—discuss each Mahavidya according to a clear structure. Saktisamgama-tantra. to the initiated individual. and to gain a boon that is understood to be part of her "store" of grace. A guru.and thousand-name hymns. one can obtain that which she possesses.

contemporary lithograph. This relationship between the goddess and the practitioner is individual and personal and in this sense is secret. Tripura-sundari). It is more typical for someone to focus on one particular goddess and to find in her the satisfaction of all his or her worldly and spiritual needs. For the adept. That is. only the devotee and the goddess (and per- . Rajarajesvari (Lalita.INTRODUCTION Fig. this goddess becomes the Great Goddess. i.

and royal authority. one is surprised to find fierce or terrible aspects to Kamala. But each goddess in her own way approximates the paradigm. maintenance. It is not shared with the public. T h e philosophical/mythological model to which most of the individual Mahavidyas conform is exemplified in the Lalita-sahasranama. who are often said to be helpless in the face of the demons she defeats. This text attributes several dominant characteristics to Lalita.INTRODUCTION haps the adept's guru) know its nature and peculiar features. given the descriptions of most of the Mahavidyas in their dhyana mantras and the stories about their origins. identical with certain philosophical absolutes such as brahman. including spiritual attainments and enlightenment. but such qualities are mentioned. dtman (the spiritual essence of reality). frightening aspects. not even with family members. hymns to goddesses such as Kali and Chinnamasta paint them in rather fierce tones. . while Kamala and Bhuvanesvari are fairly benign in their hymns. She is prakrti. She is also said to have fierce. She has many benign qualities and grants boons to her devotees. and purusa (another term denoting the spiritual aspect of creation). It is also surprising. she oversees the three principal cosmic functions: creation. beneficent features. but her thousand-name hymn says that she has many such qualities. liquor. It identifies her in a number of ways and in many epithets as the highest reality in the cosmos. As the highest reality. Conversely. one might expect her to lack any pacific or nurturing qualities. Visnu. terrible. that every one of them is strongly associated with Durga in her role as demon slayer. the inherent or vital principle of creation. She protects the world and the position of the gods by defeating demons that they have found too formidable. Related to this role as cosmic queen is her role as slayer of demons. and Siva. From descriptions of K a l i in her dhyana mantras. but her thousand-name hymns describe her as having both. As one might expect. From Dhumavati's dhyana mantras. to be sure. She is also usually identified with s'akti (the inherent power of creation). an early thousand-name hymn in praise of Tripura-sundari in her form as Lalita. and blood (all considered polluting in the H i n d u tradition). In this respect she is said to transcend or empower the great male gods Brahma. She is identified with the physical creation itself. and sometimes she is said to like meat. She is often described as the consort of Siva and in this role is a model wife. She is also lovely to behold and erotically powerful. and destruction. one would expect that she would lack all positive. fertility. 2 T h e ways and extent to which an individual Mahavidya conforms to this model vary. given her strong associations with good fortune.

wishes and dreams. demand to be served by them. given how different some of the Mahavidyas appear to be from each other. "all are one. the most powerful approved model for H i n d u women for centuries has been the goddess Slta. however. pollution. It is true that some of the Mahavidyas are benign deities. However. Several of the Mahavidyas also subvert the strong emphasis in the H i n d u tradition on avoiding pollution. most of the Mahavidyas are associated with marginality. These goddesses." T h e origin myths of the group as a whole also make this point. or avatdras of that goddess. multifaceted being. Slta's husband is the be-all and end-all of her existence. aspects. saying that all ten forms arose from one goddess (Sari. K a l i . who is the ideal pati vratd (a wife devoted to her husband). By antimodels I mean that their roles violate approved social values. These texts seem to make the point that. no matter how remote she may seem from the Great G o d dess in other ways. in the case of the Mahavidyas. associated with such worldly boons as wealth.6 INTRODUCTION Each goddess. They inhere in each other and represent different facets of a single. Death. Her thoughts and actions. I think. the Mahavidyas. in her thousand-name hymn is associated with protecting cosmic order by slaying demons. all focus on him. This is striking. He or she need only cultivate an intense and sustained rapport with one goddess to discover the blessings of all. inauspicious qualities. either are independent from males or dominate (sometimes humiliate) them in one way or another. especially for women. or paradigms. and security. they might be termed antimodels. H i n d u women for generations have been socialized to view Slta as an ideal to imitate in their own lives. Many of the Mahavidyas seem to mock the pati vratd ideal and to present an alternative social role that is almost its exact opposite. fecundity. T h e adept or devotee need not worship all ten Mahavidyas to gain their assortment of blessings or siddhis. or appreciating. and death. For example. if they allow males in their presence at all. customs. T h e hymns to the individual goddesses also seem to make the point by suggesting that an adept who delves deeply enough into any one of the Mahavidyas will find them all in her. indeed. or Durga) and all are different facets. norms. But why would one want to receive the blessings of such goddesses in the first place? W h y would a H i n d u practitioner go out of the way to establish rapport with a goddess who is outrageous or bizarre? What are the blessings to be had from these unusual goddesses? An important key to understanding. her life only has meaning in relation to him. Most of the Mahavidyas. which is highly polluting . lies precisely in their radical or outrageous aspects.

She haunts cremation grounds. Several receive blood sacrifice. H e r hair is wild and unbound. She rides a ghost or a corpse as her vehicle. always in the so-called dominant or reverse position. and mocks the social status quo. that there remains hidden from our normal view an aspect of reality that is different.lies on a funeral pyre). it seems to me. H e r companions are ghosts. as antimodels. T h e world is not the way we like to think it is. In the case of Matahgi. In many ways the goddess Kali. and the sooner we realize that. and the sexually powerful nature of the Mahavidyas suggests that they are in a polluted state. is a dominant theme in Mahavidya iconography and worship. It is a theme I take up at several points in the book. H e r tongue lolls out grotesquely. She is aggressive and is often standing on her male consort. Several Mahavidya goddesses dwell in cremation grounds and sit on corpses. is the prototype of the group in terms of being what I have termed an antimodel. subverts. suggesting an insatiable. She holds a freshly severed head in one of her hands. Several wear garlands of severed heads (always male) or hold severed heads. rudely. . They are often shown having sex. we have a goddess who prefers pollution and who requires her devotees to be in a state of pollution when they offer her polluted substances. such as menstrual blood. I argue that it is a feature of certain aspects of tantric spirituality in particular. always of male victims. Appreciating the liberating potential of antimodels. Sexual fluids are polluting in H i n d u culture.of apprehending it. She is sexually powerful and is shown having sex astride her consort (who sometimes. on top of their consorts. Kali insults. perhaps shockingly different. She is almost always naked. and female furies. and sometimes are said to be smeared with it. She receives blood sacrifice at her temples. Several of the Mahavidya goddesses are also sexually aggressive. the quicker we will make progress in acquiring spiritual maturity. particularly as it defines proper behavior for women. There is an insistence in Hinduism that the world as it appears to us is a show. but I also think that it is a muted theme in much of the nontantric H i n d u tradition as well. jackals. T h e Mahavidyas. who is almost always named as the first of the Mahavidyas. perhaps need it.INTRODUCTION in H i n d u culture. is one way of appreciating the Mahavidyas. from our ego-centered way. that is. are awakeners. indiscriminate hunger and thirst. She wears a garland of severed human heads. Several like blood (which is itself polluting). which are often gushing blood that smears her body. visions of the divine that challenge comfortable and comforting fantasies about the way things are in the world.

She is naked.PART I The Mahavidyas as a Group The Ten Mahavidyas T h e order in which the Mahavidyas are given varies somewhat. (2) Tara. (4) Bhuvanesvari. She is dark. and has four arms. In some texts and in some settings. however. the following goddesses in the following order are most common: (i) K a l i . (8) Bagalamukhi. her hair is tied in a long braid. She is almost always mentioned as the first of the Mahavidyas and occupies a preeminent place in the group. (9) Matarigl. T h e ten are described in most sources as follows: 1. which in fact is what her name means. (6) Bhairavl. K a l i is black. she wears a tiger skin. her left foot is placed on a corpse or on Siva." and her lower right hand makes the gesture of bestowing boons. In contemporary sources. (5) Chinnamasta. and in appearance she is similar to Kali. She has a fierce countenance. (3) Tripura-sundarl (SodasI). apart from a garland of severed heads and a girdle of severed arms. as do the goddesses included in the group. and (10) Kamala. her hair is unbound and disheveled. stands on the supine body of the god Siva. she is potbellied and has four arms. H e r upper left hand holds a bloodied cleaver and her lower left hand a severed head. and she is often standing in a cremation ground or on a battlefield. In her left hands she holds a knife and a sev- . Tara is usually given as the second Mahavidya. 2. the other Mahavidyas are understood to arise from her and to be her different forms. (7) Dhumavati. Her right upper hand makes the sign "fear not.


Bagalamukhi. She has a bright. Chinnamasta stands on the copulating bodies of the goddess Rati and her husband Kama. which is sometimes in the midst of a body of water. H e r left hand supports her head on a platter. makes the sign of assurance with another. She wears a garland of skulls and clothes made from the skins of demons she has killed. She is toothless. and her right hand holds the sword with which she cut it off. They are on a pedestal or couch supported by the gods Brahma. They in turn are lying on a lotus or sometimes a cremation pyre. Visnu. Lalita. and holds a goad and a noose in the other two. In one hand she holds a club. Bhairavi has a fierce appearance. and Rajarajesvari) is a beautiful young girl of sixteen with a red complexion. copulating with him as he lies beneath her. and Indra. and arrows. and her nose large and crooked. Three jets of blood gush from her neck: one stream enters the mouth of her severed head. Rudra. in white clothes with no adornments. Bhuvanesvari. and she is naked. light complexion and smiles pleasantly. her primary role in the cosmic process is destruction. 4. 8. She holds a winnowing basket and sometimes a trident. T h e Kdlikd-purdna says that her eyes roll from intoxication and that she stands on a corpse." usually sits on a throne of jewels. Dhumavati is tall. with a pale complexion and a stern. with which she . H e r breasts are large and ooze milk. Her complexion is said to be as bright as thousands of rising suns. Sometimes she is said to sit on a lotus that emerges from the navel of Siva. Some descriptions say that the four gods who support her pedestal are Brahma. Sodas! (also known as Tripura-sundari. goad. H e r clothes are dirty and her hair disheveled. 5.1 7. has a quarrelsome nature. She often stands in the midst of a cremation fire. She is hungry and thirsty. unsmiling face.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 11 ered head. She is dressed in a yellow sari. who is said to nourish the three worlds. and her right hands make the signs of giving favors and granting fearlessness. and Yama. Sometimes Chinnamasta (with her head chopped off) is shown astride Siva. her feet and breasts are covered with blood. H e r four arms hold a noose. her breasts long and pendulous. Chinnamasta has cut off her own head with a sword. Her hair is loose. and rides a crow or is seated on a chariot. H e r four hands hold a rosary and a book and make the signs of fearlessness and granting wishes. She is dressed as a widow. Visnu. the other two jets enter the mouths of two female companions. 3. who is reclining below her. 6. Rudra. the god of sexual lust. bow. holds a piece of fruit in one of her four hands. "she who has the head of a crane. She is sometimes shown astride Siva in sexual intercourse.

the Mahavidyas Tripura-bhairavT. Left to right. and Kamala. Dhumavaa. 4.Fig. top to bottom. Matangl. . Bagala.

Next. Usually she is a beautiful young woman with a dark or black complexion. o. T h e tantras contain little narrative material about the Mahavidyas. She is clearly a form of the goddess Laksmi. again." This list of the Mahavidyas is not unvarying. Kamala is a beautiful young woman with a golden complexion. The moon adorns her long hair. well-known goddesses such as Durga. and Kamakhya (she whose eyes express desire) may be included in the list. and she sits on a jeweled throne. Chinnamasta. Bagalamukhl. 3 In addition. later. Sometimes she sits on a corpse. 10. although Kali is almost always named as the first of the group and Tara as the second. and club. A n napurna (she who is full of food). A typical tantric treatment of a Mahavidya includes. or subsidiary purdnas). 4 T h e number of Mahavidyas also varies. Tara. and Pratyarigiras will be included. W i t h another hand she is pulling his tongue. "lotus. the order in which the Mahavidyas are given varies. Lists or depictions of the Mahavidyas almost always include K a l i . and Dhumavati. 2 At other times obscure goddesses such as Vasali. first.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP is about to beat a dark-complexioned enemy. her mantra. but the others are sometimes excluded. which is the case in the Cdmunddtantra. or a crane is her vehicle. Her four hands hold a goad. T h e Niruttara-tantra lists eighteen Mahavidyas. noose. and in some cases she has a crane's head. Tripura-sundari (Sodasi). which is believed to represent her essence. 6 Typical Literary and Iconographic Contexts T h e Mahavidyas are prominent primarily in tantric literature and in a few late sdkta purdnas and upa purdnas (minor. H e r eyes are described as intoxicated from passion. A t times. sword. a devotee seeking the goddess's blessing or power must repeat it continually. MatarigT has several different forms. Bala. or vahana. one of whose common epithets is Kamala. She wears a beautiful robe and a garland of flowers. They are primarily interested in providing the details of how to worship the Mahavidyas and do not dwell on the meaning of their symbolism or stories that feature them. the devotee is to fill his or her-mind with this description of the goddess while ritually approaching . the goddess's dhydna (meditation) mantra describes her physical appearance in some detail. 5 while the Ndradapancardtra says that there are seven million Mahavidyas. Two elephants flank her and pour pitchers of water on her while she sits on a lotus and holds lotuses in her hands.

the images of the Mahavidyas are painted around the inside door frame of the main entrance to the temple and include Kamala (a form of Laksmi). along with directions for constructing and meditating upon it. contain fairly detailed stories about the origin of the Mahavidyas as a group. Iconographically. Again in Varanasi. triangles. more uncommonly. 8 In a temple to DhumavatI in Varanasi. in which various items are offered to the goddess. however. and stylized lotuses). for example. Kamakhya. It also lists her kvaca (armor). They do. or Gariga—appears in many forms throughout the world and that all goddesses are simply her manifestations. the Mahavidyas are depicted in temples dedicated to goddesses who are not among the Mahavidyas. the inner shrine room. In other cases. which is usually similar to her dhydna mantra. K a l i herself is depicted among the Mahavidyas. the text sometimes gives directions for routine pujd (worship). Matarigi. the Mahavidyas are often shown as a group in goddess temples. In purdnic literature. They are also mentioned in the Kdmdkhyd-cdlisd. Sometimes the presiding goddess of the temple in which the Mahavidyas are depicted is herself one of them. usually in the form of a prayer to protect her devotee on all sides. A hymn to the goddess Gariga says that the Mahavidyas Tara. A tantra usually includes the goddess's ndma stotra. In the Kall-bari temple dedicated to the goddess Kali in Simla. a famous hymn of forty verses to the goddess Durga. Certain goddess hymns also mention the Mahavidyas. Sometimes it describes her yantra (a schematic drawing generally composed of circles. at the Laksmi K u n d temple. only a few late texts mention the Mahavidyas. the Mahavidyas are painted on the interior of the outer walls and include the usual group. they may be represented by stone or metal images. Their images are usually painted on the temple walls. T h e text also gives the goddess's rahasya (essence or secret). they are named in the Durgd-cdlisd. and BhairavT are her manifestations. For example. a list of her names or epithets. which houses an image of Daksina-kall. Durga. Images of the Mahavidyas are carved on pillars of a gate at Naina-devI temple in the district of B i laspur in Himachal Pradesh. similarly. They are shown on the interior walls of a temple dedicated to Caral-devl-mata in Siddhapur on the outskirts of . These myths are important in providing interpretive contexts for the group as a whole.THF MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP «5 her.7 T h e purpose of their inclusion in such hymns is to demonstrate that the main deity being praised—for example. the Mahavidyas are painted on the walls surrounding the garbha grba. In addition to this. DhumavatJ.

near the cremation ground on the Hoogly River. In his mind. sacred goddess sites scattered all over India. At the Bajresvarl-devI temple in Kangra. this temple is an example of the type in which the Mahavidyas appear as a group in a temple dedicated to one of them. who. The hillside on which the main shrine is located has small shrines to each of the Mahavidyas. Matarigi. they are painted in a row on one of the inner walls of the main shrine. from the most distant to the closest. Sodasi is in the center and is larger than the rest. In the section of north Calcutta known as Cossipore. Temples dedicated to the group of Mahavidyas themselves are rare. are Bagala. is said to be the origin of the Mahavidyas in certain mythological accounts of their origin. W h e n I asked why the Mahavidyas were depicted in the temple. On her left. T h e Amber Fort. 1 2 The Mahavidyas are also shown in bas-relief on the exterior walls of the temple at the Ramakrishna Math in Varanasi. Indeed. the famous Kamakhya-devi shrine near Gauhati in Assam is said to be the place where Sari's yoni (vulva) fell to earth. the chief of the Mahavidyas. 9 Jvalamukhi-devT's temple is said to be the place where the goddess Sati's tongue fell when her body was chopped up by Visnu and so is one of the s'dkta pithas. has a temple to Sila-devI. however. Jvalamukhi is associated with Satl.16 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh. At a Camunda-devi temple located about fifteen kilometers from Dharmsala. the Mahavidyas are painted on the interior walls of the central shrine. Two other temples whose primary deity is not a Mahavidya are interesting because they are related to Sat! and the origin of the Mahavidyas. then. and Dhumavatl. in my experience. I have been able to find only one. a well-known text that describes the Mahavidyas. separate from the main shrine. 1 0 As this is the case. T h e temple of Jvalamukhi-devi in Himachal Pradesh prominently depicts the Mahavidyas on the walls of a large pavilion. An inscription states that the goddesses have been depicted according to the Sdkta-pramoda. her temple was established by truckers who sought the goddess's protection for their union building." In the Durga Saptasati temple in Nagawa. It contains ten (dasa) images of the Mahavidyas. On her right. which houses an image of Durga. Kamala. as we shall see below. almost always distinguish Camundadevi from K a l i . Similarly. H i n d u texts. from . and they are different in appearance. large paintings in an alcove called the s'akti bhavan show the Mahavidyas. a large double door at the main entrance to the temple depicts the ten Mahavidyas. Caral-devI is a local deity. is a small temple dedicated to the Dasamahavidyas. about eleven kilometers east of Jaipur in Rajasthan. the priest replied that Camunda-devi was a form of Kali. just south of Varanasi.

Tara. T h e temple enshrines several lirigams (phalluses). Stone yonis in the main temple represent the Mahavidyas Sodasi. and hence her adi pitha (primordial or original seat). and Kamala. T h e presence of the Mahavidyas at the Kamakhya temple at Kamarupa in Assam is unusual in the abundance and variety of images throughout the site. closest to farthest.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 17 Fig. Dhumavati. Varanasi. It is also strongly associated with the Mahavidyas. Durga Saptasati temple. connoting the presence of Siva and suggesting his connection with the Mahavidyas. Nagawa. 5. 13 This temple is an important s'dkta center according to many texts. some informants identify K a makhya herself with Sodasi. because it is the place where Sati's yoni fell to earth. 14 Several of these . Bhuvanesvari. MatarigT. and Chinnamasta. are K a l i . Indeed. T h e other Mahavidyas (and other goddesses as well) have small shrines or temples located nearby. Bhairavl.

Durga Puja (Navaratra) and Kali Puja (Divali). the images were faithful duplications of the tantric dhydna mantras that describe the appearance of the Mahavidyas. "roof picture") behind and encircling the central image of Durga. During Kali Puja. devotees establish clay images of K a l i all over Bengal. The images are often set in a tableau featuring Siva. Traditional renditions of this divine tableau have a halolike panel called the cdlcitra (literally. and both featured Kali in the center of the row of ten goddesses. 1 5 The Mahavidyas as Forms of the MahadevT Both literary and iconographic materials give the general impression that the ten Mahavidyas are different forms of an overarching. Ramakrishna. as they are obscured by flowers. transcendent female reality. clothing. H e r image was far larger than the others. I saw two examples of this during Kali Puja in October 1992. or offerings or are located in underground caves that are open for darsan (viewing by devotees) only on special occasions. artisans construct thousands of large clay images featuring Durga as Mahisamardini (the slayer of the buffalo demon Mahisa). The Mahavidyas are prominent iconographically in two large goddess festivals in Bengal. During Durga Puja. In recent years. it was clear that she held the preeminent position. T h e central representations of the Mahavidyas in these shrines usually are not anthropomorphic and are sometimes difficult to see at all. T h e Bhairavi shrine has images of the other nine Mahavidyas on the walls near the ceiling. Kali's tableau has i n cluded the other Mahavidyas. This frame depicts deities or scenes from H i n d u mythology. and Bamakhepa (two famous Bengali K a l i devotees) or some aspect of Kali mythology or iconography. giving the unmistakable impression that they are different forms of the goddess Durga. It often shows the Mahavidyas." For the most part. a man at one of the pandals referred to the Mahavidyas as "the ten Kalis. T h e Tara temple is quite large and resembles the central shrine. Sometimes this representation is a yoni and is associated with a spring (as in the main shrine as well). These images are usually part of an elaborate tableau that includes the goddesses Sarasvati and Laksmi and the gods Ganesa and Kartikeya.18 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP smaller shrines are associated with Siva lingams. Indeed. Both sets of Mahavidya images were set up in central Calcutta. who is usually referred to simply as the .


lists the Mahavidyas and identifies each with one of Visnu's avataras: Kali is said to have become Krsna. Chinnamasta to have become Narasirhha. and this infinitely great being manifests herself in a wide variety of forms. and the Mahavidyas are such forms. universal. An underlying assumption of many s'akta texts is that the highest reality is the Great Goddess. their positive. lending her a certain prestige." Another contemporary H i n d i work on Tantra says that the Mahadevi takes on different forms from time to time to defeat demons. 2 4 Iconographically the two groups . in chapter n. Some texts even say that wherever a female being exists.20 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Mahadevi (great goddess). are like the avataras in that they are created to help overcome adharma (evil or immorality). 1 8 This theme is strong and obvious in the case of the Mahavidyas. association with the Mahavidyas lends them a cosmic. 22 A contemporary H i n d i work also compares the Mahavidyas to the avataras. Indeed. transcendent dimension. which are also her forms. being present in every female form. 17 to bless a particular devotee. or the goddess. as producing other goddesses from her own body. T h e theological idea is that ultimate reality. 2 1 The Mundamala-tantra compares the ten Mahavidyas to the ten avataras. T h e Guhydtiguhyatantra. and who are not well known outside their local areas." T h e Mahavidyas are the concrete expression of the idea of "many forms. this is perhaps the central feature of H i n d u s'akta theology in those texts. or out of a sense of sport or playfulness. a s'akta version of the Vaisnava idea. Their presence in devi temples seems to state: " T h e goddess enshrined in this place assumes many forms. and so o n . at least to some extent. world-supporting natures are emphasized. there the goddess reveals herself. There is evidence that the ten avataras ("descents" or incarnations) of Visnu are the model for the ten Mahavidyas as expressions of the Mahadevi. also equates the ten Mahavidyas with the ten avatarasP An article on Tara in H i n d i says that the ten avataras come from the fingernails of the Mahadevi and that the Mahavidyas. 16 Many myths in s'akta literature describe a goddess." In the case of goddesses who are identified with a particular place. which is female in essence and form. Individually and as a group. displays herself in a great variety of ways for different purposes. the Mahavidyas represent. In such cases she often announces that she assumes different forms at different times to maintain cosmic stability. Comparison of the Mahavidyas to the avataras of Visnu places a premium on their role as maintaining and sustaining the cosmic and moral orders. for example. that is. 1 9 T h e Todala-tantra. T h e presence of the Mahavidyas in a goddess temple identifies a local or regional goddess with an all-India mythology or symbolic structure.

Chinnamasta is Matsya. T h e juxtaposition of the two groups suggests that the Mahavidyas are the female counterparts of the ten avataras. like the avataras of Visnu. who is the same as Sarasvati. Bhuvanesvari was created to save the world when it was taken under the waters of the cosmic ocean and thus plays the same role as the boar avatdra of Visnu. He stated that. and Chinnamasta. who appeared after Rama's defeat of the tenheaded Ravana. we might suppose that Dhumavatl spreads disease to punish the wicked and support the moral order. drank it. Sodasi is Siva. At the temple at the Ramakrishna M a t h in Varanasi. T h e Mahavidyas are on the other two walls. In most cases. Bagalamukhi was created to paralyze enemies. and so the Great Goddess took the form of Tara to kill him. Tara is Rama. he said. the Mahavidyas were created to play positive functions in the world. by implication. 2 5 Although an important aspect of s'akta theology stresses the place of the Mahadevi in upholding the cosmic order and the Mahavidyas are sometimes likened to Visnu's avataras as playing positive cosmic roles.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 2I are also associated. Bhairavi is Rudra. as we shall see. A s'akta devotee and teacher in Varanasi. the emphasis seems to be not so much on maintaining cosmic order and defeating demons as on the diversity of forms the Mahadevi assumes and. was created to defeat the thousand-headed Ravana. Kali is Krsna. Dhumavatl is Varaha. Swami Sadhananda Shastri. Tara. K a mala is Visnu. according to Swami Shastri. five to a side. for example. the Mahavidyas seem only tenuously connected to this type of activity in most tantric and purdnic texts that mention them. and Bhuvanesvari is the formless brahman (the absolute). the insistence that. Matarigi. T h e thousand-headed Ravana could be slain only by a woman. through her many . was created to spread music and education and to help human beings acquire liberating wisdom (jndna). Although this may not seem a very positive cosmic role. Sodasi was created to arouse Siva to sexual activity so his creative powers could stimulate the world. the ten avataras are sculpted on two exterior walls. told me that the Mahavidyas correspond to the "avataras" (I put the term in quotations because several of the examples of male deities that he mentioned are not actually Visnu avataras): Bagalamukhi is Vamana. Matarigi is Brahma. Kali was created to eat and drink the blood of demons who threaten the world. Chinnamasta took their share of the nectar. Kamala was created to spread wealth in the world. was created to delude the demons at the churning of the ocean so that they would not get their share of the nectar of immortality. and then killed herself so that they were deprived of it. Dhumavatl was created to spread disease.

does seem best explained on the analogy of the ten avataras of Visnu. and his son-in-law. which are sacred centers of goddess worship throughout India. in a fourth they are forms of the goddess Durga. the authors of these texts have lent the Mahavidyas considerable prestige. In fact. That there are ten Mahavidyas as a group. however. It is also an important s'akta myth. He invited all the inhabitants of heaven. I . the archetypal yogi. the Mahavidyas are different forms of the goddess Satl. was fond of inhabiting 27 . being the prelude to the story of the origin of the s'akta pithas. Siva. Once upon a time. the origin of the ten Mahavidyas is recounted as part of the story of Daksa's sacrifice. Siva. 2 6 In early versions of the story. Mahavidya Origin Myths I have come across five versions of the origin of the Mahavidyas as a group. Daksa decided to undertake a great sacrifice. this explanation is supported by certain texts and by present-day informants. Satl. as he disapproved of Siva's odd habits and antisocial nature. and in a fifth they are said to arise from the goddess Sataksi. Daksa was not fond of Siva. herself one of the Mahavidyas. in a second version they are forms of the goddess Parvati. in a third they arise from the goddess K a l i . she pervades all aspects of reality. they enter it for the first time in these two relatively late purdnas. In the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna and the Brhaddharma-purdna.. well-known. This tale is ancient in the H i n d u tradition and well known all over India. We shall look first at the most detailed version. probably written in eastern India after the fourteenth century C. I have found only two that are firmly attested in literary sources.22 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP forms.and Mahdbhdgavata-purdnas is as follows. which are both late s'akta upa purdnas. the Mahavidyas do not appear. which is an ancient. By including their origin in this myth. as the myth is well known and central to s'akta mythology. T H E M A H A V I D Y A S A S FORMS O F SATI Of the five versions of the Mahavidyas' origin. who is also identified with Sakambhari and Durga. and popular feature of H i n d u mythology. of course. The account of the origin of the Mahavidyas in the Brhaddharma.E. In one of these versions. except his daughter. all the gods and goddesses.

In the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. Siva closes his eyes. Dhumavatl to the southeast. the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna (77. Bhuvanesvari. Kamala. She is naked except for a garland of severed heads. who is facing south. W h e n he was not going about completely naked. she becomes very old. K a l i is in front of him (to the south). he wore animal hides. W h e n he opens them. W h e n he opens them. N o w the story departs from earlier versions by introducing in an account of the origin of the Mahavidyas. and she is naked. a fearsome female stands before him. She is black.4-11) locates the Mahavidyas . and so Daksa deliberately did not invite him or Satl to his sacrifice. forbade her to go. Chinnamasta. She develops four arms. he stands still and closes his eyes. To Daksa." 2 8 Wherever Siva goes or looks. Siva is afraid and tries to flee. He often smeared his body with ashes and spent time in isolated meditation. Bhuvanesvari to his left (east). but Satl was outraged and determined to attend her father's sacrifice in order to disrupt it and berate her father. Siva asks: "Where is my beloved Sati?" She replies: " D o you not see Satl standing before you?" Siva then asks who the other goddesses are who surround him and is told their names: K a l i . her breasts are large. In her anger her eyes become red and bright and her limbs tremble. and she glows with the brilliance of a million suns. Siva himself was indifferent to this snub. but then the terrible goddess gives a dreadful laugh. 29 At one point. and Matarigi. Siva. Unable to flee. He runs around in all directions. Satl fills the directions around him with ten different forms (the Mahavidyas). Sundari. As he looks at her. Dhumavatl. To make sure that he does not flee from her terrjble form. Satl becomes enraged and accuses him of neglecting her. Seeing her fury. Chinnamasta to his right (west).T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 2 3 lonely places and cremation grounds and surrounding himself with ghosts and goblins. Tara. he did not seem a fitting husband for his daughter. Standing before Siva. he sees before him a smiling woman whose face is as pleasing as a lotus blossom. Bagalamukhi. she blazes like a million rising suns and fills the world with earth-shattering laughter. Matarigi to the northwest. when Siva asks who these goddesses are. Sodasi. and her tongue lolls out and begins to wave from side to side. Satl answers that they are her "friends. In relation to Siva. her graceful appearance disappearing. H e r hair is disheveled. her lips are smeared with sweat. Bagala behind him (north). however. Tripura-sundari to the southwest. she wears the half moon as a crown. and Siva is too petrified to move. he sees a dreadful figure. Tara above him. and his fear increases. and Sodasi to the northeast. Forbidden by Siva to attend the sacrifice. her complexion becomes fiery and her hair disheveled.

the lotus as Brahma. 7. T h e Mahavidyas are arrayed around the central figure. and the lion as Visnu.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Fig. contemporary lithograph. who faces south. T h e text identifies the corpse as Siva. 3 0 None of these enumerations . seated on a corpse that is lying on a lotus that is resting on a lion. relative to the goddess Kamakhya. Kamakhya (or Kali) is in the center. Sati and Siva surrounded by the Mahavidyas. who is identified with Kali. so the goddess is supported by the three great male deities of the H i n d u pantheon.

which may be acquired by worshiping them. there are several important points to be noted. T h e Brhaddharma-purdna does say that Tara represents time and that Chinnamasta is emaciated and dreadful. instructing them to look after him in her absence. heads off to Daksa's sacrifice. and I abide in manifold forms.36 Satl.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 2 5 of the Mahavidyas elaborates their individual appearances or characteristics. in her terrible. Both accounts of the story stress the fact that Siva is afraid of the goddess in her terrible forms and tries to dee. in the form of K a l i . tells Siva that these ten goddesses are her different forms. i} They are also said to bestow the powers of mdrana (the ability to cause a person's death simply by willing it). T h e . black form. After the Mahavidyas have surrounded Siva and he has been told who they are. In the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. First. In both accounts. a fearsome face. but she forces him to let her go by overwhelming him with her numerous and terrible forms. the myths make clear that Satl. they use the powers of the Mahavidyas "like two arms. uccdtana (the ability to make one's enemy sick by willing it)." 3 5 These references suggest that the Mahavidyas are associated with magical powers. He forbids her to attend her father's sacrifice. " A l l these figures are my excellent forms. Tara merges with K a l i at this point. She explains that she has created these forms to attend Siva when she is away." 3 2 In the Brhaddharma-purdna the Mahavidyas as a group are said to cause trouble and conflict among people. T h e rest of the story conforms to the account in the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. Satl leaves the Mahavidyas behind with Siva. In the Brhaddharma-purdna account. flying through the sky. the power of remaining young oneself while causing another to grow old. and the power to attract another to oneself.and Mahdbhdgavata-purdnas. 3 1 but for the most part the two texts content themselves with making general comments about the group as a whole. or the goddess in the form of Sati. In the version of the origin of the Mahavidyas that is given in the Brhaddharma. Satl. which is sometimes said to be K a l i . and the other forms disappear.37 T h e n Satl. 34 T h e Brhaddharma-purdna also says that when Brahma creates the world and Visnu maintains it. and fiery red eyes. is a superior power to Siva. stambhana (the ability to i m mobilize a person). he acquiesces to Sari's wish and says that she may attend her father's sacrifice. but also to give spiritual liberation (moksa). the power to control another's speech. taking on a form that wears a tiger skin and has disheveled hair. then goes off to Daksa's sacrifice and kills herself by throwing herself on the sacrificial fire.

and Siva offends her by not allowing her to go to her paternal home. the Brhaddharma. this version of the Mahavidyas' origin emphasizes that the ten goddesses are manifestations of Satl. T h e myth makes clear that the Mahavidyas are extensions of Sari's power. T h e one goddess the story does describe in detail. T h e theme of the superiority of the goddess over male deities is common in s'akta texts. and mild of manner. He is frightened and repelled by them. W h e n Siva asks who the Mahavidyas are. or of the Great Goddess. is particularly fearsome. Although other texts describe some of the Mahavidyas as pleasant. Daksa insults his daughter by not inviting her to his home for the sacrifice. should continue to be respected by her home village and must be invited back for all its important festivals and events. Although local Garwahli literature stresses that a woman is totally transformed when she marries. so the story is stressing a central s'akta theological principle. Garwahli women insist that females remain strongly identified with. their mats.and Mahdbhdgavata-purdna account of the origin of the Mahavidyas stresses their terrifying aspects. This account stresses the dramatic effects the Mahavidyas have on Siva. . T h e bride who has gone away. T h i r d . in form. influenced by. Fourth. A village that neglects to do this risks her destructive curse. Satl tells him they are her forms or her friends. at least to some extent. Second. whether the impediments are caused by the father or the husband. here they are. awful and frightening. the initial form taken by Satl. and related to their home families and villages. the appearance of the Mahavidyas takes place in the context of husband-wife and father-daughter tensions. not pleasing.26 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP fact that the goddess is able to physically restrain Siva dramatically makes the point that she is superior in power. beautiful. They embody her will and wrath and succeed in bending Siva to her wishes. the embodiments of an offended wife and daughter. the "outmarried village daughter" (dhiydnt). who has taken the form of Satl. T h e cult of the goddess Nanda-devi of Garwahl in Himachal Pradhesh illustrates the potential danger posed by unfairly restricting a woman's freedom to return to her native village (the domain of her father). They are terrible. They are the embodiments of female fury precipitated by male neglect and abuse. becoming part of her husband's lineage. and Siva reacts to it by closing his eyes or trying to run away. T h e Mahavidyas are. as a group. Both men and women share the belief that a woman has the ability to effectively curse her husband or her father if she is impeded from maintaining contact with her home village.

the effect they have on Siva underlines this aspect of their nature. Although other myths concerning individual Mahavidyas suggest their world-supporting function. Siva is alternately frightened into fleeing and frozen with fear. and so on. Indeed. in this case. Their primary role in the story is to overpower an opponent. In the logic of the Nanda-devi cult. Both Siva and Daksa become the targets of her anger. in forbidding her to return to her home village.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 27 which could be ruinous. Siva. and this represents her return to her native village. and in several instances the Mahavidyas are compared to the Vaisnava avataras. this version of their origin only hints at world-supporting characteristics. Such implied neglect or indifference would court her wrath. a yearly pilgrimage wends its way through many local villages where she is worshiped. 2 . Furthermore. Although some of the i n dividual Mahavidyas are more strongly associated with magical powers than others. A fifth important point about this version of the origin of the Mahavidyas is that these goddesses are associated with magical powers and have little or no connection with upholding the order of dharma. this version of the group's origin says that the group as a whole grants these powers. If this p i l grimage is not undertaken. H e r mait is not fulfilling its duty to her. is showing her serious disrespect. the goddess will be offended and assume that she is no longer loved and respected. to immobilize one's enemies. The Brhaddharma-purdna says that the Mahavidyas have been created to produce conflict and trouble among people 4 0 and that they confer the power to kill at will. Satl returns to her home village enraged at her father's lack of respect for her and immolates herself in her father's sacrificial fire. 3 9 They do not resemble the avataras of Visnu in either nature or function. Sri Rama Shankar Tripathi. as we will see below. In the cult of the goddess Nanda-devi. her husband. He and his home are cursed and eventually destroyed by Siva and his hosts when Siva hears of Sati's death. who in turn was told the story . They do not appear in order to defeat demons who threaten the stability of the world but in order to frighten Siva into allowing Satl to attend her father's sacrifice. 3 8 A similar situation exists in the story of Satl. because her father has not invited her home for his elaborate sacrifice. T H E M A H A V I D Y A S A S F O R M S O F PARVATI T h e second version of the origin of the Mahavidyas was told to me by the mahant (chief priest) of the Kashi Vishvanath temple in Varanasi.

In this allegorical interpretation. In this case. Siva decides to leave. the Mahavidyas. That Siva dwells in Parvati's house implies her priority in their relationship. through the Mahavidyas. and nostrils. the goddess's father seems to play little or no role. of the ten bodily apertures: two eyes. the appearance of the Mahavidyas is the result of marital tension. this interpretation of the Mahavidyas is supported by some tantric . ears. This version bears similarities to the first version of the Mahavidyas' origin. or perhaps sddhand (religious endeavor) generally. according to the tdntrika. T h e house represents the human body. dimensions. aspects. and brahmarandhra (an aperture at the top of the head). states of consciousness perhaps." but as yet I have not been able to find it in any written source. H e r priority is also demonstrated in her ability. she prevents him from doing so by blocking the ten doors of the house with her ten forms. plus the mouth. Siva is living with his second wife. Siva's desire to leave Parvati's house presumably signifies the individual's desire to indulge the senses willfully. penis or vagina. H e wants to leave his father-in-law's house. suggests that the Mahavidyas are associated with facets. T h e teller's emphasis on their role in yogic concentration. T h e esoteric meaning of the myth. As in the first one. anus. is based on an allegory. to thwart Siva's will and assert her own. the Mahavidyas appear in order to restrain Siva. As in the first version also. rather than as world-supporting or cosmic powers. T h e Mahavidyas force the issue in Parvati's favor. One day. or controlling. however. According to this version. to bend him to the goddess's will. In fact. in this case. Parvati.28 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP by a tdntrika friend of his. This version of the story also emphasizes the superiority of the goddess over Siva. W h e n he attempts to leave. but he refuses. or characteristics of the human organism. T h e fact that Siva and Parvati are living at her father's house in itself makes this point. Parvati asks him to stay. They represent various aspects of the goddess. as it is traditional in many parts of India for the wife to leave her father's home upon marriage and become a member of her husband's lineage and live in his home among his relatives. and the blocking of the ten doors means the blocking. T h e tdntrika said the story was to be found in "all the Tantra s'dstras. to act without yogic discipline and control. This story lends itself to an allegorical interpretation of the Mahavidyas as aspects or powers of the human organism. Parvati (whom he married after Satl killed herself). in her father's house in the mountains. It is also clear in this version that the Mahavidyas are all forms of one goddess. which in Tantra is understood to be the universe in microcosm. but she wants him to remain.

Bagalamukhi. it is clear that they are associated with the fundamental makeup of humans. 4 2 According to this version. Eventually he grows resdess and decides he is tired of living with Kali. a form of K a l i appears. although the implication is that Siva is going against Kali's wish by trying to leave her and wander about. the first and most perfect of the four periods of a world cycle. H e gets up. As in the other two versions. and earth). Such powers are acquired by means of sddhand. Bhairavl. says that the Mahavidyas are connected with the five senses (sound. However. color or sight. Unlike the first two versions. there is less emphasis on marital tension. Seeing these goddesses. water. flavor. and smell) and the five elements (ether. having gained the knowledge (vidyd) that she pervades the entire cosmos and that wherever one goes she is there in one of her forms. 3 . This version of the myth is obviously related to the first two in several respects. touch. It simply says that K a l i fills the whole cosmos with her forms. T h e Mahavidyas arise as manifestations of a particular goddess. Bhuvanesvari. air. T h e story does not even say that the Mahavidyas prevent Siva from leaving. fire.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 2 9 texts. he answers: "Wherever 1 wish!" She does not reply. Siva is living with the goddess K a l i in the Satya Yuga. Matarigi. and when she asks him where he is going. who is said to be Siva's spouse. for example. 41 A l though the Saktisamgama-tantra does not specify which Mahavidya is connected with each sense or element. We shall treat the idea of the Mahavidyas as siddbis in more detail below. Sodasi. and he begins to wander off. then Tara. Siva loses his yearning to leave K a l i and wander about. Dhumavatl. and Chinnamasta. the goddess (Kali. one of the Mahavidyas: first Kali herself. in whichever direction Siva goes. K a mala. . in this case) creates the Mahavidyas to prevent Siva from leaving or fleeing. T h e Saktisamgama-tantra. which almost always includes yogic practices aimed at controlling or enhancing the senses. however. T H E M A H A V I D Y A S A S F O R M S O F KALI T h e third version of the origin of the Mahavidyas is found in a contemporary H i n d i book about the worship of Tara. T h e association of the Mahavidyas with siddhis (magical powers) is also implied in this second version of their creation. T h i s version also gives no indication that the Mahavidyas play a role similar to the Vaisnava avataras. T h i s version also does not indicate that the Mahavidyas are terrible or frightening (they are not even described) or that Siva is afraid of them.

T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS FORMS OF DURGA Contemporary oral tradition. in this case. individual Mahavidyas are sometimes associated with the myth. and there is. she is identical with the cosmos itself. therefore. as we shall see. to create. which the Mahavidyas bring about. Moreover. is that it is impossible to go where the goddess is not. T h e nature of the text also invites such association. T h e myth of Durga's defeat of these demons constitutes the third episode of the Devi-mdhdtmya and is also told in several other purdnas. Durga is said to underlie or pervade the cosmos. i n deed. in the beginning.E. supplies yet a fourth version of the origin of the Mahavidyas. the male gods were threatened by demons and appealed to the Mahadevi. A contemporary H i n d i book on Tantra also alludes to this version of the origin of the Mahavidyas: the author states that. as she pervades the entire cosmos in one form or another. It was probably written around the sixth century C. the story interprets the Mahavidyas. a point implicit in the other versions. supported by certain iconographic evidence. T h e theology of the Devi-mdhdtmya is summed up in that episode. maintain. In this sense. knowledge that K a l i pervades all of reality. particularly the third episode featuring the defeat of Sumbha and Nisumbha.3° T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP T h e central point of this version of the origin of the Mahavidyas. considerable iconographic evidence to support this version of the Mahavidyas' origin. and today occupies a central position in sdkta circles. including the nine Durgas 4 4 and the ten Mahavidyas. ^ Although none of the texts that describe this battle mentions the Mahavidyas. and to assume different forms from time to time when . but as sources of wisdom. that people associate the Mahavidyas with this famous text. According to this version. nor as manifestations of magical powers or states of consciousness. several people have told me that they fight in it as a group. T h e story as told here also places a premium on the Mahavidyas as revealing knowledge (vidyd). 4 6 It is not surprising. not as avatdra-type figures who maintain the cosmos. She is everywhere. and periodically destroy it according to the rhythmic sequences of H i n d u cosmology (12. Several commentaries have been written on it. To depart (or flee) from her is impossible. 4. the Mahavidyas appear when the great battle queen Durga confronts the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha. T h e point of this version of the story is Siva's enlightenment. who defeated the demons by taking on different forms. 4 5 T h e Devi-mdhdtmya is the most famous and revered of all H i n d u s'akta texts. and several subsidiary texts have arisen as addenda to i t .3 3-3 5).

Fig. Durga with the Mahavidyas. 8. contemporary lithograph. .

She then absorbs the Matrkas and Kali into herself. Kaumarf. is created from certain male gods to help defeat the demons. even though they do not. has the following epithets: Brahmani. saying that her battle companions are only her different forms (10. Varahl. Mahesvari. This is very similar to the Vaisnava avatara theology. Camunda. Narasirhhi.3 8-51).2-5). 4 9 61). he challenges her to single combat. giving rise to the tradition that the Mahavidyas themselves appear in the Devimdhdtmya. Another feature of the third episode of the Devi-mdhdtmya makes it understandable that the Mahavidyas would be thought to arise there. T h e Mahavidya Tripura-bhairavi. Varahl. They are Brahmani. 5 0 48 There is also iconographic support for this fourth version of the origin of the Mahavidyas. for example. During the battle a group of seven goddesses. Mahesvari. T h e Mahavidya Bhuvanesvari has among her many epithets Vaisnavi. She brings forth Kali while confronting the demons Canda and Munda (7. Vaisnavi. In the course of the battle. collectively known as the Matrkas.3-22) and calls upon her again for help in defeating Raktabija ( 8 . then. created from the god Indra (8. Durga produces several goddesses to help her. created from Siva. Later in the battle. the goddess becomes manifest over and over again to protect the world" (12.62). so it is not surprising that some Hindus think they appear in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Vaisnavi. We have already seen that other texts compare the Mahavidyas to the avataras.32).32 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP cosmic balance is threatened by enemies of the gods (i i . except that the Sdkta-pramoda substitutes Camunda for Narasirhhi. and she agrees. Brahmani. and Aindri. the Mahavidyas' function becomes primarily that of upholding and protecting cosmic order.12-20). intoxicated on the blood of their slain victims (8. created from Kartikeya. Contemporary religious art typically shows the . when Durga confronts the demon Sumbha himself. Mahesvari. created from the manlion avatara of Visnu. and Indrani. and Varahl. T h e y are furious warriors and near the end of the battle dance wildly. T h e Devi-mdhdtmya describes the nature of the Matrkas as wild and fierce. created from the boar avatara of Visnu. 47 W h e n associated with this type of theology. 4 9 T h e y are the same as the names of the Matrkas in the Devimdhdtmya. T h e third episode. in her sahasranama stotra (thousand-name hymn) in the Sdkta-pramoda. created from Brahma. It is also the case that other texts compare individual Mahavidyas to the Matrkas or give them Matrkas' names as epithets. created from Visnu. Narasirhhi. includes the creation of a group of goddesses who bear certain resemblances to the Mahavidyas. Kaumarl. T h e theology of the text is succinct: "Though she is eternal.

at least in the areas with which I am most familiar. W h i l e contemporary art also depicts the Mahavidyas surrounding Siva and Satl as the central figures. 9. Mahavidyas surrounding a central goddess. Durga surrounded by the Mahavidyas. none other than Durga (in her form of Mahisamardini. The depiction of the Mahavidyas on the cdl citras of the Durga images . contemporary lithograph. slayer of the demon Mahisa) and the central figure of the Devi-mdhdtmya. Varanasi and Calcutta.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Fig. the configuration with Durga in the center is just as common. if not more common.

"she w h o abides in smoke. w h o m I m e n tioned earlier as comparing the Mahavidyas to the avatdras. noted a worldmaintaining function for each of the M a h a v i d y a s . I have been told that Bagalamukhl has often appeared in battles. and Indra killed Vrtra with the help of the Mahavidyas. H a n u m a n ." is here interpreted as having a special w e a p o n with which she defeats demons for the welfare of the world.34 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP set up for D u r g a Puja also reinforces the tradition that the Mahavidyas arise to help D u r g a defeat demons and restore the stability of the cosmos. Krsna defeated Karhsa. then. "like tear gas. it is also logical to assume that the Mahavidyas play the role of supporting Durga in her attempts to protect the cosmic order. differs markedly from the first three in its view of the role and nature of the Mahavidyas. told me that DhumavatI was created by D u r g a in her battle with Sumbha and N i s u m b h a and that she helped defeat these demons by employing acrid smoke. a famous H a n u m a n temple. F r o m these examples it is easy to conclude that the Mahavidyas are forms of D u r g a . in their conquest of demons. the goddesses do n o t appear in order to frighten or c o n trol Siva. they are n o t associated w i t h magical powers. 51 T h i s version. where she has deluded the enemy (often the Pakistanis) into making critical blunders. An image maker in Varanasi. Similarly. and specifically with D u r g a as she appears in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Siva killed Taraka." against them. Likewise. 53 Indeed. at the Sankat M o c h a n temple in Varanasi. T h e i r association with the avatdras of V i s n u is heightened and stressed. T h a t is. and as D u r g a is primarily a battle queen. just outside Varanasi (a temple dedicated to the Devi-mdhdtmya. Rama killed Ravana. the Mahavidyas are depicted around the ceiling of the porch in front of the shrine c o n taining the main H a n u m a n image. or the powers gained through worshiping them. paintings of the Mahavidyas on a wall of the inner shrine also dramatically associate the Mahavidyas with D u r g a . Stories associated with individual Mahavidyas also tend to suggest this fourth version of their origin. with the aid of the Mahavidyas. T h i s version does n o t mention marital tension. Swami Sadhananda Shastri. by propitiating the goddesses he was able to acquire the magical p o w e r of b e c o m i n g very small and thus was able to enter the mouth of the female d e m o n and destroy her from inside. . At the D u r g a Saptasati temple in N a g a w a . DhumavatI. for example. defeated the female d e m o n w h o tried to stop him from jumping to Lanka. popularly known as the Saptaiati). and they are in a battlefield rather than a domestic setting. a tantric practitioner from Varanasi. 52 Several people have also told me that famous gods and heroes of H i n d u mythology employed the Mahavidyas.

O n c e upon a time the d e m o n D u r g a m a gained control over the universe and forced the gods into subservience. lb take just one example at this point. T h e text says that these goddesses are her principal saktis and have emerged directly from her body. Bagala. Tulaja-devT. Tripura-sundari. Tripura. She W h o Slays Mahisasura. In this sense they function like the avatdras of V i s n u . which was suffering from drought. and the actions she performs there. T h e goddess created several groups of goddess allies to help her in this fight. that is. T h e r e are t w o important points to note about this version of the origin of the Mahavidyas. T h e s e three names. and the earth as a result of demonic oppression. T a r i n i . Matarigi. C a m u n d a . as in version 4. T h e y are forms of the Mahadevi created for a specific . they arise to defend the world against demons. Bhuvanesvari in her sahasrandma stotra in the Rudraydmala has a m o n g her names several that directly identify her with D u r g a . BhairavT. human beings. First. and She W h o Slays Sumbha and N i s u m b h a . all of which shed tears on seeing the pitiable plight of the gods. the forms D u r g a takes in the Devi-mahdtmya. She then distributed fruits and vegetables from her o w n body to feed the starvi n g beings of the earth. 54 She is also called Sivaduti. At the end of the battle the goddess is named D u r g a because she killed the d e m o n D u r g a m a . T h e gods appealed to the Mahadevi for help. it also becomes apparent that they are often associated with D u r g a the demon slayer and the Devi-mahdtmya myths. Jambhini. and a m o n g them were the Mahavidyas. Kamaksa. She appeared in a form having innumerable eyes. Kamala. She was duly named Sataksi (she w h o has one hundred eyes). and She W h o Destroys Raktablja. all of w h i c h are epithets of D u r g a or one of Durga's forms in the Devi-mdhdtmya. 55 5. As in the fourth version. 56 T h e Devi-bhdgavata-purdna does not mention the Mahavidyas again. She is called She W h o Destroys M a d h u and Kaitabha.THE MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 35 W h e n we look at the individual Mahavidyas in detail. M o hinl. they are created to defeat demons and defend the cosmic order. A fierce battle then began between the goddess and the d e m o n and his armies. F o r this reason she was named Sakambhari (she w h o bears vegetables). identify her with all three episodes of the Devimahdtmya as the slayer of the principal d e m o n s . She is also called by the name D u r g a itself. and C h i n n a m a s t a . It names them in the following order: Kalika. T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS FORMS OF SATAKSI T h e fifth version of the origin of the Mahavidyas is told in the Devi-bhdgavata-purdna. as we shall do below.

or control Siva. and all goddesses are manifestations of her. There is nowhere that she is not. T h e first three versions feature Satl. as we shall see below. and two other groups. that is. the Mahavidyas as a group are dreadful and frightening. which features K a l i as the source of the Mahavidyas. and Durga. and K a l i as his wife or consort. 5 7 CONCLUSIONS Having reviewed these five versions of the origin of the Mahavidyas. Versions 1-3. we can now draw some general conclusions about what they tell us about these goddesses. the Mahavidyas limit. Mahesvari. T h e goddesses from whom the Mahavidyas are created are usually associated with Siva as his spouse. the highest principle in the universe. T h e frightening nature of the Maha- . emphasize the superiority of the goddess to Siva. Second. Siva wishes for independence. In versions 1-3. He wants to leave K a l i but cannot. and 4 imply their fierce nature but do not make it explicit. this is the reason they were created in these three versions. frighten. and in many tantric texts as well. In this version. because she pervades the cosmos in her various forms. A common theme in s'akta theology. is that Siva is ultimately dependent upon s'akti. Indeed. also have strong associations with Siva. the universe itself. they are mentioned along with other groups of goddesses: the Guhya-kalis. a central theme is the overarching reality of the Mahadevi. The Mahavidyas are fierce goddesses. T h e Mahavidyas demonstrate the superior might of the goddess in question. Sataksl.3. indeed. "Siva is a mere s'ava (corpse) without s'akti. It is impossible to exist apart from her. Sakambharl. Throughout this treatise on goddess mythology and philosophy. among other names) has many forms and multiplies herself as needs arise. The Mahavidyas are related to Siva." This theme of Siva's dependence upon s'akti is perhaps expressed most clearly in version 2. In version 1. This theme is also implicit in versions 1 and 3. According to the text. her ability to overpower Siva. she manifests herself in many female forms. In the Devi-bhdgavata-purdna this is a very common theme. Versions 2. the goddess (called Mahadevi. reinforcing this point. Several of the individual Mahavidyas. who are said to number ten thousand. This theme is succinctly and vividly expressed in the well-known saying. numbering thirty-two and sixty-four.3* T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP purpose. Parvati. According to this text. T h e group of sixtyfour may allude to the sixty-four yoginis. Siva is subordinate to the goddesses.

In version 1. meditative. to make others grow old prematurely while remaining young oneself. and there may be the implication of such tension in version 3 as well. Tara. The Mahavidyas are associated with magical powers. or yogic powers. terrible. link the Mahavidyas to magical. and Bhuvanesvari are often said to have fearsome characteristics. . Male-female tensions and female independence." 5 8 the authors of a recent book on Tantrism might well be describing the Mahavidyas. This tension arises when the goddess feels abused. particularly in the case of certain individual Mahavidyas. T h e fact that the individual Mahavidyas are not submissive consorts of male deities reinforces the emphasis in versions 1-3 that the goddess is an independent being. or insulted by her father or husband. Matarigi. Bhairavi. and Chinnamasta are nearly always frightening. to cause someone to flee. the Mahavidyas emerge against a background of male-female tensions. submissive wife if she is sufficiently provoked. Satl becomes furious and transforms herself into such a horrible. the goddess in question controls Siva with her magical or meditative powers. and include the power to bring about whatever one wills. Version 1 makes clear. that the goddess. such as Bagalamukhi. She contains aspects and powers that easily overwhelm and frighten her husband. and to kill someone simply by willing it. Only K a mala is consistently presented as benign. In versions 1 and 2. to attract other people to oneself. Siva's spouse in each case. Kali. We might say that in these three versions.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 37 vidyas is also attested in most descriptions of individual Mahavidyas. and when they are. T h e Mahavidyas are forms of this being. to immobilize someone or make that person mute. and versions 2 and 3 implicitly. Dhumavatl. These powers are often used to control other people. obedient. has a will of her own and is perfectly capable of exercising that will even if it means going against her husband or father. Tripura-sundari (Sodasi). Version i explicitly. usually adversaries. and fierce. T h e point cannot be missed in version 1: Satl is not content to remain a passive. Many other texts about the Mahavidyas emphasize this association. frightening being that Siva can barely stand to look at her. Bagala. Most of the individual Mahavidyas are not depicted with a male consort. further personifications of Sati's wrath. ignored. Tara. T h e fact that in versions 1-3 a goddess is able to control Siva with the Mahavidyas reinforces the idea that they are associated with magical or meditative powers. In characterizing tantric religion generally as "more rugged than tender. who in fact feature prominently in tantric religion. and versions 2 and 3 imply. as in the case of Kali.

for example. Version 1 implies that all the Mahavidyas are associated with magical powers and that they all create conflict among people. N e i ther in textual sources nor in the contemporary oral tradition have I been able to discover an obvious pattern or logic to the inclusion of these ten goddesses in the same group. such as Dhumavatl and Bagala.3« T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP and Tripura-sundari. it is not readily apparent. . World maintenance. Others. while Tripura-sundari is usually shown sitting on him). and symbolism of the individual Mahavidyas. mythology. Finally. If there is an internal coherence to the group that explains how its members are related to each other. it is important to note that the Mahavidyas as a group in these five versions of their origin often function or are described quite differently from the i n dividual Mahavidyas. However. T h e extent to which individual Mahavidyas are described or featured as world maintainers or demon slayers varies a good deal. There are hints in some texts. world maintenance is a minor theme in stories of the individual Mahavidyas. For the most part. the world-maintaining aspect of the Mahavidyas is stressed in versions 4 and 5 but figures only weakly in the worship. with the exception of K a l i . Versions 4 and 5 cast the Mahavidyas in the familiar role of forms of the goddess Durga or the Mahadevi. As was just noted. Kali is well known as a demon slayer and is often featured in the role. the extent to which the individual Mahavidyas are characterized this way varies a good deal. is strongly associated with these characteristics. Bagalamukhi. the Mahavidyas present a curious collection of goddesses. Interrelationships among the Mahavidyas As a group. Group versus individual character of the Mahavidyas. for example. and some of my informants have speculated about the question. however. but Kamala hardly at all. created by her to defeat demons who have usurped the position of the gods. These hints and speculations cover a wide range of possibilities. they dominate him (both K a l i and Tara are shown standing on the supine body of Siva. are only rarely described in this capacity. Versions 4 and 5 differ markedly from versions 1-3 in stressing the world-maintaining function of the Mahavidyas.

and to some extent Tripura-sundari and Tara. To take just one example. then. some of the Mahavidyas are obscure." Indeed. What continues to be perplexing. Sundari (v. 5 9 The impression is difficult to avoid that each Mahavidya is one facet of a multifaceted Great Goddess and that each facet contains all the others—that if one observes intensely and carefully enough. Moreover. not Siva.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 1. Ugra-tara (v. 15). Bhairavi (v. W i t h the exception of K a l i . is not obvious and still begs the question concerning the essential interrelatedness of the group. T h e emphasis on the independence . among the names of Bhuvanesvari in her sahasrandma stotra from the Rudraydmala are Matarigi (v. an explanation of the interrelationship of the Mahavidyas as centered in their relationship to Siva breaks down outside these three versions. and Kamala (v. Kamala. Tara (v. SAIVITE A S S O C I A T I O N S Versions 1-3 of the origin of the Mahavidyas stress that they issue from Siva's wife or consort and are all forms of this goddess. T h e problem here is that when we look at the Mahavidyas individually. 19). the goddesses who make up this group are not very well known. 6 ) . FORMS OF T H E GREAT GODDESS M a n y texts and the contemporary oral tradition say that the Mahavidyas are "all forms of the goddess. we find that some of the Mahavidyas have a stronger affiliation with Siva than others. 10). this is clearly the case. that Dhumavatl is a widow and has no consort (although. one of her individual origin myths relates her to Satl). It therefore seems that one characteristic of the group that lends it coherence is that all of the Mahavidyas are wives or consorts of Siva. however. One Mahavidya is often explicitly equated with another or with several others." that "they are all one. 60). is why this particular combination of ten goddesses has come to express the rather basic s'akta theological theme that the Great Goddess has many forms. Kalika (v. as we shall see. Chinnamasta (v. as we shall do below. such as Durga and Sarasvati. T h e choice of the ten goddesses who make up the Mahavidyas as illustrative of this idea. If the intention of Mahavidya mythology and iconography is to illustrate the idea that the goddess takes many forms. 2. one would have thought that some of the more popular goddesses. would have been included in the group. and that Kamala is the wife of Visnu. Indeed. 20). or strongly associated with Siva. 10). 12). one will find all forms inhering in each particular form.

She is usually shown as aged and is nearly always described as a widow. Other Mahavidyas. It therefore seems less than satisfying as the key to understanding the interrelationship of the Mahavidyas. S T A G E S I N W O M E N ' S LIVES A related idea is that the Mahavidyas represent different stages or aspects of a woman's life cycle. for example. Other members of the group. the divine feminine was said to reveal herself in three main forms. are said to be sixteen years old. I have also learned that the Nine Durgas. mother. Dhumavatl. 4 . 6 0 are considered by a female devotee of Durga to represent the differing stages of the goddess's (and by extension a woman's) life cycle. a priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi suggested that they are all sisters. particularly Sodasi (Sundari). In ancient Greek religion. T h e priest at the Dhumavatl temple said that Laksmi (Kamala) is the older sister of Dhumavatl and that Sodasi (Sundari) is younger than the others. He was uncertain about the relative ages of the other Mahavidyas. T h e seven goddesses who form a protective circle in the desert around the city of Jaiselmer in western Rajasthan. 3. and on the independence of several individual Mahavidyas. have matronly qualities. corresponding to the "three ages of woman": maiden. One problem is that other members of the group do not seem to fit this scheme. 6 1 This scheme has some plausibility vis-a-vis certain goddesses in the Mahavidya group. Moreover. SISTERS In answer to my question concerning how the Mahavidyas relate to each other. Although they are sometimes called M a . This idea is not found in textual sources and seems unknown to most of my contemporary informants. for example. might represent the goddess in old age.4° T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP of the goddess from whom the Mahavidyas arise. also tends to attenuate this feature as the key to explaining the logic of their interrelationship. are said to be sisters. and crone. there is little or no emphasis on the motherhood of the Mahavidyas. Other groups of goddess sisters exist in Hinduism. and their independence from male consorts is stressed. a group of goddesses in Varanasi who are said to be different forms of Durga. T h e married and motherly aspects of the female life cy- . they are not shown with infants or children. such as Bhairavl in her form as Annapurna-bhairavl.

That is. which the goddess oversees or embodies." 6 2 Another author supports this idea. seems unsatisfactory as the key to understanding the interrelationships of the group. preservation. are primarily images of cosmogonic functions.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 4i cle are minimized in the mythology of the Alahavidyas. T h e other Mahavidyas also do not fit at all neatly into this scheme. that they represent symbols of the cosmic process of creation. as Mahalaksmi (corresponding to Visnu). such as Kali and Tara. That is. maintenance. "having three forms": Brahma. Tara represents the first manifestations of creation. and destruction. Siva. a contemporary practical guide to Tantra for aspirants says: "Mahamaya becomes Sodasi and creates the world. in her role as maintainer of the cosmos. such as Laksmi. STAGES OF CREATION A N D D E S T R U C T I O N One of the most common s'akta theological formulas for presenting or describing the multiform nature of the Mahadevi is to think of her as functioning in three ways. It is possible to categorize some individual Mahavidyas under the three functions of creation. then she becomes Bhuvanesvari and maintains the world. Tripura-sundari represents the creation of time. 5. the maintainer. exactly the opposite of her character: she is traditionally associated with abundance and fertility. and destruction. others with destruction. Kamala. Indeed. corresponding to the functions of the male trimurti (the great male deities. This scheme also. and as destroyer of the cosmos. however. is thereby associated with destruction. so it seems highly unlikely that the usual sequence in which they are named is meant to suggest seven stages of creation and three of dissolution. the tripartite cosmogonic formula that . the destroyer). and then she becomes Chinnamasta to destroy the world. others with creation. as Mahakali (corresponding to Siva). Few of the individual Mahavidyas. in her creative aspect the Great Goddess manifests herself as Mahasarasvati (corresponding to Brahma). Kali and Kamala are members of the well-known s'akta trimurti. the creator. such as Bhuvanesvari and Sodasi. He sees seven stages of creation and three stages of dissolution of the universe symbolically expressed in the Mahavidyas as given in their usual order: K a l i represents the primordial void prior to creation. some of them are associated with preservation. and so on. Visnu. It has been suggested to me that the Mahavidyas might be divided along these lines. 6 3 The problem with this particular attempt is that the last mentioned of the Mahavidyas. then.

and Mahakali destroys it. for example. Mahavidyas with golden or light complexions. and Mahakali with tamas. T h e three gunas are often related to colors: sattva is white. Mahalaksml (v. but the other members of the group do not neatly fit the formula. So. would be associated with the rajas guna. yogic bliss. Indeed. In the case of the Mahavidyas. and Matarigi are related to tamas guna. might be the key to identifying them with the three gunas. the three goddesses of the s'akta trimurti discussed above are also sometimes associated with the three gunas: Mahasarasvati with sattva. Therefore.4 2. and Kalika (v. So. This of course divides the Mahavidyas quite differently from Wood- . Mahalaksml with rajas. and Dhumavatl. Mahalaksml. the Mahavidyas is to think of them as symbols of the three gunas (qualities). 65). for example. T H E THREE GUNAS A related approach to explaining the interconnections among.that Mahasarasvati creates the world. and Mahakali) and all three of their cosmic functions. which vary in color. who have black or dark complexions. She W h o Creates and Sustains the W o r l d (v. 64 6. Bhuvanesvari is called Sarasvati (v. arid Matarigi. 6). Kamala. In fact. or the underlying logic of. T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP says. On the other hand. or tamas (ignorance). Kali. rajas is red. would be associated with the tamas guna. each Mahavidya corresponds to one of the three constituents of the created universe: sattva (purity). Kamala (v. in the sahasranama stotra of Bhuvanesvari from the Rudraydmala. not just one. Bhuvanesvari. 52). this approach to the interrelationship of the Mahavidyas also seems unsatisfying. rajas (energy). the tendency is usually to associate a particular Mahavidya with a wide range of characteristics and functions and to equate her with all three cosmic functions. Mahalaksml maintains it. Tara. John Woodroffe says that according to the Kdmadhenu-tantra Tara is identified with sattva guna and the achieving of kaivalya. would be related to sattva guna. who has a red complexion. Sodasi. 16). some individual Mahavidyas are associated with all three goddesses (Mahasarasvati. such as Bagala. and Chinnamasta.6* It has also been suggested to me that the complexions of the Mahavidyas. Dhumavatl. while Bhairavl. and Chinnamasta are associated with rajas guna.65 T h e Mahdnirvdna-tantra associates the individual Mahavidyas with the three gunas in the same way. Some of the individual Mahavidyas have little or no apparent connection with any cosmogonic function. 18). and tamas is black. In this approach. Bagala.

8 . In her angry form she holds a sword and stands directly on a corpse. according to her whims. So this formula also cannot easily be applied to the Mahavidyas to explain their coherence as a group. it becomes obvious that they usually have all three of these characteristics. W h i l e the schema is certainly suggestive. it is difficult to determine which of the three "moods" a Mahavidya best expresses. o 7. and Tripura-bhairavl (the terrible). such as Dhumavatl and K a l i . 6 8 This schema applies fairly well to certain Mahavidyas. In many cases. and benevolent. informants have suggested to me that the Mahavidyas may be divided into fierce and peaceful manifestations of the Mahadevi. T H R E E MOODS Yet another tripartite scheme used to describe the nature of the goddess and her many manifestations is found in the Kdlika-purana. where it is said that the Mahadevi has three forms or moods: amorous. In her amorous form she holds a yellow garland and stands on a red lotus on a white corpse. 6 7 The Kdlika-purana also says that the goddess Tripura is adored in three aspects: Tripura-bala (the virgin). Tripura-sundari (the beautiful).T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP roffe's scheme based on the Kdmadhenu-tantra. In her benevolent mood she rides a l i o n . FIERCE A N D P E A C E F U L F O R M S Another common way of schematizing the various forms of the Mahadevi in s'akta theology is to say that she reveals or expresses herself in fierce (raudra) and peaceful (saumya) forms. the text says. but the sattva guna. is related to purely spiritual qualities. Bagalamukhi. Kali. But when we look at each of the Mahavidyas in detail. is known in many texts as the symbol of the highest knowledge. who would be linked with tamas. lust. who is usually said to have a golden or light complexion. Another problem that arises here concerns the compatibility of the color of an individual Mahavidya's complexion with what we know of her nature and functions. who are primarily terrible manifestations. with which she would be identified in terms of her color. while the tamas guna is equated with delusion. and sloth. She assumes these forms. I do not find in it the key to explaining the inner coherence of the ten goddesses who form the Mahavidyas. is often associated with the acquisition of magical powers with which one can satisfy worldly desires. According to this . 6 9 Similarly. angry.

Kamala. Bhairavl. it is strange that certain goddesses who are unambiguous examples of either the raudra type. Others seem ambiguous vis-a-vis such a dichotomy. Bhuvanesvari. Apart from the fact that I have not found any texts that apply this schema to the Mahavidyas. " her descriptions often depict her as peaceful. such as SarasvatI. Also. Chinnamasta. Dhumavatl is described as quarrelsome and has inauspicious characteristics. Kali. K N O W L E D G E AND IGNORANCE ( C O N C E A L M E N T ) Another way of classifying manifestarions of the goddess according to two polarities is to say that her forms are vidya or avidyd. Sometimes an individual Mahavidya has several different forms. 9. Bagala. are omitted from the group. while this schema might be helpful in suggesting how certain s'akta theological themes are reflected in the Mahavidyas.44 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP scheme. Bagala. and Bhuvanesvari) illustrate the static aspect. Tripura-sundari. Bhairavl also presents somewhat of a problem. such as Camunda. but she is not actually said to be fearsome or terrible. while the others (Dhumavatl. Tara. and Dhumavatl m i g h t be included under the raudra forms of the Mahadevi. while Sodasi. and sometimes Chinnamasta) might illustrate the dynamic aspect of the goddess. 10. A tantric scholar in Varanasi suggested to me that the goddesses among the Mahavidyas who sit or stand on or otherwise dominate a male figure (these would include Kali. Matarigi. Tara. some more fierce than others. It is true that the Mahavidyas include examples of both the raudra and saumya types. it applies more clearly to certain Mahavidyas than others and seems forced in cases where the particular goddess illustrates neither pole in any clear way. certain Mahavidyas are difficult to classify as either fierce or peaceful. for example. Matarigi. but as a structure to explain all ten of the goddesses the polarity remains unsatisfying. Kamala. DYNAMIC A N D STATIC ASPECTS OF T H E D I V I N E Another way of classifying goddesses is to think of them as expressing either the dynamic or static nature of reality. . or of the saumya type. Again. if the primary purpose of selecting ten goddesses to illustrate this dichotomy were the rationale for the Mahavidyas. for although her name means "the frightful o n e . and Bhairavl might be included under the saumya forms.

clearly plays both roles. Or perhaps one could say that K a l i represents knowledge gained by getting rid of all false knowledge. while the latter (Sodasi) would be suggested in the tithis of the waxing moon. W h i c h type of goddess. Sodasi. who is approached primarily for worldly rewards. while other forms are meant to veil reality and delude beings as to its true nature (the avidya forms). while Sodasi represents knowledge gained by acquiring increasing amounts of knowledge until one is filled with wisdom. Likewise with most of the Mahavidyas. about whom so much is written.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 45 that is. . K a l i might belong to the former type of manifestation. The tantric scholar suggested that Chinnamasta. Like the new moon. would represent the last four tithis prior to the full moon. might belong to the latter. 7 0 According to this scheme. Kali represents complete knowledge in terms of transcendence. The former would be suggested in the tithis of the waning phase of the moon. Kali is identified with the new moon (amavasyd) and Sodasi with the full moon (purnimd). who is close in nature or meaning to Kali. she is beyond what can be perceived and circumscribed. T H E L U N A R PHASES A tantric scholar suggested to me yet another approach to explaining the interrelationships of the Mahavidyas. T h e other Mahavidyas might be arranged in similar fashion. both equally valid. she includes all the other fifteen tithis. is Dhumavatl or Matarigi? A case might be made for either pole. - I I. and who has such an ancient and widespread cult. one that identifies them with the different lunar tithis (the thirty days of the waxing and waning moon). by shedding ignorance. both of whom are associated with abundance. Also. As the sixteenth. To assign a particular Mahavidya to one pole or the other is difficult in many cases. would represent the first and second waning lunar tithis. according to this scheme. symbolizing the nature of ultimate truth. These two goddesses represent completeness of knowledge. in two different ways. for example. vidyd or avidyd." represents complete knowledge or wisdom in terms of being all-inclusive. some of her manifestations are meant to get rid of ignorance and delusion and grant liberating knowledge (the vidyd forms). while Bhuvanesvari and Kamala. while Kamala. The problem here is that a goddess such as Kali. According to this scholar. T h e other Mahavidyas are associated with the waxing and waning lunar tithis according to which of the poles they most resemble. whose name means "the sixteenth. I have yet to find any text that divides the Mahavidyas in this fashion.

a particular type of grain (possibly a drug of some kind). One might expect that the goddesses on the central deity's left side are those worshiped primarily by means of the left-handed path and those on the right. Sodasi. says that Kali. while Bhuvanesvari. although this approach may be helpful in the case of a few of the Mahavidyas. for example. The extent to which a particular Mahavidya approximates knowledge as transcendent or knowledge as all-inclusive is usually difficult to determine. and employs the infamous panca tattva ritual in which the aspirant partakes of five forbidden things: meat. S T A G E S OF C O N S C I O U S N E S S Finally. Chinnamasta. T h e Saktisamgama-tantra. to designate particular Mahavidyas as belonging either to the left. it seems forced in most. in many cases texts specify that both paths are appropriate. it is relevant to consider images in which they are arrayed in the ten directions. Tara.or the right-handed paths. is described as dangerous. LEFTAND RIGHT-HANDED GODDESSES Some informants have suggested to me that the Mahavidyas are interconnected through their association with the right. Tara.and right-handed paths. Tantrism describes two paths. Tantric texts sometimes specify which path should be used in worshiping particular Mahavidyas. According to the Mahdbhdgavatapurdna. T h e left-handed path is restricted to those of heroic nature.4* T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Again. 13. left and right. It is difficult. while BhairavT. but that is not the case. as means to achieving spiritual fulfillment. the Mahavidyas might be understood as symbols of the stages (or types) of consciousness experienced by tantric aspirants in their progressive spiritual development. Dhumavatl. Matarigi. BhairavT. Sundari. Chinnamasta. and illicit sexual intercourse. 7 1 However. and Bagala are fond of the left-handed path. fish. and in practice most of the goddesses who belong to the Mahavidyas are worshiped by practitioners of both paths. by the righthanded path. and Tripura-sundari are located to the left (the east). Each goddess confers a cer- . with a goddess or Siva in the center. and Bhuvanesvari are to the right. These six goddesses do not correspond in any consistent way to the left. 12. wine.or lefthanded paths in Tantrism. therefore. If one is attempting to divide the Mahavidyas between right and left. and Kamala should be worshiped by the right-handed path.

Different bhavas. fully enlightened consciousness that has transcended all limitations of egocentricity. kundalini sddhand represents a desire to go beyond or to expand normal consciousness. meditative states. the susumnd nddi. who is very similar to K a l i in appearance. and ascent of kundalinis'akti. the aspirant awakens this power and causes it to ascend by way of the central channel. This female power or energy is depicted as a coiled and slumbering serpent at the base of the spine in a cakra (center). bodily. and awakens or invigorates them as it reaches them. in which the adept is preoccupied with satisfying bodily and mental needs. T h e other Mahavidyas symbolize states of consciousness that arise between the adept's preoccupation with worldly. As the kundalini'rises. In tantric religion. Kamala and Bhairavl symbolize lower states of consciousness. 73 In this approach. That is. are sometimes associated with the awakening of each cakra. or moods (bhavas) 72 might be understood as progressive. symbolizes a high or expanded state of awareness. also represented as lotuses. one experiences a feeling of dissatisfaction with ordinary life. arising. the progressive nature of sddhand is often described as the awakening. it passes through six other cakras. one might think of them as symbols of the nature of the mental states associated with the seven cakras of kundalini yoga. meditative states. According to one adept. where she unites with Siva and creates the bliss of awakening (mahdsukha). evidence that the Mahavidyas are associated with the cakras. or mental perfections (siddhis). Tara. "spiritual moods" or states of consciousness. and with the kundalini generally. or awareness.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 47 tain type of perfection. an intensified will that is capable of directly influencing people with whom the adept comes in contact. pictured as a lotus. the sddhaka (aspirant) seeks to have the kundalini rise to the topmost cakra at the crown of the head. in fact. It is said of Bhu- . In interpreting the Mahavidyas as states of consciousness. which traverses the body along the line of the backbone. when kundalini s'akti awakens in the muladhdra cakra. some presupposing or being more inclusive than others. but a state that has not entirely transcended physical and personal limitations. K a l i is understood to represent unfettered.75 Ultimately. 7 6 There is. and it has some textual support. Through meditative techniques. Several informants independently of each other suggested this approach to the Mahavidyas. or personal needs and desires and the eventual dawning of the fully enlightened consciousness represented by K a l i . complete knowledge of self and of ultimate reality. These perfections (siddhis) or types of consciousness. 7 4 She is symbolic of the ultimate goal of tantric sddhand (spiritual exercise). blessing. Bagalamukhi represents a state of sharply focused consciousness.

Daksinacara.77 It is also said that Bhuvanesvari cuts the knots of (or awakens) the cakras and rises to meet Siva. Siddhantacara. and of the seven. is a Mahavidya. only Laksmi. the lowest cakra. or cakra. is: Vedacara. siddhis. or cakras. In ritually and meditatively moving from the outward parts of the Srividya cakra. Vaisnavacara. 1* Another example is Tripurabhairavi. These siddhis. in ascending order. in the case of Kali. are personified as goddesses. Vamacara. the adept acquires different siddhis. Sakini with the vis'uddha cakra. or perfections.82 There is even a tradition that associates particular goddesses with each of the seven cakras. The outer siddhis are less powerful and more worldly in nature. perhaps. A l though a certain Mahavidya may sometimes be identified with a particular path. Kakini with the andhata cakra. usually from inferior (in which the aims are worldly) to superior (in which the aims are transcendent). except. Saivacara. who is often identified with the Kaulacara . the family of worshipers. A standard list of the seven paths. and Kaulacara. siddhi. furthermore. Laksmi with the manipura cakra. that she sleeps in the muladhara cakra. there is seldom a consistent pattern. for example. these goddesses are hardly known outside this context. who is called Sat-cakra-krama-vasini (she who abides in the six cakras). to the center. which means that she is equated with the kundalini. Hakini with the djnd cakra. The Saktisamgama-tantra says that the highest path. Rakini with the svddhisthdna cakra. where the kundalini sleeps. while the inner siddhis are both more spiritual and more powerful. 8 1 A good example of goddesses representing progressive states of perfection is found in the Srividya cult. the Kaulacara. which represents the entire cosmos. and Nirvana-sakti with the sahasrdra cakraP For the most part. who know the truth that reality is comprised of s'akti and Siva. Many tantras name seven (sometimes nine) different paths and describe and rank them.4* T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP vanesvari. Dakini is associated with the muladhara cakra. comprises the kula. 8 0 The Mahdnirvdna-tantra says that the Kaulacara path includes the performance of the panca makdra (five essentials) ritual and is only entered upon after the aspirant has been initiated by a guru. What is missing in order to make the association of the Mahavidyas with the cakras and ascending states of consciousness a convincing interpretation of the interrelationship of the Mahavidyas is a clear tradition that asserts a hierarchy or progressive ranking of the ten goddesses84 and consistently identifies each one with specific paths. 79 Lending credibility to this approach to the Mahavidyas is the tantras' ranking of different paths. whom we may identify with Kamala.

have ancient and widespread cults that existed. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to combine all the possibilities we have mentioned. and in temporary places marked off by individual aspirants. the muladhara cakra. we can think of their worship as taking place primarily in two contexts: in temples. We seem left. Worship of the Mahavidyas T h e Mahavidyas are approached in a variety of ritual contexts. then. the evidence is too thin to say with assurance that this is the key to understanding how they relate to each other within the group. in our efforts to discern the coherence of the group. Although we find Mahavidyas associated with kundalini s'akti. This is the case with Kali. quite apart from the Mahavidyas as a group. which is considered the highest. or some subset of them. and Kamala. and still exist. for example. to understand how such a curious mix of goddesses has come together to form the ten Mahavidyas. TEMPLE WORSHIP The extent to which individual Mahavidyas are worshiped in temples varies considerably. There are K a l i and Laksmi temples throughout India. they are quite different in mood and style. Although I am inclined to see in this approach a helpful framework for thinking about the meaning of the Mahavidyas as a group and as individual goddesses. . Other members of the Mahavidyas. though. or the cakras generally. not seven. In general.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 4« path. Mahavidyas if they are meant to be symbols of the progressive stages of consciousness experienced by aspirants in kundaliniyoga. and these two goddesses have been widely worshiped in such settings since ancient times. where worship is undertaken in tantric fashion. Although temple and tantric styles of worship have some similarities. with no entirely satisfactory key to understanding the connections among the Mahavidyas. and the worship of one Mahavidya may differ from that of others. It is also curious that there are ten. for example. either right-handed or left-handed. where they are served by priests and where people come to take part in public worship. it is rare to find Mahavidyas assigned to each of the other cakras in a predictable way. Tara. Some of the Mahavidyas. Tripura-sundari.

however. public approach to them as powers who are able to grant devotees blessings and favors and who are pleased with devotional service and the public festivals and celebrations that are a part of every temple's annual cycle. although practices vary from temple to temple. and fruit. TANTRIC WORSHIP T h e majority of texts that mention the Mahavidyas are tantric. in addition to the typical flowers. sacred dwellings constructed for them on earth. T h e standard sixteen-part puja. are not well known at all outside the group. by which I mean that the proper framework in which to understand them is tantric. consists of actions that are thought appropriate for a servant or subject toward a superior. Several of the Mahavidyas like blood offerings (which are made in the form of animal sacrifices). The proper mood of the devotee is that of humble supplication before a superior being from whom one makes requests and to whom one offers respectful service and homage. it is probably fair to refer to the Mahavidyas as primarily tantric goddesses. Bagala. They are thought of as great beings who have an objective existence outside the devotee and who live in heavenly places or special. Chinnamasta. above. Tara. or beyond the worshiper. I know of only the one mentioned above in C a l cutta. and Chinnamasta. the ritual actions of the devotee are directed outward toward the powerful being. who is affirmed to exist outside. and Bagalamukhi all have a reputation for being pleased by blood offerings. and there are very few temples dedicated specially to them anywhere in India. T h e whole structure of H i n d u temple puja is patterned on the model of a subject serving a royal person. In this context. Indeed. The devotee who comes to the temple— the royal court—also brings offerings appropriate to the particular deity. although the Mahavidyas are depicted as a group in many goddess temples across N o r t h India. incense. K a l i . A worshiper in a temple approaches a Mahavidya primarily as a devoted servant attending a royal mistress.5° T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP such as Dhumavatl. the individual Mahavidyas are perceived as very similar to other H i n d u deities. Worship of the Mahavidyas in temples invites an open. It is clear that they are typically approached by means of tantric rituals and that their worship is to be interpreted ac- . which is performed daily. often several times daily in large temples. As for temples dedicated to the Mahavidyas as a group. royal figure. In the context of temple worship.

which in effect means worshiping the divinity within oneself. yantras. that is. that all of these results. T h e aim of tantric sddhand is to establish identity with the deity worshiped. mantras. A central theme in tantric sddhand is the identification of the macrocosm with the microcosm. or dimensions of the cosmos. ritualistic. which is represented by the human organism. conversely. ordinary or regular worship of the goddess. or "fruits"—redemptive wisdom. images. In tantric worship. We have already seen. rituals. worldly boons. aspects. or spiritual exercise. a fourteenth-century text devoted to the goddess in the form of K a l i . the practitioner or adept. Or. in turn. We can get a good idea of how the Mahavidyas are worshiped according to tantric principles and rites from a brief description oisdmanya puja. the wisdom of selfknowledge. tantric sddhand may result in redemptive transformation. as we shall see. and spiritual at the same time. and magical powers—are associated with worship of the Mahavidyas. which is generally referred to as sddhand. T h e adept may acquire an expanded self-awareness. physical. T h e self-divinization of tantric sddhand may have several results. to appropriate that deity. such puja takes on a somewhat different meaning in a tantric context. or to awaken that deity within oneself. These siddhis. Or such sddhand may lead to heightened sense perception. as described in the Kdlika-purana. Although many tantric texts give the specific details for sixteen-part puja (discussed above). specifically by the sddhaka. That is. and then to offer it puja. Through meditation techniques. one worships the deity residing within in the hope of awakening in oneself the reality that it represents. The deities are thought of as aspects of the cosmos that correspond to aspects of the human organism— mental. aspects.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 5' cording to tantric principles. the aspirant seeks to achieve an awakened or enlightened state of consciousness through techniques that are physical. or both. the adept systematically identifies parts. mental. and mandalas (schematic diagrams). or dimensions of himself or herself with parts. which is often said to be tantamount to achieving moksa (mukti or "liberation"). and will see in more detail below when we discuss the Mahavidyas individually. the acquisition of siddhis through which the adept excels at one of the senses or even transcends the limitations of sensory perception. increased sensory perception. Or tantric sddhand may result in an intensified or expanded mental capacity or power that enables the practitioner to achieve feats of selfcontrol or control over others. may lead to enjoyments impossible before achieving such perfections. 8 5 Though the text does not describe tantric worship of .

Flowers to be offered. each connected with ai element: earth. The adept then draws a yantra (a schematic diagram) representing the particular goddess to be worshiped. urine. he imagines his life force leaving his body through the top of his head. air. by the appearance of the goddess herself. and (4) concluding rites. each has her distinctive yantra or mandala. and says that the ritual is more potent if done at a place sacred to whichever form of the goddess is being worshiped. Items are also purified by means of mantras and water. Finally. although the adept could be female). such as a mountaintop or a cave. t he adept begins a ritual that releases his life force. He carefully inspects the items to be used in the ritual to insure that they are unblemished. T h e Kdlika-purana describes a continuous set of actions. (3) worship of the goddess herself. In the second phase of the ceremony. the adept performs a series of acts that ar e primarily mental to further purify himself. T h e adept's symbolic death is followed by his mental re-creation of the world and. but we can think of the ceremony as having four parts: (t) preparation. identifying himselfwith space. and so on—and as such is unfit to be an instrument of worship. fire. although the text does recommend certain sites. T h e adept next purifies the place of worship by sprinkling water on the ground. T h e opening rites of sdmanya piijd aim primarily at purification of the adept and the delimitation of an appropriate place within which to perform the ceremony. T h e ritual may be performed at any time and does not require a prj e s t. and sound. The ritual may be done almost anywhere. sips water (signifying internal purification).52 THE MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP the Mahavidyas per se. it provides a rather detailed outline of the stages of tantric worship. Assuming the correct posture and practicing breath control. A physical image of the goddess is not necessary. feces. hisjiva. this part of the rite aims at the adept's symbolic death and dissolution. He inagines his jiva passing through different stages.SA T h e adept bathes. T h e ritual probably takes no longer than an hour and could be done in abbreviated form in considerably less time. He also recites certain mantras at this point to expel potentially harmful spirits. In general. In the case of the Mahavidyas. from his body. which can be adapted to any given deity. and asks the goddess to rid his mind of any impurities. for example. water. T h e text says that the body is composed of impure elements—mucus. . (2) meditation. It is done by an individual by and for himself (let us imagine that the adept is a male in the following description. This signals his symbolic death. m 0 s t important. should be free from insects.

The text instructs the adept. In effect. usually consisting of rice or some other grain. An entire chapter in the Kdlika-purana suggests offerings appropriate to the goddess and the rewards that may be expected from them. He then transfers the goddess from his heart into the yantra he has drawn on the ground by exhaling through his right nostril onto a flower that h'e holds in his hand. to constantly repeat the goddess's special mantra. divine body (actually identified with the goddess herself). begins with the adept pronouncing the seed syllable (bija) of the goddess. That is. and finally imagines a shower of pure nectar cleaning the place where his body had lain and been burned. but in contrast to elaborate and costly temple pujd. He imagines his body dissolving. This begins with inward worship. hand gestures with which the adept "catches" the goddess and places her in the yantra. Having provided himself with a new. He pictures the goddess by reciting her dhydna mantra. and the rebirth of the adept. throughout this part of the ceremony. He completes the re-creation of the cosmos by v i sualizing the goddess herself seated on a throne in the center of the world. which often describes her in great detail. in this ceremony the adept offers the goddess little more than purified water and flowers. then imagines it burning on a funeral pyre. and he is ready to be reborn. His ultimate purification is now complete. which is imagined as her particular mandala. Outward worship of the goddess in the mandala. T h e adept may also make a blood offering. Next he identifies himself with the goddess by placing a flower that he has been holding in his hands on top of his head and saying: "I am this. physically or mentally." T h e adept reinforces his deification with mudrds (hand gestures) and mantras that identify parts of the cosmos with parts of his body. then imagines the ashes blowing away. the adept imagines the goddess and her attendants dwelling in his heart. he is now prepared to undertake worship of the goddess herself. Among the . The actions are similar to temple pujd. which is said to be identical with the goddess herself. the adept has destroyed the cosmos and himself by reducing them to their elemental constituents. H e r transference to the yantra can also be done with mudrds. Re-creation of the cosmos. who can be any of the ten Mahavidyas. He then visualizes the different parts of the cosmos. T h e adept now praises the goddess with hymns and treats her as an honored guest by offering her various articles.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP S3 The adept then symbolically dissolves his body. or mantras. syllables. closes with a final offering. which as a microcosm of the universe also represents the physical world as a whole. often in the form of letters.

he finishes the ceremony by erasing the yantra or mandala and disposing of the remains of the offerings. fish. the adept smells the flower that represents her. which is the likely setting for worship of the Mahavidyas. which is essentially tantric in nature. as it were. the goal is to inwardly realize the presence of the goddess in the aspirant." According to the tantras. one re-creates the world and oneself. which is identified with the goddess. Although samanya pujd perceives the goddess in question to be both a superior being who exists outside the sddhaka and an inward dimension or aspect of the worshiper. If the goddess is visualized as returning to the worshiper's heart. The adept now dismisses the goddess by circumambulating the flower that represents her and mentally visualizing her return to her normal abode: heaven. then. mudrd (a type of grain that may have hallucinogenic properties). T h e Mahavidyas are also worshiped in a format known as the lefthanded (Vamacara) path in Tantrism. Or perhaps one could say that in samanya pujd. T h e ritual is done under the guidance of a guru. T h e sddhaka must partake of five things that are ordinarily forbidden or are highly polluting: meat. During samanya pujd. samanya pujd is worship of one's own inner sacred essence as well as of a superior divine being. and then places the flower on his head. Tara. T h e two are declared essentially one. In this sense. the goddess is identified with the worshiper. or some particular holy place. 8 7 Samanya pujd is a ritual through which the worshiper is deified. is on the latter. wine. K a l i . particularly in comparison to temple worship. the ritual of the "five forbidden things. T h e remains are considered especially potent and dangerous and must be handled with great care.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP Mahavidyas. Fierce goddesses are associated with these leftovers and must be propitiated before the ceremony is complete. and Chinnamasta are fond of blood offerings. After ritually undertaking one's own death and dissolution. In this act of re-creation. Unlike temple worship. This type of worship is characterized primarily by the panca tattva or panca makdra ritual. while Mahavidyas like K a mala do not receive such offerings. inhaling her. the adept's heart. one reveres one's highest or most essential nature. W i t h the worship of the goddess complete. it is reserved for the few of heroic nature who are capable of undertaking it without harming themselves in the process. and sexual i n tercourse with a woman who is not one's wife (the ritual is described from a male point of view). the emphasis. . the emphasis is upon individual meditation and identification with the goddess in question. so these are recommended in their worship.

or left-handed paths. but some may be worshiped by either the right. The precise connection between the Mahavidyas and the left-handed path. one gains release from the inhibitions and constraints they can generate. The Mahavidyas and Magical Powers We have already touched on the association of the Mahavidyas with magical powers. Tara. is not entirely clear. indicating that at least some of the goddesses are worshiped in this context. Texts on yoga say that one can . undertake ascetic and meditative practices in order to acquire special abilities with which they hope to achieve power. T h e logic or intention of this ritual appears to be related to perceiving or intensely realizing the basic truth that all of reality. 8 8 Such distinctions as "pure" and "polluting" impose artificial qualifications on the manifestation of the goddess as the physical world. in which the adept is forced to confront and partake of forbidden things. Dhumavatl. Hindu literature is full of stories in which individuals. it is clear that they employ meditative and ascetic practices to attain selfish. for she pervades all. and one's fears. one affirms that ultimately there is nothing that is not the goddess. Perhaps the fierce or inauspicious qualities of some of the Mahavidyas that are worshiped according to the lefthanded path relate to the logic of the panca tattva ritual. Some of the Mahavidyas. worldly goals rather than what we might think of as spiritual ones. with which the goddess is often identified) as fractured and divided. wealth. that perceives the essentially unified world that is the goddess (or brahman. are identified with such harsh realities as death. By confronting these deities. sex. and decrepitude. are pervaded by s'akti. and Chinnamasta. old age.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 55 Individual texts differ over whether this rite is to be done alone or in a group. often demons. and the panca tattva ritual specifically. or some other worldly pleasure or reward. the goddess herself. In these stories. destruction. The panca tattva ritual seeks to abolish a mentality that perceives the world according to artificial human constructs. or brahman. Texts devoted to the Mahavidyas often refer to the panca tattva ritual. particularly Kali. By partaking of forbidden things. Their worship may include this ritual. that nothing is polluting. all things. but it is so persistent that we should discuss it in more detail before turning to a treatment of the individual goddesses.

T h e Ddmaratantra. such as causing strife. and attracting a person of the opposite sex. the hero Sundara succeeds in finding and win- . and preserving one's youth. which is named after Kali as "the howling one" (Phetkarini). 89 Other H i n d u texts deal specifically with magical powers. has chapters on several of the Mahavidyas. 98 In this case. K a l i is often the main deity and bestows magical powers on her devotees. particularly healing ones. These are said to be the duties of the Mahavidyas. stambhana (immobilization or paralyzing). or are identical with. vasya (bringing others under one's control). Individual Mahavidyas are often associated with magical powers. killing by wishing it. stambhana (paralyzing the activity of others). to become large. attracting. to have an irresistible will.) mentions a list of six magical practices: santi (cure of disease and the expulsion of evil spirits). we find a group of ten yoginis (female beings endowed with magical powers) who personify ten siddhis: the powers to make small. for example. 99 Kali has a long history of association with magical powers. and to control desires. for example. vidvesana (sowing dissension)." 9 4 T h e Satkarmadipikd and the Kdmaratna are also preoccupied with magical acts. T h e six magical acts are also described in the Salya-tantra. 92 and the Udddmara-tantra? 1. especially the power by which whatever one says comes true (vdk siddhi). The Kdlarudra-tantra "describes destructive rites to be executed with the help of mantras of fearsome goddesses such as Dhumavatl. thereby associating the quest for magical powers with the Mahavidyas specifically.90 The Phetkdrini-tantra describes six magical powers (sat karmdni): santi (pacification). In the Bengali marigal kdvyas. uccdtana (compelling someone to leave home). is devoted entirely to describing the use of mantras to acquire siddhis. and mdrana (killing by will). vasikarana (subjugation). making a person sick. 9 6 T h e Brhaddharma-purdna says that the Mahavidyas as a group give the powers of eradication. controlling speech. In the Srividya school of Tantrism.95 The Sdradd-tilaka-tantra (23. to control others. to become light. to become superior. but also the kinds often associated with the Mahavidyas. vidvesa (causing dissension). paralyzing.56 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP acquire special powers (siddhis) by practicing yoga. but warn against i n dulging in them and thereby perverting the spiritual quest. and mdrana (causing death). which is dominant in South India. the goddesses not only grant these powers but actually represent. to enjoy. paralyzing or obtaining victory over an enemy.91 This text. the Dattdtreyatantra. uccdtana (eradication). causing a person to get old. Matarigi is said to give all kinds of siddhis. to gain all of one's desires. to obtain anything. them. 9 7 Other groups of goddesses are identified with specific siddhis in some tantric texts.122ft. In the Kdlikdmarigal-kdvya.

one discovers new dimensions to one's psychic capacities. 104 The importance of magical powers in the worship of the Mahavidyas might be understood from at least two points of view. authoritative in speech. it is not surprising to find the Mahavidyas associated with granting a range of blessings and powers.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 57 ning the heroine. by means of magical powers acquired in worshiping K a l i . eradication. In this sense. one should burn mustard oil and blood of a she-buffalo in a sacrificial fire. the adept awakens aspects or dimensions of his consciousness and realizes that his mental or psychic capacities are much greater than he might have imagined." while a somewhat less literal translation might be "supreme (or . i n cluding magical powers. and needs. the association of siddhis with them is not surprising. frustrations. Second. Other deities also bestow a variety of blessings. To achieve the ability to kill at will. The Bagaldmukhi-rahasya says tha t she is worshiped for paralyzing. That magical powers as well as transformative wisdom might be associated with this process is understandable. Insofar as the Mahavidyas might be thought of as aspects or stages of consciousness in the spiritual quest. In exploring and expanding one's consciousness. 1 0 0 In the Sdkta-pramoda. Like the kundalini serpent rising and awakening the cakras. worship generally can be prompted by specific desires. Vidya. and control over the planets. the adept worships the Mahavidyas by developing and employing mental capacities through meditation. to expand and intensify it. 101 Also in the Sdktapramoda we read this prayer to Chinnamasta: "Give me siddhis and destroy my enemies. Different recipes are given to achieve these different powers. immune to poison. and perhaps obviously. 1 0 3 T h e Sdkta-pramoda says that worship of Sodasi (Tripura-sundari) gives knowledge of all and makes one wealthy. First. A deity is approached for help. and many of the magical powers that are specified relate directly to mental powers." 1 0 2 T h e Mahavidya who is most consistently associated with magical powers is Bagalamukhi. while for eradication one should burn the feathers of a crow and a vulture. Tantric yoga is supposed to awaken one's consciousness. and free from sickness. The Significance of the Term Mahavidya A literal translation of the term mahavidya is "great knowledge. Siva says that Dhumavatl is worshiped primarily for the siddhi of killing one's enemies. causing the lotuses to bloom.

which is the way one is often tempted to understand the relationship between the deity and the mantra. in fact. the first order of business in many tantric texts that discuss or describe the Mahavidyas is to give their mantras. Philosophical schools of great sophistication. knew Vedic mantras and were prohibited from uttering them where they might be heard by unqualified people. particularly Vedic mantras. a highcaste male elite guarded them closely. The idea of sabda brahman is ancient: ultimate reality in its most essential form is expressed in sound. such as women or any members of lower castes. In his commentary on the Lalitd-sahasrandma. . many rituals are believed to be impotent unless qualified priests pronounce the mantras correctly.58 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP superior or complete) knowledge (or wisdom)." vidyd generally being used in this technical sense in tantric contexts. I have been told by two scholars of Tantrism in Varanasi 1 0 5 that the term dasamahdvidyd as it applies to the ten goddesses is technical and means the "ten great mantras. rather. Jan Gonda says: " T h e essence of a mantra . Similarly in tantric sddhand. such as the Sphota school. furthermore. T h e deity is believed to appear from the mantra when it is correctly pronounced. is an essential part of most H i n d u rituals. Traditionally." 1 0 6 Indeed. certain Brahmans. and their power was believed to be almost unlimited. It is not obvious why these ten goddesses should have been so designated. is highly secret and extremely powerful. T h e mantra. It is a given in the tantric context. that the mantra is identical with the goddess. is transmitted to a sddhaka by a guru secretly . is the presence of the deity: only that mantra in which the devatd has revealed his or her aspects can reveal that aspect. 1 0 8 are based on theories of sound and vibration as the essential and basic constituents of reality. T h e mantra of a goddess. . is that the mantra if the goddess. the mantras that a sddhaka receives from his or her guru are secret and regarded as extremely powerful. the situation. It is not that the mantra belongs to the goddess." There are several possibilities for what the name tells us about the nature and function of the Mahavidyas. Related to this emphasis on the priority of sound as basic to the nature of ultimate reality is the equally ancient emphasis in Hinduism on the potency of mantras. Reciting mantras. Mantras were usually taken from sacred texts. or sacred utterances. only a select group of people. Bhaskararaya says: "The difference between Mantra and Vidyd is that the former has reference to male deities and the latter to female ones. for example. Indeed." 1 0 7 There is a long-standing tradition in Hinduism that sound is the essence of reality. which consist of a few syllables. but several explanations are possible. it is often said.

the guru has chosen the particular mantra as suitable to the adept. its reference to the mantras of the ten goddesses. according to some. Viewing the goddesses as those who grant great knowledge or wisdom is in keeping with a general as- . She remains in latent form until a particular adept invokes her through the mantra that is her animating essence. . knowledge of arts and sciences." 1 1 1 Yet another scholar maintains that the Mahadevi causes bondage and in this capacity is referred to as avidyd. then." is understandable. mantras are in fact transmitted by a spiritual master during a carefully supervised spiritual undertaking. One contemporary scholar says: "These [the Mahavidyas] are the representatives of transcendent knowledge and power. is related to the idea that the ten goddesses bestow or reveal certain types of knowledge. and that the term dasamdhavidyd may literally mean the "ten great mantras. It is in this sense. like brahman. he says. he equates vidyd with brahman itself. Indeed. or transformative knowledge. T h e ten Mahavidyas. 1 1 3 Each of these interpretations of the term mahavidya goes beyond the technical meaning of "mantra" to apply the more encompassing meanmg. "knowledge." 1 1 0 Another scholar says that the Mahavidyas are so called because they are the "sources of all that is to be known." to the ten goddesses. perhaps. to leave the matter of the term mahavidya here. Vidyd. that the emphasis upon the adept and the goddess being one might be understood in the tantric context. that the ten goddesses who constitute the Mahavidyas are essentially ten mantras. Indeed. however. then. several people have commented on the significance of the term without emphasizing. or even mentioning. T h e idea. underlies and pervades all things. 1 1 2 Yet another scholar equates vidyd with s'akti. are ten forms in which the goddess brings about enlightenment by means of liberating knowledge. T h e name." 1 0 9 Another scholar refers to the Mahavidyas as "ten objects of transcendental knowledge . the sources of all that is to be known. then. T h e Mahavidyas. but that she also causes liberation and in this capacity is referred to as vidyd. and bliss). It is difficult. which. embody or transmit ultimate power and complete knowledge. then. ultimate reality. Despite the impression that mantras are public because they are in printed editions of the tantras and that one might freely invoke them for their effect. What is also significant is that the goddess—who is the mantra—appears or exists only when the mantra is invoked. . is sacciddnanda (being. signifying the various degrees and stages of existence.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 59 in a ritual. One cannot and does not exist without the other. consciousness. T h e term vidya means "knowledge" and can refer to practical knowledge.

5 8 4 ) . "the knowledge of brahman (the highest reality). and in this form to manifest herself in different goddesses: Gariga. In the Brahma-vaivartapurdna. "she whose form is intellect. 261). In the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. Durga is referred to as Mahavidya twice (1. Mahavidya." 1 1 5 Durga is also identified with cetand. the goddess grants the merchant Samadhi liberating knowledge (vidyd) (13. . We find many textual references to goddesses. Durga. "knowledge" (no. "intellect. T h e connection between the technical meaning of mahavidya as "great mantra" and interpretations that emphasize the term as meaning "knowledge" or "wisdom" resides in the tantric belief that mantras awaken consciousness and expand the senses and intellect. "intelligence" (no. pardvidyd. knowledge and intellect or other mental attributes related to knowledge and wisdom.8). the ten Mahavidyas are the ten great mantras by means of which knowledge is gained.44 and 4. 1 1 7 T h e Devi-bhdgavata-purdna frequently refers to the principal goddess of the text as Vidya or Brahmavidya. 2 2 3). In this sense. Vidya. It is clear. Mantras are the means to realizing the goal of knowledge. as identical with. Prajnatmika. and Jnanada. identify the goddess with knowledge and wisdom: Mahabuddhi. "knowledge of dtman ('self or soul)" (no. "great intelligence" (no. and a group of female beings called the Vidyas are described attending the god Brahma (2. "she whose form is a mass of knowledge" (no. "she who bestows knowledge" (no." in the Devi-mdhdtmya (5.15).58 and 11. or associated with.20)." four times in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Durga is also associated with buddhi. M a t i .11." 1 1 8 Perhaps the earliest examples of female beings bearing the name Vidya are found in the Mabdbhdrata. awakened.221. In the Devi-mdhdtmya. T h e difference is only one of means and ends. furthermore. Vijnanabhanarupini. the goddess is said to be supreme knowledge. "consciousness. Atmavidya. or the Great Goddess. that her identification with vidyd in these verses is related to liberating knowledge. "she who is wisdom itself" (no. a famous goddess hymn. 583). Savitri. 253). "great knowledge" (no. 549). 6 4 3 ) . 11* In the concluding scene of the Devi-mdhdtmya.60 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP sociation between goddesses and knowledge throughout s'akta literature. Durga is also associated with buddhi and is called Buddhirupa. 4 4 5 ) .16). and Sarasvao". A female being named Vidya is mentioned as a member of Parvati's entourage (3.13).21) and as Vidya (1. Laksmi.116 Several of the epithets included in the Lalitd-sahasrandma. or discovered within.

T h e group does not particularly manifest characteristics and functions that typify s'akta Hinduism. most of them are little known apart from this group. Tarapith in Birbhum district of Bengal is perhaps the most famous. Nonetheless. Several texts and secondary sources imply that they sum up. and at these sacred places she is often connected to the myth of the s'aktapithas. or circumscribe in some fashion. even though the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna tells the stories of both Gariga and the origin of the Mahavidyas. yet they are often said to represent the Mahadevi in her diverse forms. the group lacks many features considered central to s'akta theology and religion. To use Diana Eck's expression. Dhumavatl. T h e most famous of such Kali temples is Kalighat (after which the city of Calcutta is named). K a l i . Tara has several important sacred places. Laksmi (Kamala) also has many wellknown temples of regional or local importance that tie her to the local culture and land. lack a clear "locative aspect. the group lacks the close association with sacred places that is an important feature of H i n d u goddess traditions. the s'akta pttha myth is rarely mentioned. even though it is often extremely important in the case of other goddesses and goddess cults. and several of the goddesses are strikingly unusual (Chinnamasta. such as Kali and Laksmi. Tara. outside the Mahavidyas. as a group and as individuals. who is the origin of the Mahavidyas in the purdnic accounts (see above). It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the meaning and function of the Mahavidyas are only very weakly related to sacred geography. It is also interesting that the Mahavidyas as a group and individually are rarely associated with such geographical goddesses as Gariga. 1 1 9 T h e Mahavidyas have little or no connection with . and Bagalamukhi in particular). even though in the myth the pithas all arise from the body of Satl. and Kamala is barely even mentioned in the context of their roles among the Mahavidyas. Although it includes some well-known goddesses. this geographical aspect of Kali. Similarly. which has a geographical theme. has many famous temples." which is a particularly distinctive feature of Hinduism and much H i n d u goddess worship.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 61 Concluding Observations T h e ten Mahavidyas form a distinctive group of deities. However. T h e texts that discuss and describe the Mahavidyas do not seem to be interested in reflecting upon or promoting the ways in which these goddesses are associated with sacred geography in their independent cults. the main features of the Mahadevi. In the same vein. apart from the Mahavidyas. For example. the Mahavidyas.

in which she is flanked by elephants showering her with water from their trunks or from pots. rivers. For many goddesses. they are not depicted as mothers. As we have discussed above.62 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP "organic symbols" of the sacred. and when he is. Their iconography and mythology. however. Although the Mahavidyas are not strongly associated with seoeraoh- . particularly the demon-slaying Durga. he is rarely depicted with them. the Mahadevl's assumption of appropriate forms to defeat demons and maintain cosmic balance and harmony is an important facet of s'akta theology in many texts. T h e i r nama stotras also give individual Mahavidyas epithets that suggest a world-maintaining role. Among the Mahavidyas this role is extremely weak. their role as guardian and maintainer of dharma is central. preferring the very ancient image of Gaja-laksmi. T h e y are almost always depicted or described without reference to a consort. and they are rarely referred to by maternal epithets. which are important themes in the cults of other goddesses. do not emphasize it. K a l i and Tara are shown standing on his supine body. the Mahavidyas are sometimes compared to the avataras of Visnu. and Rudra). Another notable feature of H i n d u goddesses is their role as consorts. or river confluences. T h e Mahavidyas lack another characteristic that typifies many H i n d u goddesses. he is subordinate to them. particularly in their noma stotras (hymns consisting of names or epithets). T h e function of the Mahavidyas in maintaining cosmic order. For example. Although they may have names that connect them with creation in a general way. Many of them are associated with particular gods as wives or consorts. usually Siva. dharma. they are only very weakly connected with fecundity and growth. 1 2 1 T h e Mahavidyas are seldom worshiped for progeny or fertility. river banks. Both as a group and as individual goddesses within the group. It is not her wifely associations and functions that are significant in her role as a Mahavidya. It is particularly striking in the case of Kamala. Although they may bear epithets in their nama stotras that associate them with a male deity. is also weak. Visnu. Similarly. fecundity. or the avataras are said to be identical with or to have arisen from the Mahavidyas. Siva. and growth. the Mahavidyas are independent. even in the cults of Kamala and Kali apart from their associations with the Mahavidyas. 1 2 0 such as mountains. They have little or no connection with motherhood. for the Mahavidyas as a group or as individuals. that he is not depicted with her when she is shown as one of the Mahavidyas. Indeed. and Tripura-sundari is shown sitting on a throne whose legs are the four male gods (Brahma. H e r dhyana mantra describes her without him. who is otherwise known to be Visnu's consort.


PART II The Individual Mahavidyas .

They are associated also with mental and psychic powers (siddhis) and heightened states of consciousness. assuming the "superior" position in sexual intercourse.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP ^3 ical features or maternal. in nature. In a sense we could say that each Mahavidya represents a style of spirituality appropriate to the sddhaka as determined by the guru who has bequeathed to him or her a special mantra. T h e Mahavidyas are independent deities. T h e y are mantras. On the other hand. powerful sounds. In this respect. We will often find ideas and themes that apply to the Mahavidyas as a group bemg reiterated and emphasized in the iconography and mythology of a particular goddess. and Kamala. wear garlands of severed heads or skulls. sit on corpses. are fearsome. Tara. they dominate him. they are associated with mantras. or sitting on a throne or couch supported by male deities. though featuring Satl. In the context of Tantrism. and have disheveled hair. are naked and smeared with blood. consciousness. Next we will turn our attention to the individual Mahavidyas. represent or symbolize aspects of awareness. The Mahavidyas. and in terms of many of their names. They are. without whom they would remain only latent. they are associated with sddhand (spiritual exercises). It is when a sddhaka invokes the mantra of a goddess that she "comes alive. Even the origin myth of the Mahavidyas. a special goddess. In short. where male deities do appear. standing on his supine body. Finally. T h e y dwell or are worshiped in cremation grounds. consort." T h e Mahavidyas. they are tied inextricably to human beings. they are subordinate and subservient to the Mahavidyas. stresses her decision to act independently of her husband and her success in bending him to her will. that is. not soft. or dharma-upholding functions. They tend to be rough. unquestionably. this association is played down or ignored when they are approached as Mahavidyas. . that is. they exist where their mantras are uttered. and their most essential form is as mantras. they do have other characteristics that might help us begin to understand their distinctive nature as a group and as individual goddesses. as mantras. or mental capacity associated with mantra sddhand (spiritual discipline that employs sacred sounds). indulgent nature. Siva's wife. each goddess also has her peculiarities: unique features that are only weakly stressed in the group as a whole. with a few exceptions. In the case of individual Mahavidya who are known to be consorts of male deities outside the context of the Mahavidya cult. W h e n the Mahavidyas as individuals are shown with a male consort. such as K a l i . having only a weak connection with a male deity. This fierce aspect overshadows their boon-conferring.

Her fangs are dreadful. and the thousand-hooded serpent Ananta looms above her head. She smiles.1 She is lustrous like a dark cloud and wears black clothes. Her tongue lolls. She should be meditated upon as having disheveled hair and a garland of freshly cut human heads. She has a bluish complexion and is lustrous like a dark cloud. She stands on the chest of Siva in the form of a corpse. She is completely naked. Siva is present as a boy beside her. Her upper right hand makes the gesture of assurance and her lower right hand. is seated on a bed of snakes. She makes a loud. where she is surrounded by howling jackals. She is eager to have sexual intercourse in reverse fashion with Mahakala. is very dreadful. laughing sound.- . She has four arms. and she wears a girdle made of severed human hands. She wears a satisfied expression. She makes a terrible sound and lives in the cremation ground.Kali The Black Goddess She is the terrible one who has a dreadful face. Blood trickles from the corners of her mouth and makes her face gleam. She wears the crescent moon on her forehead and is decorated with serpents. and she smiles. She drinks wine. her face is dreadful to behold. In her upper left hand she holds a sword that has just been bloodied by the severed head that she holds in her lower left hand. Her ear ornaments are the corpses of children. the sign of granting favors. her eyes are sunken. and her body gleams with blood that is smeared all over it from the garland of bleeding severed heads around her neck. has a serpent as a sacred thread. and her face is fierce. She has a large belly. and wears a garland of fifty human heads that hangs all the way down to her knees. but bestows the desires of the aspirant. Her breasts are large and round.

She is also affirmed in many places to be the most important of the Mahavidyas.68 KALI She is like a mountain of collyrium. 5 In the origin account given in the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna."8 Kali's place as the primary Mahavidya. attributes. she is naked. Sati first turns into a dark. and Upa-vidyas. 6 Furthermore. naked. in early accounts of Sati's confrontation with Siva over her right to attend her father's sacrifice—accounts in which the Mahavidyas do not appear—Sati does turn herself into Kali and in her K a l i form convinces Siva to let her go. In her left hand she holds a jar full of liquor mixed with meat. the primordial or primary Mahavidya. often helps to uncover the meaning of some of the other goddesses in the group. Sati takes on the form of a goddess who resembles K a l i before actually multiplying herself into the ten Mahavidyas. the first among the goddesses. she is drunk on wine. Siddhi-vidyas. and in her right hand she holds a freshly severed head. She is typical. Given Kali's central role among the Mahavidyas. 7 The Saktisamgama-tantra proclaims Kali's priority explicitly: " A l l the deities. number. it is important to consider in some detail her history prior to her association with them.' Although the order. In one of the accounts of the origin of the Mahavidyas as a group. she was by no means an obscure goddess: she had achieved a clearly defined mythology and character and a cult that was popular throughout India. perhaps even paradigmatic. Her character. is reinforced by the fact that she lends the group as a whole her own characteristics. her hair is disheveled. Vidyas. She is eating raw flesh. including the Mahavidyas. when the cult of the Mahavidyas arose. . Although Kali is not specifically named. and she smiles. Kali is always included and is usually named or shown first. K a l i appeared quite early in the H i n d u tradition. It is quite clear. as the ddi Mahavidya. the ^ / M a h a v i d y a . it is explicitly stated that they arise from K a l i when Siva wishes to leave her. her limbs are adorned with ornaments. and by the late medieval period. are different forms that K a l i assumes. and she is awful to look at because of her emaciated body. and then creates from herself the other forms. and names of the Mahavidyas may vary. She completes the others. I think. as it were. As we shall see below. She has three red eyes. four-armed goddess with disheveled hair and a garland of skulls (which is just how Kali is usually described). And her symbolic meaning. according to some interpretations K a l i reveals or symbolizes the ultimate goal suggested or implied in the other Mahavidyas. frightening. and her abode is in the cremation ground. and nature are shared by the others. 4 In some cases it seems apparent that the other Mahavidyas originate from Kali or are her differing forms.

Fig. Kali. . 10. contemporary painting.

wears a garland of corpses. Emerging from her image. The Early History of Kali T h e earliest references to Kali date to the medieval period (around 6 0 0 C.E. her role in the group is not based on a selective use of her characteristics. That is. break. as we shall see. infuriated. she kills the leader and his entire band. It says that Kali's temples should be built far from villages and towns. who specialized in befriending and then murdering travelers. and members of low castes in uncivilized and wild places) is also evident in an architectural work of the sixth to eighth centuries. laughs loudly. sits on the back of a ghost. She and her host of demons then decapitate the corpses of the thieves.E. however. that Kali's character has remained fairly intact in the context of the Mahavidyas. She is described as having a dreadful face and large teeth and as laughing loudly. trample.). It is also important to look at Kali's central role in Tantrism generally before seeking to understand her meaning in the context of the Mahavidyas. and throw their heads about in sport. Kali is the patron deity of a band of thieves whose leader tries to secure her blessing in order to have a son.KALI furthermore. 11 K a l i is also pictured in the Bengali marigal kdvyas as bestowing magical powers on thieves to help them in their criminal deeds. She is asked to crush. near cremation grounds and the dwellings of Candalas (very low-caste people). T h e Agni. the Kalingattupamni. burns K a l i herself when he is brought near her image. the Mdnasdra-silpa-sastra. has fangs. although there are some aspects of her nature and mythology that are preferred over others. tribals.and Garuda-purdnas involve Kali for success in war and victory over one's enemies. They usually place her on the periphery of H i n d u society or on the battlefield. T h e effulgence of the virtuous youth. Tamil text. and burn the enemy. 1 0 Kali's association with thieves is also seen in her role as patron deity of the infamous Thugs.9 In the Bhdgavata-purdna. . She has an awful appearance: she is gaunt. 13 Kali's association with areas outside or beyond the borders of civilized society is also clear in a eleventhcentury C.12 Kali's association with the periphery of H i n d u society (she is worshiped by criminals. The thief kidnaps a saintly Brahman youth with the intention of offering him as a blood sacrifice to Kali. drink their blood until drunk. dances madly. which says that her temple is located in a desert where the trees are withered and the landscape is barren. and lives in the cremation ground.

jackals and goblins. In the third episode. Durga's face becomes dark with anger. burning corpses." 1 6 K a l i herself is seated on a couch of five ghosts (panca preta) with a corpse as a pillow. T h e temple is constructed of bones. K a l i finally defeats the demon by sucking the blood from his body and throwing the countless duplicate Raktabljas into her gaping mouth (8. As Raktabija bleeds more and more profusely from his wounds. She is black. with sunken eyes. Suddenly the goddess K a l i springs from her forehead. flesh.KALI T h e description of the temple itself underlines Kali's awful. Having wounded Raktabija with a variety of weapons.15 Warriors also offer their heads to the goddess to demonstrate their fearlessness. This demon has the ability to reproduce himself instantly whenever a drop of his blood falls to the ground. A graphic account is given of a devotee chopping off his own head as an offering to the goddess. T h e severed heads are used as bricks. where she tears demons apart with her hands and crushes them in her jaws. which features Durga's defeat of the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha and their allies. the heads of men offered as sacrifice. In these two episodes. a fierce band of goddesses called the Matrkas. and flesh is offered to the goddess instead of flowers. uncivilized nature. K a l i is summoned by Durga to help defeat the demon Raktabija.3-22). the heads of young babies also severed in sacrifice and bloodoozing flesh as standards were placed as beautifying elements. Yoginis frequent the temple and arrive there with swords and severed heads. find they have worsened their situation." 14 The temple is "cleansed" daily with blood instead of water. in appearance like Kali herself. She grasps the two demon generals and in one furious blow decapitates them both with her sword (7. She sleeps on a bed made of flesh. and lolling tongue. She roars loudly and leaps into the battle. wears a garland of human heads and a tiger skin. blood. and wields a skull-topped staff. 1 7 Kali's most famous appearances on the battlefield are found in the Devimdhdtmya. gaping mouth. She is gaunt. the blood is used to make mortar. flesh. T h e description of the worshipers and the pujd at the temple is equally horrific. Later in the battle. elephant tusks serve as roof trusses. Kali appears twice. the demons Canda and Munda approach Durga with readied weapons. T h e fires consuming the corpses of sacrificial victims also serve as lamps. and on top of the enclosure walls (a common feature of South Indian temples) "the severed heads of peacocks. Seeing them prepared to attack her. heads. The temple is "full of blood. the battlefield fills with his duplicates. vultures.49-61). and body parts of enemies killed in battle. Durga and her assistants. K a l i emerges to represent Durga's personified . Early in the battle.


violent nature in embodied font 1 . who has b<.eP given the boon that he can only be killed by a female. She is also praised. bloodthirsty aspect when Slta's husband. Hearing him u s e t n ^ s name. her embodied fury. Kali.KALI 73 wrath. T h e world is saved when Siva intervenes and calms her. she whirls a trident. In the Linga-purana. the one in which they come forth as Saul's embodied anger. It seems that. Daksa. however. Although sometimes he is said to tame or soften her. Kali plays a similar role in her association with Parvati. 1 8 K a l i appears i n a similar context elsewhere in the same text. a terrible monster that he is frozen with fear. K a l i is sometimes described as being brought into being. as the daughter of Himalaya (the mountain range personified as a god). however. Parvati is a benigfi goddess. and K a l i appears. In general. In the case of Satl.2i This story. her eyes half-closed in i i ^ x i c a t i o n from drinking the blood of demons. Parvati enters Siva's body and transforms herself from the poison that is stored in Sivy's throat. 1 9 In the Vdmana-purdna. H e r discarded dark sheath. K a l i appears as her personified wrath. K a l i plays the role of Parvati's dark. negative. is transformed into xhC furious battle queen Kaus'ikI. infuriates his daughter by not inviting her and Siva t o a great sacrificial rite. but from time to time she exhibits fierce aspects. W h e n this occurs. Slta. Parvati takes offense and undertakes austerities to rid herself °f her dark complexion. She emerges from Siva as Kali. in the course of Parvati's preparation fo r ty a r. Kali is part of his entourage. Siva asks Parvati to destroy the demon Daruka. is confronted with snck. although there is an i n termediary goddess (Kaus'ikI). a clear identification with Parvati (who is Himalaya's daughter). she is renamed Gaurf ( t n 6 golden one). ferocious in appearance. of course. and with the help of flesh-eating pisacas (demons) attacks and defeats Daruk a and his hosts." In her association with Siva. transformed into Kali handily defeats the demon. Rama. again. at times she incites Siva himself to dangerous. reminds us of one of the accounts of how the Mahavidyas as a group originated.2 0 Kali makes similar appearances i n myths concerning both Satl and Slta. becomes so intoxicated by the blood lu s t of battle that she threatens to destroy the entire world in her fury. W h e n Siva sets out to defeat the demons of the three cities. Kall' s tendency to wildness and disorder persists. £o. K a l i arises as her fierce. A South Indian . K a l i emerges when Satl's father. Adorned with skulls and wearing an elephant hide. Satl rubs her nose in anger. as it were. destructive behavior. terrible. In the case of Slta. Siva calls Pai-vatI " K a l i " (the black one) because of her dark complexion. who subsequently creates K a l i in her fury. After succeeding. her alter ego. however.

After defeating Sumbha and Nisumbha. Bhavabhuti's Malatimadhava describes t h e pair as they dance wildly near the goddess's temple. we repeatedly find Siva and Kali behaving in disruptive ways. Descriptions of the dance dwell on its destructive aspects. Although she may be said to serve order in her role as si ayer of demons. she is on top of him. inciting each other. more often than not she becomes so frenzied on the battlefield. it seems clear that she is never finally subdued by him. then. we can say that K a l i is primarily a goddess who threatens stability and order. she is dangerous and likely to get out of control.74 KALI tradition tells of a dance contest between the two. That Siva should have to resort to his tandava dance to defeat K a l i suggests the motif of Kali i n c i t i n g Siva to destructive activity. a frightening. she appears to play the opposite role from that of ParvatI. Although Siva is said to tame K a l i in the myth of the dance contest. In relation to Siva. intoxicated on the blood of her victims. In association with other goddesses. dangerous dimension of the divine feminine that is released when these goddesses become enraged or are summoned to take part in war and killing. or K a l i in her wild activity dominating an i n active or corpselike Siva. In terms of her early history. K a l i takes up residence in a forest with her retinue of fierce companions and terrorizes the surrounding area. Their dance is so frenzied that it threatens to disrupt the cosmos.23 Although Siva defeats K a l i in the dance contest and forces her to control her disruptive habits. Instead. the two appear dancing together in such a way that they threaten the world. we find few images and myths depicting her as docile. as this particular dance is typically performed at the end of the cosmic age and destroys the universe. even in the service of the gods. W h e n Siva appears. This distracts a local devotee of Siva from his austerities. and when the two are s h o w n in sexual intercourse. Kali threatens him. and he asks Siva to rid the forest of the violent goddess. she emerges to represent their embodied wrath and fury. claiming the region as her own. Siva challenges her to a dance contest and defeats her when she is unable (or unwilling) to match his energetic tandava dance. ParvatI stands by frightened as she watches them. that she herself begins to destroy the world that she is supposed to protect. she is most popularly represented as uncontrollable. ParvatI calms Siva.24 Iconographic representations of K a l i and Siva nearly always show K a l i as dominant. In the first type of relationship. she brings h i m w i t h i n the sphere of domesticity and with her . Thus. more apt to provoke Siva himself to dangerous activity than to renounce her own wildness. She is usually standing or dancing on Siva's supine body. counterbalancing his antisocial or destructive tendencies.

particularly in the works of Abhinavagupta. Of particular interest is the centrality that Kali achieved in the ^antric tradition." 2 7 K a l i is even more popular and dominant in the Tantrism of eastern India. Sdktapramoda. and this tradition is probably quite ancient. of which the following are described in detail: Daksina-kall. antisocial. It is important at this point to reflect in a general way on how K a l i came to achieve such a central position in Tantra. described as a wheel of energy symbolizing the evolution and dynamics of consciousness. Abhinavagupta mentions thirteen. which for our purposes is especially significant. she eventually achieved great popularity and prominence in the H i n d u tradition. or phases in the cognitive process. 2 8 K a l i is widely worshiped according to tantric rites throughout eastern India. It is never Kali who tames Siva but Siva who must calm Kali. they describe her appearance. K a l i is often designated as one of the forms assumed by Sakti. Bhadra-kall.KALI soft glances urges him to moderate the destructive aspects of his tdndava dance. mantra. . she plays a central role and is said to have several forms. 2 6 An important image in Kashmir Tantrism is the s'akti cakra.000 names. Kali's Preeminence in Tantrism Despite Kali's terrible appearance. Harhsa-kall. Camunda-kali. Guhya-kall. and these wheels are identified with "the twelve Kalis. She figures prominendy in tantric texts in Kashmir. She is at home outside the moral order and seems to be unrestrained by it. disruptive habits. typically listing either 108 or 1. Mahakali. Many tantric texts written in Bengal include manuals for her worship. Smasana-kall. and association with the periphery of civilization in many early references. Siddhakall. Siva and Sakti. In a philosophy that portrays reality as essentially the i n teraction of two principles. and yantra and give hymns in her praise (nama stotras). gruesome habits. provoking him and encouraging him in his mad. 2 5 It is clear that tantric sddhana (spiritual endeavor) featuring K a l i was common in Kashmir at an early period. Sometimes the main wheel has additional wheels within it. H e r association with criminals reinforces her dangerous role vis-a-vis society. representing different types of consciousness. In tantric digests such as the Tantrasdra. and Prdnatosini. and Kamakala-kall." as it were. particularly Bengal. Many different forms of K a l i are mentioned: in Tantraloka. K a l i is Siva's "other wife.

By means of certain rituals (exterior and interior. but the explanation may lie in certain tantric ideological and ritual presuppositions. Tantrism generally is oriented toward ritual. attained this preeminent position in Tantrism is not entirely clear. neither male nor female. C o m paring them to K a l i . seeks to gain moksa (awakening. and Parvati. Siva-Sakti).29 T h e Nigama-kalpataru and the Picchild-tantra declare that. and other goddesses) who is immediately present to the adept and whose presence and being underlie the adept's own being. Kali's is the greatest. subtle . 3 4 W h y K a l i . to be the student to whom the scriptures are given. In many places. Visnu. and who is the origin and destroyer of all things. is like comparing the puddle of water in a cow's hoofprint to the waters of the sea. auspicious-inauspicious. T h e Nirvdna-tantra says that the gods Brahma. A consistent theme in this endeavor is the uniting of opposites or the seeing beyond opposites (malefemale. the source of wisdom and truth. and other polar opposites that produce a creative tension. and bliss). Siva and Sakti.30 T h e Yogini-. instead of some other goddess. 32 In the Mahdnirvdna-tantra. or the bliss of self-knowledge). Kamakhya-. Siva praises K a l i as she who devours time. and Siva arise from her like bubbles from the sea. microcosm-macrocosm. thus it is she who is affirmed as the dominant and primary reality. many of the tantras emphasize the fact that it is Sakti (personified as Parvati. 3 1 T h e Kdmadd-tantra states unequivocally that she is attributeless. it is Kali who seems to dominate tantric iconography. and Niruttara-tantras all proclaim Kali the greatest of the Vidyas. For the tantric adept it is her vitality that is sought through various techniques aimed at spiritual transformation. who alone remains after the dissolution of the universe. Kali is one of the most common epithets for the primordial Sakti. brahman itself. leaving their source unchanged. of all mantras. Consequently. Although Siva is usually said to be the source of the tantras. pure-polluted. K a l i . sacred-profane. and rituals. Tantrism teaches there is an elaborate. bodily and mental). texts. endlessly appearing and passing away. the quiescent and the dynamic. Kali is praised as the greatest of all deities or as the highest reality. goddesses in Tantrism play an important role and are affirmed to be crucial in discerning the nature of ultimate reality. says this text. Although Parvati is usually said to be the recipient of Siva's wisdom in the form of the tantras. too. 3 3 In one passage. the imperishable sacciddnanda (being.76 KALI An underlying assumption in tantric ideology is that reality is the result and expression of the symbiotic interaction of male and female. consciousness. his spouse. indeed. the sddhaka (religious adept). they declare her to be the essential form (svarupa) of the Mahadevi. sinless. divinity itself.

W i t h the help of a guru.KALI 77 geography of the body that must be learned and controlled. the sadhaka can manipulate levels of reality and harness the dynamics of those levels to the attainment of the desired goal. the sadhaka undertakes to gain his or her goal by conquest. to use his or her own body and knowledge of that body to bring the fractured world of name and . including both physical and subtle bodies. By means of the body.

"hero") undertakes the ritual of the panca tattva. T h e adept affirms in a radical way the underlying unity of the phenomenal world. Sddhand takes a particularly dramatic form in left-handed Tantrism. parched grain (perhaps a hallucinogenic drug of some kind). holds a sword and a severed head (v. In the attempt to realize the nature of the world as thoroughly pervaded by the one s'akti. who gives the sddhaka great power and ultimately salvation. terror. the sddhaka partakes of wine. becomes without any effort a lord of the earth. whoever on Tuesday at midnight. the identity of s'akti with the whole creation. She is also a "forbidden thing. and is surrounded by skulls. destruction. having uttered Thy mantra. In Kali's favorite dwelling place." or the forbidden par excellence. 7). and sexual intercourse. makes offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Sakti . and with dishevelled hair. intendy meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra. controls and masters it. sits on a corpse in the cremation ground (v. has disheveled hair and blood trickling from her mouth (v. This is particularly clear in the Karpurddi-stotra. 8). good and bad. In a ritual context arid under the supervision of a guru. and breaks one's bondage to a world that is artificially fragmented. ignore. and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda flowers with seed. the sddhaka (here called the vira. By affirming the essential worth of the forbidden. meat. fish. the "five (forbidden) things" or "truths". sacred and profane. a short work in praise of K a l i . wears a girdle of severed arms. and female jackals (v. fear. for she is death itself. 4).78 KALI form. During xhtpanca fezttro ritual. back to wholeness and unity. i). He. The tantric hero does not propitiate. which describes the panca tattva ritual as performed in the cremation ground (smasdna sddhand). the all-consuming aspect of reality. She is black (v. the cremation ground. who in the cremation-ground. one triumphs over it. the adept boldly confronts K a l i and thereby assimilates and overcomes her. Throughout this text Kali is described in familiar terms. 3).35 T h e figure of K a l i conveys death. bones. and bind. sacred and profane. degrade. naked. O Mahakali. the sddhaka meditates on every terrible aspect of the black goddess and thus achieves the desired goal. Heroically. transforming her into a vehicle of salvation. pure and polluted. and changes that negative power into spiritually transformative energy. In this way one overcomes the distinction (or duality) of clean and unclean. or avoid the forbidden. the polarized world of male and female. one disarms it of its power to pollute. O Kali. when confronted boldly in meditation. It is she.

inciting him to destructive frenzy. 15-16) 36 T h e Karpurddi-stotra clearly makes K a l i more than a ferocious slayer of demons who serves Durga and Siva on the battlefield. the Mahavidyas arise when a goddess (Sati. befitting her exalted position as ruler of the world and the object of meditation by which the sddhaka attains liberation. and ever goes mounted upon an elephant. frees the sddhaka from fear itself. but is she through whom the hero achieves success. and she who. she violates that stereotype. H e r appearance also has been modified. K a l i dramatically illustrates this. the Mahavidyas are symbols of female independence. when boldly approached. for example. 14). depicted or described as playing the role of the compliant. Kali as the Exemplary Mahavidya Several of Kali's prominent characteristics set the tone for the Mahavidyas as a group. obedient to his wishes and compliant to his will in every way. or Kali) exerts her independence from her husband. These positive features are apt. or to the fullest extent. and in union with Siva (who is identified as her spouse) she creates and destroys the worlds. a lord of the earth. has a gently smiling face (v. a woman totally devoted to her husband. In several of their origin myths. In fact. she is no longer described as emaciated or ugly." in sex. Parvati. She is here not only the symbol of death but the symbol of triumph over death. She is the supreme mistress of the universe (v. standing on his body. or assuming the upper position.KALI 79 [his female companion] in the cremation-ground. becomes a great poet. reveals the nature of ultimate reality and symbolizes fully awakened consciousness. and makes gestures with her two right hands that dispel fear and offer boons (v. (w. the distillation of Durga's or Parvati's wrath. Kali alone among the Mahavidyas. and several individual Mahavidyas clearly reflect her character. In addition to her terrible aspects (which are insisted upon). she who grants the boon of liberation. In this sense. 1). So. subservient wife. the "man's position. she is by and large removed from the battle context. She dominates him. i n variably Siva. according to several informants. benign dimension to the goddess. 18). She is rarely. there are now hints of another. she is identical with the five elements (v. In the Karpurddi-stotra she is young and beautiful (v. She is not characterized by the attributes of a pati vratd. because Kali no longer is a mere shrew. . 12). if ever. Moreover. 4). As Siva's consort.

sometimes his own. At that instant Kali recognized her husband and pulled out her tongue in ecstasy and her anger disappeared. This interpretation is substantiated by a story recorded in Orissa. rebuked him by saying that anyone can handle their own feces. her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world's "flavors. but to handle the feces of another is what really marks one as a knower of brahman. she then went on a blind. who began to think him mad. grew smaller and black and left her lion mount and started walking on foot. An acquaintance.39 Kali's tongue also hangs out in contexts that are not even remotely sexual. Siva sometimes has an erection." T h e passages in question concern Ramakrishna's habit while undertaking tantric sddhand of eating feces. In both cases her tongue lolls out. probably trying to dissuade Ramakrishna from his ways. or essentially unified and related. sleeping on the path on which the furious. Durga became angry when she found out that she could defeat the buffalo demon only if she showed her genitals to him. At that moment Siva's penis became erect and entered Kali. As was . Her name then became Kali. and invariably her tongue is lolling. Her anger grew so terrible that she transformed herself. killing everything and everyone in sight. Ramakrishna sought to realize the state of consciousness in which all things are perceived to be essentially one. destructive rampage. but then went on a terrible rampage. Mahadev agreed and lay himself down.40 Ramakrishna's use of his own feces in his sddhand worried and even revolted some of his friends. and drinking wine and urine. however. During his tantric sddhand. With tongue lolling out and dripping with blood. for example. She is often pictured in cremation grounds without a male consort. She did so. or polluted. In Daksina-kali images.82 KALI sexual indulgence seems plausible. H o w might her tongue in these instances be interpreted within a tantric framework? On the basis of his careful examination of a group of passages describing the tantric sddband of Ramakrishna. black and naked Kali was coming. The gods and the people became extremely worried and appealed to Siva for help. In her blinded anger she did not see him and stepped on his chest. and in some dhydna mantras and iconographic representations of Kali she is having sex with him. He is said to have held his own feces in one hand and sandal paste (a particularly fragrant and pure substance) in the other and contemplated their essential sameness. where neither gratification nor embarrassment seems a likely interpretation. regardless of who they were. Kripal argues that Kali's tongue denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden. foul.

loose. Bagalamukhi. I have never seen a depiction of K a l i with bound or braided hair. regimented. and divided reality into categories that serve limited. 'and he felt no disgust. Along with Kali's other unconventional features—her nudity. She invites her devotees. which has ordered. and her rude. tangled hair emphasizes her socially marginal character. . near Varanasi. Ramakrishna took this rebuke as a challenge. and gruesome is grounded in limited human (or cultural) consciousness. in her rude way. this is probably precisely the point. He summoned Kali. Married women part their hair in the middle and pull it back tightly in a braid. like Ramakrishna. inviting those who would learn from her to be open to the whole world in all of its aspects. Unkempt hair contrasts strikingly with the way adult H i n d u women wear their hair and the way the hair of most goddesses is depicted. which is the Great Goddess herself. polluted. K a l i . What we experience as disgusting. possessed by the goddess and her lolling tongue.KALI 83 his habit. Women's braided or bound hair suggests conformity to social convention and probably also acceptance of social control. are also typically shown with wild hair. disheveled hair. which symbolizes the woman's married state. Loose hair is very uncommon. and Dhumavatl.' " 4 1 Kali's gaping mouth and lolling tongue. are unquestionably repulsive to our ordinary sensibilities. ego-centered. the saint went down to the river where people defecate and urinate. her standing atop her husband or consort. and she entered his body. her appearance and habits generally. T h e part is often marked with red. as in the Durga Saptasati temple in Nagawa. In some cases. Some of the other Mahavidyas. to dare to taste the world in its most disgusting and forbidding manifestations in order to detect its underlying unity and sacrality. selfish conceptions of how the world should be. Kali's Hair: Pollution and Dissolution Another striking feature of K a l i is her loose. all the Mahavidyas are depicted with disheveled hair. Girls who have reached puberty also usually wear their hair bound in some fashion. deconstructs these categories. What might be the significance of Kali's unbound hair? Two general interpretations seem likely. lolling tongue— her messy. In Tantra. " A t that moment. There he took clay laced with feces and touched it to his tongue. forbidden. her dwelling in cremation grounds. such as Chinnamasta.

it seems likely that we are meant to understand her as menstruating. the forbidden (represented by the polluted). the primordial Mahavidya. or at least the acknowledgment of. H e r husband. She is the ddi Mahavidya. "These two facts are not unrelated. That is. 4 3 Perhaps the best-known example of this in Sanskrit literature is the case of DraupadI in the Mahabharata. wild and uncontrolled in nature. at the command of Duryodhana. and the death of their husbands. But since she symbolizes the subversion of social order and decorum and represents a confrontation with. Commenting on this scene. they unbind it during menstruation. an opponent of Yudhisthira. H e r hair has come apart and flies about every which way. A l f Hiltebeitel says. Kali's unbound hair may also have a broader. intercourse. In particular. 4 5 I have been unable to find textual verification for the suggestion that Kali's disheveled hair indicates that she is menstruating. Yudhisthira.84 KALI her disdain for convention. women wear their hair unbound when they are in a state of pollution. T h e text notes that she is menstruating and that her hair is disheveled. almost all associated with impurity and pollution of some kind. In certain circumstances." 4 4 In addition to wearing their hair unbound during menstruation. A second interpretation of Kali's disheveled hair seems plausible. order has come to an end. unbound. significance. T h e Mahabharata draws here on a well known prohibition on wearing the hair braided during menstruation. and not binding it up until the ritual bath that ends the period of impurity. Considering Kali's identification with the cremation ground and death. Draupadl's hair is dishevelled because she is menstruating. and not bound to or limited by a male consort. flowing hair. DraupadI. suggesting dissolution itself. women in the Punjab also unbind their hair following childbirth. indeed cosmic. all has returned to chaos. her loose hair may suggest the end of the world. T h e "braidedness" of social and cosmic order comes to an end in Kali's wild. In one of her sahasranama stotras (there are . Kali as an Expression of Ultimate Reality K a l i is also considered the exemplary Mahavidya because she most completely reveals the ultimate truth. is dragged into the assembly hall and made to undress. 4 2 K a l i is free from convention. wagers her and loses her. H i n d u women do unbind their hair.

Fig. 13. Kail's hair, contemporary lithograph.



several of these addressed to Kali), she is called She W h o Is Knowledge of the Self, She W h o Is Knowledge of Brahman, She Whose Form Is the Highest Brahman,* 6 and Mistress of thet Mahavidyas. 4 7 Kali's preeminent position in such epithets as these i m p l i e s that in some way she reveals the ultimate truth. In Tantrism, which is rittxally oriented and spiritually pragmatic, ultimate truth is perhaps confirrtoied and realized only by means of sddhand, is revealed only to adepts who have worshiped K a l i . It is tempting, nevertheless, to speculate on just h o w K a l i reveals ultimate truth. One approach is to interpret Kali's m o s t important form, Daksina-kali, symbolically, allegorically, or m y s t i c a l l y as some contemporary Hindu writers and practitioners have done. T f i e y find that esoteric truths can be gleaned from Kali's image, truths tJ-iat are not obvious, that are not immediately suggested by her appeararice. Based on the information I have been able to gather, this esoteric or mystical interpretation of Kali as exemplifying ultimate truth runs as fxnllows. 4 8 T h e overall image of Daksina-kali, fit-st of all, teaches philosophical or cosmological truths. Kali's standing on Siva, for example, is often interpreted as symbolizing the interaction of Siva and Sakti and the ultimate superiority of the latter. T h e image, t h a t : is, is taken as an icon suggesting the essential nature of reality as Siva ancd Sakti and the priority of Sakti. Another interpretation also finds cosmological significance in the image. Siva was born from the goddess Kali. Shue is the only uncreated being. Siva was needed for creation, so she createdl him by her own action. She created sperm in her womb and made l o v e : to herself. She made a mistake in creating the world and started to destroy it. Brahma told Siva to stop the destruction—so he stretched himself dBown before her. To avoid killing him, she stopped destroying the world. Siva insisted that she re-create the destroyed part, so she vomited it out. Srne had swallowed the whole world. That is why her tongue is sticking out -when she stands on Siva. 4 9 T h e name Daksina-kali, according to a contemporary author, implies Kali's preeminent position. T h e name c:omes from the story that when Yama, king of the dead, who lives in the scrjuth (daksina), heard Kali's name, he ran away in fear and ever since has beeen unable to take her devotees to his kingdom. That is, worship of K a l i ; overcomes death, and so she is the one who overwhelms the ruler of ithe south (Yama) and is called Daksina-kali. T h e name is also derived, according to some informants, from daksina, the name for the gift given to a priest after a ritual without which the ritual is not effective. K a l i is tihat reality without which nothing would be effective. She is the underl T ying sakti.




Several informants have also suggested to me that the name Daksinakali refers to the fact that Kali places her right (daksina) foot on Siva's chest in this particular iconographic depiction. Lending credibility to this is the fact that several informants have mentioned a form of K a l i known as Vama-kali (leftward-tending Kali), in which K a l i is shown with her left foot on Siva's chest. Vama-kali is said to be extremely dangerous and rarely worshiped except by people of heroic nature. Depictions or descriptions of Vama-kali are rare. Finally, she is called Daksina-kali because she is worshiped by Daksina-bhairava, that is, Siva, who is often said to be the highest reality. 5 0 Kali's four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within or encompassed by her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. H e r right hands, making the mudrds of "fear not" and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of K a l i , while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head, represent her destructive aspect.51 Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which she is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present, and future. 52 The bloodied sword and severed head also symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. T h e sword is the sword of knowledge, or desireless sddhand, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). 53 K a l i opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds (pasu) that bind human beings. 54 In addition to signifying false consciousness, the bleeding severed head is said to signify the outflow of rajas guna (passionate proclivities), which completely purifies the adept, who becomes totally composed of sattvic (spiritual) qualities in his or her awakening to truth. 5 5 T h e severed head is also interpreted as that of a child and thus as symbolizing the nature of the accomplished devotee or practitioner, who, like Ramakrishna, has achieved the innocence of a child. 5 6 Kali's lolling tongue and sharp fangs are interpreted as symbolizing die conquest of rajasic power (the red tongue) by sattvic power (the white teeth). That is, Kali is totally sattvic, totally spiritual in nature, having transcended any impurities inherent in the other two gunas." Kali's blackness also symbolizes her all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all other colors merge; black absorbs and dissolves them. Or black is said to represent the total absence °f color, again signifying the nirguna (beyond qualities) nature of K a l i as ultimate reality. 5 8 Either way, Kali's black color symbolizes her transcendence of all form. 5 9



Kali'-s nudity has a similar meaning. It symbolizes that she is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the illusory effects of mdyd (false consciousness), completely transcendent. H e r nudity is said to represent t .otally illuminated consciousness, unaffected by mdyd. 60 Kali is the bright fnre of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance, represented by mdyd. Such truth simply burns them away.61 K a l i ^ s dwelling place, the cremation ground, has a similar meaning. T h e creemation ground denotes a place where the five elements (panca mahdbh"iita) are dissolved. K a l i dwells where dissolution takes place. In terms oof devotion, worship, and sddhand, this denotes the dissolving of attachments, anger, lust, and other binding emotions, feelings, and ideas. T h e he art of the devotee is where this burning away takes place, and it is in thes heart that K a l i dwells. T h e devotee makes her image in his heart and uncder her influence burns away all limitations and ignorance in the crematiion fires. This inner cremation fire in the heart is the fire of knowledge, j-Fndndgni, which Kali bestows.62 K a l i *'s dsana (seat), which is none other than the supine body of Siva (sometiimes said to be a corpse or corpselike), symbolizes that her devotees h a v e given up their entire lives for her, having offered her their very breath. Having sacrificed themselves (their egos) to her, devotees die and b e c o m e corpselike. It is only then that K a l i enters their hearts, freeing them firrom all worldly cares. Kali's standing on Siva signifies her blessing of Iner devotees.63 A n o ther interpretation says that Siva represents the passive potential of crea-.tion. In the philosophy of yoga he represents purusa (literally, "male"33> the unchanging, unqualified aspect of reality, while Kali represents tTne active prakrti (nature or the physical world). In this interpretation, K l a l l and Siva together symbolize ultimate reality. 6 4 Ano»'ther interpretation of Kali's standing on Siva, or engaging in reverse s «exual intercourse with him (viparita rati), 65 is that it symbolizes medita tive involution, by means of which one "de-creates" the universe in ordesr to experience the blissful union of Siva and Sakti. T h e theme of yogic •meditation "going against the stream," reversing the creative processes, is ancient. T h e inversion of traditional male and female roles in the 3Daksina-kalI image might suggest this inverse process. 66 T h e s garland of severed heads represents the sounds of the alphabet and symnbolizes K a l i as s'abda brahman, the underlying essence of reality as marMiifest in sound, particularly the primordial sound, om. Some texts specify*' the garland of heads or skulls to be fifty and to represent the fifty Sanskr—it letters. 67 From the various sound seeds (bijas), all creation pro



ceeds, and Kali is identified with this underlying power. 6 8 H e r girdle of severed arms represents the destruction of devotees' karma. The arms symbolize deeds, actions—karma—and the binding effects of this karma have been overcome, severed, as it were, by K a l i sddhand or devotion. She has blessed the devotee by cutting him free from karma. 6 9 Other images or forms of Kali reinforce these associations with ultimate reality or ultimate spiritual realization. Guhya-kali, who is described as having sunken eyes, fearful teeth, a constantly moving tongue, matted hair, and a large belly, is replete with serpent ornaments and companions. H e r sacred thread is a serpent; she is seated on a bed of serpents; the thousand-headed cosmic serpent Ananta is above her head; and she is surrounded by serpents.70 T h e symbolism of serpents is complex, but in this case it indicates Kali's cosmic supremacy. Like Visnu, for example, she is protected by Ananta, which indicates that she is a primordial, creative force. Serpents are also held to possess mystic wisdom and great wealth, both of which they obtain from their association with the interior of the earth. They are symbols of transformation, being able to shed their skins and become new beings. Serpents are liminal figures in that they pierce different cosmic zones, the earth and the underworld. As beings who live both on the earth and in the earth, they move between cosmic planes and also between states of being, between the realms of the living and the dead. K a l i is "at home" with these mysterious, powerful, liminal beings, which suggests her transformative nature and power. Many of the dhydna mantras of the different forms of Kali also mention her drinking wine or blood, holding cups or empty skulls filled with wine or blood, 7 1 or being intoxicated. Siddha-kali drinks blood from a skull held in her left hand. Guhya-kali and Raksa-kali (sometimes called Mahakali) sip wine. Smasana-kali carries a skull full of wine in her right hand and is said to be intoxicated all the time. Although there are several possible interpretations of this characteristic feature of K a l i , her i n toxication suggests altered consciousness, perhaps the dawning of liberated consciousness, in which the restrictions and limitations of convention are overcome. The overwhelming presence of death imagery in all depictions of Kali also might be interpreted as symbolizing the transformative nature of the goddess, and hence her association with ultimate knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment. What is a more dramatic image of radical change than death, the greatest transformation a human being experiences? In association with the chopped heads and skulls that adorn almost all of her forms, the death imagery (corpses, cremation grounds, severed body parts) sug-




gests that Kali stands at the threshold of change, that she is the guide who takes the aspirant from one state of being, one state of consciousness, to another—that she is the mistress of change and transformation. T h e way in which Kali is worshiped in the tantric tradition may also suggest her association with ultimate reality. According to Swami Annapurnananda, tantric sddhand to K a l i is applied or practical Advaita Vedanta (monism), in which one seeks to discern the underlying identity between oneself and ultimate reality, brahman, represented by Daksina-kali. In the process of undertaking sddhand to K a l i , one produces her image out of oneself, worships it by identifying with it, and then dismisses it back into oneself. In this process (described in Part I), one ritually and mentally undertakes one's own death and destruction, after which one re-creates the cosmos with K a l i at the center. Such rituals as nydsa, in which one suffuses one's body with the seed syllables of the deities, thus identifying with the different aspects of the cosmos, and bhuta suddhi, in which the adept imagines the dissolution and re-creation of the cosmos, are ritual devices whereby one's limited, ego-centered identity is subverted. The process aims at expanding the adept's identity so widely and universally that there is no sense of " I " or "me" remaining. T h e goal is to identify completely with K a l i , who is the symbol of the absolute, beyond name and form, beyond individuality and specificity. In certain aspects of Kashmir Saivism, which might be described as dynamic idealism, the stages and rhythms of consciousness are affirmed to be the ground of reality and are identified with twelve Kalis. That is, K a l i , in her differing forms, is symbolic of consciousness itself and of the processes whereby cognition and knowledge take place. As identical with these processes, then, K a l i is taken to be the innermost essence of reality and the most appropriate symbol of that essence.72

K a l i might be thought of as the goddess who sets the tone for the rest of the Mahavidyas in two ways. First, she suggests a being who is liminal in nature, who dwells on the boundary of society and threatens, subverts, or challenges the status quo. For Tantrism, she is an appropriate symbol of rituals and meditative techniques that seek to confront, appropriate, and overcome forbidden, feared, "polluting" realities. As the embodiment of the polluted, feared, and loathed, she can, if con-

always shocking appearance is not necessarily to be taken literally. who are supposedly intent on subverting the mentality of the status quo. shocking features and habits as central to her significance. prefer to focus on her surface attributes. are uncomfortable with interpretations of K a l i that too strongly emphasize her outrageous. the native Hindus. By interpreting her features and habits allegorically and imaginatively. freedom from subservience to conventionality. prefer to interpret K a l i allegorically. while most outsiders. Second. Kali's dramatic. that is. grant liberation. which is a widely accepted and practiced approach to understanding her. .KALI 91 fronted boldly by the aspirant. Westerners. the adept can glimpse secrets that point to certain central truths of the H i n d u tradition. H e r real meaning is not obvious to the uninitiated. In this latter approach. that is. It is clear. and habits. an embodiment of the highest truths. appearance. often offensive. K a l i might be thought of as a symbol of ultimate reality. that many Hindus. In many cases they are complementary. I do not think the two approaches contradict each other. it reveals itself only to imaginative and spiritually sensitive interpretation. even tantric Hindus. however. It is interesting to note that most insiders.

Tara The Goddess Who Guides through Troubles In lists of the Mahavidyas. Although Tara also has fierce aspects in Buddhism and benign ones in Hinduism. she generally manifests gentle features in the former and fierce ones in the latter. Historically. in Subandhu's Vasavadattd. Indeed. puts her in a Buddhist context. In her H i n d u context. Tara almost always follows Kali. This suggests a certain importance in the group. playful young woman who indulges her devotees and never lets them come to harm. Tara's Place in Buddhism Tara seems to have been important in the Buddhist tradition first and to have become known in the H i n d u tradition later. gentle. In her Buddhist context. and potentially dangerous. which was probably written in the seventh century. The earliest reference to Tara. The reference occurs as part of a pun and reads: " T h e Lady Twilight was seen. Tara is almost always fierce. it is likely that the H i n d u Mahavidya Tara developed from the Buddhist bodhisattva Tara and that the H i n d u preference was for her fierce manifestations. compassionate. she is more like Kali in appearance than any of the other Mahavidyas. Tara occupies a central place in Tibetan Buddhism and to a great extent plays the role of a Tibetan national deity. interpretations of her significance often come close to those of Kali. particularly as one of the Mahavidyas. often horrible to behold. on the other hand. she is almost always a benevolent. . As we shall see below.

biographical accounts emphasize the many visions he had of her and his special devotion to her. with an incarnation of Tara.3 Another Tibetan legend." 1 In Buddhist tantric mythology and iconography. Tibetan Buddhists know other legendary or mythological accounts of Tara's origin. the monkey had come to be identified with Avalokitesvara. despite her lustful nature. Atisa is usually associated with popularizing the cult of Tara in Tibet. Avalokitesvara sheds a tear of compassion for the suffering of all beings. They affirm that she is dear to the Tibetan people in a special way. says that the Tibetan people arose from the union of a monkey and a rock ogress. as we shall see). The texts were soon circulated as a coherent cycle and came to be known by the name Cheating Death. That tear becomes Tara. Tara belongs to the family of the Dhyani Buddha Amoghasiddhi. Tara was known in Tibetan Buddhism as early as the eighth century. Hearing them. ancient and preBuddhist in origin. One legend identifies Tara with the wives of the first great Tibetan king. She is in a legendary sense their queen and mother. around the time when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from India. 5 Historically.E. who is thus understood to be the essence of the essence of compassion. since both Amitabha and Avalokitesvara are renowned for their great compassion. which means he will leave the world behind. 2 As we shall see. who is in the family of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. Songsten gampo ( 6 1 7 .5 0 C. U n t i l the time of Atisa (eleventh century).TARA devoted to the stars and clad in red sky. all the creatures of the world begin to lament when Avalokitesvara is about to achieve nirvana (final liberation and freedom from rebirth). however. but she is also related to the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. as a Buddhist nun [is devoted to Tara and clad in red garments]. T h e king himself is said to have been an incarnation of Avalokitesvara. 6 Another text that was to become popular in Tibet was also . however. while his Chinese wife is said to have been an incarnation of Green Tara and his Nepalese wife an i n carnation of White Tara (there are several different forms of Tara in Buddhism. when Buddhism dominated Tibet. the worship of Tara does not seem to have been very widespread there. Atisa is credited with translating a series of Sanskrit texts about Tara into Tibetan.). By the fourteenth century. H e r inclusion in the Amitabha family therefore seems fitting. 4 An interesting aspect of these Tibetan legends is that they associate Tara with the origins of the Tibetan people and the Tibetan royal line. Tara's essential nature in Tibetan Buddhism is that of a compassionate savior who rescues her devotees from peril. In one account of Tara's origin. that is. and the rock ogress.

some of which are fierce. she does have a variety of forms. is revealed primarily in her role as the cheater of death. 1 0 In Tibetan monastic traditions. foundering in a storm at sea. when novices are initiated into the ceremonies in honor of Tara. Homage. Mandara.94 TARA brought there and translated in the eleventh century. or being trapped and bound in prison. preserves. Tara is approached primarily as the one who protects. Lady who strikes with the feet of T U R E . playful young girl. 8 In many folk stories Tara appears at the request of her devotees to snatch them from the jaws of death. Homage. and a charming. Homages to the Twenty-One Tdrds to this day is well known to most Tibetans. probably her most popular hymn of praise. then. shaking Mount Meru. who pounds upon it with her feet. T U R E . 7 Despite Tara's many forms and functions it seems clear wherein lies her extraordinary power and appeal in the Tibetan context. the prolonger of life. the terrible lady. even terrifying. contains several verses that invoke Tara in fierce forms. She is not a fertility goddess (although she does give her blessing in this way from time to time)12 but a greatly compassionate being who cannot tolerate the suffering of her devotees. Homage." 1 1 Unlike goddesses who are associated with life as embodiments of fertility. and all the triple world. 9 Tara's compassion for suffering beings. Lady who strikes the earth with her hand. by the spiritual master Darmadra. In this sense her chief blessing to her devotees is a long life. the rituals are referred to as an "initiation into life. being under threat of imminent execution. Homages to the Twenty-One Tdrds. Although Tara's primary appeal in Buddhism seems to be as the cheater of death. as a being who specializes in dramatic appearances when her devotees call on her in dire circumstances. 1 3 . Kailasa. Lady who annihilates the heroes of Mara. She is often said to rescue her devotees from such desperate predicaments as being lost in an impenetrable forest. whose seed is the form of the syllable H U M . Other stories featuring Tara also emphasize that regular worship of Tara brings about longevity. and saves life. shattering the seven underworlds with the sound H U M made by her frowning brows. slaying all enemies by frowning the brows of her lotus face. She is approached primarily as a savior.

Here is an account from a Buddhist work. who is adorned with the five signs of ferocity. I pay homage to the red one. baring her fangs. K u rukulla's iron hook is stuck into his heart. the Sddhanamdld: . 16 Through the rituals in which Kurukulla is invoked. summoned by the strength of the mantra. Then he recites her mantra ten thousand times. when he has firmly grasped the vivid appearance and ego of the goddess. the text adds. If the person to be subjugated is male. who bears a tiger's skin.TARA 95 A. the visualization is ready to be performed. if female it is stuck into her vagina.17 Other fierce forms of Tara in Buddhism include Mahamayavijayavahini-tara. Light radiates forth from a H R I H in the practitioner's heart and places the person to be subjugated. and laid down helpless upon his back before the practitioner's feet. The adept dresses in red garments and visualizes himself taking on the form of the goddess. naked and with unbound hair. drawn forward by an iron hook stuck into his heart. and this wind propels forward the person to be subjugated. whose necklace is half a hundred human heads. for Kurukulla is a potent force. 1 9 and Mahacinatara. she comes to reside in the practitioner himself (the texts almost always assume a male adept). he is bound around the neck by a noose radiated from the practitioner's—Kurukulla's—lotus flower. particularly fierce form of Tara is Tara Kurukulla. The rituals thus require a strong and accomplished adept. When these preliminaries are complete. who is the conqueress of Mara. 1 8 who is called T h e Blue She-Wolf. who has a diadem of five skulls. the seed of wind transforms into the round shape symbolic of the air element. whose body is frightful. Mahacina-tara (also known as Ugra-tara) is described in both Buddhist and H i n d u sources. T h e n he makes certain offerings to her and asks her to subjugate the person or demon who is the object of the rituals. 1 5 Tara Kurukulla's special power lies in her ability to subjugate and destroy evil spirits or one's personal enemies. upon a wind mandala arisen from Y A M : that is. 1 4 She is described as follows: Homage and praise to her who stands in the dancing pose haughty with furious rage.

She is infinitely more glorious than millions of suns. and S i v a destroys it. She is said. He went to the god Brahma and asked for a powerful mantra that migh help him. T h e whole earth trembled in fear. and her looks are terrible. In the Rudraydmala and Brahmaydmala. has red a n d round eyes. and is awe-inspiring with a garland of heads hanging f r o m the neck. Her place in Hinduism is not as prominent as it is in T i betan Buddhism: she probably entered the H i n d u tradition t h r o u g h Buddhist tantric influence. Vasistha and Mahacina-tara It is likely that Tara first became important in I n d i a n Buddhism and then. he said. She is most terrible. and she is three-eyed. he did austerities for ten thousand years. she is the source of all light. She is short and has a protruding belly. with bare canine fangs. Aksobhya. She is in an intensely pleasant mood. which is definitely a Buddhist name. Brahma told him about the glory of Tara. It is through Tara's power. carries the sword and the Kartri in the two right hands and the Utpala and Kapala [skull] in the two left. to have Aksobhya set in her hair. furthermore. that he creates the world. Vasistha went to Kamakhya. A t this point the sage became angry and was about to curse Tara for her indifference. and even the gods were disturbed. At that mo- . and she reveals the Vedas. Once upon a time. but it is also the name of a Buddha. is in youthful bloom. stands on a corpse. Her complexion is like that of the blue lotus. celestial and laughs horribly. Visnu protects it." is said to be an epithet of Siva. after being introduced into Tibet. but got no results. Her Jatamukuta [bound-up hair] of one coil is brown and fiery and bears the image of Aksobhya within it. and undertook Tara's worship. appears fierce. onefaced. After one thousand years he still was unsuccessful. wears the garments of tigerskin round her loins. Tara is sometimes called Prajnaparamita (the perfection of wisdom). Brahma then told Vasistha to recite the Tara mantra for success. assumed a c e n t r a l position there. and has a protruding tongue. is decked in ornaments of snakes. "the unperturbed one. the famous goddess shrine in Assam. for example. Clear indications of Tara's Buddhist affiliation remain in H i n d u sources.9 6 TARA The worshiper should conceive himself as (Mahacina-Tara) w h o stan in the Pratyalidha attitude [an aggressive pose in which the left f o o t is put forward]. 2 1 T h e most convincing testimony to Tara's earlier Buddhist association is a myth that features the sage Vasistha's attempts to worship T a r a . is endowed with the five auspicious symbols.

the proper worship of Tara is associated with the Buddha. specifically of the left-handed type featuring the ritual of the five forbidden things. there is no difference between pure or impure. 2 2 This myth makes several important points. Vasistha's going north to discover the true form and worship of Tara suggests Tibetan influence. . is located in Birbhum district in Bengal and is the place where the famous adept Bamakhepa (1843-1911) did his sddhand. 2 3 That is. Vasistha did the ritual of the five forbidden things and became a very powerful sddhaka (religious adept). drinking and carousing. and on this path. nothing is inauspicious. and worship of women should be practiced. W i t h this ritual. "and to learn this kind of worship you have to go to C h i n a ." Vasistha then took refuge in Visnu in his form as the Buddha and asked to be instructed in this method. Second. Worship is mental and not physical." she said. A l l times are auspicious. Vasistha went to Tibet to find out what to do. warning him that it was very secret. worship can be done any place and any time. It is located near a cremation ground. This place. " Tara then disappeared. T h e y were all naked. On this path there is no need for traditional types of rituals. the type of worship is tantric. who is understood to be a form of Visnu. he had a vision of the Buddha surrounded by many beautiful girls and intoxicated with wine. Vasistha was shocked and refused an invitation to take part in the frolic. which implies that worship of Tara in Hinduism was strong and perhaps centered in eastern India. Third. one can live in the midst of good and bad things while remaining aloof from them. you have to adopt this type of worship. Near the Himalayas. the myth mentions Kamakhya in Assam and Tarapith in Bengal as important centers. the myth implicitly acknowledges that Tara worship is derived from Buddhism. First. there are no restrictions on what one can eat or drink. a tantric type of sddhand (spiritual practice). She told him that he had been wasting his time because he did not understand her or know how to worship her. A central feature of this path is the ritual of the five forbidden things. Fourth. She said that Vasistha did not know her appearance in the form of Cma-tara and that she could not be propitiated through yoga and austerities. T h e Buddha revealed to him the kula mdrga. Then a voice from the sky said to him: "This is the best way of worshiping Tara. If you want immediate success. the Buddha told him. a friendly attitude toward women should be cultivated. He went to Tarapur to practice his new spiritual path. "Only Visnu in the form of Buddha knows my form of worship. now known as Taraplth.TARA 97 ment Tara appeared in front of Vasistha. Receiving this knowledge from the Buddha.

You are decorated with snakes as ornaments. these tend to be overshadowed by her terrible ones. She wears a garland of skulls . y o n wear a tiger skin as a skirt. She is decorated with three beautiful serpents and has three red eyes. charming girl t h a t dominates her iconography in Tibetan Buddhism. In her left hands she holds a knife and a skull and. Thus should one meditate on Bhagavah" Tara. and she is bedecked with ornaments. often h o r r i f y i n g .t a r a from thtMantra-mahodadhih describes her thus: I meditate upon the Divine Mother of the three worlds. She is short in stature and has a protruding and long belly. 2 4 Other forms of Tara are equally forbidding. is situated on her head. Her hair is bunched into a single plait of tawny colour. and her forehead is decorated with ornaments of white bone. remover of pride. You give well-being and auspiciousness. bright eyes. You are frightening and remove fear. and a sword. W h i l e Tara is said to have benign and compassionate aspects in the H i n d u setting (see below). . and her teeth and m o u t h appear terrible. scissors. a sword and a blue lotus. Give me refuge. and wear a garland of chopped offheads. You carry a skull bowl. in t h e form of a serpent. She is seated on the heart of a corpse. Sage Aksobhya. who is sitting on a white lotus situated in the centre of the waters enveloping the entire universe.98 TARA The Fierce Tara of Hinduism There are several forms of Tara described in H i n d u sources. You have three fearful. who is the mistress of all three worlds. you ring a bell loudly. Give me golden speech. Nearly every description of Tara in H i n d u sources stresses her fierce. appearance and reminds us of the terrifying Tara Kurukulla and Mahacina-tara of the Buddhist tradition.25 Another of her dhydna mantras from the Tantrasdra describes her as follows: Tara should be conceived as emerging from a white lotus. . in her right hands. She advances with her left foot forward. and she is dreadful in appearance. Your form shines like a blazing fire. T h e dhydna m a n t r a of Tara in her form as Nila-sarasvati from the Tantrasdra is as follows: I bow to you mother Nllasarasvatl. . You are situated on the heart of a corpse and are advancing aggressively. Her complexion is blue. and her breasts are hard. but nowhere do we find the playful. She is wearing a tiger skin around her waist. T h e dhydna mantra for U g r a . Please let your gracious nectar drench my heart. Her tongue is always moving.


a pair of scissors. and Bhadra-kali.TARA and a tiger skin for a skirt. often discernible as Siva but sometimes said to be an anonymous corpse. T h e i r appearances are so strikingly similar that it is easy to mistake one for the other. dark blue. she stands on a blazing funeral pyre. The blood of devotees is to be taken from specified parts of the body.26 Tara's description and character in H i n d u texts emphasize two i m portant and related features that are absent from the Buddhist Tara: (i) she is strongly associated with the goddess K a l i . and She W h o Enjoys Blood Sacrifice. She has three eyes. 2 9 T h e Tard-tantra describes Tara's delight in both animal and human blood but says that the latter is more pleasing to her. Her hair is in the form of a matted jatd (a braided knot) on which sits Aksobhya in the form of a serpent. Indeed. 2 7 T h e devotional poetry of Ramprasad Sen. They both stand upon a supine male figure. an eighteenth-century Bengali saint. sometimes a tiger skin. Daksina-kali and Ugra-tara. they are often said to be manifestations of each other. her teeth are dreadful. a cut head. Both wear a necklace of severed heads or skulls and a girdle of severed arms. Tara. She has a smiling face. and blood oozes from their mouths. spiritual cen- . She has a lolling tongue. At time it seems that Ramprasad favors the name Tara when explicidy referring to the goddess's more benign or gentle aspects. such as the forehead. for example. Tara in her H i n d u context enjoys blood. Mahakali. Ugra-kali. She W h o Is Smeared with Blood. hands. terrifying nature and distinguish her from the gentle forms of Tara that dominate Tibetan Buddhism. for example. Both goddesses are black. she is very dreadful and has four arms in which she carries a sword. The similarities in appearance between K a l i and Tara are striking and unmistakable. Both of these associations emphasize her fierce. is called Kalika. and (2) she is often located in the cremation ground. She is eternally young. in their thousand-name hymns they share many epithets as well as having each other's names as epithets. head. furthermore. especially in the two most common images of each goddess. breast. Both are naked or wear minimal clothing. Her complexion is like that of the bright moon. and a lotus. she is adorned with ornaments. uses the names K a l i and Tara interchangeably. some of these areas may correspond to the different cakras. she is called She W h o Likes Blood. or area between the eyebrows. whom she closely resembles. 28 Like Kali. or blue-black. Both have a lolling tongue. In her hymn of a hundred names from the Mundamala-tantra. Both are usually shown in the cremation ground. Sometimes the figure they stand upon is being consumed in a cremation fire. Her forehead is decorated with a row of five skulls. but this is not consistent.

in which wine. 5 0 Tara also wears her hair knotted on top of her head in ajatd. the style of an ascetic. Bharat Kala Bhavan. her worship seems to play upon the power of the forbidden and the attempt to transmute forbidden objects or acts into spiritually transformative instruments. late eighteenth century.15). which is the way Siva wears his. and sexual union figure prominently. there are few myths about her in H i n d u texts. 15. the worship of Tara is described as part of left-handed tantric rites. That is. She is called.TARA Fig. Siva's world par excellence. meat. for example: Siva (the feminine form of Siva). and many of her names associate her with Siva. Garwahl. ters within the body (5. Hara-patnl (wife of Siva). Tara resembles Kali. and scarcely any . Varanasi. Throughout this text. by Molaram. in this respect also. Like K a l i . This associates her with the world of asceticism and yogis. Tara. Tara is also associated with Siva. Sankara-vallabha and Haravallabha (both mean "beloved of Siva"). and Wife of Mahabhairava. Although we find Tara linked with Siva by her epithets and iconography. Himachal Pradesh. although not as consistently as K a l i is. Benares Hindu University. Dear to Bhairava (Bhairava is a form of Siva). T h e male figure beneath her feet is often identifiable as Siva.

Tara is sometimes said to be the fire of the cremation pyre itself. religiously powerful symbol. is similarly located next to a cremation ground.102 TARA that connect her with Siva. who is an adolescent. Tara appears and takes Siva on her lap. She suckles him. I have come across a particularly intriguing story about the two. Tara in Hinduism is also strongly associated with the cremation ground. It is common for worship manuals to specify that Tara should be worshiped in the cremation ground. and she becomes quiet and nurses the infant Siva. thus saving the world from destruction. 31 This myth is reminiscent of the one in which Siva stops the rampaging K a l i by becoming an infant. The myth begins with the churning of the ocean. They both haunt cremation grounds. That is. the personified expression of this awesome. the oral tradition seems to see the relationship between Tara and Siva as that of mother and son as well as that of wife and husband. Tara's epithets also sometimes associate her with the cremation ground. respectively. cremation fires are visible in the background. There is little doubt that this signifies their preeminent position in the group. Jackals are also often shown. Despite the variations in sequence found among lists of the Mahavidyas. I have also been told that the particular form of Bhairava Siva associated with Tara is Batuk-bhairava. in both her kvaca (a type of invocation that literally means "armor") and her thousand-name hymn. K a l i and Tara are consistendy associated with such sites. and he recovers. but has fallen unconscious under its powerful effect. For example. particularly insofar as they are described in very similar terms. Kali's most famous temple. is adjacent to one of the largest cremation grounds in Calcutta. K a l i and Tara are almost invariably named as first and second. Although cremation grounds are generally believed to be sacred places in Hinduism. the milk from her breasts counteracting the poison. Kalighat. Siva has drunk the poison that was created from the churning of the ocean. In some depictions of Tara. Tara resembles Kali. however. Indeed. 3 3 In this respect also. Seeing the child. the bachelor Bhairava (Siva). she is called Smasana-bhairavi (terrible one of the cremation ground). it seems that Tara's position as second only . That is. and temples to other deities may be established in or near them. Siva assumes the position of an infant vis-a-vis the goddess. probably the most famous of Tara's temples. and Taraplth temple. In the oral tradition. 3 2 In both cases. and their temples are often established in or near them. T h e figure she stands upon is often said to be either a corpse or a preta (ghost) and is often shown being cremated. Kali's maternal instincts come to the fore. usually in the dead of night.

must be a close approximation of that highest truth. She stands upon Siva or a male corpse. liberating knowledge. H e r hair is disheveled. Or we might think of Tara as the penultimate stage in the progressive sojourn toward complete dissolution of the ego in its merging with the absolute. and she stands on. A modern commentator says that "at the time of pralaya. We might think of Tara as Kali's first. she is more than just a destructive force: she is purifying and .TARA to Kali in importance is directly related to her being so similar to Kali in appearance. she appears to be a variant expression of K a l i . she is identified with destruction. Tara. She embodies and expresses realities that belong to the edges of the civilized order or that tend to be excluded as dangerous or polluting. Like Kali. a kindred spirit. then Tara. listed just after K a l i and appearing so much like her. She is often identified with the actual fires of cremation and thus represents the final destructive but purifying force that marks the transition from life to death or from one type of existence to another. she reverses the expectations of the female role in male-dominated Hindu culture. least-refracted emanation. Tara suggests the preeminence or dominance of Sakti in a vision of the cosmos that is constituted or pervaded by Siva and Sakti. As the cremation fire. leastdiffused. that is. an expression of ultimate truth that is very close to the original totality. Indeed. " 3 4 The Symbolic Significance of Tara Most of the symbolic meanings associated with K a l i apply to Tara. only in a slightly different form. Like K a l i . wild. is more strongly linked to destruction by fire. who expresses the same truths as K a l i . which many texts imply and contemporary informants insist upon. Tara becomes furious and changes into K a l i . her male associate. If K a l i in her form as Daksina-kali is taken to be the highest expression of wisdom (vidya). she is uncircumscribed and uncontrolled. or she mothers the infant Siva. as opposed to standing by or kneeling before. As primordial power. Like K a l i also. Like Kali. and dominant. Like Kali also. as it were. on the other hand. as it were. Tara is primarily a liminal symbol. the penultimate stage in the pralaya (cosmic dissolution) of the ego. she is naked or dressed in animal hides. She dominates the male figure associated with her. She is unrestrained. K a l i is strongly associated with the dissolution of all things through the wearing down by time.

and She wants to cut them off. your mind becomes firm. 35 The same author points out that even the snakes that adorn Tara are part of her destructive nature. The primordial sun burns extravagantly."39 The Gentler Side of the Hindu Tara Several aspects of Tara's iconography differ from Kali's. 37 Tara's necklace of skulls and girdle of severed arms suggest the same meanings as in the case of Kali. Tara represents its untamed. They almost surely also suggest her destructive aspect and are meant to signify death. She is also identified with the excess heat of the sun. H e r sword and scissors. W i t h her sword she certainly destroys. . which enables you to succeed. 3 6 He also interprets the skull that Tara holds. A contemporary author says that Tara appears as the first manifestation of creation after pralaya in the form of the sun. some of them suggesting a dimension to Tara that is less destructive and . T h e skulls (which are sometimes said to correspond in number to the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet) probably are meant to suggest the sounds of the alphabet and to associate Tara with s'abda brahman. Tara consumes this in her destructive bent. As we shall see below. and dangerously and must be tempered with offerings of grain. symbolize her ability to cut through the fetters that bind a person to ignorance and limited consciousness. wildly. excessive heat. A contemporary devotee of Tara understands the severed heads she wears as symbolizing her elimination of the mind that is overwhelmed by ignorance or crippled with limited consciousness. . and sometimes drinks from.104 TARA transformative. When she cuts off your head. the same devotee says: "Most people clothe themselves in their karmas. they destroy it. as an emblem of her role as mistress of destruction. "She does want to kill you-—the false you. unwavering in its concentration. . The girdle of severed arms signifies her destruction of accumulated karma. remove them from you completely. which frees the individual from bondage to samsara (the realm of rebirth). the head is the primary repository of rasa. like Kali's sword." 38 Of the girdle of severed arms. the sap of life. By emitting poisonous gas at the end of the world. which can completely dry up the creation by consuming the sap of life in all creatures. the limited personality which has accrued over so many b i r t h s . the primoridal creative force in the form of sound. but this destruction can be positive and transformative. According to him. there are creative and transformative aspects to Tara's character.

" 4 3 Access to her is easy: her mantra. In many places it is said: "She who takes one across sanisdra. and those associated with material happiness. which is about to emerge from the void. Prthivi and Vasudha (both mean "earth"). Vrksamadhyani-vasini (she who dwells in trees). full breasts and to be "potbellied.TARA more maternal than the fierce Tara we have looked at so far. or dhydna (meditation) or make any effort to win her favor. Kali is the void. for example. She is filled with the universe. represented by Kali. . One i n formant interprets Tara's large breasts and swollen belly as suggesting that she represents the first impulse toward creation and individuation. she is Tara. reality in its complete. Tara is said to have large." It is not clear if she is pregnant. Jagaddhatri (mother of the world. Tara. and She W h o Likes Fresh Flowers. 44 She is called Sarhsaratarini (she who carries across the ocean of samsdra). Tara is close to Kali. 4 1 Despite Tara's strong connection with destruction. but these features do suggest her maternal character." implying that she helps beings cross the ocean of ignorance to enlightenment. T h e meaning of Tara is she who liberates. 'The Liberator. which has power to enlighten. as it were. is said to be accessible to all without special initiation or qualification. She wears some clothes (Kali does not). those associated with fate. either as the first step toward creation or the last stage prior to dissolution. Jalesvari (mistress of rain). but differing from her in the large breasts and swollen belly. there are indications that she is understood as a creative. for example. 4 2 Tara is also said to be a savior of her devotees and in this respect reminds us of the Tibetan Buddhist Tara. or pralaya (cosmic dissolution). world nurse). Tara may be seen as the last stage just prior to dissolution. so closely resembling Kali in most ways. nirguna brahman (ultimate reality without qualities). has attributes of creation. She herself is sometimes said to be the chief deity in transporting them across the lake. 46 A contemporary author says: "She helps to cross over three types of problems: bodily. This is most clear in her hymn of one thousand names. Sarvavamayi (she who creates everything). In either case. maternal presence as well. She gives her blessing readily and does not require her devotees to do puja (worship) (repetition of her name). Some iconographic representations show her with an oar in her hand. essential form.' " 4 7 Some texts describe Tara as living on an island to which devotees are taken by boat. She is called. emphasizing her role in ferrying her devotees across the river of samsdra. suggesting less-than-complete freedom.* s and her name is said to be derived from the meaning "to cross over. nourishing. 4 0 Conversely.

There is the great sakti. where Tarapith was subsequently established near the Dwaraka River. who went to China to find the true method of worshiping Tara. The myth in the oral tradition of this temple that explains this maternal appearance of Tara is a variation and elaboration of the story of the sage Vasistha. shines exceedingly. They dance and sing the most sacred fame of the goddess. as a mother suckling Siva at her breast. He was instructed to go to Bengal. There are many attendants of Tara who are dark like the blue lotus and are sporting in the waters of the lake with thousands of boats of jewels. Vasistha positioned himself on a seat of five human skulls and proceeded to recite the Tara mantra three hundred thousand times. in fact. The eye of Satl (some say the third or spiritual eye) which fell to earth at Tarapith turned to stone and sprang up in the form of the image which Vasistha saw. Tara was pleased with his sddhand and appeared to him. where she is shown suckling Siva. with his superior mystical insight. Of these saktis who guide the boats and have dark colour the chief one is Tara. surrounded by various boats and herself occupying a large boat.. who controls the gate. According to the Tarapith tradition. They are drinking the nectar-water of the lake and going hither and thither on hundreds of those boats. or Tara's heaven]. Tara by name. to the very place. whom she holds on her lap. Some hold oars and others conches in their hands.io6 TARA There is a great hall called "manas" whose middle enclosure comprises the nectar-lake. meat. and intoxicants. this became the central image of Tarapith temple. knew this spot to be sacred to Tara. the image the Buddha had described to him. the mother. which caused his throat to turn . after initiating Vasistha into this lefthanded tantric worship. There he found devotees worshiping her with rites using women. She manifested this form to Vasistha. He was stricken with burning in the throat from the poison. There are millions of boat-women underTara who are in the prime of youth. instructed him to return to India to practice his new sddhand. There is no way to get into it save the conveyance of a boat. and it then turned to stone. Thus Tara.. or "this world"] and go back to the other shore [presumably moksa or mukti (the state or condition of liberation from rebirth).. They come to this shore [presumably samsdra. the mother who can calm the floods. the Buddha. She offered him a boon. T h e Buddha.48 One of the most dramatic H i n d u images of Tara's gender aspect is found at Tarapith temple in Bengal. This statue relates to the story of Siva (as Nllakantha) having saved Creation by drinking poison which had emerged from the ocean after it had been churned. and he requested that she reveal herself to him in her maternal aspect. 4 9 The stone image of Ugratara which was seen by Vasistha had actually existed before that time.


but the temple and deity are widely known. according to one modern commentator. Worship of Tara at Tarapith Although the Hindu Tara is not as widely worshiped as K a l i or Laksmi. She is a savior who takes special care of her devotees. and Dhumavatl—Mahavidyas who receive barely any public worship—Tara has a fairly flourishing temple cult. she has a gentler side. "blue throat"]. her "triumph over calamities. the powers of the nearby tank. T h e temple is not particularly large. T h e first is the story about the sage Vasistha. The second con- . Perhaps her most famous temple is at Tarapith in Birbhum district of rural Bengal. the hymns sung there. there are several temples dedicated to her in N o r t h India and Nepal. but the end result—liberation— is similar. T h e temple's founding myths. H e r standing on a corpse represents. Sakti offered Siva her breast." T h e cremation fire that she represents or often stands in is said to symbolize the burning of the dross of one's past karma. T h e H i n d u Tara's means of helping her devotees are more abrasive and frightening than those of the Tibetan Buddhist Tara. Matarigi. To relieve burning." 5 2 In short. the burning away of attachments. and the flow of worshipers is modest.51 H e r scissors and sword are said to represent her role in cutting through the bonds that keep people in ignorance and selfdelusion.io8 TARA blue [hence he is called Nilakantha. Tara's terrifying or fierce aspects also may be interpreted in positive ways that conform to her role as "the liberator. although Tara's appearance and habits initially seem to be almost totally terrifying and fearsome. T h e severed heads represent the destruction of false ideas and self-enchantment. while the Tibetan Tara overwhelms them with compassion. and the inhabitants and rituals of the adjacent cremation ground combine to give a good picture of Tara worship. Bagalamukhi. which he took and was relieved. and in this respect she reflects the personality of the gentle Tara of Tibetan Buddhism. and Tarapith is reputed to be a very powerful center of goddess worship. T h e H i n d u Tara tends to shock her devotees into liberating knowledge. its type of worship (which includes blood offerings). the purifying of one's mind of ignorance. Compared to Chinnamasta. There are two mythical traditions that tell of the origin of the Tarapith temple.50 As we have already indicated in a few instances.

She holds court in her temple and dispenses favors to the faithful like an understanding mother. then. whom she cannot deny. the organizer of an asrama (ashram) in Tarapith. This "tank of life" is reputed to have the power to restore the dead to life and to heal most maladies. or spiritual. Because my Ma is the Mother of the universe. T h e following poem by Gyan Babu. M a . Tara at Tarapith has a domesticated quality. As the center of an active temple. where she is worshiped with traditional rituals on a regular basis. It was this sacred pith a that the Buddha saw with his mystical v i sion and to which he directed Vasistha. Come here and see. combine to associate the temple with the Satl myth. " Mother will place you on her lap. the source of Buddhist Tara worship. Here there is no distinction of caste.53 Tara's presence in a busy temple. Come. These two mythical traditions. Tara's benign. . also mitigates the fierce aspect that is dominant in her H i n d u manifestation. protective. Sati's third. and with left-handed tantric worship brought from the north. " Here you will get the touch of your own Mother. eye fell to earth at the place where the temple is now located. and nourishing aspects. There is no doubt about it. Only call out "Ma. dependent child. The tank adjacent to the temple also emphasizes her benign aspect. is a good example of this genre. come to Tarapith." places sacred to goddesses) throughout India. and hence an all-India goddess network. According to the Tarapith myth. In her aspect as the nursing mother and as the center of attentive priests and devotees who are regularly serving and supplicating her. If you want to see " M a . she is carefully tended by priests and approached routinely with petitions from her devotees. these poems exploit the metaphor of the goddess as mother and cast the devotee in the role of her loving. As in the case of Bengali K a l i devotion. The central image of Tara depicts her nursing Siva and thus emphasizes her maternal. maternal aspects are also emphasized in devotional poems associated with Tarapith and often sung there by worshipers. a center of goddess worship was established. Wherever a piece of her body fell.TARA 109 cerns the well-known story of the dismemberment of Sati's corpse and the establishment of the s'akta pithas ("seats ofsakti. Pilgrims routinely bathe in it before and after worship of the goddess in the temple.

but on festival days. T h e worshipers also undergo purification rituals in the temple prior to the sacrifice.e." i. some dip their fingers in the blood of a freshly killed animal and mark their foreheads with it. He ate with jackals and the gods. T h e sacrificial pit itself is revered by worshipers. one hundred fifty to two hundred goats may be sacrificed. however. She is breast-feeding Nllakantha ["blue throat. which often lies on a cremation fire. she typically stands on a corpse. 54 Tara's fierce aspect and her association with left-handed tantric sddhand with its often fearsome rites. To give rice to the hungry. T h e animals are almost always offered to the goddess by individual worshipers as part of a vow that the goddess will be given a sacrificial victim in return for some favor she has done for the devotee.TARA Mother sitting with spread lap. H e r frightening aspect is also seen in the metal image of her that is usually available to worshipers for darsan (viewing). and has a lolling tongue. An important element of the religious atmosphere . 5 5 In iconographic representations and descriptions of Tara. a bit of blood is taken in a pot and offered to the image in the temple. Siva]. reveal themselves in the practice of blood sacrifice at the temple and the importance of the nearby cremation ground. Wherever you may be. This threefoot-tall image recalls the dhydna mantras of Ugra-tara cited above.. wears a garland of skulls. Blood sacrifices are offered to Tara daily. Normally two or three goats are offered each day. the animals are bathed in the tank to purify them. She has four arms. almost always goats. Calling them his brothers. After it has been killed. The mother is calling her children. come. come here. are killed at a sacrificial pit near the templeW i t h i n the sandy enclosure is a two-pronged stake that holds the animal firm while a priest decapitates it in one blow with a special sword. Before being slain. such as Durga Puja and Kali Puja. it is the one that most worshipers see. In her most pop ular H i n d u forms she haunts cremation grounds and is associated with death and destruction. Come. and while this is not the primordial image around which the temple was built (that image being equated with the rough stone image). To relieve the burning sensation of poison. If you come here you will see Vamakhepa. The Mother's darling son. The animals. She is fierce in appearance.

Siva. Indeed. It reinforces the theme apparent in much Tara iconography that she favors cremation grounds and that it is appropriate to propitiate her there.57 A tradition at Tarapfth says that Bamakhepa was an incarnation of Tara's fierce husband. which is probably an ancient tradition. surrounded by corpses. and wandering sddhakas often visit it for extended periods. Bamakhepa was fierce and mad on the outside but full of mercy on the inside. . the legend says. It is a place where smasdna sddhand (spiritual practices appropriate to cremation grounds) and s'ava sddhand (spiritual practices using a corpse) may be performed. he behaved like a lunatic. funeral pyres. and jackals. It is included on the itinerary of many pilgrims to Tarapfth and is an integral part of the sacred complex. 56 Legend says that. Here is where the Bengali saint Bamakhepa (or Vamakhepa in Sanskrit) (i 843-1911) lived and undertook his spiritual exercises for several decades prior to his death. Several sddhakas dwell more or less permanently in the cremation ground. 5 8 The cremation ground has been a site of tantric sddhand for generations and continues to be so used today. H i s name may be translated as the mad or crazy (khepa) follower of the left-handed path (vdmd means "left"). located near the temple. in his form as Bhairava. after Bamakhepa had been meditating on Tara for a long time in the cremation ground. Like Bhairava. which is often said to be one of the marks of a saint.TARA at Tarapfth is the large cremation ground or cremation grove. Tara appeared to him in a burst of flames in her dreadful form and then took him to her breast.

Srividya. which in turn lies on a throne whose legs are the gods Brahma. and Rajarajesvari. the Lalitd-sahasrandma. nirguna. is often cited third.Tripura-sundari She Who Is Lovely in the Three Worlds Tripura-sundari. the yantra 112 . and Rudra. a goad.1 According to other sources. and Rudra (name 249) and is attended by Brahma. to wear jewels (names 13 and 14). a stage of consciousness suffused with sattvic qualities but lacking the completeness of fully enlightened consciousness. Siva. and Sarasvati (name 614). arrows." J Further details of her appearance are found in the famous hymn in her praise. Visnu. that she. Kamesvari. himself the lord of desire (Kama) (name 2 8). which suggests that she occupies a high place in the group. and to have heavy breasts and a thin waist (name 36). She is often depicted iconographically as seated on a lotus that rests on the supine body of Siva. to have the auspicious marks of a married woman (names 16-25). In other cases it is growing from the Sri cakra. and a bow. Laksmi. the crescent moon adorns her forehead. She is also sometimes said to be. Siva. along with Kali and Tara. after K a l i and Tara. who also appears in lists of the Mahavidyas under the names Sodasi. represented by K a l i . where she is said to be seated on a throne like a queen (names 2 and 3). 1 H e r dhydna mantra describes her as follows: "She shines with the light of the rising sun. Visnu. an ddi (primordial) Mahavidya. Siva. represents a complete vision of reality. Lalita. like them. She has as her seat the corpses of Brahma. which is beyond all quality and form. In her four hands she holds a noose. she represents the penultimate vision of enlightened consciousness. and her smile overwhelms Siva. In some cases the lotus is growing out of Siva's navel. Visnu.

6 5 T h e Saundaryalahari and the Tantrasara describe her in detail from her hair to her feet. has a body like pure crystal. of Tripura-sundari." T h e Vamakesvara-tantra says that Tripura-sundari dwells on the 4 peaks of the Himalayas. Varanasi. and her hair tied in ajata. . In this rendering of the goddess. Bharat Kala Bhavan. late eighteenth century. and ashes. holds a trident and drum. wears a tiger skin. is worshiped by sages and heavenly nymphs. which fell at her feet w h e n they bowed down to worship her. as she is in other descriptions. 17. Himachal Pradesh. is decorated with jewels. Tripura-sundari. "lord of desire. by Molaram.TRIPURA-SUNDARI "3 Fig. as the Sri cakra is identical with the goddess herself (see below). It is interesting to note 7 that in the Tantrasara she is not associated with Siva in any obvious way. she is self-emergent. In one instance she is said to sit on Siva's lap in his form as Kamesvara. Garwahl. flowers. and has a large bull as a vehicle. T h e Tantrasara dhydna mantra says that she is illuminated by the jewels of the crowns of Brahma and V i s n u . Benares Hindu University. a snake as a garland around her neck.

where she is central in a movement of considerable sophistication and popularity. The Navavaranakirthis by Muttusvami. 8 The earliest reference to Srividya (the form of the goddess as mantra) is in the Tamil work Tirumantiram. the cult of Srividya was mentioned in Sanskrit works. rather than an anthropomorphic image. where she became a significant goddess. but particularly in the South. Although she is often described in anthropomorphic fashion. She has been worshiped from a very early period in South India.9 Although there are not many temples where Tripura-sundari is worshiped in anthropomorphic form.in which Tripura-sundari is featured appeared about the same period in Kashmir. who lived in the seventh century C. her cult. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. and now her worship and fame have spread throughout India. the Srividya cult. centers on worship of and meditation on her mantra.E. Several text:.TRIPURA-SUNDARI Mythology and Characteristics Tripura-sundari (Sodas!) was a very well-known and important tantric goddess before she was grouped with the Mahavidyas. the cult of Srividya expanded greatly in both Kashmir and South India. the Sri cakra. by Tirumular. This worship is done almost exclusively in private and in tantric fashion. Sometimes another goddess will be shown associated with the Sri cakra. and her yantra. By the ninth century. Sankara (788-820). she has become identified with certain important goddesses in South India. outside an esoteric tantric setting. whose essential form is identical with the Sri cakra. coins are sold depicting Minaksi in anthropomorphic form on one side and the Sri cakra on the other. and several texts celebrating her are attributed to the great philosopher from South India. for example. with several notable commentaries being written on earlier works. thus identifying her with Tripura-sundari. a composer of classical Karnatik music. H e r cult eventually became popular in Bengal. Of particular note is the Vamakesvara-tantra. Despite the tendency of Srividya worship and ritual practice to remain private and esoteric. Pictures of Minaksi . which still flourishes throughout India. At the temple of the famous South Indian goddess Minaksi of Madurai. She occupies a prominent position in both Kashmiri and South Indian Tantrism. contain some famous examples. the Srividya mantra. Her presence in many temples is marked by the Sri cakra. with certain northern variations. there are popular hymns to the goddess with a strong devotional flavor. which attracted several important commentaries. and in actual practice such hymns are sung in public.

and after awhile she drives people crazy who stay in her presence. and the central image is of Tripura-sundari. or pitha. T h e garbha grha housing the image is flanked by two Siva lirigams.TRIPURA-SUNDARI standing above a Sri cakra are also sold there. each of whom has a shrine. form a protective circle around the city of BhaktaPur. a common epithet of Tripura-sundari. and Siva are distinguishable and may represent the legs of the throne on which the goddess sits. The temple also has three staircases. 12 I also have been told of a temple to Harhsesvari-devi. This is the case with the goddess Kamaksi of Kanchipuram. I was told that she is an unmarried goddess. one on the right of the image. who sits on a lotus that emerges from the navel of Siva. in the village of Bansberia near Hooghly in Bengal. T h e image of the goddess holds weapons and is of a dark complexion. the "eight mothers. but there is a lirigam outside her temple. Brahma. A temple of similar design to Tripura-sundari is currently under construction in Varanasi. The Sri cakra is also shown in Kamaksi's iconography. It is said that she has the power to attract people and that one can feel the pull of her strength when taking her dars'an (viewing her image). H e r priests do not last long. see below). In the center is TriDura-sundari's shrine. "she who is the sixteenth" or "the one who goes beyond or includes the fifteen lunar tithis" (lunar days. There she is associated with a group of goddesses called the Astamatrkas. the whole of reality. Painted panels on the front of her throne show five male deities. another on the left. each seated on a lotus with different numbers of petals." These eight goddesses. T h e sixteenth may symbolize Tripura-sundari as Sodasi. a common theme in her descriptions. where the gods are said to support her. an epithet of Tripura-sundari. There is also a Rajarajesvari temple in the village of Bangaramu in Uttar Pradesh. 1 hese probably represent the three nddis (veins or arteries) of kundalini yoga and. who is shown wearing Sri cakras as earrings. Another example is the godjess Akhilandesvari of Tiruchirappalli. 13 Tripura-sundari is also an important goddess in the Nepali town of Bhaktapur. Visnu. who is reclining on another lotus that in turn rests on an image of the Sri cakra. whose depictions differ from those of Tripura-sundari in only very minor ways. T h e temple is six stories tall.10 In other cases the appearance of a particular goddess may be so similar to Tripura-sundari's that it is difficult not to associate or identify the two." In Varanasi there is a temple to Rajarajesvari. and a third descending into the temple. taken together. As the ninth and central . No one is strong enough to spend the night in her temple. suggesting the presence of Siva. There are fifteen black lirigams in the temple and a sixteenth that is white. The supine figure of Siva lies in front of it.

After some time the goddess. when he sought to distract Siva from his meditation. Bhanda creates a number of demons that are well known in H i n d u mythology. According to this myth. calls on Tripura-sundari for help. the gods arrange the marriage of Siva and Tripura-sundari. Durga then slays Mahisasura. In the meantime.14 It is also interesting to note that among the Astamatrkas are two of the other Mahavidyas. who in the well-known Vaisnava myth defeats Hiranyakasipu. Bhanda. Siva praises the man with the words "Bhand! Bhand!" ("Good! Good!"). This man then appeals to Siva to teach him a powerful mantra. Tripura-sundari and Bhanda. Kali and Laksmi. but because he was born from Siva's anger when he burned up Kama. who is ornamented with jewelry given to her by many male gods. After the battle. W h e n Bhanda attacks Indra. Indra also instructs his allies to propitiate the goddess by offering her their own flesh and blood with Vedic rites. Siva also grants the man rulership of the world for sixty thousand years. the sixty thousand years granted to Bhanda to rule the world have expired. Bhanda is amused by the army of females and predicts that they will be as ineffective in battle as the name of their leader. and Tripura-sundari counters by bringing forth a corresponding deity or avatdra to defeat the demon. she is understood to be preeminent among the others. In the course of the battle Bhanda also creates Mahisasura. Subsequently. led by Kama-deva's wife. W i t h Indra's city still under siege. and Tripura-sundari creates Rama from one of her fingernails. wrathful demon. turn out to be superior to Bhanda and his army. Finally. In the course of the battle the two chief protagonists. as she does in the famous Devi-mdhdtmya. produce various beings from their bodies. At the end of these rites the goddess appears and agrees to help the gods. however. Lalita in turn produces Prahlada. He builds a city rivaling in glory the city of the gods ruled over by Indra. which Siva obligingly does. the gods.n6 TRIPURA-SUNDARI goddess of the group. Rati. Bhanda brings forth Ravana. Lalita (soft and delicate). Indra. Tripura-sundari and her army. Tripura-sundari produces many weapons from the noose and goad that she carries in her hands. implore Tripura- . creates Hiranyakasipu. one gains half the might of one's adversary. suggests. with her female associates (saktis). goes off to battle Bhanda and his army. to be the supreme goddess. T h e goddess responds by producing Durga. Siva destroyed Kama the god of love. at the bidding of the sage Narada. for example. 1 5 T h e central tale in the mythology of Tripura-sundari concerns her defeat of the demon Bhanda. one of Siva's ganas (companions or followers) makes an image of a man from Kama-deva's ashes. By reciting the mantra. the goddess defeats Bhanda himself. he turns into a dangerous.

She takes pleasure in ruling (name 686) and subdues all the worlds (name 698). the source of well-known deities and avatdras. "queen of kings. Isvara. for example. From that speck Brahma fashions the universe. Bharati. Complementing her role as a warrior are Tripura-sundari's royal characteristics. In the Lalitd-sahasrandma. 1 7 This myth." Another of her names. she is called Mistress of A l l . She W h o Slays Demons (name 318). and destruction. also called Sri. she is distinguished in many ways from the goddess. maintenance. the great director behind the scenes. Mother of the World. T h e same text gives her names that emphasize her role as a warrior. Visnu. and Siva in these roles. actually referred to as avatdras. and Mother of the Vedas. and Mother of Warriors (name 836). In the hymn of a thousand names to her in the Vdmakesvaratantra. However. Ruler of Armies (name 691). In the Lalitd-sahasrandma she is called She from Whose Ten Fingernails Spring the Ten Forms of Visnu (name 88). establish Tripura-sundari as a transcendent cosmic guardian. One of her most popular epithets is Rajarajesvari. the manyheaded serpent. These include the goddesses K a l i . On a more cosmic scale. In short. In the Lalitd-sahasrandma she is worshiped by kings (name 305). and desire is restored to the world. Sri. Candika. and other passages enumerating her different manifestations created to sustain the world. and Gauri. and Sadasiva (name 249). the ultimate overseer of the cosmic processes. and is more commonly associated with Siva. as we shall see below. in his form as Vasuki. She W h o Is W o r shiped by Warriors (name 777). T h e gods praise her in unison. 1 8 . whom Siva had destroyed. In the Saundaryalahari. Her primary role is to protect the well-being of the gods and cosmic stability. Tripura-sundari is said to have other forms. who is Visnu's consort. 2). Tripura-sundari undertakes the three principal cosmic functions of creation. she sits on the five corpses of Brahma. She herself is the source of several of Visnu's avatdras. associates her with sovereignty. can barely support (v. She does so. 1 6 The myth establishes certain central characteristics for Tripura-sundari. the entire universe is formed from a tiny speck of dust from her foot. Rudra. which Visnu. whom she creates to defeat particular demons in the battle with Bhanda. Visnu.TRIPURA-SUNDARI sundari to restore the god of love. Kumari. She W h o Grants Boons to Warriors (name 493). the myth and hymns to her depict Tripura-sundari as a great battle queen similar to Durga and underline her role as guardian of cosmic order. She either performs these functions by herself or creates and directs Brahma.

1 9 Tripura-sundari is also often described as extremely attractive. and the majority of the Saundaryalahari i similarly preoccupied with her attractive appearance. She Whose Form Is Sexual Desire (nam 796). She Whose Form Is the De sire of Women (name 454). She W h o Causes Emotion (name 4 6 6 ) . In th Lalitd-sahasrandma she is called T h e Desirable One (name 321). It is als said there that a worn-out old man. several of whom have erotic associations: Kamesvari. ugly and sluggish in the arts of love can be restored to sexual attractiveness and vigor by her glance (v. 2 3 In the Tripurd-rahasya. to suffuse the creation with desire. for example. ofte in great detail. T h e Lalitd-sahasrandma details her charm from head to foot (w. The Lalitd-sahasrandna calls her She W h o Is Vitality (name 767). Sh is said to give all blessings. Sh W h o Enchants (name 562). Rati. and siddhas come t the sddhaka "with gazelle-like eyes. 2 2 T h e Yogini-tantra enjoins the devotee to contemplate the image of a naked sixteen-year-old girl and to think of each part of her body being assimilated to his own. and to be the actual foi of desire—that is. Kama-deva—or his wife. an be calm. as lavishly adorned with ornaments and fine clothing. peaceful. " 2 0 T h e several names that as sociate or identify her with the female sexual organ in her thousand-nam hymn in the Vdmakesvara-tantra 21 also suggest the erotic character of th goddess. and completely suffused with sattvic qualities. their bodies quiv ering . who bewitches the whol world. yaksas. Th Saundaryalahari'says that Kama. and throwing awatheir ornaments and letting their clothes fall from about them. . Bhagamalim (having a garland of yonis). Visnu's consort. and Bherunda (pregnant).or left-handed tantric manner. bow them selves before him and offer to do his w i l l . 6). 24 Such names also suggest Tripura-sundari's association with fertility and growth. received his powers by a glance from the goddess (v. 13) T h e Praparicasdra-tantra says that her worship has such an amorous ef feet that celestial females such as gandharvas. She Wh Is Filled with Erotic Sentiments (name 376). and erotically inclined. grant all desires. breathing heavily. Bala-tripura-sundari (young girl who is beauti fill in the three worlds) is said to be the symbol of beauty and sexuali and is worshiped by adoring a living girl in either the right. She is described. 13-51). the god of love.n8 TRIPURA-SUNDARI She is the quintessence of auspiciousness (sauhhdgya) and in this r spect resembles the goddess Sri. . In the Kdlikd-purdna. embody purity (suddhd). Tripura creates nine s'aktis. and moist with the pearly sweat of passion. Nityalinna (always moist). and She W h o Overflows with Desire and Pleasure (name 863). the god of desire. She is often said give desire. beau tdful. .

the protection of the order of dharma. Although none of her principal names (Tripura-sundari. Sodasi. Arriving in the presence of Siva. seeing Siva alone. Other features of Tripura-sundari. and is identified with nourishment (name 4 4 4 ) and food itself (name 699). He told her that Siva was thinking °f marrying another goddess and that she should return at once to prevent this. fertile. Related to her nature as the power underlying vigor and growth is her association with nourishment and food.TRIPURA-SUNDARI She W h o Gives Life (name 783). royal power. By now K a l i had rid herself of her dark complexion but did not V e t realize it. Later. pure. both meaning "the earth" (names 718 and 955). with whom she is sometimes identified. however. In the Lalitd-sahasrandma she is called M a h l and Dhara. Lalita. and perhaps dangerous. and gracious nature and that associate her with wealth. disheveled hair. the sage Narada visited Kailasa and. She is also called Jagaddhatrl. W i t h his yogic powers Narada discovered K a l i living north of Mount Sumeru and went there to see if he could convince her to return to Siva. asked where his wife was. and the form of a skeleton. auspicious. wears ashes. which she took to be a slur against her dark complexion. In the Prdnatosini(probably written in Bengal in the seventeenth century). she has a large and long tongue. she saw a reflection of her- . She is often described as the patient. and the defeat of demons. there is no denying its presence in many of the texts that describe her. Srividya. suggest aspects of her nature that deviate from this portrait. She left Siva and resolved to rid herself of her dark complexion through asceticism. K a l i " ("Blackie. fearful fangs. 2 7 In many ways she resembles Kali. an ascetic's knot. 2 8 There is even a myth explaining the identity of Tripura-sundari and Kali. or Rajarajesvari) suggests this aspect of the goddess. "world nurse" (name 935). obedient wife of either Siva or Visnu. we are told that once upon a time Siva referred to K a l i by her name in front of some heavenly damsels who had come to visit. In contrast to the usual descriptions of Tripura-sundari as clothed in radiant garments and glowing jewels are passages in the Vdmakesvara-tantra where she is naked or clothed in animal hides and wears her hair in ajata. Siva complained that she had abandoned him and vanished. calling her " K a l i . In places she is said to be frightening. 2 6 She carries a skull. and has a snake as a necklace. wild. Blackie"). For the most part. and She Whose Form Is Life (name 784). Tripura-sundari is characterized by names and features that emphasize her beautiful.T h e hymn of her thousand names in the Vdmakesvara-tantra calls her The Mother W h o Oversees Birth. 2 5 She is often associated with the earth itself and is said both to create and uphold it.

" typically prompts speculation concerning various triads known to H i n d u philosophy. furthermore. beautiful in the three worlds. She is threefold also because she represents the subject (mdtd). which involves a speaker. and Siva in her roles as creator. Siva advised her to look more carefully. T h e name Tripura-sundari. because she is identical with the triangle (trikona) that symbolizes the yoni and that forms her cakra (see below). In the process of associating Tripura-sundari with these triads. and objects to which the words refer. telling her that what she saw in his heart was herself. maintainer. T h e names that receive the most attention are Tripura-sundari. from which all sounds and words proceed and which is often understood to occupy a primordial place in tantric cosmology. as we shall see. she became jealous and angry. T h e triangle in the Srividya cult. your name will be Tripura-sundari. the texts often imply that she is identical with ultimate. and spiritual practice. Here again she is identified with reality expressed in terms of speech." 29 The Names Tripura-sundari. Here Tripura is identified with the alphabet. essential. and destroyer of the universe. and Lalita T h e texts dealing with Tripura-sundari often reflect on the significance of her names. the text says. Visnu. because she expresses herself in Brahma. T h i n k i n g that this was another goddess. and Lalita. Sodasi. Sodasi. The story ends with Siva saying to the transformed Kali: "As you have assumed a very beautiful form. is a primordial form from which the creation proceeds and is clearly related to the generative power of the yoni. what is said. These reflections elicit further aspects of her character and additional associations with ideas and themes in H i n d u philosophy. with the eye of knowledge. and sddhand (spiritual practice). She is called Tripura also because her mantra (discussed below) has three clusters of syllables. whose most obvious and apparent meaning is "she who is beautiful in the three worlds. instrument (mdna). She is called Tripura. which are usually thought to hold hidden or mystical meanings. She is threefold. or complete reality in one way or another.120 TRIPURA-SUNDARI self with a light complexion in Siva's heart. mythology. 30 . You shall always remain sixteen years old and be called by the name Sodas!. and object (meya) of all things. mythology. T h e Kdlikd-purdna gives several interpretations in this vein.

she is triadic because she is identified with the three principal goddess pithas. but there is some speculation on its hidden significance. and fire. and mixed. three energies. and Agni. O divine one. and kriya s'akti (doing." In this case it probably refers to the phases of the moon. She is triple natured also because she embodies the three principle powers of icchd s'akti (will). the text speculates.name is interpreted in the m y t h . the lunar tithis. the union of the pvo. and Purnagiri. white.TRIPURA-SUNDARI Trie Kamakald-vildsa (w. knowledge). and Rudra). which is considered the most beautiful and vl gorous human age." 3 8 More esoterically. the name means "she who is sixteen.. three fires. Sakti. as are light and fire. three Vedas. in the moon. and mixed. Or she may be understood as the additional element that lends to e individual tithis the impetus to wax and wane. recounted above. of which there are fifteen in me bright half of the lunar month (sukla paksa) and fifteen in the dark half (krsna paksa). This is exactly how the . three worlds. Bhaskararaya says that the goddess is called Tripura-sundari because "she is older than the three ptrsons (Brahma. She is thus all-pervasive and allinclusive. sun.4 0 ) speculates that Tripura-sundari is 0-iple faceted because she represents three kinds or colors of bindu (seed 0 r essence): red. Jalandhara. or sacred centers: Kamarupa. These tithis are often personified as goddesses." 3 6 The name Sodasi seems to be of less interest to commentators. T h e same text says that she is triadic because she has her abode in Soma. 3 7 T h e name is also understood to mean "she w h o has sixteen (good) qualities. that is. all these. in which Siva renames the transformed K a l i both Tripura-sundari and Sodasi. Surya. As the sixteenth. Sodasi is that which is beyond the phases." 3 5 Sivananda says that the goddess is triple natured because she "has the nature of Siva. the reality that under- . action). Literally. or the rhythms of tone.. white. the name can mean me sixteenth" or "she who is the sixteenth. jnana s'akti (consciousness. three notes (svaras). This probably refers to sexual fluids: r e d being female sexual fluid. three abodes. semen. Visnu. such as the three objects of human desire." 3 3 He also says that the goddess is triple natured because she is identified with the three main channels of the subtle body in kundalini yoga that represent cosmic totality.. Further. three sacred lakes. three castes. and Atman." The meaning here is that the goddess represents both of the sexual polarities in the universe and their ultimate union. 3 4 Bhaskararaya comments further on the triple nature of the goddess: "There are three Devas. really belong to your name. 1 3 ." It is common for deities to be described as eternally sixteen years old. Whatever in the world is threefold. 3 2 In his commentary on the Lalitd-sahasrandma.

Whether she is called Lalita. your arrows are flowers.' that is. "The word lalita has eight meanings. fixity. Bhaskararaya says: The wise say. It is said also.. T h e 'sixteenth' element deliberately plays on the symbolism of'plus one. namely brillianc manifestation. Tripura-sundari. 3 9 " T h e addition of a sixteenth element to an established set of fifteen is analogous to the addition of a fourth element to established triads. she is the cosmic queen from whom everything originates. and everything connected with you is lovely (lalita). subsumes and encompasses the others as well as completes the symbolic pattern of meanings." 41 It seems clear that commentators on the meaning of Tripura-sundari's names begin with the assumption that she is the highest reality. "she who is lovely. and find in her epithets mystical meanings that affirm this." The Kdma-sdstra says: Lalita means erotic actions and also tenderness.. herself. on the contrary. Sodasi. The Srividya Mantra and the Sri Cakra T h e goddess Tripura-sundari's identity with the Srividya mantra and the Sri cakra yantra have been elaborated by theorists of the Srividya cult. T h e sixteenth element. the cusp of the lunar phases. in whom everything inheres. 42 Indeed. the deity described in myths and praised i p hymns. W h i l e we might be tempted to refer to the Srividya mantra as her mantra. that the mantra is she* that the cakra is she. a set of three or fifteen plus one more element. like the fourth in a set of threes. and by whom everything will be dissolved. and the Sri cakra as her yantra. as symbols in sound and diagram of the goddess whom we imagine in anthropomorphic form> practitioners of the cult insist. grace and generosity. depth." is also said to have universal. energy. they say that the anthroponior' phic image of the goddess. cosmological.i22 TRIPURA-SUNDARI lies cosmic rhythms and impels the cosmos along an orderly course. or one of several other common names. who has characteristics and a physical appearance and who u° . as she has all the above-mentioned qualities. sweetness. she is the mysterious element that transcends and yet encompasses all things.. "Thou art rightly called Lalita for thou hast nine divine attendants [in the Sri cakra. she is called Lalita. or reality itself. see below] and your bow is made of sugar-cane." "the lovely one. or mystical significance. the are the eight human qualities." 4 0 The name Lalita.

hides hfoj." 4 5 culminates in an elaborate ritual in which the master transmits the Srividya mantra to the . to dwell here in more detail on the significance of mantra and yantra by analyzing how they express and relate to Tripura-sundari.essential nature. However. not human or cultural constructs. This instruction. That is. highest. which in turn are identified with her forms as mantra and cakra. Tripura-sundari. the transcendent goddess.43 Both mantras and yantras are central to Tantric sddhand. T h e first point that must be emphasized is that the mantra and yantra are affirmed in the cult to be unmediated revelations. It is during preparation for initiation that the guru communicates this to the student. being without aptitude for what is necessary. in the Srividya cult. most intense form. Bhaskararaya says: "The devotion of the inept to the external ostentation [of the srividya}.. For uninitiated or spiritually unqualified people to recite or devote themselves to the mantra or yantra is ineffective. anthropomorphic aspect of the goddess is her sthula form. which introduces the adept to " a n elite form of spirituality. this physical. and the yantra is displayed in many books and temples). As explained in Part I. is like a body in which life has perished. which is considered crude compared to her illuminative (s'iiksma) and supreme (para) manifestations. T h e power of the mantra remans latent unless the practitioner understands its special. That is.their potency depends upon their being transmitted to i n dividual adepts by spiritual masters (gurus). the goddess's reality and inherent power will not be realized. N o r are they partial revelations: they are not simply clues to." 44 Becoming spiritually qualified to benefit from the inherent power of the goddess in her mantric (or yantric) form demands extended spiritual preparation under the guidance of a guru. is a gross form that. It is appropriate. or a puppet from which the strings are detached. expresses more clearly than any of th»e other Mahavidyas the importance of mantras and yantras in the worship and conceptualization of these goddesses. although they may be available to the uninitiated (the mantra is now available in print in many places. In the view of the Srividya cult. We might think of the mantra and the yantra as forms of grace. the goddess has given these complete expressions of herself to certain spiritually advanced people in the Srividya cult. the mantra and yantra are not public. then. respectively. or aspects of.TRIPURA-SUNDARI d^rtakes actions and plays roles. to some extent. They are the goddess in her purest. sacred significance. linked to the concept of favorable karma acqv>lred over the course of countless previous births. during which the adept learns t h e significance of the mantra (and yantra).

contemporary lithograph. At this point the guru may also give the initiate a phy s ' ical form of the Sri cakra for his or her personal use in sddhand. This ultimate revelation of the goddess makes her fully accessible to the initiate. Tripura-sundari with the Sri yantra. student. In learning the significance of the mantra.-• TRIPURA-SUNDARl - Fig. 18. the student first comes to appreciate that the mantra (or yantra) is a full expression of the goddess- .

"the most holy passage of that most holy scripture. sa. the seed mantras exist as the essential form or power of reality. the sun. hrim. Just as cosmological. la. ka. let us see how those in the tradition of the Srividya cult discern in the Srividya mantra the presence of the Gayatri mantra. or meditative triads are found hidden in the name Tripura-sundari. so [the mantras] contain everything and are complete. Bhaskararaya finds that each syllable of the Srividya mantra contains one or several syllables from the Gayatri and. the mantra from the Rg-veda in praise of the sun. to other sounds. hrim. the student. the adept is then prepared to appreciate the esoteric or mystical meanings of the individual parts of the mantra (or yantra) and its overall correspondence to other symbols or expressions of ultimate reality in the H i n d u tradition. ha.TRIPURA-SUNDARI Beginning with this assumption. Brahma. is to think of the mantra as a seed containing in potential form the entire or full-grown plant. that the Gayatri inheres in the Srividya mantra. T h e Gayatri. and fire. Throughout the whole cosmos. i = bhargo devasya dhi-. therefore. To give an example of how the Srividya mantra is interpreted as containing the fullness and essence of ultimate reality. One way of thinking about the mantra as containing all reality. hrim. depending upon one's point of view) and is gradually absorbed by the spiritual adept in his or her ongoing devotion and use of the mantra. e. under the instruction of the guru. according to Bhaskararaya. then. and the peak concerned with the underlying s'akti of the cosmos. i. There is the peak concerned with the power of speech. At in the case of the goddess's names." 4 6 Creation proceeds from seed mantras to language (especially Sanskrit). learns to discern in the mantra e r ery aspect and dimension of cosmological. la. is infused with meaning (or suffused with meaning. Visnu. spiritual dynamic. ha. ka. the peak concerned with the Power of desire. according to Brahmanical tradition. the moon. la. spiritual. so here the hidden meanings of the sacred expression are elaborately drawn out. on the other hand. consists of many more than fifteen syllables and has a literal meaning: it praises the sun.48 T h e Srividya mantra is also divided into three parts. for example. to other languages (which. or three peaks (kutas). That is. and so on through both mantras. "As a banyan tree is found in its seed. mystical. each line and angle of the yantra. and Siva. e = savitur varenyam. the three . sa. Each syllable of the mantra. all derive from Sanskrit). and existential truth. and finally to all sounds in creation." 4 7 T h e Srividya mantra consists of fifteen syllables that have no literal meaning: ka. so each peak of the mantra is compared to a cosmological. He lists the correspondences by associating specific sounds in the two mantras. ka = tat.

Inextricably related to the Srividya mantra and equally central to the Srividya cult is the Sri cakra. or the cosmos is seen to inhere in the three parts of the mantra. the third is the identity of the self (atman). the yantra form of the goddess Tripurasundari. that the mantra and everything to which it is compared coinhere in an indivisible unity. T h e mantra is also held to have six esoteric or mystical meanings (artha). while the rest of the cakra represents their evolution into the cosmos. the guru. which overlap each other and create many subsidiary triangles. and Siva. the fifth is that the mantra is related to the cakras in the body. If we think of the mantra as the expression of ultimate reality (brahman) in the form of sound. and tamas)—these and other triads are identified with the three peaks. the bindu. which are represented by the three "peaks". In this way the triple-peaked mantra is seen to correspond to the cosmos. T h e cakra is essentially made up of nine triangles.126 TRIPURA-SUNDARI gunas (sattva. which in turn is within a sixteen-petaled lotus. the senses and their objects. then we can think of the Sri cakra as the very form of brahman in schematic or visual form. As the svarilpa (own form) of the goddess. 49 50 51 T h e Sri cakra expresses the essential nature of ultimate reality as the interaction and mutual coinherence of Siva and Sakti. Tripura-sundari. these in turn are located within an eight-petaled lotus. Bhaskararaya describes them as follows: the first is that the mantra is identical with the supreme goddess. and the whole is enclosed within four gates of triple lines. the selfexpression of the goddess in her most essential form. potentiality and actuality. unmediated form. Like the mantra. the second is that the mantra is identical with the five basic elements and the thirty-six tattvas (categories of creation). T h e five downward-pointing triangles represent . the Sri cakra is the self-revelation. T h e bindu in the center represents their absolute union and identity. rajas. and the sixth is that ultimately all is one. In the very center of the Sri cakra is a dot. everything inheres in the Sri cakra. the lotuses are surrounded by four circles. it fully contains and expresses her. T h e yantra is to be held in the mind or worshiped in a physical manifestation. who encompasses all of reality. all of reality and the very nature of reality can be read in terms of it. male and female. the yantra is not an abbreviated or schematic representation of the anthropomorphic goddess. The Sri cakra is the goddess herself in complete. and the material and spiritual worlds. five pointing downward and four pointing upward (in some cases five are pointing upward and four are pointing downward). Like the mantra. the fourth is the identity between the mantra and the planets.

" T h e centrality of mantra and yantra in the worship of ln . invoking her mantra while impliedly understanding its subtle meanings. while the upward-pointing triangles represent Siva. imaginatively or in actuality constructs the Sri cakra. while those associated with the innermost deities are the most difficult to acquire and the most spiritually potent. They overlap to represent the mingling. Each of the goddesses is intimately connected with these expressions and is appropriated ritually in all her power by means °f these "devices. In both cases it is affirmed that the goddess herself is fully expressed and that each expression. the mantra and yantra are i n terconnected and reinforce each other. It is fair to say that the goddess Tripura-sundari is most intensely and completely revealed in the Srividya cult when a spiritually mature adept.TRIPURA-SUNDARI Sakti. Each petal of each lotus has a presiding female deity. One identifies oneself with the expanding creation and understands one's spiritual prowess and awareness to be expanding along with the cosmos. one imagines the creation of the world as one moves from the center outward. In the Srividya cult. These s'aktis are attendants or guardians of the central deities. T h i s sequence is called samhdrakrama. It is clear that the way in which the other Mahavidyas are presented many tantras and tantric compendiums also puts a premium on their mantras and yantras. the exercise. There are also attendant deities at the outer gates who are often associated with siddhis. spiritual or magical powers or perfections acquired by the sddhaka in his or her spiritual sojourn. In either case. In the former case. is held to be spiritually transformative. 5 2 The Sri cakra can be read from the center to the outer gates. In both cases the Sri cakra is read as a schematic rendering of one's own spiritual journey. In general. reveals the essential dynamics of cosmic evolution and dissolution. mantra and yantra. which is undertaken ritually. the siddhis associated with the outermost deities are the least powerful and least difficult to acquire. or conversely from the outer gates to the center. interaction. This sequence is called srstikrama. the sddhaka imagines the gradual dissolution of the cosmos and its reintegration into the bindu. In the reverse process. In a ritual context. which is without name and form. T h e predominance of Sakti in this rendering of the cakra implies her dominant position in the creation. Siva and Sakti in union in the bindu. and mutual influence of these two powers. and in the course of it one imagines one's own dissolution and gradual reintegration into the One represented by the bindu. the Srividya mantra and the Sri cakra are interpreted as two different expressions of the same goddess.

The emphasis on mantra and yantra also underlines the fact that Tripura-sundari. as it were. understood. and expressed existentially by individual sddhakas in ritual contexts. are only fully realized. by means of sddhand. . and th e other Mahavidyas as well.i28 TRIPURA-SUNDARI Tripura-sundari and specifically in the Srividya cult should not be taken as idiosyncratic. The goddesses are born. T h e i r use is typical of tantric sddhand. Their reality is inextricably connected with the ritually induced experiences of their devotees.

bow. At that time Sodasi (Tripura-sundari) was the main power. through whom Surya created them. She has three eyes and is naked. scissors. Having created the worlds. Her right foot rests on a jeweled jar. club. or s'akti. Rsis (sages) offered soma (a sacred plant) so that the world might be created. trident. the goddess assumed an appropriate form and pervaded and directed the triple world. Surya. The sun then created the three worlds (lokas or bhuvanas). It says that in the beginning the sun. In this way one should meditate upon the supreme mother goddess. appeared in the heavens. In her two hands she holds a red lotus and a bowl filled with jewels.1 She is the color of lightning and is seated on a red lotus. She has three eyes and wears a crown resplendent with jewels. mace. "mistress of the world. garland. and makes the boon-conferring gesture and the assurance gesture. She is adorned with pearls of many colors.Bhuvanesvari She Whose Body Is the World Her complexion is vermillion in color." The author also says that Bhuvanesvari . Her breasts are high and firm. disc. spear. She has a smiling face.2 Origin Myth T h e only myth I have found that mentions the origin or emergence of Bhuvanesvari appears in a contemporary H i n d i source. In this form she became known as Bhuvanesvari. She has twenty arms in which she holds a sword. She has the disk of the moon on her brow and has a smiling face. conch. She is very peaceful and amiable. arrows. or having empowered the sun to do so.


She embodies the characteristic dynamics and constituents that make up the world and that lend creation its distinctive character. such as Mahamaya. In this sense. and the underlying energy that brings it to be and pervades it. Bhuvana (mistress of the world). melts away into her. 5 H e r hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala says that she is each of the five basic elements. and. and destruction. with the possible exception of Kamala. Bhuvanesvari as the Embodiment of the Physical World M o r e than any of the other Mahavidyas. She W h o Makes A l l the Worlds. as we shall see. maintenance. but this emphasis is the most sustained and consistent in regard to Bhuvanesvari. however. while it exists. which is attributed to Sankara. 4 The Bhuvanesvari-stotra praises her as the form of the five bhutas (elements) and as the moon and the sun. created world.BHUVANESVARI 131 remains unmanifest until the world is created. . Bhuvanesvari is associated and identified with the earth. Bhuvanesvari does not seem to have had a widespread cult of her own prior to being incorporated into the Mahavidyas. "mistress of the fivefold world. for example. She W h o Makes the Basic Elements. extols the goddess Prapancesvari. T h e Praparicasdra-tantra. Sarvariipa (she whose form is all). At one point. as well as with the cosmic rhythms of creation. Some early sources refer to her. Her name itself stresses this. she is identified with the mahdbhutas (the basic physical elements) and prakrti (nature or the physical world). is identified with her. the creation in general. the text says that she has the luster of a thousand rising suns. Visvarupa (she whose form is the world).8 Other Mahavidyas are associated with the physical world and creation. 7 The world is said to emerge from her as a web emerges from a spider or as sparks emerge from fire. arises from her. for example. or to goddesses very like her. Sarvesi (mistress of all). Bhuvanesi (a synonym for Bhuvanesvari). Bhuvanesvari is particularly associated with the visible. She W h o Dwells in the Five Basic Elements. particularly in their thousand-name hymns.6 T h e Devibhdgavata-purdna says that the universe rests on Bhuvanesvari. and if not actually written by him is probably a quite early South Indian tantric text. Bhuvanesvari is also identified with prakrti. as do several of her epithets." T h e description of her closely resembles that of Bhuvanesvari in later literature. 3 T h e myth also emphasizes that Bhuvanesvari is a form of Sodasi (Tripura-sundari). That is.

and makes the gestures of giving boons and bestowing fearlessness (11. In tantric philosophy and practice the bija mantra is the goddess herself in her most essential and complete form. namely.Fig. so the identity . 20. holds a noose and a goad. by Bhatuk Ramprasad. brim. Varanasi. The bija mantra (seed mantra) of this goddess is also the same as Bhuvanesvari's.16). Bhanu Shanker Mehta. Bhuvanesvarl. Printed with the permission of Dr. wears the crescent moon on her head.

/ Obeisance to Thee in the form of earth with its quality of smell" (v. They are also identified with that from which the physical creation Proceeds and that which governs the physical creation.13 In her manifestation as a Mahavidya." refers to the fivefold (prapanca) nature of the creation. and even the netherworlds (v. tongue and nose. that is. wind. stars.BHUVANESVARI of the goddess of the Prapancasdra-tantra and the later goddess Bhuvanesvari is implied (although the bija mantra hrim is used for other goddesses besides these two). they suggest in another way Bhuvanesvari's identification with the material world. legs. Prakrti. H e r reality is immediate and her presence immanent and accessible. islands. "she who is mistress of the fivefold world. speech. oceans. in short. T h e name Prapancesvari. fire. or at least her prototype.12 She is also praised as manifest in mountains. A hymn in praise of Prapancesvari in the Prapancasdra-tantra stresses this identification with the physical world. eyes. organs of excretion and generation" (v. 1 0 In one place she is praised as each of the five elements (bhutas) and its corresponding physical sense (indriya): "Obeisance to Thee in the form of sound and ether. / Obeisance to Thee in the form of sight and fire." associates the goddess with the material creation and thus withprakrti. water. the term used in this text for "world. Prapaiicesvari is undoubtedly an early expression of Bhuvanesvari. Bhuvanesvari is often described in three forms that are very similar in appearance. she is the world. / Salutation to Thee in the form of taste and water. the goddess who is "the form of the whole Universe: W h o pervadest a l l " (v. and in the form of mouth. 1 4 The Cosmic Queen Prapaiicesvari and her later manifestation as Bhuvanesvari goddesses whose power and reality go beyond the physical creation 1 tself. 5). and earth—which constitute the physical creation. indeed. 6). They have different complexions. 6). red. 9 She is called Pradhana (the receptacle of all matter). skin. As prakrti this goddess is tangibly present in the physical world. and bluish. Prapanca. As these three forms probably correspond to the three gunas that make up the fabric of material creation.11 She is further praised in vividly concrete terms as manifest in "ear. / Salutation to Thee in the form of touch and air. arms. and She W h o Is the Form of the Elemental World (v. the five basic elements—ether. They are the a r e . She is. however: gold. i ) . 18).

and destruction. is she herself. particularly as the goddess of speech. a Vaisnavite tantra: she is the fig leaf that supports Visnu when he lies on the cosmic ocean duringpralaya. she protects it. H e r thousand-name hymn from the Rudrayamala calls her the slayer of Mahisasura. Durga. that is. and the destroyer of Madhu and Kaitabha. She is called Vagesvari. who incarnates herself in appropriate forms to maintain the welfare of the world. A particularly dramatic image of Bhuvanesvari's cosmic role occurs in the Mahdtanira. the cause of creation. 20 Bhuvanesvari not only nourishes the creation. She is the cosmic queen. the destroyer of Raktabija.BHUVANESVARI source of all and that into which all dissolves at the end of the cosmic cycle. the slayer of Sumbha and Nisumbha. Bhuvanesvari is often identified with Sarasvaff. and destruction. the sdkta version of the male trimurti: Sarasvaff (creation)." 2 3 and is identified with s'abda brahman. 14 ultimate reality in the form of sound." or "world nurse. she is the source of the vitality that pervades the physical creation as well as being identical with the creation itself. This aspect of Prapancesvari-Bhuvanesvari's character is often expressed in terms of her overseeing the three cosmic functions of creation. and Siva and the cause of their forms and functions. "she who nurses the world." 1 7 She is also called Jagaddhatri. This movable and immovable world during the mahapralaya goes to rest in her." 1 8 T h e Devi-bhdgavata-purdna says that she directs and upholds everything. H e r hymn of praise in the Rudrayamala says that she is the mother of Brahma. She does this by assuming various forms to combat demonic forces and preserve or restore cosmic order. 16 In the Prapancasdratantra. 1 5 In her thousand-name hymn from the Rudrayamala. "mistress of speech. Laksmi (maintenance). Bhuvanesvari is identified with the created order and with its essence as sound. and K a l i (destruction). Bhuvanesvari is also linked to the three goddesses who are associated with the cosmic functions. In the same hymn. Visnu. Siva says in her praise: "Whatever is knowable. 2 1 roles that associate her with the Devi-mdhatmya and the demon-slaying protector of the cosmos. maintenance. That is. she who pervades the creation and from whom it emerges and into whom it eventually dissolves. maintenance. she is called She W h o Is the Cause of Mahapralaya (the great cosmic dissolution). 22 The Bija Mantra Hrim In her role as creator and pervader of the cosmos. 1 9 That is. .

and m (bindu)—interpreted as basic phases or constituents of the cosmic creative process. T h e explication of Bhuvanesvari's bija mantra (hrim) is the subject of chapter 4 of the Prapancasdra-tantra. or emanation. anthropomorphic form. and the physical creation. and so unused to thinking of one as a sound. In tantric philosophy and sddhand. the goddess is the sun from whom the planets and constellations derive. to find commentaries or analyses that elaborate the entire cosmos in terms of a given mantra. but in fact. a refracted or imperfect representation of her. anthropomorphic image is considered her sthula. which is the goddess herself. "seed. indeed. that it is unnatural for us to look to the bija mantra as the essential manifestation of the goddess. and her physical. along with certain deities and certain aspects of the physical creation. the essential revelation of the goddess herself. is referred to as the paramdtman. the goddess herself made accessible to the sddhaka. It is not surprising. ra. the emerging cosmos a natural and necessary effect. or gross form. deities. T h e literal translation. moon. the cosmos represents a refraction of the essential being of the goddess. for in tantric thought. the creative pattern repeats itself in the maturation of the embryo. We are so used to thinking of a deity in physical. We are in the habit of referring to the bija mantra as belonging to a particular goddess. however. furthermore. of the mantra. A seed is only realized or completed in the growth of a tree. It is simply assumed that the mantra. i. hrim. the mantra is already complete. lunar. which is the mantra itself. T h e mantra is ultimate power and creativity. and fiery—and to correspond to the goddess in her threefold aspect of sun. The letters of the alphabet are said to have a threefold character—solar. There we find each of the four components of the mantra—ha. 25 That from which all emanates. W i t h i n the physical creation. the supreme or transcendent self °r soul. We can thus appreciate the great secrecy with which mantras are guarded in tantric tradition. In terms of sound she is the Gayatri . and fire. Different letters of the alphabet are said to proceed from each of the four components of the mantra. contains all of reality. as was made clear in the case of Srividya (see the chapter on Tripura-sundari). T h e creation proceeds from the mantra on three levels: sound. "essence" would be better.BHUVANESVARI An analysis of Bhuvanesvari's bija mantra." may mislead us. the mantra itself. therefore. In the physical creation. the mantra has priority over the physical image of the goddess. but in the tantric view. illustrates her embodiment of creation and the stages in the creative process and also shows the centrality of bija mantras for all of the Mahavidyas. that the mantra is the cosmos in its essential form. the bija mantra is the goddess herself.

the overall structure and logic of the yantra. and the physical constituents of the creation. the Sri cakra. From the tantric perspective. who is complete and self-contained. Although the yantras of differing deities vary in design. Letters (sounds). breaking the knots within them and liberating the worshiper. particularly among the Mahavidyas. the way in which it is worshiped. deities. and its role in tantric sddhand are also consistent among the Mahavidyas. a spot. She is said to sleep in the mulddhdra cakra and as kundalinixa rise up through the cakras. Similarly. 2 7 In the center of the yantra one is to imagine a bindu. then. and though the deities and powers represented may also vary. to the goddess herself. is considered identical with the deity in question. are inextricably associated in the creative process that emerges when the bija mantra hrim is uttered. one pointing down and the other . in most of its features. dot. T h e method of worshiping the Bhuvanesvari yantra also is typical and can be extended. deity. constituents of the material world. or "seed. and Bhuvanesvari's may be taken as representative. of course. As mentioned above. to all of the other Mahavidya yantras. I will therefore give a detailed description of the Bhuvanesvari yantra from the Tantrasdra as an example of this aspect of Mahavidya worship. hrim. It is simpler than some (such as the Sri cakra) and more complex than others. It combines the basic shapes and patterns of the other yantras and depicts a series of deities and powers that are common to most of the other Mahavidyas. are consistent. She is also said to be kwidalini sakti and as such is the energizing element of the human organism that is awakened in sddhand or in the recitation of mantras. it is important to look in detail at yantra sddhand (the construction and worship of a yantra). Around the center are two interlocking or superimposed triangles." or the seed syllable of Bhuvanesvari. To understand the context in which the Mahavidyas are worshiped. 26 The Bhuvanesvari Yantra Yantras have an important place in the worship of all of the Mahavidyas. all of these emanations—sound. aspects of the human organism—are subsidiary to the mantra itself. the overall purpose of worshiping the yantra.136 BHUVANESVARI mantra. the yantra particular to Tripura-sundari. but in actual pictures of the yantra the center is usually blank. the most sacred verses of the Vedas.

Rakta (south). Aparajita. It may also represent ambikd s'akti and s'dntd s'akti conjoined (discussed below). the yantra is intended to represent the emergence of the cosmos from the center to the edges. Four goddesses stand at the four cardinal directions around the inner pericarp of the inner lotus: Gagana (east). representing the yoni. and the two together as symbolizing the basic rhythm of the cosmos. On the eight petals of the inner lotus are the following goddesses. innermost triangle and are are called pithas (seats). each of which creates another point. also may be thought of as the goddess Sakti. Purnagiri. and Ghora. Ajita. Nitya. on the Indian subcontinent—Kamarupa. T h e bindu symbolizes the conjunction of Siva and Sakti in harmonious tension. Karalika (north). overlapping each other. T h e downward-pointing triangle. T h e bija mantra is the goddess herself in her essential being. T h e outermost boundary of the yantra is a threelined rectangular frame containing four gates or entrances. and Mahoccusma (west). is to be imagined in the middle of the triangle (this is ambika sakti and s'dntd s'akti). T h e three pairs are iccbd s'akti (the power of will) and vama sakti (the leftward powtr). the two triangles are said to be Sakti and Siva in union or sexual embrace.BHUVANESVARI up. A fourth pair. the upward-pointing one as dissolution (inhalation). knowledge (jridna). or vibrate (all three terms are sometimes used). and action (kriya). Around these triangles is a circle with eight petals (an eight-petaled lotus). In overall design. the upward-pointing one as Siva. At the six apexes of the triangles in the center are the following divine pairs. forming a fourth pitha. and kriya sakti (the power of action) and raudrd s'akti (the fierce power). and around this another lotus of sixteen petals. These three points form the first. Jalandhara. so its details are usually given from the middle outward. beginning in the east and going clockwise toward the south: Gayatri and . this is followed by two additional pairs coming into being. and together the four pithas are said to represent the four Mahapfthas. Vilasini. and Uddiyana—which mark the four "corners" of India. Vijaya. pulsate. Dogdhri. beginning in the east (at the top of the diagram) and going clockwise toward the south: Jaya. the first thing that appears is a point where two emerging polarities combine in harmonious tension. or places sacred to the goddess. Together these three pithas represent the triple nature of creation as will or desire (icchd). W h e n the bindu or the mantra begins to expand. T h e downward-pointing triangle also may be thought of as creation or emanation (or exhalation). Together they form a six-pointed star. which is a common schema in Tantrism. in the middle is Marigala.jndna s'akti (the power of knowledge) and jyesthd s'akti (the elder power).

Anariga-madana (south). the sea) and Padmanidhi (wealth of the earth). at the four gates and the four corners. Yama (south). A yantra may be inscribed on a silver. Brahma is between the east and northeast and Ananta between the west and southwest. "who is known by Kama". are the following deities: Indra (east). "who protects the world". Laksmi. beginning in the east and going clockwise: Anariga-rupadevi. N i r r t i (southwest). Sarasvati. Rati and Kama. "moon crescent. It is not clear why maturation should follow the counterclockwise direction. or copper plate and be set up for worship in a temple or in a private home. when the emergence of the cosmos takes place in clockwise fashion in the construction or emergence of the yantra. Anarigamadanatura (southwest). Anariga-kusumatura (southeast). arikusa. khadga." usually animals) and weapons are also spread around this outer perimeter. Anariga-madana-devi. and Gaganarekha (northeast). Kami-devi. In the sixteen petals of the outer lotus there are the following s'aktis. "crescent moon. Sri. perhaps. Dhrti (the power of support). "who longs for union with Kama". gada. s'akti. Anariga-vedana-devT. Varuna (west). Bhuvana-pala (west). padma. Durga. most of whom are forms of Rati: Anariga-kusuma (east)." signifying a prepubescent girl. Kanti (beauty). Soma (north). danda. and Anariga-mekala-devi. Agni (southeast). Smrti. the zenith and the underworld. and Isana (northeast). "who really longs for union with Kama". gold. Medha (merit). Saitri and Visnu. representing. In the eight spaces between the eight inner petals of the lotus are the followings'aktis. Sarva-sisira-devi. Sasti-rekha (north). Sraddha. GenerallypM/a done to such ." signifying an adolescent girl. sula. Vikaralini (very dreadful). Bhuvana-vega-devi. At the interstices of the i n ner circle at the north and south are Sankhanidhi (wealth of the conch. beginning in the east and proceeding clockwise to the south: Karalini (dreadful). beginning in the east and going clockwise toward the south. Usas. Anariga-vedya (northwest). and Pusti and Ganesa. pds'a.138 BHUVANESVARI Brahma. Bhuvana-palika-devT. Their weapons are the vajra. that is. T h e ten Lokapalas (guardians of the directions) and their vahanas ("vehicles. M a t i (right discernment). Sruti. If these forms of Rati are read in reverse order. and Arya (nobility). Yantras are used in different religious contexts for different reasons. On the tips of the eight petals of the inner lotus are the following goddesses. Uma. Several of these goddesses are also forms of Rati. and cakra. Vayu (northwest). they may imply the transformation of a young girl into a sexually mature woman. Sri and Dhanapati (Kubera). SarasvatT and Rudra. In the outer rectangle.

be worn on the body as an amulet or as a portable murti (image) of the goddess for purposes of worship. clockwise fashion. the practitioner de-creates the various elements of prakrti. and the actual worship may be either mental (in which case the yantra is imagined to reside in the sddhakas heart) or outward and physical. W h e n worship proceeds from the outside of the yantra to the inside. although each layer or covering is worshiped in a clockwise direction. as the goddess herself. with some personal modifications made by a competent guru. or deities is individually worshiped by the invocation of a mantra. worship is prescribed from outside to inside. There is some indication. T h e sequence in which the elements in the yantra are invoked may vary.BHUVANESVARI a permanent form of the yantra is of the sixteen-part type. T h e yantra also may be constructed on paper and. T h e worship of the yantra itself is preceded by rituals of purification that include banishing inimical spirits and invoking guardian deities. the yantra represents the emergence of the cosmos in a spiraling." 2 8 In this type of puja. the yantra is worshiped in each of its individual parts. That is. each of the s'aktis. the central bindu or seed mantra of the goddess. then. however. and in a counterclockwise. going against the natural rhythms of creation. inwardly spiraling order. In the Tantrasdra and Sdkta-pramoda. T h e yantra is also used for individual tantric sddhand. reiterate the creation of the world. and the deities are invoked in clockwise order. In this case the general aim of the sddhaka is "to identify with the deity. That is. the Bhuvanesvari yantra is described from the center outward. in an attempt to still or transcend the limitations of the physical world. and not in all its particulars. for example. Having thereby concentrated the goddess's essence. we might think of the sddhaka as distilling or reducing the creation to a single point. the Tara yantra is worshiped from outside to inside. "Worship of Chinnamasta Devi should begin from the outer-most covering and proceed in an inverse order. in this case. in this case Bhuvanesvari. often the Bhuvanesvari mantra. In the Mantra-mahodadhih." 3 0 In such cases the theme of "going against the stream" comes to mind. Classical yoga is the process of dissolving the creation in order to transcend it. In classical yoga. In that case the yantra is worshiped as a whole. 2 9 For the Chinnamasta yantra. goddesses. and in doing so to obtain the powers that are in her store. T h e invocation and worship of the different elements. that the yantra (or at least the yantras of some of the other Mahavidyas) may be worshiped from the outside inward. Tantric yoga aims to unite the practitioner with the deity. the adent then identifies with that .

and Symbols Bhuvanesvari's beauty is mentioned often. T h e inner petals and points are dominated by female beings. and navel are lovely. then. and reproduction. her nose delicate. and her thighs. As the seat of a deity or spiritual being. of course. Siva is said to have produced a third eye to view . are inhabited by armed male deities. too. and life energy. That is. the yantra has a male-dominated. The lotus. which constitute the four gates or means of access to the interior. are forms of Rati. T h e blossoming lotus is likened to the maturing. H e r eyes are broad. and completeness. is a symbol of the yoni and symbolizes creation. is a creative symbol in Indian religion and in Tantrism also represents the yoni. emerging cosmos. square outer perimeter. consort of Kama. particularly in the Bhuvanesvari yantra. We might think of the overall structure of the yantra as presenting a v i sion of the world in which an armed. and many of them. square or rectangular. H e r waist is thin. purity. T h e Tantrasdra describes her as having a golden complexion and a beautiful face. In general structure. T h e outer layers or coverings are the same in all the Mahavidya yantras. which represents female and male (Sakti and Siva) in harmonious tension or balance. framed with flowing hair the color of black bees. the lotus also denotes spiritual authority and command. the inner dynamics of the yantra are female oriented and erotic. within which is a female-dominated. Both the triangle and the lotus can be understood as female symbols of growth. T h e triangle. her lips full and red. which is understood to be organic in nature. is the bindu. and in this respect the Bhuvanesvari yantra is typical. circular. and her arms are made for embracing. Attractiveness. the god of desire. buttocks. These outer coverings. and triangular center. Bhuvanesvari's Beauty. H e r beautiful throat is decorated with ornaments. emergence. spiritual perfection. It is often a symbol of the living cosmos. generation. while the outer layers or coverings (dvaranas) are male oriented and associated with weapons. H e r firm breasts are smeared with sandal paste and saffron. The triangle and lotus dominate the yantras of all ten Mahavidyas. particularly when pointing downward. male-dominated exterior protects a female-dominated interior that is sexually dynamic. At the very center.BHUVANESVARI T h e basic shapes and design of the yantra are significant.

of ultimate reality. the noose. according to the same informant.34 T h e gestures of conferring boons and removing fear also express her gracious attitude toward the world. Bhuvanesvari never ceases to attend to the world. 3 5 T h e red lotus and jeweled drinking bowl full of jewels that she holds are symbols of growth and wealth. Sdkta and tantric thought and practice do not denigrate the world or consider it illusory or delusory. her exhilarating. T h e goddess therefore helps discipline the devotee with her goad. which insists that underlying all of reality is the power. lust. and therefore bind. and when this is accomplished through her grace. and the two hand gestures (conferring boons and fearlessness) in terms of the stages in spiritual endeavor. she is said to be food itself.33 She nourishes the world that she oversees and protects. Tantra has a strong strain of world affirmation. The goad and noose held by Bhuvanesvari suggest control. while at the same time she is the power that masks one's true identity. Indeed. joyous sport. they achieve fearlessness and receive blessings from her. she is said to be a beautiful young girl. are all affirmed to be Bhuvanesvari's play. such as anger. that she has three eyes. while the lotus represents the vigor inherent in the living world. H e r smiling face reveals her gracious attitude toward the world and all those creatures who depend upon her for sustenance. . is also a form of control. maintenance. T h e noose. 3 2 T h e beauty and attractiveness of Bhuvanesvari might be understood as an affirmation of the physical world.BHUVANESVARI 141 her more thoroughly. even self-infatuation and the hankerings and sufferings of the human condition. T h e physical world. particularly toward her devotees. 3 1 In her hundred-name stotra (hymn) in the Sdktapramoda. one author states. and this is the reason. and any obsession that i n terferes with spiritual development. Another source interprets the goad. the rhythms of creation. the s'akti. symbolizes the different bodily sheaths that hide. According to an informant in Varanasi. the goad means that she controls evil forces or inner hindrances. T h e jewels represent abundance and riches. Dharma. and Bhuvanesvari uses it to guide people. She is said to be the triangle itself (the schematic representation of the yoni). and to have an attractive sexual organ. sddhand: the noose and goad help sddhakas control their indriyas (sensory perceptions). the dtman. as do some other aspects of Indian thought. In this sense her noose and goad may symbolize dharma. and destruction. to have a smiling face. the spiritual essence of a person. on which all creatures depend. or proper moral behavior. She is both liberating knowledge and mdyd. she both gives liberation and withholds it.

This symbolizes that Bhuvanesvarl is the inner essence of the created world. Benares Hindu University. purity. Bhuvanesvarl sits on a lotus. for example. and from this powerful and dynamic seat he creates the world. . and spiritual masters. 3 6 She is the world but also transcends it. but she is also called. Himachal Pradesh. Tripura-sundari. Like many deities. T h e lotus seat symbolizes spiritual mastery and triumph as well: perfection that is grounded in the world like the roots of a lotus. Bharat Kala Bhavan. Bhuvanesvarl is called She W h o Wanders in the Physical W o r l d . She W h o Wanders in the V o i d . sits on a lotus and represents the creation as well as the cause of creation. This suggests a commanding position and also the seat from which creation sometimes takes place.i42 BHUVANESVARI Fig. as its source and as its container at dissolution. according to an informant in Varanasi. similarly. which empowers it to continue to reproduce itself endlessly with renewed vitality. by Molaram. in the same hymn. Bhuvanesvarl. sits on a lotus growing from Visnu's navel. It is a symbol of authority. late eighteenth century. represents the power of replenishment. Garwahl. 21. and yet transcends mat world. which. Brahma. Bhuvanesvarl also wears the crescent moon on her forehead. and transcendence. Varanasi.

the power of attracting and controlling others. the power of vak siddhi (according to which anything one says happens). is said to bring the devotee auspiciousness. finally. . which is appropriate for a goddess who is so strongly identified with the physical world. In this respect. her worship emphasizes gaining material success and well-being.BHUVANESVARI Devotion to Bhuvanesvari. and victory over enemies.

and she is rejoicing with her friends Dakini and Varnini.Chinnamasta The Self-Decapitated Goddess Victory to the light of the world. her hair is dishevelled and she is drinking the stream of blood gushing out from her own neck. She is possessed by tamas guna and enjoys the world in its state of dissolution. On her left is Dakini. and who holds a sword and a skull cup. who has the complexion of a red hibiscus flower. She is holding her own severed head in one hand and a sword in the other. to her whose forehead is lovely with charming locks. giver of a good ending to the universe. She has three eyes and is adorned with a blue lotus at her heart. To her right is Varninl. who is possessed by rajas guna. One should meditate on Chinnamasta. who is white in color. She stands on Kama and Rati. who also drinks blood flowing from Chinnamasta's headless body.1 I meditate upon the Goddess Chinnamasta who is seated in the centre of the Sun's disk and holds in her left hand her own severed head with gaping mouth. 2 She stands in an aggressive manner with her leg put forward. One should meditate on this goddess who bestows blessings on her devotees. She is seated on Rati and Kamadeva who are engaged in sexual dalliance. She is naked and happily drinks the blood that gushes from her headless body. who are joined in sexual intercourse. She happily drinks the blood gushing from the devi's severed neck. with loose hair.3 Possible Prototypes Chinnamasta does not have a widespread independent cult in Hinduism and does not seem to have had a very developed history prior T/l/1 .


4 Several examples have been discovered in India of nude goddesses squatting or with their thighs spread to display their sexual organs. A South Indian hunting goddess called Korravai is similar in name and character to Kotavi. She receives . not the cremation ground (although both are places of death). and although in her thousand-name hymn she is associated with the battlefield. These figures. If the headlessness of the figures suggests death or self-destruction. such as being headless.63. 7 she is rarely shown there in her iconography. H e r character is usually malevolent. where she is known as Vajra-yogini (discussed below). 5 T h e arresting iconographic feature of these images is their sexual organs. it has been suggested. certain goddesses. have been suggested as her prototypes because of some peculiarity they share with her. bloodthirsty. T h e combination of nudity and headlessness.32-33) and Bhdgavata-purdna (10. naked. but not necessarily malevolent. 6 Sometimes she is an opponent of Visnu. M o r e likely. may indicate that Chinnamasta had an ancient prototype in India. Kotavi is usually associated with battlefields and is sometimes included among the lists of Matrkas. and she seems to be a fierce demoness whose primary role is to terrify or distract enemies during battle. the central iconographic characteristic of the goddess is her shocking self-decapitation.20) describe her as naked. and of such disgusting appearance that Visnu has to turn his head away from her lest he become incensed by her. some very ancient. Their headless condition is not the result of subsequent damage but an intentional part of the image. however.146 CHINNAMASTA to her appearance as one of the Mahavidyas. and nourishment (discussed below). usually depicted in stone bas-relief. One of these is the fierce. Like Tara. and wild. it lacks the force of the C h i n namasta icon. and the Visnupurdna (5. Although the Chinnamasta image includes an emphasis on sexual activity. wild goddess Kotavi. life. She is fierce. H e r typical haunt is the battlefield. bloodthirsty. Other nude goddess figures have been suggested as possible prototypes of Chinnamasta. which are openly displayed. she seems quite different in character from Chinnamasta. who is her son in the Bhdgavata-purdna account. she also appears in tantric Buddhism. the headlessness of the nude figures simply focuses attention on their generative physiology and creativity. Although we are unable to find early references to C h i n namasta or evidence of an early cult associated with her. disheveled. Chinnamasta's character is fierce. or images of female beings. Although descriptions of Kotavi emphasize her nudity and wild appearance. often have their arms raised above their bodies and are headless or faceless. or violent. In this myth she tries to protect the demon Banasura.

So that is why we are praying to you for food. while the third and fourth. You are known for your mercy." Hearing this. and bloodthirsty." Hearing this true statement. O Merciful One. "I shall give you food but please wait. begged her. many goddesses and spirits in the H i n d u tradition who haunt battlefields. Dakini and Varninl. seems to be the only goddess who decapitates herself in order to nourish her devotees. and at her few shrines and temples she receives blood sacrifices. "Please wait. We are hungry. Chinnamasta. fierce. the emphasis with Chinnamasta. There are." After awhile. is not so much on her demanding and receiving blood as on her giving her own blood to her devotees. ." Waiting awhile. T h e first two are in written texts and are very similar. and what rivets the viewer's attention is her self-decapitation. Three bloodstreams emerged from her . however. A child asks everything from her mother. the merciful goddess smiled and severed her head with her fingernails. "We are overpowered with hunger. or have a strong association with fertility. Give us food so we may be satisfied. . "You are the mother of the universe. it has been suggested that she may be another expression of the type of goddess that inspired Chinnamasta. unlike Korravai. One day Parvati went to bathe in the MandakinI River . please give us food.CHINNAMASTA blood sacrifices and haunts the battlefield. are nude. is not usually described as a warrior goddess. As soon as she severed her head. the great goddess's color became black because she was sexually aroused. both very brief. "Give us some food. all of which relate to aspects of the goddess C h i n namasta. Version i is found in the Prdnatosim-tantra. I am thinking about some matters. again they asked her. in fact. The mother gives her children not only food but also coverings for the body. I have found only in oral versions. which in turn attributes the story to the Ndrada-pdncardtra. they implored her. her two attendants asked her. 8 Chinnamasta. O Mother of the Universe. Although in her thousand-name hymns Chinnamasta is said to like blood. She replied. however. After bathing. But again her two attendants. Jaya and Vijaya. with her attendants." She replied. her head fell on the palm of her left hand. the consort of Siva told them that she would give anything when they reached home. Again. Origin Myths I have discovered four accounts of Chinnamasta's origin or emergence. After some time. Bestower of Boons and Fulfiller of Desires. where she grants victory.

T h e rest of the story is the same as the Prdnatosini account. Mahamaya was engaged in Mahavrata with me (sexual intercourse). and so they prayed to Mahasakti. From this anger a portion of me arose and became known as Krodha Bhairava. for help. the left and right fell respectively into the mouths of her flanking attendants and the center fell into her mouth. This infuriated me. but with a few additional details. the Great Goddess. she satisfied Dakini." Hearing this. Pracandacandika remained enraged and cut off her own head and drank her own blood. Kailasa. they returned home. she satisfied Varninl and from the center one. the gods realized they could not win. When I saw her pale appearance. After performing this.9 T h e second version of the origin of Chinnamasta is also from the Prdnatosim-tantra. One day Candanayika with her two attendants went to the bank of the Puspabhadra River. After playing in this way. She was pleased with their prayer and asked Pracandacandika to help them. she appeared fierce and from her body two s'aktis emerged who became her two attendants known as Dakini and Varninl. she replaced her head on her body and assumed her original form. and she dismounted Siva before he ejaculated. the goddess was in reverse sexual intercourse with Siva (she was on top). T h e story is told by Siva: I shall tell you of the emergence of Chinnamasta. she drank her own blood. (From this act) Parvati became known as Chinnamasta. In a war between the gods and demons. Pracandacandika is the first name given to Chinnamasta in her thousand-name hymn in the Sdkta-pramoda. In the Krta Yuga on M t . With the left bloodstream. Her attendants appeared when she went outside. the best of mountains. with the right one. I suspected that she was abused by another.148 CHINNAMASTA throat. told me the . 1 0 This version is also told in the Saktisamgama-tantra (which attributes it to the Prdnatosini-tantra). a s'dkta practioner in Varanasi. the smiling and auspicious Candika looked in all directions and severed her head. After killing all the demons. At dusk. all were satisfied and later returned home. her hungry attendants asked Candika. Thus Chinnamasta was born on Vlraratri. who said that it had been told to him by a friend of his who is a tantric sddhaka. When it was noon. 11 A third version was told to me by Rama Shankar Tripathi of the KasI Visvanath temple in Varanasi. This happened on the day of Vlraratri. According to this text. which in this case attributes the story to the Svatantratantra. This text says that at the river the goddess and her attendants played in the water for some time. "Please give us food. At the time of my seminal emission. Swami Sadhananda Sastri.

T h e n she killed herself by cutting off her own head. self-destructive. 1 2 In version 3. She is more closely connected with Durga. she is said to be Parvati. Chinnamasta is understood as an ambivalent figure. K a l i . to deprive the demons of their share of immortality. . she is described as becoming so enraged that she loses control and cuts off her own head. as in the Devi-mdhdtmya. In the second version of the story. Kali sometimes dances in a drunken frenzy after battle and has to be brought to her senses by her husband. In this account Chinnamasta is not directly connected with Siva. A common theme in goddess mythology. though.CHINNAMASTA 149 fourth version. Chinnamasta took the demons' share of the resulting amrta (the nectar of immortality) and drank it herself. is also familiar. Siva. and the Matrkas and with the theme of preserving cosmic order. she is associated with Siva. able to defeat the demons and rescue the gods. it can be indiscriminately destructive. She also acts independently of Siva or dominates him. who must call on the goddess for help. Implications of the Origin Myths These origin myths highlight certain themes that are i m portant in interpreting Chinnamasta. she engages in reverse sexual intercourse with him and dismounts him before he ejaculates. Chinnamasta assumes the protective role of an avatdra.62). There is no explicit mention of tension between the two (although this might be implied in her dismounting Siva before he ejaculates). Like several other Mahavidyas. T h e Saptamatrkas (seven mothers) who help Durga defeat Sumbha and Nisumbha in the third episode of the Devi-mdhdtmya also are said to dance wildly after killing demons and becoming drunk on their blood (8. Chinnamasta slays demons for the benefit of the world. stresses the impotence of the male deities. indeed. after the gods and demons churned the ocean. In the third version of her emergence. She is powerful and effective in battle. In this particular case. usually because she is intoxicated from drinking the blood of her victims. but she is dangerous. he said. Chinnamasta appeared. In the first two stories. W h e n her fury is unleashed. This is how she enabled the gods to achieve their superior position. but she is depicted as dominant sexually. This theme of a goddess getting out of control after battle.

drunk by her attendants. T h e myths tend to downplay the violence or drama of her cutting off her own head. and they all go home. after having a nice meal. T h e goddess sacrifices herself. . are not mentioned in her myths. which Chinnamasta herself partakes of by drinking from the middle stream of blood. in the first account. the companions address her. although elaborating on some of the themes above. which they receive in dramatic fashion. the theme of maintaining cosmic stability by combating demons remains central. but with her blood. they drink her life blood. In both accounts. H e r iconography and worship. T h e only aftereffect seems to be that she has acquired a somewhat pale complexion." 1 5 T h e origin (or emergence) myths of Chinnamasta touch on several themes that are significant in her symbolism and worship. In both cases a deity acts selflessly to protect the world. however. But this version introduces the theme of self-sacrifice. and her blood. The self-sacrificing. Therefore beheading her own head is a temporary expedient to provide food and appears to be a more sanguinary manifestation of the goddess as Sakambhari [she who bears vegetables] and Annapurna [she who is full of food]. Pal: " T h e obvious implication here is of primal sacrifice and renewal of creation. Closely related to the theme of self-sacrifice in the first two versions is the theme of nourishment. in a fit of frenzy. which she releases by cutting off her own head. The first two accounts emphasize maternal self-sacrifice. . not from her breasts. T h e story is mainly about hunger and its satisfaction. released in an act of v i olence. H e r action here is reminiscent of Siva's saving the world by drinking the poison stirred up at the churning of the ocean. Other important themes in her iconography. . What is striking about the myth is that she chooses to feed them. at the cost of personal harm. as Mother of the Universe. while in version 4 she does so as a gesture of self-sacrifice for the gods. she puts her head back on. the reason for Chinnamasta's act of self-decapitation is the hunger of her two companions. In demanding to be fed. In both accounts. challenging her to satisfy them. eventually she feeds them on her blood. . Although initially she tries to put them off. renews or resuscitates the universe. nourishing intent of Chinnamasta is emphasized by P. which upsets Siva. Instead of drinking her maternal milk. In version 3 the goddess decapitates herself inadvertently. also suggest new ones that further enrich her religious significance. They look to her for satisfaction.CHINNAMASTA In the fourth account of Chinnamasta's origin. These accounts stress the hunger of her companions.

CHINNAMASTA Head Offerings The Chinnamasta icon is dominated by severed heads.E. from the Kannada area tells of a loyal subject named Katega. most blood sacrifices have been to goddesses.E. the goddess Aiyai. receives blood sacrifices and accepts the blood that flows from the severed heads of her devotees. A l l three heads are typically on platters of the type used in making offerings. "the process of offering a head is portrayed. which inherits a tradition that is many hundreds of years old. are also often holding severed heads. who is worshiped by hunters. The head thus presented sang the greatness of Kali while the remaining trunk stood saluting the Goddess. Animal sacrifice is fairly common in the H i n d u tradition. which she herself has cut off. T h e sacrificer cut his head at the bottom of the neck and placed it on the hands of Kali. In Ksemendra's Brbatkdtkamanjari. The eleventh-century C. often on a platter." 15 In another passage from this text." 1 6 In Pallava sculpture particularly. a washerman and his brother-inlaw cut off their heads in a fit of devotional fervor to the goddess Gauri. who offered his head to the goddess Gundadabbe to fulfill a vow when the king succeeded in fathering a son. since the Vedic period (when animal sacrifice to both male and female deities was common). Tamil text Kalingattuparani contains a gruesome description of a Kali temple in South India: "Like the roaring sound of ocean waves. H i n d u texts sometimes mention human sacrifice. standing on either side of her.19 . although whether the sculptures depict actual devotional suicide by self-decapitation is not certain.14 There is also a tradition of voluntarily offering one's head to a goddess. l s In the Tamil epic Silappadihdram. Particularly arresting is the goddess's own severed head. Daily sacrifices are made at many goddess temples. the animal's head is cut off and offered to the image of the goddess. In almost all cases. 1 7 the theme is quite common. H e r two companions. but elsewhere as well. Indeed. blood sacrifice almost invariably is associated with certain goddesses. and there are examples of its having been done in the past for certain goddesses. the imagery of offering a head is unmistakable in many iconographic representations of Chinnamasta. In fact. Dakini and Varninl (sometimes referred to as Jaya and Vijaya). In contemporary Hinduism. usually of goats and chickens. and the typical way of killing the victim is to decapitate it. An inscription dated 991 C. the shouts of heroes offering their heads in return for the bestowal of boons were echoing all over the area.

reattached his head. reversed. In desperation and determination. n l o i r o n i m m r t i n t r n l i ' i n the \crmatrrm\w and Siidband . so she is supposed to restore the devotee's tongue in recognition of his or her devotion. but she did not appear or answer his pleas to prove her power to the emperor. It is the goddess who offers her head to her devotees. Dhyanu decided to offer his own head to the goddess. Dhyanu accepted the challenge. If the goddess was able to revive the horse. he would spare Dhyanu's life. offering her his head on a platter. of course. is done to this day at Jvalamukhl temple. A large tableau in a recessed niche of the temple also depicts this incident. . Dhyanu did devotion to the goddess. At Jvalamukhi's temple. pleased with his devotional sincerity. Akbar said. Akbar duly killed his horse and locked the body in a room. he cut off his own head as a final act of devotion to her. T h e emperor permitted Dhyanu to proceed if he agreed to leave his horse behind and permit Akbar to kill it. U . Just as the goddess restored Dhyanu's head.i52 CHINNAMASTA There is also a story associated with the Jvalamukhl temple in Himachal Pradesh that features a head offering. but she did not appear to him. T h e self-decapitating impulse is attributed to the goddess herself rather than to her devotees. This is the version usually shown in pictures. he was about to cut off his head. who in turn sometimes seem to be offering heads to her. which the goddess subsequendy restores. He propitiated the goddess for a long time. ^ U n l c r . . A story similar to Dhyanu's is associated with the Maihar-devi temple near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. when she appeared and granted him the boon of restoring his horse to life. Dhyanu actually cuts off his head. Once upon a time. Heads as Power Objects T h e Chinnamasta icon raises questions about detached . In desperation. A devotee of the goddess Jvalamukhl named Dhyanu wished to visit her temple but was prohibited by the emperor Akbar. T h e practice of cutting out one's tongue. Dhyanu kneeling in front of the goddess. there was a wresder who wished to achieve supremacy in his chosen vocation. In the Chinnamasta icon. Just outside the entrance of the Bajresvari-devi temple in Kangra is a sculpted head said to be that of Dhyanu. T h e goddess then appeared and. Dhyanu kneels before the goddess holding his severed head in his two hands. who claimed the goddess had no power. I was told. Taking a sword. In some versions of the tale. the theme of devotional head offering to a goddess is.

K a l i and Tara nearly always hold a freshly severed head in one hand. he atones for the act. "mothers. are the most favoured asanas for Tantric sddhand. In Tarapith about ten sadhus of various kinds reside in and around the cremation ground. Without the head. whom Siva has decapitated. "the one who bears a skull. is no doubt connected to the head and mouth as the source of language or sound. K a l i . But sometimes they are said to represent the letters of the alphabet. Munddsanas. or more usually skulls. in imitation of Siva himself as Kapalika. Their use in iconography to represent letters or sounds. Most have five neatly arranged skulls in their huts. each decorated with flowers and a tilaka (coloured marking between the eyebrows. One sadhu had built an entire wall of his hut out of skulls using mud as mortar. the chopped off bonds that prevented a sddhaka from achieving spiritual success. T h e head as the chief of the body's parts also houses the person's essential being. and others often wear garlands of severed heads or skulls. a person is without identity. T h e cremation ground at Tarapfth in Bengal is highly favored by tdntrikas. who hold heads in their lower left hands. the "seeds" from which all creation proceeds. and their availability in a place heightens the attraction to sddhakas. Tara. bowls. not the rest of the body. Heads. particularly for ritual purposes. or ritual implements. that is. partly because of the ready availability of both skulls and corpses (as many as 60 percent of the dead here are buried rather than cremated). particularly when the heads number fifty or fifty-two and are threaded as a garland around a goddess's neck. They are also said to represent. especially in the case of K a l i and Tara." In this case. or seats on skulls. This is made clear in stories concerning transposed heads in which the identity of the person follows the head. because in Saivite mythology the skull is that of Brahma. the skull represents something powerfully polluted. 2 2 In some cases devotees may use skulls as seats. some of whom collect the skulls for use in their daily routines. 2 ' Skuhs and . T h e heads are often said to have belonged to enemies who were killed by the goddess in question." T h e y give birth to the creation in the form of sound. after eons. and another wandered about the village with a skull as a begging bowl.CHINNAMASTA of other Mahavidyas. As sounds or letters they are sometimes referred to as matrkds. 2 1 It seems clear that in some sense skulls and severed heads are power objects containing special qualities. are also commonly used in tantric sddhand. or sockets in this case). Tara's crest is decorated with skulls. It represents the heinous crime of Brahmacide and sticks to Siva's hand until. One scholar comments: The disruption of graves [the same ground is used repeatedly for burials] also leads to the digging up of many human skulls.

which we will discuss below. she is called YoginI (female yogi) and Yoganirata (she who practices yoga). One interpretation understands it as a symbol of control of sexual desire. Yogagamaya (follower of yoga. name 7 5 0 ) . She symbolizes self-control. unhampered by social limits and constraints." sddhakas can transform themselves. sexual desire. There are two quite different interpretations of this aspect of Chinnamasta iconography. 27 . name 745). with a body. Swami Annapurnananda of the Ramakrishna Math in Varanasi told me that Chinnamasta sacrifices herself to her devotees in a great act of love for them and is able to do this because she has overcome or controlled sexual and selfish desires. namely." which is where tantric sddhakas want to get. as is symbolized by her standing on Kama and Rati. name 747)." liminal objects. They are usually shown lying on a lotus. In her hundred-name hymn in the Sakta-pramoda. awakened consciousness. In her hymn of one-thousand names. name 751). T h e chopped-off head also may represent liberation. which must be achieved before undertaking successful yogic practice.-'4 She represents yogic control and repression of sexual energy. the other as a symbol of the goddess's embodiment of sexual energy. "out of bounds. sexual force. she is called Yogamargapradayin! (she who bestows the yogic path. There. but sometimes on a cremation pyre. sexual energy. They belong somewhere else. Certainly the most common interpretation of Chinnamasta's standing (or sometimes sitting) on Kama and Rati is that she is defeating what they represent. the same position Kali assumes with Siva. Overcoming Desire Another particularly striking feature of the Chinnamasta icon is often mentioned in her dhydna mantras and stotras: she stands on the copulating couple Kama and Rati. Yogamayl (she who embodies yoga." They are "out of place. This interpretation is particularly likely in the Buddhist context. Kama (whose name means "sexual desire") and Rati (whose name means "sexual intercourse") are almost always shown having sex with Rati on top. They are "out of bounds. 2 6 suggesting her control of sexual desire.CHINNAMASTA severed heads also may represent "the forbidden. a particular state of expanded. 25 T h e same hymn also calls her Madanatura (she who cannot be overcome by Kama). and Yoganandapradayini (she who gives bliss through yoga.

In this interpretation the copulating couple is not opposed to the goddess but an integral part of a rhythmic flow of energy symbolized by sex and blood. it is less likely that Chinnamasta is to be understood 31 . if not selfannihilation. and self-sacrifice for others is seen by her cutting off her own head to feed her hungry companions. Chinnamasta may be thought of as acquiring the sexual energy of the copulating couple upon whom she stands or sits. and her perfection of self-surrender. according to this commentator. rather than standing. 2 9 H e r nudity. He also says that only those of heroic nature worship Chinnamasta. and Ranajaitri (victorious in war. On the analogy of a lotus seat conferring its qualities and power on a deity. It is dangerous because it demands much of the devotee. An effective warrior must overcome lust and the desire to indulge in sexual play before committing himself to battle. calls her Ranotkantha (battle cry. In battle. Ranastha (battlefield. renouncing sexual desire and cultivating self-surrender for the benefit of others. he must cultivate an attitude of self-surrender so that he can give his life freely for the benefit of others. 2 8 T h e same commentator says that devotion to Chinnamasta is both dangerous and rare. Both of these themes are embodied in Chinnamasta. Surging up through her body. name 772). represents truthfulness and heedlessness. Reinforcing this interpretation are images or descriptions of Chinnamasta sitting. and those of heroic nature are particularly apt to be found in the military. he says. in fact. H e r thousand-name hymn. yielding oneself to danger for others. and in this way becomes a very effective warrior. name 769).CHINNAMASTA 155 One commentator on this aspect of the Chinnamasta icon has argued that her worship is particularly appropriate for those in the military. that energy gushes out of her head in the form of blood to feed her devotees and replenish herself. on Rati and Kama (figure 23). 3 0 It also calls her the slayer of various demons. sixteen-year-old girl's. In this type of image. namely. which is usually described as a naked. T h e worshiper of Chinnamasta perfects self-control. H e r control of lust is represented by her standing on Kama and Rati. fearlessness of death. Sexual Vitality A quite different interpretation of the presence of Kama and Rati in the Chinnamasta icon emphasizes that the goddess is being charged with the sexual power of the copulating couple. name 768).

having sexual intercourse with him (figure 24). as overcoming or suppressing the copulating couple. or overcome. but this . defeated. to be sure. by Bhatuk Ramprasad. In these images Kama and Rati have been replaced with Siva. she is shown squatting above Siva. Bhanu Shanker Mehta. 23. It is clear that Siva is not being suppressed. T h e goddess is on top of him. Printed with the permission of Dr. In still other renderings of Chinnamasta. early twentieth century. Chinnamasta.156 CHINNAMASTA Fig. Varanasi.

3 4 In her thousand-name hymn she is called Madonmattasvarupini (she whose form is intoxicated with delight. Siva is not being suppressed by the goddess. the god of sexual lust (and also. which in turn will decay and die in order to feed more life. who is standing or sitting on the back of the copulating woman." Chinnamasta's erotic nature is also suggested in some of the names contained in her hundred. he is being energized by her. sex.CHINNAMASTA 157 is typical in tantric imagery. the seed syllable of Krsna). the cremation ground. unified system. One writer says: "She simply represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which are seen continuous self-destruction and self-renewal." 32 It is equally relevant to note that the invocation of this mantra is said to attract and subjugate women. name 76). and Karnakautukakarini (she who creates the eagerness of desire. in a cyclic order. the drinking of fresh blood. and death are part of an i n terdependent. giving and taking. who is like Kama-deva. The sexual themes in Chinnamasta's iconography are reinforced by the fact that klim. there is no suggestion of yogic suppression of sexual desire.and thousand-name hymns. name 725). name 8 9 6 ) . name 762). the god of lust]. vital urge to the goddess. features in Chinnamasta's mantra: "Srim hrim klim aim Vajravairocaniye hum hum phat svaha. As arranged in most renditions of the icon. the lotus and the copulating couple appear to channel a powerful life force into the goddess. the seed syllable of the deity Kama. indicating the priority of the goddess. Chinnamasta is probably the most stunning representation in the Hindu pantheon of the truth that life. they seem to . name 81). 3S Symbol of the Living Creation T h e Chinnamasta icon conveys the idea of reality as the coincidence of sex and death. and necessitates death and that the ultimate destiny of sex is to perpetuate more life. creation and destruction. all arranged in a delicate. T h e couple enjoying sex convey an insistent. appropriately. and Puspayudhadhara (she who holds a flower weapon [that is." 3 6 The stark contrasts in this iconographic scenario—the gruesome decapitation. name 79). the copulating couple. In her hundred-name hymn she is called Kamesvari (goddess of desire. Ratiragavivrddhinl (she who is engaged in the realm of rati [sexual intercourse or desire]. harmonious pattern—jolt the viewer into an awareness of the truths that life feeds on death. is nourished by death. Kamarupa (she whose form is desire.

such as Kali. by Molaram. T h e s e goddesses. sacrificing oneself to them is a way of acknowledging that one is obliged to give life back to t h e m because one has received life from them. as Kali's lolling tongue indicates. and probably need. sever the heads of others to nourish themselves. A n d at the top. Varanasi. T h e cycle is starkly portrayed: life (the couple making love). p u m p her with energy. and nourishment (the flankingyoginis drinking her blood). Chinnamasta. need regular nourishment. her blood spurts from her severed neck. or devotees offer heads and blood to the goddesses. T h e offerings may be voluntary (in the case of devotees) or involuntary (in the case of sacrificial victims). representing the vital forces of the cosmos. but streaming into the mouths of her devotees (and into her own m o u t h as well) to nourish and sustain them.i8 5 CHINNAMASTA Fig. 24. and demand blood in order to be satisfied. but the message is clear that such goddesses like. blood. Certain other fierce H i n d u goddesses. like an overflowing fountain. the life force leaving her. late eighteenth century. Himachal Pradesh. death (the decapitated goddess). Bharat Kala Bhavan. Benares Hindu University. . T h i s i m agery conveys the truth that such goddesses are ever hungry. Garwahl.

Kali's need for blood. the copulating couple. freeing the person from their binding effects. ever-bountiful nature of goddesses such as Annapurna or Sataksi. for example. . she rises through the cakras and cuts these knots. 37 A contemporary author is explicit in his identification of Chinnamasta with this process. Chinnamasta. drenching the practitioner in bliss. represent the awakened kundalini'in the muladhara cakra. She is called. She simply represents the alternate phase of an ever-recurring sequence. Susumnasvarabhasinf (she who understands the sound of the susumna nadi [the central channel up which the kundalini travels].38 The Chinnamasta icon can be understood as a dramatic representation of this yogic process. T h e y are located in the cakras.CHINNAMASTA T h e Chinnamasta image reverses some of these motifs but ultimately teaches similar truths. The Upward Flow of the Kundalini The Chinnamasta icon also suggests certain aspects of kundalini yoga. in which spiritual energy is awakened. Chinnamasta shockingly presents both aspects together and in such a way that the viewer can grasp the interconnectedness of the different stages in the process. specifically with the awakened kundalini s'akti. and sorrowful. and then creates a flood of nectar that flows downward. in her hymns and stotras. unites with Siva in the thousand-petaled lotus cakra. is identified or associated with the kundalini and this process of spiritual ascent. name 803). traverses the subtle body. represents only one aspect of the process of giving and taking. and SahasradalavarttinI (she who abides in the thousand-petaled lotus. In this interpretation. pierces the different centers of energy called cakras in its ascent to the top of the skull. The cosmic process—the rhythms of creation and destruction. then gives it away lavishly by cutting off her own head to feed her devotees. ignorant. name 8 0 5 ) . name 804). the universal economy—is a harmonious alternation of giving and taking. of life and death. Chinnamasta takes life and vigor from the copulating couple. Such is the way of a world where life must be sustained by organic matter. where metabolism is maintained only by ingesting the corpses of other beings. W h e n the kundalini is awakened. Kama and Rati. He says that there are knots in the body called granthis that keep a person weak. Sahasradalamadhyastha (she who is established in the thousand-petaled lotus. or conversely the ever-fecund.

it transforms all conventional. 39 It is tempting to see in the Chinnamasta icon a further possibility r e ~ lated to the interpretation of it as a symbol of the rising kundalini. the kundalini hus been aroused. nydsa. represents the opened and flowing susumnd nadi achieved by means of spiritual techniques. with such force that it blows her head right off. T h e three jets of downward-flowing blood going into the three mouths. she^ee^ curled up there in the form of a serpent. and puja. She is roused by tantric yogjc e x _ ercises. by means of which a male gains expanded consciousness. hits the topmost cakra. that is.160 CHINNAMASTA Like Kama and Rati.40 But what might be the female equivalent of this? In some cases. the susumnd nadi. the nddis. Wh ^ woman becomes pregnant. Normally. Another related interpretation of Chinnamasta and her two flanking figures. similar to the release of sc^^. The blood spurting from Chinnamasta's severed throat represents the upvardflowing kundalini that has broken through all the knots (granthis) of the cakras and has cleared the central passage. such asjapa mantra. ^ e I ^ strual blood is seen as the corresponding sexual fluid of women 0$ 41 release as an expression of sexual power. habitual. limited mental structures. then the retention of mer» s blood might also result in spiritual awakening and power. H e r severed head. This also might be thought of as the first awakening of one's spiritual consciousness in preparation for a spiritual ascent that will result in infinitely expanded awareness. is that they represent the three principal channels. the central figure. Chinnamasta.' In some Indian traditions. the power of the rising spiritual consciousness. represent the flow of nectar that drenches the sddhaka after the union of kundalini and Siva in the topmost cakra. in the subtle spiritual body. A c o m " mon theme in H i n d u spirituality is the retention of semen as n e C e S S a r ^ for spiritual awakening and maturity or as a symbol of spiritual prof ess' T h e idea is often expressed in terms of redirecting sexual energy u P * 3 1 ^ instead of downward. in this interpretation represents transcendent consciousness (see also the Buddhist interpretation below). and enlightened awareness. and x$ j suit of the retained blood is dramatically evident: a new being is io^ . The power of the upward-flowing kundalini. Dakini and Varninl. spi^1 powers. while Dakini represents the idd nS$ an^ Varninl thepirigald nadi. T h e retained semen becomes spiritually pote^ e n ^ ergy. the thousand-petaled lotus. If menstrual blood ^ equivalent of male semen for a woman. menstrual blood ceases to flow. her own and those of her two flanking companions. the flow of menstrual blood is believed nify that a woman is fertile and desirous of sex. which she holds in her left hand.

she and her companions are naked. As in H i n d u iconography. to Buddhism. have disheveled hair. Another dramatic result of retained menstrual blood and pregnancy is the creation of milk in the breasts. 4 2 Buddhist materials usually refer to her as Chinnamunda or as a form of Vajrayoginl or Vajra-varahl. Krsnacarya asked the two girls to chop off their own heads to demonstrate their spiritual mastery and impress the king. Unlike the H i n d u depiction of Chinnamasta. They did so and then danced off on a heavenly path through the sky. and wear garlands of skulls. Under the guidance of Krsnacarya. It is as if the blood has been transformed into milk. Once upon a time. and is feeding her head and two flanking female attendants with three jets of blood from her severed neck. especially the ability to control the "internal winds" or the kundalini power. Mekhala and Kanakhala. Following this incident. Indeed. while trying to convert Lalitacandra. .CHINNAMASTA 161 inside her. 43 Another Buddhist story describes a female adept's self-decapitation as a magical spiritual power. In the story. by means of the retention of her sexual fluids and the transformation of them into nourishing fluid? Chinnamunda and the Buddhist Meditative Tradition Chinnamasta is prominent in tantric Buddhism and probably was known in Buddhism before her appearance in Hinduism. a woman devotee of Padmasambhava tells of an incident from one of her past lives. holds her severed head in her left hand. Instead they retreated from the world to become Buddhist spiritual practitioners. they soon mastered the most difficult spiritual accomplishments. Certain stories concerning Buddhist spiritual masters suggest that Chinnamunda in the tantric Buddhist context symbolizes spiritual accomplishment. thus lending the practice a certain prestige. however. This is clear in the story of two female devotees of Krsnacarya. many spiritual practitioners tried to repeat this feat. Vajra-varahl herself appeared in a self-decapitated form. She has decapitated herself. but she is clearly identifiable as Chinnamasta. T h e two were sisters and resisted the attempts of their parents to marry them off. Subsequently. according to the story. the rising of the kundalini. the king of Bengal. she is not shown standing or sitting on a copulating couple. M i g h t not the Chinnamasta image represent the generation of spiritual power in a female.

its emphasis on her compassion calls to mind the H i n d u stories about Chinnamasta's origin. however. She told him. Particularly in the Buddhist materials. in terms of removing false notions. T h e tale concerns a disciple of Milarepa." 4 5 Although the text does not specifically relate the theme of compassion to Chinnamunda feeding her two female companions with her own blood. the Buddhist sources emphasize the magical or spiritual ability involved in being able to cut off one's head without destroying oneself. One Buddhist text. explicitly links cutting off one's head and gaining spiritual wisdom. as a symbol of compassion who destroys worldly suffering: "The red blood which gushes from her severed neck symbolizes compassion and she drinks for peace. the . It is rarely stated in either Hinduism or Buddhism that this ability is related to getting rid of false notions. the themes of offering one's head to a goddess and of the goddess's self-sacrifice are weak. although this is implied when the self-decapitation is associated with the awakening of the kundalini. She thereupon decapitated herself with a golden razor and walked around the city holding her head. and limited consciousness. he had visions. She extinguishes the sufferings of the worlds. who was a king. Indeed. that he need not inflict punishment on her. ignorance. a Buddhist text dealing with the worship of Chinnamunda. in which she decapitates herself as the direct result of her starving devotees' plea for food. After six weeks. as she would do so herself. T h e citizens of the town called her Chinnamunda. and he sentenced her to severe punishment. and severs with her scimitar the mental difficulties. Getting Rid of False Consciousness It is tempting to interpret the Chinnamasta icon. 4 4 In the Trikdyavajra-yogini. particularly the central feature of self-decapitation. and his attempts to gain enlightenment. however. Thereupon Gam-po-pa set up his hermitage three miles removed from Milarepa's cave and began meditating. T h e iconography and the myths that refer to it are unanimous in asserting that the violent act does not result in the death or destruction of the goddess. Gam-popa. in typically Mahayana Buddhist fashion. the goddess is interpreted.i62 CHINNAMASTA she displeased her father. T h e principal interpretation seems to focus on self-decapitation as a spiritual or meditative ability. destroys the four Maras.

wellbeing and security. the ability to influence kings. just as for all Mahavidyas and other deities. T h e invocation of her mantra. the construction and worship of her yantra. and narrated the wonderful vision.CHINNAMASTA 163 first day the Buddha appeared. "Let me sleep! I am not a scholar like you. Tantrasdra. To be ego ridden is to be under the veil of mdyd (self-infatuation). Worship of Chinnamasta Tantric manuals such as the Sdkta-pramoda. T h e image of cutting off one's own head might be taken as a dramatic rendering of the enlightenment process: the adept or devotee completely destroys false consciousness by "decapitating" himself or herself. and naturally he thought that he had hit the mark. is to overcome an egocentered view of the world." After a few more weeks. the second day a mandala. are more or less the same as for the other goddesses in the group. according to which the individual is at the center of the universe and reality is understood as specially arranged to be at the ego's disposal. I suggest that you go back and practise!" Gam-po-pa. to become enlightened. to realize the underlying nature of reality. which was the hindrance to a true apprehension of reality. and Mantra-mahodadhih give the details for worship of Chinnamasta. He ran to Milarepa to report. and liberation (moksa or makti). crestfallen and frustrated. and so on. To awaken.46 In both Hinduism and Buddhism. At length. Milarepa merely said. control over one's enemies. Each time. he reported his visions to Milarepa. the meditation on her form. he dreamt one day that he had cut off his own head and that he saw it rolling down the hill. Gam-po-pa had a vivid vision of all six worlds. Thereafter there were no more visions. who kept on saying. getting rid of his or her own ego-ridden mind. . It is easy to get the impression that her worship is not much different from what is prescribed for other deities and that it might be as widespread. The excited meditator woke up the master. returned to his meditation. T h e usual rewards for her worship are cited: poetic speech. But I know that the Prajnaparamita says all this is mere illusion. and so on. "It is nothing! Go back to your practise. for the root of "atmagraha" [egoism] was cut off. false consciousness represents the obstacle to liberation or enlightenment. the ability to attract others (specifically women). but Milarepa was at the time sleeping.

seems to have the strongest reputation for being a dangerous goddess to worship or approach. T h e shrine is said to have been built by a tdntrika from Madras. name 9 3 0 ) . Bhutabhairavasevita (served by fierce ghosts. name 22). Mahacanda (great fierce one. though. Bhayarupa (who has a fearful form. worship of Chinnamasta. This is not so surprising. name 3). and Dhumavatl is clearly a goddess with many inauspicious connotations and associations. name 14). name 38). Raktapanaparayana (gulping blood continuously. name 61). T h e pujari (priest) there told me that the goddess is only worshiped by tdntrikas and that when she is worshiped the sddhaka uses a corpse. name 6 4 2 ) . given Chinnamasta's particularly fierce nature. at least at the public level. Nararaktapriyasada (who is always pleased with human blood. for example. name 66). name 182). Chinnamasta. Lomamansaprapujita (who is worshiped with body hair and flesh. she is called: Mahabhima (great terrible one. Ghorasattva (who embodies fierceness. name 12). name 623). Krodharupa (wrathful in form. name 31). Ghorarava (having a terrific roar. name 622). Ghoraghurghurnadim (whose fierce roar is frightening.164 CHINNAMASTA In fact. and she is flanked by the usual two figures (see figure 25). She has exceedingly few temples or shrines. name 199). In her hundred-name hymn. name 8). It is probably also uncommon at the private level. name 19). name 6). T h e goddess's image is of white marble. Pretasana (who sits on a ghost. is extremely rare. name 39). and Drstisamharakarinl (she who causes destruction by her glance. name 810). name 189). There are also temples of C h i n - . BhairavT (formidable one. Pretasananivasini (who lives among ghosts. T h e only shrine I have been able to find to Chinnamasta in the Varanasi area. and Palaladipriyanitya (who is always pleased with meat. Naramansapriyanitya (who is always pleased with human flesh. Ghorattista (terrific to behold. Kopatura (afflicted with rage. however. which is a veritable ocean of H i n d u temples. and her many fierce epithets indicate this. Ghorattattvamayi-devi (the goddess who embodies a fierce form. Ghorarupa (of terrific form. and it is often said that those who do worship her must be either yogis or world renouncers or of a particularly heroic nature. name 17). is very small and located in the northeast corner of the compound of the Durga temple in Ramnagar (across the Ganges River from Varanasi). 47 48 Some other Mahavidyas are also fierce. name 5). name 3 7). name 9 9 ) . Candesvari (fierce goddess. Her thousand-name stotra invokes many more names in a similar vein: Mahabhayarikari-devi (very frightening goddess. name 68). KrodhinI (wrathful one. particularly Kali and Tara. Ghoramantrayuta (who is worshiped with a fierce mantra. Candamata (mother of fierce beings. name 209).

many people have told me that only those of particularly heroic nature dare worship Chinnamasta. 4 9 Another is located in Ranchi. namasta in Bihar. Indeed. 25. There are shrines to each of the other Mahavidyas. where there are shrines to all ten Mahavidyas. as cited in the Sdkta-pramoda. Photograph by Hillary Rodrigues. the Goddess will sever one's head and drink one's blood. One is located on top of a hill. Chinnamasta generally is not casually approached. at the Kamakhya-devi temple at Kamarupa in Assam. White marble image of Chinnamasta in a shrine in the compound of the Durga temple. northeast of Vaidyanath. and some texts i n dicate that this might be because of the inherent dangers of her worship. 52 implying that there are different styles of worship and that renouncers pursue a more heroic path.CHINNAMASTA 165 Fig. Ramnagar. The Bhairava-tantra. 5 0 1 have also been told of a Chinnamasta temple in Vishnupur in West Bengal at which daily worship takes place. Nandan Parvat. . including Chinnamasta." 5 1 T h e Sdkta-pramoda also distinguishes between the worship of Chinnamasta by renouncers and householders. says in reference to Chinnamasta's worship: "Whoever performs this worship without meditating on Chinnamasta.

Left-handed worship of Chinnamasta involves sexual intercourse with a woman who is not one's wife.55 T h e Sdkta-pramoda also says that. according to both the Mantra-mahodadhih-* and the Sdkta-pramoda. 5 6 In conclusion. A consistent theme in tantric texts is that only those with the nature of the vira (hero) are qualified to undertake sddhand of the lefthanded type and that those who are not qualified should not attempt it. Chinnamasta has few shrines or temples and is probably worshiped in tantric fashion by a few particularly brave individuals who are bold enough to engage this fearsome deity. in making fire offerings to Chinnamasta. one should offer her meat and wine at night.166 CHINNAMASTA T h e Saktisamgama-tantra stipulates which path is appropriate for worshiping each of the Mahavidyas. . Chinnamasta is to be worshiped by the left-handed path alone. The others are to be worshiped by the right-handed path or by both paths. 5 3 T h e only other goddess to be so worshiped is Bhairavl.

which is surprising in view of her widespread popularity in Nepal. club. therefore. goad. She wears red clothes.E. it may be helpful to quote a relatively early hymn in her praise from the Sdradd-tilaka (this ninth-century C. As a way of introducing her multifaceted nature. the guru of the tenth-century Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta).2 A H y m n in Praise of Bhairavi I have been unable to find any myths concerning the origin or emergence of Bhairavi. text is attributed to Laksmana Desikendra. She has ten hands and carries a trident. Her breasts are smeared with blood. She is seated on a corpse throne. sword. She has three eyes that resemble large lotuses. She has three eyes and is lovely in her various ornaments. She has four arms: in two of her hands she holds a rosary and a book.1 She is brilliant like the rising sun and wears the moon crest on her head. She wears a garland of freshly severed heads that are still vomiting blood.Bhairavi The Fierce One She has a luminous complexion like a thousand rising suns. On her forehead is the half-moon and on her head a jeweled crown. She wears silken red clothes and a garland of severed heads. arrows. and rosary. She is the destroyer of enemies. bow. She smiles. noose. 167 . small drum. book. and with her other two hands she makes the gestures of assurance and conferring boons.

National Museum.Fig. 26. Delhi. Bhairavi. Ajit Mookerjee Collection of Tantric Art. .

On the other hand. greed. You are also Brahma. maintenance. Heavenly beings are intoxicated by worshiping her. You are the source of speech. You have three eyes. the wives of the siddhas [heavenly beings] become red eyed because of drinking too much wine. nor her role as the consort of Bhairava (a fierce form of Siva. "the fierce one"). Through yoga. The world cannot be created without you. you control the vital air.BHAIRAVI 169 You are so subtle that the gods cannot describe you. the source of all knowledge and wisdom. she gives the power to overcome worldly passions. and her face and form are described as beautiful. having obtained half of your body [in his half-man/half-woman form]. she is said to control passion as well as arouse it. Siva. of everything graceful. representing consciousness]. Gauri. and destruction or as assuming these roles herself. T h e hymn also emphasizes her beauty and power to cause erotic excitement. She creates the Vedas. You are the creator of the world in the form of sound and meaning. the source of the universe itself. a beautiful face. She is also cast in the role of revealer and teacher. she is shown making the gesture of teaching and is said to carry a book. They sing your names along with the kinnaras [heavenly beings]. You maintain the world by your power as the sun. She is not a consort but is independent of the gods and transcends them. You are the source of the world and have no beginning. T h e hymn also identifies Bhairavi with kundalini s'akti and thereby with . your form is consciousness itself. You are the source of all Vedas. not her fearsome nature (which is mentioned in later texts and suggested in her name itself. especially those pertaining to the Mahavidyas. and by granting yogic powers you defeat the six kinds of passions: sexual lust. and four hands in which you hold a book and a rosary and with which you make the signs of assurance and giving favors. was then empowered to create the world.3 This hymn emphasizes the cosmic aspect of Bhairavi. You are the nature of consciousness. Narayanl. You hold a jar of amrta [immortality nectar] and make the gesture of exposition/teaching. and Sarasvati are also your names. intoxication. delusion. which is also implied in her name). where speech abides. We worship you who as the coiled serpent (kundalini) goes to the city of Siva after passing along the susumnd nadi making all the lotuses bloom [an allusion to the awakening and rising of the kundalini. you are there to be worshiped as well. When Siva and Visnu are worshiped. After worshiping you. We worship you who are bathed with a flow of nectar. jealousy. This is a common emphasis in many goddess texts and hymns. T h e hymn primarily describes Bhairavi in a position of cosmic preeminence: as overseeing or empowering the three male deities usually associated with creation. and you dissolve the world in your form as fire. and anger. You wear the moon as a crest in your hair and have a white complexion like the autumn moon.

cosmic aspect. H e r destructive nature. The Goddess of Destruction At the close of the hymn from the Sdradd-tilaka we hear of BhairavT's destructive aspect: at the end of the cosmic cycle. which is continually subject to their alternating rhythms. Bhairavi embodies the principle of destruction. "the fierce one. and embodies. she dissolves the world. she resembles Siva in his form as the destroyer. however. One scholar interprets Bhairavi as a female version of Siva in his destructive form as Kala-bhairava. He notes that Kala-bhairava is closely associated with Yama. lending her an intensely immanent presence. in the loss of semen. lord of death. focus on Bhairavi's name. Tripura-bhairavi arises or becomes present when the body declines and decays. In short. As the universe-ending fire." on her association with fierce forms of Siva. he says. "whose form faces southward. is not always negative. as the inherent spiritual power that can be aroused in an individual by means of meditation or other spiritual techniques or rituals. the destructive aspects of the world. and says this is why Siva is also known as Daksinamurti. In this respect she is affirmed to exist inwardly. though. hence her name. conversely. in her form as fire. is a very minor theme in the Sdradd-tilaka hymn. however." Kalabhairava's consort.BHAIRAVI the inherent power of awakened consciousness that is cultivated in tantric sddhand (spiritual practice). who is constantly occupied with destroying the three worlds. jealousy. and other selfish emotions and actions strengthen BhairavT's presence in the world. inevitable. which weakens males." Creation and destruction are the two essential aspects of the universe. this interpreter says: creation cannot continue without it. Righteous behavior. makes her weaker. and on her often fierce appearance. Some recent interpretations. She is also evident in self-destructive habits. which is a natural. This is most clear in the process of nourishment and me- . which wear down the body and mind. such as eating tdmasic food (food having a quality associated with ignorance and lust) and drinking liquor. Destruction. "she who is fierce in the three worlds. he says. is Tripura-bhairavT. T h e two are equally dominant in the world and indeed depend upon each other in symbiotic fashion. She is present. she is an ever-present goddess who manifests herself in. Anger. This aspect of Bhairavi complements her transcendent. who lives in the south. and irresistible force. in which he punishes people both living and dead.

the great dissolution at the end of a cosmic cycle. or destructive nature is emphasized in some of her descriptions. "the fierce one. where she is called Extremely Terrible (Ghora-tara). SmasanalayavasinT) and to have a corpse as a seat (Savasana). terrible. and W h o Is the Cause of Mahapralaya. who are often described as having sunken eyes. during which all things. in which life feeds on death. which is actually BhairavT herself. and destroys those who criticize the offering of blood (perhaps the Vaisnavas). W h o Has a Terrible Face. She is also identified with Mahapralaya. In short. a name often associated with K a l i that means "black night [of destruction]" and refers to a particularly destructive aspect of Kali. Black N i g h t (Kalaratri). This force. W h o Likes Blood. She is also called Kotaraksi. is believed annually to disseminate awal (malaria) in the TrisulT Valley lowlands. W h o Has the Face of a Ghost. BhairavT is identical with Kalaratri. she fulfills the promise of her name. Destruction is apparent everywhere. drinks blood. are dissolved in the formless waters of precreation. . This aspect of BhairavT is also mentioned fairly often in her thousand-name hymn from the Vtsvasdra-tantra. "whose eyes are sunken" (probably from being emaciated). According to this writer. Bhairavi. she is said to wear a garland of freshly severed heads that gush blood over her breasts and to be seated on a corpse (see the dhydna mantra of Rudra-bhairavT. which may have destructive functions but are not specifically mentioned as destructive forces when she is associated with them. W h o Drinks Blood. creation proceeds by means of transformed energy given up in destruction. 6 This hymn also often identifies her with the sun and fire. W h o Arises from the Body of a Corpse. Fierce One (Candl). weakens.5 BhairavT's fierce. is often said to have a fierce. She W h o Creates Fear and Awe. the "BhairavT of N a w a k o t . for example. terrible. sparing only those who adequately appease her. eats the flesh of a corpse. She is the force that tends toward dissolution. furthermore. 9 which associates her with the terrible forms of K a i l and Camunda. having been consumed by fire. is present in each person as one gradually ages.8 H e r thousand-name hymn in the Sdkta-pramoda says that she sits on a corpse." .BHAIRAVI 171 tabolism. W h o Destroys the Body. . preceding note 2 above). 4 A second contemporary author interprets BhairavT in a similar vein. In Nepal. and therefore BhairavT is present everywhere. BhairavT is strongly associated with destruction. 7 She is said to dwell in cremation grounds (Smasana-vasinI. is fond of flesh."'« In these respects. and is fond of meat and blood. frightening nature. and finally dies.

young. say that she is attractive. says that she is intoxicated with her youth. and shapely. T h e Tantrasdra describes twelve separate forms of Bhairavi. " At one point. she is called She W h o Is Fond of Semen and Menstrual Blood and She W h o Is Worshiped by Those W h o Worship with Semen. the god of sexual desire. namely. some of which have separate mantras and yantras in tantric manuals. W h o Produces Semen. and as Annapurnesvari-bhairavi she gives food. as Bhayavidhvamsini-bhairavT she destroys all fears. for example. W h o Gives Love. as Caitanya-bhairavi she gives awakened consciousness. as they present such a strong contrast to the destructive aspect that tends to dominate her character.BHAIRAVI The Goddess of Many Forms Bhairavi has several distinct forms. In bdna nydsa. and taken together they suggest a multifaceted goddess. as Bhuvanesvari-bhairavi she is present in creation and engenders growth. Other goddesses among the Mahavidyas have more than one form. 1 4 BhairavT is also worshiped through bdna nydsa (nydsa is a ritual by means of which one divinizes the body with mantras and mudrds). 1 1 T h e names of several of her forms stress that she gives a range of blessings. 1 2 In her thousand-name hymn in the Visvasdra-tantra. the Tantrasdra says that BhairavT is the consort of Kamadeva and stipulates that the adept imagine and interiorize the five different forms of the love god with the corresponding five forms of Rati. She Whose Form Is Semen. a goddess who is certainly not limited to being the embodiment of destruction. that of Sampatprada-bhairavT. These last two forms deserve some comment. Rati (whose name means "sexual intercourse"). she embodies sexual desire and lends to creation its distinctive quality of being pervaded by the mutual attraction of the sexes. W h o Enjoys Sexual Intercourse. his consort. One of her dhydna mantras. W h o Is Dear to Kama. and most descriptions of her. despite her associations with destruction. BhairavT's association with sexual desire and fulfillment is mentioned often in her thousand-name hymns. Kamesvari denotes a form of Bhairavi who is mistress of Kama-deva. In the Sdkta-pramoda. and W h o Dwells in the Y o n i . As Kamesvari. As Sampatprada-bhairavl she gives riches. she is called Lovely One. as Sakalasiddhi-bhairavi she is the one who grants every perfection. the adept places the five flower arrows of Kama in the fin- . as Kamesvari-bhairavT she kindles sexual desire and grants sexual gratification. but none has as many as Bhairavi.

27. Bhairavi on Siva. . Ajit Mookerjee Collection of Tantric Art. Delhi. National Museum.Fig.

or a form of his consort. an irresistible attraction to another. Flanking her are the goddesses Sri and Bhumi [goddess of the earth]. and stupefaction. She is covered with nine kinds of jewels and is dressed in multicolored clothes. a melting sensation. who have more pronounced ascetic tendencies. if not supremacy. She has three eyes. 15 Armapurnesvari-bhairavi reveals a quite different dimension of Bhairavi by identifying her with the well-known goddess Annapurna. She is with Pancamukha-siva [Siva having five faces]. he dances in delight. the adept invokes other deities associated with Visnu: Varaha.16 T h e presence of Sri and Bhumi in the company of Annapurnesvari is significant. the goddess "who is filled with food." is strongly associated with Siva and a domestic setting. She is pleasing in appearance and wears a golden girdle that adorns her full buttocks. He wears an animal hide and serpents for clothing. 1 7 T h e presence of the Vaisnava deities. and by extension. who are generally benign and concerned with worldly blessings. they are both strongly identified with Visnu. 1 8 Cosmic Dimensions Bhairavi has facets and epithets that assert her cosmic i m portance. as opposed to Saivite deities.BHAIRAVI Each of the flower arrows produces an intoxicating emotion of love and desire. such as excessive agitation. A commentary on the Parasurdma-kalpasutra . and golden jarlike breasts. in addition to invoking Sri and Bhumi. whose basic function is to satisfy the hunger of her husband. which are wide and long. BhairavT's fearsome aspects are here completely submerged. Annapurnesvari is associated with a range of Vaisnavite deities. and he shines like the kunda flower [a bright white blossom] . Narayana." to satisfy the hunger of ali creatures. Annapurnadevi. Although A n napurna-devT is well known as the consort of Siva. as he is Pasupati. T h e dhydna mantra from the Tantrasdra describes her thus: She is golden in color and wears the moon crest on her forehead. who is white in color and has a smiling face and a blue throat. She is a goddess of the kitchen. In constructing her yantra physically or mentally. and Kamala. She is giving food to Siva. T h e worshiper prays to them for plentiful food so that he or she can provide for others. is probably meant to underline Annapurnesvari's nature as a beneficent provider. Looking on the goddess. "lord of creatures. as it were.

19 T h e commentator. Parabrahmasvarupini (she whose form is the highest brahman). and vamarta (to emit or disgorge). She is called Paramesvari (mistress of all). Jaganmata (mother of the world). that is. and destruction. BhairavT has several names that identify her with philosophical or cosmic absolutes. and SrstisarhharakarinT (she who is the cause of creation and destruction). Parama (she who is the highest). ramana (to protect). not just a goddess associated with destructive energy. T h e image of the basic cosmic rhythm as one of inhaling and exhaling is perhaps suggested by the commentator's use of the term vamana and may reflect the Kashmir Saivite emphasis on the rhythm of breathing as a metaphor for the nature of ultimate reality. JagaddhatrT (world nurse or she who nourishes the world). seeks to discern the inner meaning of BhairavT's name by identifying her with the cosmic functions of creation. as it were. maintenance. like her many forms. In her thousand-name hymn from the Visvasara-tantra. which alternately reveals or emanates itself and then withdraws and obscures itself.BHAIRAVI says that the name BhairavT is derived from the words bharana (to create). 2 0 These names. . emphasize that she is a complete goddess.

Her face is very wrinkled. She has disheveled hair.Dhumavati The Widow Goddess Dhumavati is ugly. Her complexion is black. and with the other hand she makes the gesture of conferring boons. She is without mercy.1 Dhumavati has two hands. Jyestha. However. If she had an independent cult prior to her inclusion in the group. she has long teeth. which hold a skull bowl and a spear. unsteady. She likes to create strife. and her hands tremble. She rides in a chariot that has a banner on top decorated with a crow emblem. Her complexion is like the black clouds that form at the time of cosmic dissolution. she wears ornaments made of snakes. In one hand she holds a winnowing basket.3 N i r r t i . we know nothing about it.2 The goddess should be imagined in the following way. and Alaksmi Dhumavati is barely known outside the Mahavidyas. She frowns. Dhumavati bears striking similarities to . Her eyes are fearsome. She has the form of a widow. and she is always frightful in appearance. Her nature is rude. eyes. and her breasts are dry and withered. She is very old. and her breasts hang down. Her ears are ugly and rough. and her nose. She carries a broom. a torch. and throat resemble a crow's. and a club. and her dress is made of rags taken from the cremation ground. Her face has a venomous expression. and she wears the plain clothes of a mendicant. a winnowing fan. and angry. She has a long nose. She is tall and wears dirty clothes. She is always hungry and thirsty and looks unsatisfied.


After four verses asking the gods for renewed life. 9 She seems to have enjoyed a quite widespread cult during some periods. youth. She is described as having "large pendulous breasts descending as far as her navel. She wears many kinds of ornaments.59). Sometimes a crow stands next to her. Jyestha. and sometimes makes the sign of protection. and continued long life.7 is associated with pain. the following refrain is invoked: "Let N i r r t i depart to distant places." 1 1 She is black.5 although one passage says that she has golden locks. 1 2 According to the Liriga-purana. need. She has a banner depicting a crow. and its concern is to seek protection from her or to ask that she be driven away. and to receive dark husks as her share of the sacrifice. She is said to be dark. and destruction." That is. wealth. N i r r t i is known in the earliest Vedic text. she is still associated with negative qualities and bad luck. The goddess Jyestha also appears very early in the H i n d u tradition. holds a lotus and a waterpot. Just one hymn mentions her (10. 4 A l l three of these goddesses. as well as a tilaka (an ornamental mark on her forehead). She is equated with death. hanging lower lip. thick thighs.178 DHUMAVATI certain goddesses who appeared very early in the H i n d u tradition and who had cults or myths prior to and separate from the Mahavidyas. as a dangerous and inauspicious goddess. and death. food. and Alaksml. decrepitude. She rides a donkey or is drawn in a chariot by lions or tigers. N i r r t i continues to be known in the later H i n d u tradition. and avoided by people. Dhumavati is said to be the same as N i r r t i . T h e hymn sums up Nirrti's nature very well. glorious deeds. with a flabby belly. 8 and is repeatedly given offerings with the specific intention of keeping her away from the sacrificial rituals and from the affairs of people in general. which identifies her as a married woman. cowardice. some contemporary authors identify Dhumavati with them. Later Vedic literature describes N i r r t i in more detail and mentions her more frequendy than does the Rg-veda. H e r hair is usually braided and piled on top of her head or wound around her head. the Rg-veda. the direction of the kingdom of the dead. and is in colour as ink. 6 She lives in the south. 1 0 In physical appearance she bears some similarities to Dhumavati. she was born when the gods and . In particular. bad luck. or sometimes red. to dress in dark clothes. H e r nature has not changed. and during the seventh and eighth centuries she seems to have been widely known in South India. She carries a broom. raised nose. anger. as we shall see. Many images of her have been found. dangerous. are inauspicious. N i r r t i is identified with the opposites of the blessings sought: she is decay.

She was given in marriage to the sage Dussaha. 1 9 . and goblins and malicious spirits are abroad. Alaksml (w. It is also significant. She complained to Visnu that she could not sustain herself without a husband. is usually shown as an old woman. 1 7 People invoke Laksmi to drive these spirits away and light lamps to frighten the demons. Eventually Dussaha abandoned Jyestha. Laksmi. W h e n he complained to Visnu. the third goddess with whom Dhumavati is identified by contemporary authors. Alaksml is described as "an old hag riding an ass. Visnu told Dussaha to go with his wife only to places where inauspicious things occur—hence Jyestha's popular epithet Alaksml. A crow adorns her banner. In that hymn. and the two do not dwell in the same place at the same time. T h e ghosts of the dead are said to return during the three days before Divali. who is believed to have reigned on earth during the past four months. which Alaksml dislikes. evil spirits are exorcised. that her name means "elder" or "eldest. 1 6 T h e demon Bali emerges from the underworld to rule for three days. poverty. 1 4 Alaksml is said to appear in such i n auspicious forms as need. as we shall see. people bang pots and pans or play on i n struments to frighten her off. by their natures they are incompatible and are unable to exist where the other is present. In addition to the lighted lamps. 18 On another occasion in Bengal.DHUMAVATI demons churned the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality. who soon discovered that his unattractive wife could not bear the sound or sight of any kind of pious activity. or Sri." Dhumavati. are associated with Dhumavati. Alaksml. In general. and thirst. and 8). "she who is inauspicious. 6. which takes place in the autumn on the night of a new moon. 5." Among the places specifically mentioned as appropriate residences for her are homes where family members quarrel and elders eat food while disregarding the hunger of their children. including Alaksml. when the gods were sleeping. She has a broom in her hand. and he dictated that she would be sustained by offerings from women. as we shall see. 1 3 Although the text does not say so. a very early hymn in praise of the goddess Sri. T h e contrast between Alaksml and Laksmi is dramatically evident in the festival of Divali (also known as Dfpavall) and the rituals and practices leading up to it. hunger. is mentioned as early as the Sri-sukta. especially Alaksml." 1 5 T h e crow and the broom. an i m age of Alaksml is made and ceremoniously disfigured by cutting off her nose and ears. is her exact opposite. after which an image of Laksmi is installed to signify the triumph of good luck over bad in the future. it is probably understood that Jyestha will not enter the homes of those who propitiate her. as a link between Jyestha and Dhumavati. Sri is asked to banish her sister.

and fond of blood. it is clear that she shares many characteristics with N i r r t i . Dhumavati is also described as ugly more often and more consistently than the other three goddesses. are not performed. symbolizing death. and her clothes are dirty and worn. dangerous places such as deserts. sometimes. unlike the other three goddesses. I have found no mention of N i r r t i or Alaksmi as widows. she is described as an old hag and is said to rule during the four months prior to s'ukla ekddas'i (the eleventh day of the waxing moon) of the month of Kartik. and in wild. and Alaksml. and without tenderness. for example. like Alaksmi. in ruined houses. she is sometimes said to have a dark complexion. Like N i r r t i and Jyestha.23 Also. which are frightening and warlike. characteristics that are not emphasized in descriptions of the other three goddesses. Dhumavati is related to Siva. She is also said to make the noises of drums and bells. she is said to have a banner with a crow on it and. and sometimes striking. 2 0 W h i l e the similarities between Dhumavati and these three goddesses are unmistakable. and with inauspicious things and bad luck. H e r breasts are dried and withered. . her face is nasty and wrinkled. she causes quarrels and has a bad temper. and drinks a mixture of blood and wine. crushes bones in her mouth. She dwells with widows. and auspicious events. or is said to be constantly hungry and thirsty. She carries Yama's buffalo horn in her hand. the soul lacks its usual luster. Jyestha. A n d finally. Dhumavati is also described as fierce. frightening. with hunger and thirst. uncivilized. One of the most distinguishing and consistent features of Dhumavati is that she is a widow. 2 2 H e r eyes are glaring red. Like Jyestha and Alaksml. Like N i r r t i and Alaksml. signs of a married woman. During the four months when Visnu is asleep. such as weddings. especially Alaksml. there is a stronger insistence on Dhumavati's unattractive appearance in most written descriptions of her. and the sound is awful. She wears a garland of skulls. her teeth are crooked or missing. there are some important differences between Dhumavati and her prototypes. and while it is likely that some modern writers are consciously patterning Dhumavati on them. the date when Visnu wakes up after a four-month sleep. Dhumavati. 2 1 Although the other goddesses are certainly not said to be attractive. to carry a broom. or is said to be poor herself. Jyestha is married and has a tilaka and braided hair. Like Jyestha. she is associated with poverty and need. her hair is gray and disheveled.180 DHUMAVATI In reading descriptions of Dhumavati. albeit indirectly in some cases. and to his spouse Sati. stern. chews the corpses of the demons Canda and Munda.

None of the other three goddesses has such positive aspects. the names of N i r r t i . W h e n he refused to give her food. when Siva's spouse Sati was dwelling with him in the Himalayas. Dhumavati is not identified with these three goddesses in contexts where one might expect it. and Alaksmi are not included. even likely. that Dhumavati has been consciously modeled on these three goddesses. That she is "the same. Dhumavati is associated with Siva." 2 4 Born in such circumstances. and Alaksml. Dhumavati is a form of Sati. She represents an aggressive. like Nirrti. Origin Myths There are two myths that tell of Dhumavati's origin. a remarkable omission. Dhumavati was created from the smoke of Sati's burning body. She is "all that is left of Sati": sad smoke. He persuaded her to disgorge him. then I will just have to eat you. 25 In this myth." Thereupon she swallowed Siva." In this version. where she is identified with numerous other goddesses. Jyestha. she became extremely hungry and asked him for something to eat. she said. Jyestha. indeed the physical continuation of her in the form of smoke. condemning her to assume the form of the widow D h u mavati. assertive aspect of Sati. embodying both the mood of the insulted. also has certain important positive characteristics and is interpreted by some as an effective symbol or power for achieving spiritual knowledge and liberation. Dhumavati. she appeared from that smoke. seems to me to be an exaggeration. and they suggest significant aspects of her character. probably stands in a tradition of inauspicious goddesses. in the words of the priest at the Dhumavati temple in Varanasi. "Well." however.DHUMAVATI 181 Finally. then. and when she did he cursed her. T h e first says that she was born when Sari burned herself to death on her father's sacrificial fire or was burned on that fire after she committed suicide by willing her own death. T h e second myth that tells of Dhumavati's origin says that once. particularly in light of some of her characteristics that they do not share and in light of her positive aspects in the context of the Mahavidyas. "a sad frame of mind. For example. W h e n Siva does not acquiesce to . Dhumavati. It is also possible. outraged goddess Sati at the time of her death and her funeral smoke. who symbolize the more difficult and painful aspects of life and reality generally. as we shall see. "She emerged from that fire with blackened face. in her nama stotras (hymns invoking her many names). Dhumavati has. then.

T h e Prapancasdrasdra-sarhgraha. says that she is the embodiment of "unsatisfied desires. ugly. On the other hand. According to a scholar of Tantrism in Varanasi. she has no place. T h e crow. she herself is sometimes said to resemble a crow. for example. H e r status as a widow in the myth is curious. she is a woman going nowhere. Indeed. which is mentioned in many places. so we have 28 . says that her nose and throat resemble a crow's. she turns on him and consumes him. T h e Mahavidyas are supposed to represent the diversity of reality. in which the goddesses are formed when Sati is thwarted by Siva and she grows angry. One author. Dhumavati is "the aspect of reality that is old. 27 She lives in cremation grounds and is so depicted in a painting of her by a contemporary Varanasi artist (figure 31). In the context of Hindu society.182 DHUMAVATI her wish. H e r hunger is only satisfied when she consumes Siva. 2 9 She also wears a dress taken from a corpse in the cremation ground. the aspect of creation associated with lust and ignorance. This is compounded by the fact that she has also been cursed and rejected by her husband. In this picture she is surrounded by four cremation fires. she does not fit. she does not assume the form of a widow until Siva curses her. which appears as the emblem on her banner or atop her chariot or as her mount (vdhana). and she is a widow. the ultimate symbol of all that is unlucky. an act of self-assertion. and inauspicious. and blesses those who haunt cremation grounds. who himself contains or creates the world." 26 T h e myth also emphasizes that Dhumavati as a widow is i n auspicious. Symbol of Inauspiciousness as Transformative There can be no question that Dhumavati is a figure who vividly symbolizes all that is conventionally affirmed to be inauspicious. H e r thousandname hymn says that her house is in the cremation ground. She is often shown sitting in a chariot that has nothing to pull it. on top of each one sits a crow. is a carrion eater and symbol of death. This echoes the theme in the origin myth of the Mahavidyas as a group. She makes herself one by swallowing Siva. and unappealing. wears ashes from the cremation ground. 31 H e r thousand-name hymn says that she likes liquor and meat. 3 0 She is said to be the embodiment of the tamasguna. unattractive. and perhaps independence. that she sits on a corpse. 32 both of which are tdmasic. commenting on her perpetual hunger and thirst. T h e myth underlines Dhumavati's destructive bent. She is a nobody socially.

36 That anyone would approach her. He also said that her worship instills . or cultivate a relationship with her seems. The priest at the Dhumavati temple in Varanasi. highly unlikely. In several places. the symbolic widow par excellence. Dhumavati is to be feared. and married people. sagging breasts. such as deserts.DHUMAVATI 183 in female form the young and beautiful forms and the ugly and fearsome forms. if not dangerous. however. the majority of people are advised not to worship her. 3 4 The inauspicious." which he said was unusual among deities. Widows. should keep her at a distance. in abandoned houses. inimical spirit beings who possess widows. he said that inside she is tenderhearted. are suspect as dangerous beings who are likely to cause trouble and who therefore should be avoided. worship her. and that she grants all rewards and desires. including ultimate knowledge and liberation. that she rescues her devotees from all kinds of trouble. To become a boksi it is necessary for a woman to sacrifice her husband or son. in quarrels. An inkling of Dhumavati's positive aspect is suggested in a comment made to me by a priest serving the Dasamahavidya panda! (a temporary shelter for worship) on S. and it must be assumed that at least some adepts worship her and cultivate a rapport with her. Indeed. it is said that she grants siddhis to those who worship her. after telling me about all the inauspicious aspects of the goddess. in mourning children. 3 5 Widows are here associated with the murder of their husbands and sons." 3 5 Dhumavati is generally associated with all that is inauspicious: she dwells in areas of the earth that are perceived to be desolate. As the divine widow. in hunger and thirst. said that she gives "anything the devotee wants. at first glance. wrinkled skin. a class of dangerous. Like the three inauspicious goddesses to whom she is sometimes compared or with whom she is sometimes identified. and emphasizing that she should not be approached by happily married men like me. overtones of Dhumavati as a widow also might be suggested by the Nepalese belief in boksis. and no teeth—and that furthermore she looks fierce. seek to become united with her and to realize her presence in themselves according to the logic of tantric sddhand. They are understood as bringing about their own inauspicious condition by despicable acts or as being vulnerable to possession by evil spirits who will prompt them to undertake such acts. T h e details for her worship are stipulated. and particularly in widows. After telling me that she is a vision of old age and decay—that she is nearly blind and has loose. N. indeed. Banerjea Street during Kali Puja in C a l cutta. Panalal Gosvami. with willful evil. it seems that Dhumavati is primarily a being to keep at bay. by definition. in particular.

184 DHUMAVATI a feeling of wanting to be alone and a distaste for worldly things. Like Kali. though. her worship is appropriate for world renouncers. he said. never remaining in one place for more than a few days. after the aspirant has left home and family. the traditional sannyasi wanders the world. never still. Whether this solitariness implies and affirms independence is not clear. that is experienced outside marriage." 57 T h e priest's comment that Dhumavati instills a distaste for worldly things also relates to the highest stages of the spiritual quest in traditional Hinduism. He insisted that only unmarried people could withstand her great power and successfully spend a night alone in her temple. a frame of mind in which he or she is content with what comes to hand. with whom she is sometimes identified. According to this priest. parica tattva ritual. These comments are suggestive. He also said that Dhumavati is partial to unmarried people and to those who have been widowed. . with minimal food. In most respects these women are living the life of the traditional Hindu world renouncer. To seek to identify with her by undertaking her worship is to partake of the "forbidden" and to realize that it is primarily a manifestation of false human categories. Indeed. who in the form of smoke is ever moving. In the logic of the. according to which it is spiritually transformative to confront what is forbidden. Dhumavati may be understood as a dramatic symbol of all that is socially rejected. For a married person to do this. It is i m portant to remember. would result in death. T h e world renouncer seeks to achieve a frame of mind that does not covet the comforts and joys of the worldly life. In this vein. Like Dhumavati herself. he said. and shelter. or solitariness. one text says that Dhumavati wears a "dress like a mendicant's. clothing. that the highest stages of the spiritual quest in many traditional H i n d u texts can only be undertaken alone. W h y Dhumavati in particular might be effective in instilling these kinds of feelings or bringing about a frame of mind that is indifferent to the world is perhaps explained in the same way as the symbolism of the goddess K a l i and the logic that underlies the parica fatten ritual (the ritual of the five forbidden things): Dhumavati is able to inculcate indifference to the world because she so unambiguously reveals the negative aspects of life. Dhumavati attracts and probably encourages and reinforces a certain kind of independence. It is also important to realize that many of the most pious Hindus one sees today in India are widows who have vowed to spend the rest of their lives undertaking pilgrimages to sacred centers or performing religious rituals at such sites. 5 8 she forces her worshipers to acknowledge the inherent miseries of existence and thus encourages an indifference to or distaste for the world.

she reveals the nature of ultimate knowledge. riding a chariot. is a unity that transeends such artificial dichotomies. and with the fourth she makes the fear-not mudrd. such as pilgrimage. which is formless and knows no divisions into good or bad. Dhumavati is often said to be manifest in Mahapralaya. auspicious and inauspicious. In a more positive vein. as the great dissolution. Siva himself. 43 Although the central image there is covered with clothing. she appears as a widow and in this form represents "the Power of Time. the great dissolution of the universe at the end of the great cosmic age. is the knowledge of the ultimate. when even Mahakala. that were difficult or impossible in her younger. the priest assured me that it represents Dhumavati. alone and indivisible. 40 One author says that she appears at the end of time. Like the traditional world renouncer. The Dhumavati Temple in Varanasi Dhumavati temples are few and far between." 41 Another scholar says that Dhumavati "personifies the destruction of the world by fire. beyond avoidance of what is thought to be polluting and dangerous. In the Praparicasdrasdra-samgraha she is said to have a complexion that is "black like the accumulated clouds during dissolution. He described her as a widow. She receives as offerings the usual things. In Varanasi I visited one of these rare temples on several occasions. Since she is alone. W h o Creates and Causes Pralaya." 4 2 Beyond name and form. and a pot. outside Time and Space. she is outside society and free of its constraints and obligations. beyond human categories. For women whose marriages prove oppressive.DHUMAVATI 185 that underlying what is thought to be pure and impure. has disappeared. a broom. . pure and impure. Dhumavati encourages spiritual awakening. T h e image is of black stone with large eyes and red lips. auspicious and inauspicious. when only smoke from its ashes remains. and W h o Walks About in Pralaya. is indifference to these distinctions. Beyond desire for worldly blessings. in three of her hands she holds a winnowing fan. socially responsible days. she is free to undertake spiritual pursuits. which is without name and form. as a socially marginal being for whom worldly concerns are past. the widow may be a liberating figure. W h o Is Occupied with Pralaya." 3 9 In her thousand-name hymn she is called She Whose Form is Pralaya. Although others may consider the widow unfortunate.

ask for the usual worldly favors: children (male children. implying the presence in the temple of Siva and all that he represents. on occasion. it became clear that she plays the role of a guardian deity. T h e priest himself. who looks after the people of her locale first and foremost and whose lives she supports with worldly blessings. good fortune. Bhuvanesvari. inappropriate for a married person. Indeed. or village deity. Paintings of the other Mahavidyas adorn the inner walls. She also likes smoke from incense. bhang (a form of hashish). the priest admitted that most of the regular worshipers are locals and that stories of the goddess's grace are common among these people. W h e n I . Blood sacrifices are performed occasionally at this temple. and so on. and that she is the same as Smasana-kali (Kali who lives in the cremation ground). offerings. cigarettes. that her lips are red because they are covered with blood.186 DHUMAVATI such as flowers and fruit. the regular flow of visitors to the temple on the occasions when I was there consisted primarily of married men and women. and cremation fires. Chinnamasta. and like smoke she drifts everywhere at will. She does not like offerings burnt in a fire that is not smokey. Sodasi. Smoke attracts her because it suggests destruction. exists in the form of smoke. is married and has five children. She herself. who causes such irascibility in those who worship her. so the priest said he is always careful to create a lot of smoke. but also likes liquor. she has an affinity for unmarried people. MatarigT. T h e priest said that the goddess tends to be in a sad frame of mind and is quarrelsome. although some have been effaced. a good marriage partner for their children. Despite the priest's comments about the typical worshipers being single and the goddess preferring this. As the priest described Dhumavati's local significance. I saw very few widows. T h e priest said that world renouncers and tantrikas worship at this temple and implied that Dhumavati is partial to them. who had an irascible disposition. He also insisted that married people. It is also interesting to note that a Siva lirigam is enshrined directly behind the image of Dhumavati. like me. however. as she produces in her devotees a desire to be alone. though one might assume that widows would feel a special affinity to this goddess. the priest said. and meat. usually). and Bagalamukhi still remain. appropriate for a devotee of Dhumavati. should not cultivate a relationship with Dhumavati. It is difficult to imagine that people who attend the temple do not. success on exams and in business. T h e priest said the temple exists on the spot (pttha) where a piece of SatT's body fell to earth and was founded a long time ago by the sage Dhurvasa.

8 0 . three relatively recent paintings are striking. Indeed. H e r thousand-name hymn says that she lives in the midst of women and is worshiped by women (w. done around 5 > is by a Varanasi artist. it is clear that Dhumavati has taken on an approachable character. a benign. their hooked beaks suggest carrion-eating birds. Although they are not crows. and in the evening as a widow. Here she is a neighborhood deity who favors and protects those who live near her and seek her shelter and blessing. perhaps buzzards or vultures.8 1 ) . It is also interesting to see that both inside and outside the temple are images of a lion. the vehicle (vdhana) of Durga in her various manifestations. These two aspects of Dhumavati. and in many pictures of her she makes a boon-conferring gesture. I O I Molaram's painting of Dhumavati shows her on a chariot being pulled by two enormous birds. 16). and her hundred-name hymn says that she bestows children (v. Batuk Ramprasad (figure 31). I was told that. T h e lirigam and the lion associate Dhumavati with the creative male power of Siva and the demon-slaying. it does not indicate that he is married to Dhumavati. where many epithets identify her with Parvati or Sati or as a slayer of demons. One painting is by the eighteenth-century painter Molaram of Himachal Pradesh (figure 29). although it represents Siva. as Siva's consort and as a manifestation of Durga.DHUMAVATI 187 asked about the lirigam. the color for a married woman). even auspicious facet of Dhumavati is clear in her thousand-name hymn. another is from an eighteenth-century i l luminated Nepali manuscript (figure 30). dangerous goddess who can be approached only by heroic tantric adepts. and the third. She is no longer simply the i n auspicious. In this public temple cult. It is an independent shrine that arose at the same time that the Dhumavati temple appeared. which would . In the morning she appears as a young maiden. She is frequently said to bestow favors. dharma-supporting role of the goddess. 44 Unusual Portraits of Dhumavati Among the many pictures I have seen of Dhumavati and the many descriptions I have read of her. are both clearly present in her ndma stotras. The priest at her temple said that Dhumavati appears in many forms and read me sections of her hymns to illustrate this. suggesting facets of the goddess that are not usually apparent. approachable. at noon as a married woman (her image was usually draped in a red sari.

perhaps in the gesture of conferring boons. She holds a large winnowing basket in her left hand. on a peacock. legs apart as if striding. and her right hand is raised. H e r breasts are not pendulous but high and round. a necklace. What is striking about the picture is the elaborate ornamentation of the goddess. She has fangs. Bharat Kala Bhavan.188 DHUMAVATI Fig. Varanasi. Himachal Pradesh. Dhumavati stands. In this striking picture. earrings. late eighteenth century. if we take the descriptions in her dhydna mantras to be normative. and her tongue lolls out in the fashion of K a l i and Tara. and wearing the soiled clothes of a widow. and a pendant. 29. None of this is unusual for Dhumavati (except for the lolling tongue). Benares Hindu University. H e r appearance contrasts sharply with descriptions of her as ugly. be appropriate to Dhumavati's generally inauspicious associations. She is naked except for a necklace of pearls and a circle of pearls crowning her hair. which in turn rests oh a lotus. The Nepali painting of Dhumavati is equally uncharacteristic. Her yoni is clearly exposed. by Molaram. She wears bracelets. H e r breasts are high and not pendulous. Dhumavati. withered. Garwahl. armbands. She also wears elegant clothes. She is portrayed as young and full of life. H e r hair is light in color and elaborately .


/ for you awaits the liberation of Kashi. which is a typical feature of Nepali iconography and many represent cremation fires. diaphanous upper garment and a gold-hemmed lower garment. toe rings. 10). and bowl in her four hands. Surrounding her are what appear to be cremation fires. She might also be understood to have strong. unsatisfied sexual longings. which she holds in her left hand. H e r breasts are somewhat pendulous. who in most upper castes are prevented from remarrying. She is also said to create dance and to be a leader of dancers (w. and to be doeeyed (v. winnowing fan. sword. In short. a plausible interpretation of the paintings might well relate to the reputation of widows as dangerous to men. and pendant—and is wearing an elegant. anklets. A saying popular in Varanasi captures this: "Widows. 15). H e r complexion is black. She is dressed in white and sits astride a huge crow. to be lovely (v. What might be the significance of these paintings? It is possible that there is another tradition. and ornaments . which I have not been able to find." 4 5 Widows here are put on a par with such notorious dangers in Varanasi as wandering bulls. hardly the dress of a widow. 71). She is looking at herself in a mirror. This image bears no similarities to any of Dhumavati's dhyana mantras with which I am familiar. the widow is a woman who has lost her social identity. a nose ring. clothes. in which Dhumavati is not a widow and is not described as ugly and clothed in soiled. Dhumavati is again pictured in a style that deviates markedly from her dhyana mantras and from most depictions of her with which I am familiar. She is said to give enjoyment (v. armlets. bulls. worn garments. and she holds a trident. the widow is understood to be sexually tempting to males. She is encircled by a ring of fire. and if she is attractive and still in her childbearing years. necklace. In the painting by Batuk Ramprasad. she is a social misfit. stairs. From the male perspective. In this image she conveys a rather erotically alluring presence. and unscrupulous "holy men. Attractive young widows. Because her husband has died. 7 6 . are considered particularly threatening. to be completely beautiful (v. 20).7 7 ) and to be adorned with new garlands. particularly in light of the claim made in many (male authored) texts that females are sexually insatiable. earrings." Hints that Dhumavati possesses sexual attractiveness and allure can be found in her thousand-name hymn. Barring this. she represents a temptation. at least from the point of view of the H i n d u law books. dilapidated stairs at the bathing ghats. what is striking is that she is heavily adorned with ornaments—bracelets. Again.DHUMAVATI braided. with a crow sitting on top of each one. and Sannyasis / If you can save yourself from these.

to be present where sexual activity is. 8 7 . 77-78). 8). "sexual intercourse. early twentieth century. Printed with the permission of Dr." v.8 8 ) . to be worshiped by intoxicated people . (w. Bhanu Shanker Mehta. 82) and is said to enjoy sexual intercourse. She is also said to have disheveled hair. 31. which suggests a certain wildness.DHUMAVATI Fig. literally. by Bhatuk Ramprasad. She is also called She Whose Form Is Rati (either Kamadeva's wife or. Varanasi. perhaps sexual wildness (v. to like liquor and to be intoxicated (w. and to be occupied with sex (w. Dhumavati. 81-83).



(v. 112), and to partake constantly in the five forbidden things (panca tattva) (v. 0 2 ) . H e r generally ugly, decrepit, inauspicious, cranky, cronelike nature, then, is tempered or even offset by other qualities suggested in this hymn. In particular, she is said to be beautiful and to have erotic power, aspects of Dhumavati that are featured in the three paintings. While these contrasting qualities may reflect the common tendency to portray a goddess, particularly in her thousand-name hymn, as "complete," as having many facets, both terrible and benign, the mention of erotic qualities may also suggest the sexual appeal, and perhaps sexual danger, of widows.

The Paralyzer

In the middle of the ocean is a pavilion of jewels with an altar inside it. On the altar is a lion throne on which the goddess Bagalamukhi is seated. Her complexion is completely yellow, perfectly yellow, and she wears a yellow dress, yellow ornaments, and a yellow garland. I call to mind she who holds the tongue of the enemy in her left hand and a raised club in her right hand.1 She has assumed a serious mood and is maddened with intoxication. Her brilliance reflects the golden hue of her body. She has four arms and three eyes and is seated on a lotus. On her forehead is the crescent moon, which is yellow in color. She wears yellow clothes, has high, firm breasts, and wears golden earrings.2

Origin Myths
I have found three myths concerning the origin of Bagalamukhi. According to the first myth, once upon a time in the Krta Yuga a cosmic storm threatened to destroy the universe. Many creatures were killed, and Visnu, who was reclining on the cosmic serpent, Sesa, was himself disturbed. He went to a sacred pond named Haridra (turmeric) and undertook austerities to find a solution to the problem. (Visnu himself is often called Pitambara, "he who wears yellow clothes.") He prayed to Tripura-sundari, who appeared and lit up the entire world with her presence. She brought forth Bagalamukhi, who sported in that pond of turmeric and then calmed the storm with her great powers.

Fig. 32. Pitambara (BagalamukhT), by Bhatuk Ramprasad, early twentieth century. Printed with the permission of Dr. Bhanu Shanker Mehta, Varanasi.

She is also known as Pitambara-devi because she appeared in a lake of turmeric. 3 In the second myth, a demon named Madan undertook austerities and won the boon of vdk siddhi, according to which anything he said came about. He abused this siddhi by killing people. Enraged by his mischief,


the gods worshiped Bagalamukhi. She stopped the demon's rampage by taking hold of his tongue and stilling his speech. Before she could kill him, however, he asked to be worshiped with her, and she relented. That is why he is depicted with her. 4 T h e third myth touches on the origins of both Bagalamukhi and Dhumavati. Once upon a time, Siva was living on Mount Kailasa with Parvati. She became so hungry that her body was racked with pain. She complained to Siva, asking him for something to eat: "O Siva," she said, "give me some food. I am famished." Siva told her to be patient and wait a bit, after which he would give her anything she wanted. But having said this, Siva ignored her and went back to doing yoga. She appealed to him again, saying that she was desperate for food. He again asked her to wait awhile. She protested that she could not wait, that she was starving to death. W h e n he still was uncooperative, she put Siva himself into her mouth to devour him. After a little while smoke began to issue from Parvatf's body. This smoke was her may a (magic power of illusion). T h e n Siva emerged from Parvati and said: "Listen, O Goddess, a woman without a husband, as you just were, is called a widow and must strip herself of the adornments and marks of a married woman. That woman, you, who left her husband by swallowing him, will be known as Bagalamukhi. And the smoke that came from her will be known as the goddess Dhumavati." 5 These three myths are so dissimilar that it is difficult to think of them as variants of each other. They seem to represent three different meditations on Bagalamukhl's origin. In the first myth, Bagala is associated with Visnu and plays a role similar to one of his avatdras. That is, a cosmic crisis arises, and Visnu initiates action to meet it. Bagala emerges to restore cosmic stability. This myth does not overtly emphasize her ability to stun or paralyze (stambhana), for which she is famous, but the stilling of the storm does imply this power. T h e myth also promotes the superiority of a goddess over an eminent male deity, in this case Visnu, by implying that he could not deal with a situation and had to summon the goddess for help. In the second myth, Bagala is again propitiated by the gods (the implication is that the male deities collectively petition her) to rescue the world from a power-crazed demon whose very words can kill and destroy. She stops the demon's rampage by grasping his tongue, preventing him from further speech. She is almost always portrayed in this act. In this myth her power to paralyze is explicit and stressed. She is often said to give the power of paralyzing the movements and activities of enemies.



She is also said to be the giver of vdk siddhi, the power of superior speech by which all opponents can be defeated. In this myth, by stopping the demon's tongue, she exercises her peculiar power over speech and her power to freeze, stun, or paralyze. In the third myth, Bagala is cast in the familiar role of Siva's wife. As in the version of the origin of the Mahavidyas as a group in which Sati challenges Siva to allow her to attend her father's sacrifice even though Siva has not been invited, so here Parvati and Siva are at odds. Parvati is hungry and wants to eat at once, while Siva, apparently indifferent to her hunger and impatience, puts her off and ignores her, or at least ignores the intensity of her need. As in the Sati myth, Parvati directly challenges Siva: she satisfies her hunger by eating him. Although the denouement of the story asserts Siva's primacy by having him, in effect, curse Parvati, condemning her to assume the forms of Bagalamukhi and Dhumavati, Parvati's power over Siva is dramatic and memorable. T h e myth also hints at the meaning of Bagalamukhi's name, which may be translated as "she who has the head or face of a crane." Like a crane, she swallowed whole what she ate—her husband—and perhaps this is why she is called Bagalamukhi.

The Names Bagalamukhi and Pitambara
One of Bagalamukhi's most-used epithets is Pltambaradevl. Both names are strikingly distinctive, suggesting peculiar and particular characteristics. T h e significance of the names is far from clear, however. T h e name Bagalamukhi probably means "she who has the face of a crane" or "the crane-faced one" (from Sanskrit baka, "crane"). Indeed, some scholars describe Bagalamukhi as having the head of a crane. 6 She is in fact shown with the head of a crane in at least one painting I have seen, which has been identified as from Kangra, about the year 1800. Other sources, however, say that she has the head of a duck 8 and the nose of a parrot. 9

Some assume that the name is a corruption and that the original meaning had nothing to do with her having a bird face. Rama Shankar T r i pathi of the Kasi Visvanath temple in Varanasi told me that her name is actually Valgamukhl (valga means "bit" in Sanskrit) and that the name refers to her ability to control one's enemies. Just as a bit in a horse's mouth controls it, so through the power of Bagalamukhi one can control oth-


ers. Another informant agreed that her name originally was Valgamukhi but said that valga means "to paralyze" and refers to Bagalamukhi's giving the siddhi of stambhana, "paralysis." 1 0 What is troubling about interpreting Bagalamukhi's name as meaning "crane faced" is that iconographically she is rarely shown with a bird head. In the Bagalamukhi temple in Bankhandi in Himachal Pradesh, a framed picture of Bagala hangs just outside the garbha grha. In this i m age, she sits on a crane that is attacking the demon with its beak and claw. A second crane is flying to the attack. In another image the pavilion in which she sits is decorated with swans.11 There are examples of other Hindu goddesses having bird heads. Some of the sixty-four yoginis, for example, are said to have bird heads: parrot, hawk, peacock, eagle, p i geon, or owl. Other goddesses are associated with birds as their vahanas (vehicles). SarasvatT is associated with a swan, Matarigi with a parrot, Dhumavati with a crow, and LaksmT with an owl. But in the scene of her afflicting the demon, Bagala is almost always depicted anthropomorphically and without any bird symbolism. It is also difficult to interpret her name as a corruption of valga, meaning either "bit" or "to paralyze," as she is never shown employing a bit, and the derivation of "paralyze" from valga is etymologically dubious. Perhaps the best we can do is speculate on the significance of her name, taking all of the above opinions into account. Bagalamukhi is strongly associated with supernatural or magical powers, the ability to immobilize and attract others. Such uncanny abilities may be associated with birds, who perceive more acutely than humans. This is the interpretation of at least one author, who says that crows, for example, give advance information of people's arrival. 1 2 The crane, in its ability to stand absolutely still while hunting, is a symbol of intense concentration. In this sense, the crane is an appropriate symbol of the y o g i . " T h e crane also seems to be able to attract prey to itself by remaining motionless. It >s perhaps these kinds of perfections or "magical powers" that Bagalamukhi possesses and gives to her devotees. The parrot, on the other hand, which in at least one case is said to be the type of bird's head Bagalamukhi possesses, might suggest her ability to grant vdk siddhi, the Power to make everything come true that one says (the very power with which the demon Madan caused such trouble in the world that Bagalamukhi destroyed him).

The attempt to interpret Bagalamukhi's name as implying her ability rein in an enemy by means of a bit also stresses her association with ma g i c a l powers of control. Even if the etymology is mistaken, it under-

a common image in shamanistic possession. He said that the lust for money paralyzes people (hence Bagalamukhl's ability to paralyze) and that the sight of yellow. which is the worst. This may imply that Pltambara-devI is associated with the earth and worldly blessings. white.198 BAGALAMUKHI lines this aspect of her cult. Unlike the name Bagalamukhi. however. the square being the shape for the earth element. interestingly. have the following colors: Krta. That is. shows two squares superimposed on each other at an angle. to the Kali. Bagalamukhi is also often known as Pltambara-devT. 16 17 . black. In her updsand paddhati. which does not seem to have any obvious connection with her worship and cult. the worshiper is directed to offer her yellow items whenever possible. "she who is dressed in yellow. to wear yellow clothes while worshiping her. which may also imply her association with the earth. That she likes yellow. however. The four yugas. and space). wind. 14 15 Mahant Rama Shankar Tripathi told me that women in South India wear yellow and that it is an auspicious color. is understanding the significance of yellow for this particular goddess. has the same effect. which is the best. Treta. particularly in South India. as the yugas decline in purity from the Krta. wears yellow. and prefers yellow offerings is something most texts and informants mention. The image of mastery or control is vivid here. fire. Earth is designated as yellow. the former suggesting abundance and the latter purity." She is often said to like yellow. red. or elements of creation (earth. The problem with this epithet. yellow is next to white in excellence. to sit on a yellow garment. Turmeric is also associated with marriage. and to use turmeric beads (which are yellow) when doing japa (repeated recitations) of her mantra. is rarely commented upon. Dvapara. to be dressed in yellow. are denoted by colors and shapes. The five bhutas. Bagalamukhl's yantra. In this system. The imagery of the bit also suggests the theme of mounting and riding another being. It may be that Bagalamukhi is invoked to aid a worshiper in gaining possession of or control over another being or spirit. The reason. water. yellow. the name Pltambara-devI reflects a striking feature of her cult and worship. use of yellow is compulsory. or special pujd. The idea here is that one being (usually a spirit) controls or possesses another as a rider controls and possesses a horse. Pltambaradevl is born out in practice. or world ages. I have also been told that yellow is the color of ripe grain and fire. Her temples are often painted yellow. and Kali. He also suggested that yellow symbolizes the sun and gold. which represents gold. In her pujdpaddhati (instructions for her worship). and to prefer yellow offerings.

In the hymn of her hundred names in the Rudraydmala. to get wealth. She gives the ability to stupefy. 18 Magical Powers More than any of the other Mahavidyas. and She W h o Gives All Siddhis. paralyze their faces. She W h o Gives Magical and Mystical Powers (rddhis and siddhis). and turn their wealth to poverty. please arrest the speech of wicked people. to counter the influence of the planets." Although yellow seems auspicious or pure in most of these cases. One author says that Bagalamukhi is worshiped to gain control over one's enemies. it is said that those who worship her will be able to make their enemies deaf and dumb. a supernatural weapon used by the god in war. one should make a burnt offering. In this case." Among her epithets in her hymn of a thousand names are She W h o Gives the Eight Siddhis. The invocation written around the edge of an amulet containing her yantra in the Tantrasdra reads: "O Bagalamukhi. Bagalamukhi is associated with magical powers. specific recipes for worship are given for the different siddhis sought from Bagalamukhi. "accomplishments" or "perfections. one wishes the siddhi of maruna (the power to kill an enemy by simply willing it). which gives the yellow colour. though. If. she is called She Whose Form Is the Power to Paralyze and She W h o Paralyzes. and initiative. fix their tongues and destroy their intellect. to paralyze others. for example. She also gives the power of forceful and intelligent speech by which one can defeat any opponent.BAGALAMUKHI "Turmeric. and to win court cases. thought. 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 In the Sdnkhydyana-tantra she is compared to the Brahmastra. which are sometimes referred to as siddhis. the sacrificial fire should be the fire of the cremation ground. destroy their intelligence. is par excellence the colour and symbol of marriage in the south (and in other parts of India as well) generally. the missile of Brahma. one of her most common epithets is She W h o Is the Form of the Brahmastra (Brahmastra-rupinl). to attract others. In this fire one should offer mustard oil and the blood 26 27 28 . Her paralyzing power applies to motion. The Sdrikhydyana-tantru also has a special section about worshiping her for the acquisition of magical powers. Worshiping her will also make hostile people friendly toward the adept. to bring about the death of another. no matter how brilliant. In some texts. In fact." At the end of her stotra (hymn) in the Rudraydmala. its exact relation to Bagalamukhi remains obscure.

and with them her devotees can overcome. 29 30 In the case of each of the Mahavidyas.200 BAGALAMUKHI Fig. He explains that every living creature gives off subtle waves that pervade its whole body and permeate the environment it occupies. by Molaram. Bharat Kala Bhavan. rewards can be expected from correct and sincere worship. They seem to have either more-acute senses or extrasensory perception. For uccdtana (upsetting or ruining a person) one should burn the feathers of a crow and a vulture. Garwahl. Similarly. and can be detected by dogs and crows. of a she-buffalo. he claims. Bagalamukhi. and so on for the other siddhis. 33. Himachal Pradesh. and control other people. rewards. A contemporary author tries to explain the nature of the siddhis Bagalamukhi bestows on her devotees by comparing them to the ability of certain animals to detect the presence of other creatures in situations where human beings would not be able to. These waves linger for awhile after the departure of the creature who made them. and special powers may be . outwit. going all the way back to the earliest texts on yoga. in the ancient meditative tradition of Hinduism. one finds the assumption that worldly benefits. Bagalamukhi bestows such heightened sensory abilities on her devotees. and indeed in the case of almost every Hindu deity. for example. Varanasi. late eighteenth century. Benares Hindu University.

she is called She W h o Gives Moksa to All. she is also called She W h o Bestows Ultimate Enjoyment. and she sits on the corpse of an enemy she has killed and tossed 37 . "sexual desire. Giver of Wealth. is neither surprising nor unusual. Another string of epithets associates and identifies her with the female sexual organ: She Whose Form Is the Yoni. speech. for example. which means self-control over greed. Several of her epithets in her thousandname hymn associate her directly with kdma. "paralyzing. in fact. A hymn to her in the Rudraydmala. On the other hand. we find in Bagalamukhl's epithets references to both her power to give worldly enjoyment and her power to grant wisdom. In her thousand-name hymn. for example: She W h o Dwells Where There Is Sexual Desire. 31 32 33 34 35 36 Sava Sadhana In many depictions of Bagalamukhi and in some of her dhyana mantras. like jealousy. and Giver of the Pleasures of Dharma and Artha (power). and W h o Takes Pleasure in Sexual Play. hatred and cruelty." or the god of sexual desire. also by coincidence a monk of the Ramakrishna order. She is called. W h o Has a Garland of Yonis." Indeed. These are the eight siddhis. it is merely explicit. then. describes her as having her seat on a platform set in the middle of the ocean of nectar. Whose Eyes Are Full of Desire. The throne is decorated with red lotuses. knowledge. W h o Gives Sexual Desire. she is sitting on a corpse. Bagalamukhl's associations with sexual desire and pleasure probably can be understood as part of her bestowing the power of attracting others. W h o Is Worshiped with the Lirigam and Yoni. and taste. and She W h o Gives Wisdom." Another informant. Positive or negative interpretations can be placed on this aspect of Bagalamukhi." represent her control over the fiveprdnas (breaths) inside us. she conquers the tongue. That Bagalamukhi should be associated with such pragmatic and practical rewards and accomplishments. W h o Likes Sexual Desire.BAGALAMUKHI" achieved through meditation. says that Bagalamukhl's powers of stambhana. Whose Form is the Litigant and Yoni. She W h o Is the Bestower of Ultimate Liberation. W h o Is Adorned with Yonis. W h o Enjoys the Union of the Lirigam and Yoni. and W h o Is Absorbed with the Lirigam and Yoni. and liberation. Whose Form Is Sexual Desire. including sexually attracting them. Kama-deva. for example. "She controls the vital breath. One author says that she "represents the ugly side of living creatures. W h o Dwells in the Yoni.

although not seated or standing on a corpse. a sacred place. first of all. immobile. This association with corpses can be interpreted in several ways. eternally blissful aspect of reality. and the proper type of corpse with which to undertake this worship. a mountain. The best time is said to be the eighth lunar tithi (a lunar day). Others.202 BAGALAMUKHI onto the throne. for example. are sometimes said to be surrounded by funeral pyres or to be worshiped in cremation grounds. represents the unchanging. First. She represents the underlying rhythm and power of the creation. to select the right location. This combination of the goddess seated on a corpse while pulling the tongue of a demon suggests certain features of sava sadhana (spiritual practice using a corpse). explained the demon and corpse in the Bagalamukhi image as the bodily rhythms being mastered by yogic control. and a cremation ground are all recommended as suitable. committed sui39 . the corpse may be said to represent ignorance or the passions that the goddess has defeated or controlled. Matarigl. bright or dark. 38 The presence of corpses in the iconography and worship of several of the Mahavidyas is striking. The Tantrasdra of Krsnananda Agamavaglsa describes this practice as follows: The sddhaka is to take care. Kali. Bagalamukhi. in which the male tends toward the static and the female toward the dynamic. This interpretation is usually cast in the framework of Vaisnavite avatdra mythology: the goddess emerges to protect the cosmic order by killing a demon who has usurped the gods. This is exactly how the image of Daksina-kall is usually interpreted. Second. the bank of a river. on a Tuesday night. and Bhairavi are often pictured or described as standing or seated on a corpse or zpreta (ghost). which invigorates and empowers all beings and represents life itself. while the "corpse. which is described in some tantric texts. many informants say that the corpse is that of a demon whom that particular goddess has defeated in combat. such as Dhumavatl. A third interpretation is that the corpse represents the male pole in the Siva-Sakti vision of reality." Siva. which is described in detail in several tantric texts. Swami Annapurnananda. Tara. she is pulling the tongue of a man or a beastlike creature. The corpse itself should be intact and should belong to a young member of the Candala caste (a low caste) who drowned. The corpse also might be interpreted as a reference to sava sadhana (spiritual endeavor employing a corpse). the right time. The myth of Bagalamukhi's origin that features the demon Madan supports this explanation. A deserted house. Chinnamasta. the root of a bilva tree. a forest. At the same time.

was prominent. reciting a mantra 40 . lightning. Bagalamukhi. The sadhaka takes the corpse to the place of worship. lived an immoral life. The sadhaka should avoid using the corpse of a person who was very attached to a spouse. or on the battlefield facing the enemy. contemporary lithograph. 34. cide. or died of famine.BAGALAMUKHI Fig. a snake. or was killed by a spear.

you are the form of Ananda-bhairava (a form of Siva). At some points it seems clear that he is propitiating the corpse itself or the corpse as the seat or location of a deity. Next he worships the s'ava dsana (corpse seat) and sits on it. I am heroic myself. Getting off the corpse. The image of mounting the corpse in the fashion of riding a horse is particularly vivid and reminds one of possession cults. and buries it or places it in a body of water. 41 42 It is not clear in this description of s'ava sddhand exactly whom the sadhaka mjght be worshiping and whom he might be trying to control. returning. He offers the corpse three handfuls of flowers and makes obeisance to it saying: "You are the lord of all heroic persons. Having put some betel nut in the corpse's mouth. and if the corpse moves he spits on the corpse. mounting it as he would a horse. then makes a bed of kus'a grass and places the corpse on it with its head toward the east. repeating the deity's mantra fearlessly. in which spirits are said to mount those whom they possess. At other points it seems as if he is trying to control the corpse or the spirit that may inhabit it. Please arise for the purposes of making my worship of Candika fruitful. If he hears a voice asking him to make some offerings. he presses its hands firmly down on the kusa grass. He puts a woolen cloth over the yantra. While doing so." After this. repeats the deity's mantra. He expresses his intention (sankalpa). placing them in the mouth of the corpse. he should reply: "Next time I shall offer an elephant and other things. such as voodoo. blissful. He then worships the guardians of the directions and the sixty-fouryoginis with vegetable offerings. making a square in the middle of which he draws a yantra with an eight-petaled lotus and four gates." The sadhaka bathes the corpse with perfumed water while uttering mantras." Then he should say: "Who are you and what is your name? Please give me a blessing. It is also not clear whose voice addresses the sadhaka in this corpse rit- . he takes seven steps and. he turns the corpse over and smears sandal paste on its back. and I bow to you. lord of kulas. Next he makes offerings to the deity. he scatters mustard and sesame seeds in all directions. He then ties the corpse's hair into a knot. The tying of the corpse's feet and the pressing down of its hands seem to indicate that the sadhaka is trying to control or tame the corpse or the corpse's spirit. he binds its feet with a silken cord and draws a triangle around them. and you are the seat of the goddess. bathes it. Again getting down from the corpse. and meditates on his guru and the deity in his heart.2o 4 BAGALAMUKHI to purify it as he does so (let us assume the adept in the following ritual is a male). Remounting the corpse. he unbinds the feet of the corpse. saying what he desires as a result of the worship. practices prdnaydma (breath control).

or through the power of." He was also warned that the corpse often begins to growl and scream at the sadhaka who is seeking to control it. and sava sadhana. or a preta or bhuta (ghost) associated with the corpse. getting her power. A description of sava sadhana by a contemporary adept often mentions the possibility of the corpse reviving or becoming aggressive. or the spirit possessing the corpse." Perhaps this deity is summoned or commanded by sava sadhana and it is she whom the aspirant seeks to contact through this rite. This is the possible connection between Bagalamukhi. 43 44 45 46 The image of Bagalamukhi seated on a corpse while pulling the tongue of an "enemy" might also relate to the themes evident in sava sadhana. Karna-pisacI is also described and discussed by a contemporary tantric practitioner as a deity whom one encounters in the cremation ground and from whom one may obtain knowledge of the present and past. A central theme in shamanism is the acquisition of a spirit who gives the shaman special or mystical knowledge from the spirit world. The text says: "Ascending her. the corpse's spirit. which may suggest its ghost or spirit nature. This particular sadhaka stresses the importance of remaining fearless in such circumstances and facing and overcoming the corpse. or defeating his enemies. he [the sadhaka) can go anywhere and see the past. present. and future. It is in cooperation with. 47 48 49 The "enemy" that Bagalamukhi beats sometimes has animal characteristics. who is so consistently associated with granting magical powers. A painting in a private collection in Bharat Kala Bhavan in Varanasi shows Bagalamukhi pulling the hair of a demon who has a tail and a dark complexion (see fig- . which may involve biting off its protruding tongue before the ghost can devour the adept. Describing his own experience with this ritual. In Tibetan Buddhist tantric corpse sadhana {chod rites) the adept is warned that if the corpse comes to life it must be subdued. Both in sava sadhana and in the propitiation of Karna-pisacI. he tells how he was instructed to deal with the eventuality of the corpse becoming enlivened. controlling. The Tantrasdra mentions another possibility: a goddess named KarnapisacI. this spirit that the adept comes to possess magical powers for overcoming. She favors the successful sadhaka by coming invisibly to him and whispering in his ear the correct answer to any question. "The old man had warned me that if she [the corpse was a young female] tried to get up I should knock her down and pin her firmly.BAGALAMUKHI 205 ual It might be the deity whose mantra he is reciting. it seems that the sadhaka is interested in gaining access to such a spirit. who lives in the heart of a corpse. or the spirit of the corpse. This deity has clear shamanistic overtones.

which is the goal of many rituals and beliefs. within the structures of the normal world. The spirit of a person recently killed. Chinna masti sometimes stands on a corpse being consumed in a funeral pyr and Dhumavatl is sometimes pictured in cremation grounds. perhaps. he argues. is a preeminent example of a liminal being. cannot take place easily. if at all. realms. a being betwixt and between identities. beliefs. . is that transformation of consciousness or identity. for example. the spi of the dead person is a potential preta or bhuta. 50 Victor Turner has argued that many religious rituals. The reason for this.206 BAGALAMUKHI ure 32). initiation rituals often take place outside the normal confines of society—in the bush. It still dwells in the land of the living. like pretas and bhutas. who are stuck permanently between worlds. especially if the death has been violent. enhances the liminal context of tantric rituals. does not belong anywhere. which is to transform the initiates. the demon she abuses is monkeylike in appearance (see figure 33). In sava sadhana it is specified that the corpse should be fresh. to employ one as a "seat" for ritual purposes. which has been revived or summoned by means of tantric rituals such as s'ava sadhana. structured contexts. she becomes the mistress of magical powers. Similarly. By bringing the spirit under her control. It may be that the depiction of Bagalamukhi seated on a corpse while afflicting a "demon" is meant to suggest that she overcomes or controls the corpse's spirit. To associate or identify with a fresh corpse. and practices seek to create liminal situations or to transform human beings into liminal figures. an unhappy spirit that can cause trouble for the living. This is a striking aspect of the Mahavidyas and begs for interpretation. Kali and Tara are often said to stand or sit on corpses. tantric rituals aim at transforming the aspirant. They are outside all structures. the woods. instilling them with transformative potential. An appropriate place to undertake such rituals is the cremation ground. This analysis of corpse imagery also might be relevant to other Mahavidyas. the liminal place par excellence. In many cultures. In another painting of Bagalamukhi in Bharat Kala Bhavan. or to court the company of ghosts and troublesome spirits. for then the spirit of the dead person is still nearby. not being able to depart for the land of the dead un the appropriate sraddha rituals have been performed. The ghost of the corpse has not been settled and lingers in the liminal area between life and death. as does the sadhaka who worships her. Such a spirit. In this sense. or specially prescribed places—in liminal space. awakening in him or her an expanded consciousness and the acquisition of a new identity. The rituals often use the imagery of rebirth to speak of the aim of the rites.

The sandals of the founding mahant (chief temple priest) are prominently enshrined in the hall adjoining the main sanctuary that houses the image of the goddess. however. that the image underneath depicts Bagalamukhi in her familiar form. It is used primarily by ordinary householders and residents of the area. The large painting of Garuda. I have. None of the other Mahavidyas is enshrined or depicted at this temple. and I was told by the priest there that it was a "private temple" but open to the public. "where the arrow split the ground. is a small town. has strong associations at this temple with both Siva and Visnu. on the porch. He did not mention stambhana. which does not require a public shrine or temple. and the goddess's association with this group is nowhere in evidence. not far from Manikarnika Ghat. The temple is attached to a private house. her worship is undertaken primarily through individual sadhana. Paksaraja (the king of birds). According to the temple priest. The priest told me. The statue of a crouching lion faces the goddess. heard of and visited a few Bagalamukhi-Pltambara temples. The goddess. The priest said that the goddess gives the siddhis of detachment and mdrana (the ability to kill by simply willing it). pulling the tongue of a demon and about to strike him with a club. According to the priest. Bankhandi. then. which is the siddhi usually associated with Bagalamukhi. however. tantrikas do not worship at this temple. The image of the goddess is normally kept hidden. where she had killed demons who were assaulting her devotees. The king of Kangra became the . and bait (blood offerings) are not offered there. One is in the old part of Varanasi. the goddess came from Tibet. namely. Another temple to Bagalamukhi is located in Bankhandi. This one is covered with clothing and a silver mask. Himachal Pradesh. The tradition that Bagalamukhi came from the north is interesting and is supported by her popularity in Nepal. although the priest did not comment on this association. To the right of the goddess is an image of Siva and on her left an image of Ganesa. which is typical in goddess temples. which is typical in goddess temples. and the temple is located outside it in the woods.BAGALAMUKHI Bagalamukhi Temples Shrines dedicated to Bagalamukhi are not very common." so named because long ago a sadhu established a spring by repeatedly jabbing an arrow into the ground. Pictures of the ten avatdras of Visnu hang in the adjoining hall. may be significant in light of Bagalamukhi's association with the crane. are large paintings of Garuda and Krsna. and outside the temple.

The priest said that the temple was "four or five hundred years old. It was established sometime in the 1930s by a sadhu who eventually became known as Puja Swami. The priest said that her vdhana is sometimes a crane. which the priest assured me resembled in detail the descriptions of the goddess in her dhydna mantras. The crane is attacking the demon with its beak. which I have not visited. 51 ." The goddess grants all desires and gives protection from all harm and blesses people with children (all standard functions of a goddess). Patriotism remained a strong theme in the sadhana of this founder priest. and there was no sign of a lirigam nor any image of a male consort. which was of rough. was not visible except for the head. left-handed tantric worship of Dhumavatl takes place at this shrine. the priest said. she has been the protective deity of the area. The entire temple. while Dhumavati's image is terrible and she is associated with destruction. Since that time. although the founding priest did not practice it himself. She is unmarried. which is the color of a crane's beak. and he established her image to benefit India. The most famous temple to Bagalamukhi is at Datiya in Madhya Pradesh. according to the priest. This same description says that Bagalamukhl's image is beautiful and she is associated with material blessings and welfare. The actual image of the deity. and another crane is flying to join in. Bagalamukhi was his ista devata (chosen deity). inside and out. black stone. which at that time was in the throes of the Independence movement. and indeed a framed painting in the temple showed Bagalamukhi seated on one. According to one report. The priest said that the goddess likes yellow.208 BAGALAMUKHI goddess's devotee and established her worship there. and I have been told that he undertook special worship to invoke Bagalamukhl's power of stambhana against the enemies of India (both internal and external) on several occasions. is painted yellow. and it seems clear that Bagalamukhl's association with the Mahavidyas is emphasized there. An image of Dhumavatl is also installed at this temple.

1 She is blue in color and has the disc of the moon on her forehead. there is a tale of a hunter king named Matariga and his daughter. as well as bracelets. a goad. She perspires slightly around her face. She has a smiling face and holds a noose. and her breasts are round and firm. a sword. Around her neck is a garland of kadamba flowers. She represents the sixty-four arts. Her clothes and all her ornaments are red. Certain details of the story bear such a striking similarity to 209 . which makes her more beautiful and bright. and the disk of the moon adorns her forehead.E. and ear ornaments. 2 She is seated on an altar and has a smiling face and a greenish complexion. She is worshiped by gods and demons. She holds a skull and a sword in her two hands.3 0 0 C. Her eyes are intoxicated.. Below her navel are three horizontal lines [from the folds of her skin] and a thin vertical line of fine hair. She wears a girdle of jeweled ornaments. She should be offered leftovers [uccista]. and is adorned with jeweled ornaments. She has three eyes. She is sixteen years old and has full breasts. She wears a garland of gunja seeds [a small forest seed]. 3 Intimations of Matarigi in a Buddhist Tale In the Divydvaddna. and a club in her four hands. She has a very thin waist. is seated on a jeweled throne. Her hair is long. armlets. and she is flanked by two parrots.Matarigi The Outcaste Goddess She is seated on a corpse. a Buddhist collection of stories concerning previous lives of the Buddha that was probably written around 2 5 0 .

After getting some.MATANGI Fig. later characteristics of the goddess Matarigi's nature and mythology that it is relevant to mention it as a possible intimation. or very early version. Matarigi. early twentieth century. the Buddha's disciple Ananda went out begging for food. and asked for water. by Bhatuk Ramprasad. Varanasi. Once upon a time. Bhanu Shanker Mehta. 35. He saw a girl drawing water from a well. approached her. he became thirsty. of the Mahavidya goddess. The girl answered: . Printed with the permission of Dr.

So adept was she. nullified the power of the Candala woman's mantras. that she was able to harness the forces of the lightning and rain to help her. who asked what she wanted. After Prakrti's entrance into the Buddhist order. Trisariku was king of elephant hunters (Matariga-raja). seeing the shortsightedness of her craving for Ananda. Ananda's heart became agitated as he remembered Prakrti's charm. named Prakrti. and as he drank Prakrti admired his youthful body and became fascinated by him. the daughter of Matariga. aware of his predicament. Sardulakarna. and impressed with the teachings of the Buddha. He had a son. and so powerful the mantras. Her mother hesitated: she feared trouble from the local king. Ananda stood near the mother's altar and began to weep. Should I give you water?" Ananda replied: "I am not asking what your caste is. Prakrti. built an altar. Mahavidyadhari (she who is skilled in the great mantras). she went herself to the Buddha. and she yearned to have him as her husband. if she would attract Ananda to her by the appropriate rituals and mantras. Ananda became calm and returned to the monastery. Once in the past. Her desire for him grew. He . The Buddha told her that the only way she could share Ananda's company was to become a nun herself. and I am a Candala [a very low caste]. W h e n Prakrti discovered that the Buddha had overcome her mother's magic. Prakrti asked her mother. The mother cleaned an area near her house. offered up flowers in the fire on the altar. her mother agreed to try to capture him by magic. and she was given the simple garb of a Buddhist nun. which she did. I am only asking for water. and began to recite mantras to attract Ananda to her daughter. He prayed to the Buddha to rescue him. the Buddha told her a story that put the attraction between her and Ananda in perspective. Trisariku heard of a Brahman's daughter.MATANGl "My name is Prakrti [nature]. Her hair was cut off. agreed to be initiated as a nun. At first she refused her daughter. for whom he wished to find a suitable bride. By her magic." He took water from her. and he left the monastery to seek her out. who he thought would be suitable for his son. but when Prakrti threatened suicide if she could not have Ananda. who was a devotee of the Buddha. As he approached Prakro's home. Arriving there. her mother saw him coming and instructed Prakrti to beautify herself and prepare a bed for lovemaking. and she also doubted whether her magic could overcome the power of the Buddha to protect his disciples. She was frank and said that she desired Ananda for her husband. After Ananda had returned to the monastery. so he set out to arrange a wedding. and the Buddha.

4 We do not have the goddess Matarigi in this early Buddhist tale. who is either a sage or a hunter. and hunting culture. if not central. W h e n the Brahman saw that Trisariku was an elephant hunter of low caste. her father-in-law is said to be king of the elephant hunters (Matariga-raja). And. the Buddha said. which may be translated as "nature. and taken together they tell us a good deal about the type of goddess she is. Matarigi is often said to be the daughter of Matariga. the forests. This is an important. the name of Matarigi's mother. also show up in these myths." identifies her with the jungle. In a subsequent conversation. And the elephant-hunter king. Sardulakarna. Origin Myths There are several myths concerning the origin or appearance of Matarigi.MATANGI traveled with an entourage of his ministers and his many dogs. First. the daughter of Matariga. . This story. W h a t we probably have is a source that contributed to the eventual emergence of the goddess. Second. relate the story to the Mahavidyas. This explained the mutual attraction of the pair in this life. The Brahman relented and allowed the marriage to take place. and her use of magical powers to infatuate Ananda. however. Fourth. In the context of the Mahavidyas. And Trisariku's son. Mahavidyadhari (she who is skilled in the great mantras). As will be apparent. he was disdainful of him and rejected his proposal for a marriage. again an important aspect of the later goddess. The story contains early intimations of the later goddess. some of the themes and details of the Buddhist tale of Prakrti. and in the story of her previous birth. was he himself. a Candala. was Ananda in that life. has several intriguing points that are relevant to our consideration of the Mahavidya goddess Matarigi. fifth. feature of the goddess Matarigi. Prakrti. rites aimed at attracting another person and forcing him to do one's will are an important part of the story and remind us of Matarigi's power to attract and control others. Third. which was made popular in recent times by Rabindranath Tagore's story Canddlikd. the heroine is of low caste. as we shall see. Trisariku impressed him with his vast knowledge of spiritual matters and the arts and sciences. the Buddha said. That Brahman's daughter was the same Prakrti who in this life desired Ananda. the heroine's father is named Matariga. the heroine's name.

he took her hand. From these remnants arose a maiden endowed with fair qualities. Siva then said to the attractive maiden: "Those who repeat your mantra and worship you. Siva asked: "Who are you?" She replied: "I am the daughter of a Candala. and some pieces dropped to the ground. She said to him that he always gave her anything she wanted and that now she had a desire to return to her father's home for a visit. where he was preparing to do evening prayer. Parvati's mother sent a crane to carry Parvati back to her family home. After they had made love. but then she discerned with her yogic intuition that the ornament vendor was really her husband. I agree. she asked? Siva was not happy about granting her this wish but eventually complied. fine. Parvati asked Siva for a boon. I've come here to do penance. Visnu and LaksmI gave Siva and Parvati fine foods." Saying this. She danced there. At this point he recognized the Candala woman as his wife Parvati. seeking to test her faithfulness. Siva himself was changed into a Candala. Once upon a time. asked that she have sex with him as his payment. She asked for leftover food (uccista). She is the bestower of all boons. The second version of Matarigi's origin is found in the Prdnatosinttantra. Concealing her knowledge of his true identity. and her breasts large." From then on this maiden became known as Uccista-matarigini. and her body was lean. Once upon a time. She wore red clothes. Admiring her. her eyes wide. They will be able to control their enemies and obtain the objects of their desires. ." 5 Sometime later. she replied: "Yes. Siva disguised himself as an ornament maker and went to Himalaya's house. But not just now. which he granted. The four deities offered her their leftovers asprasdda (food made sacred by having been tasted by deities). When'she did not return for some days.MATANGI The first myth dealing with Matarigi's origin is found in the Saktisamgama-tantra and concerns the appearance of Uccista-matarigini. kissed her. this form will last forever and will be known as Uccista-candalinl. near Manas Lake. He sold shell ornaments to Parvati and then. their activities will be fruitful. Visnu and LaksmI went to visit Siva and Parvati. Himalaya. Parvati was outraged at the merchant's request and was ready to curse him. Would he consent to her visiting her father. saying that if she did not come back in a few days. he would go there himself to ask for her return. While they made love. Parvati disguised herself as a huntress and went to Siva's home. one of Matarigi's most common forms." Then Siva said: "I am the one who gives fruits to those who do penance. and prepared to make love to her. Her request was this: "As you [Siva] made love to me in the form of a CandalinI [Candala woman]. Siva. Parvati was seated on Siva's lap.

the lord of Varanasi (Kasi Visvanatha). She was annoyed with Siva. Finally. He persisted in his ascetic exercises for thousands of years until finally. and associating with ghosts and goblins. with purity and pollution. Parvatl took umbrage at the abuses being leveled at her husband and cursed Siva's sister to be reborn in an untouchable community and to spend her entire life there. Matariga was able to realize his desire to control all creatures. Kali then took on a greenish complexion and assumed the form of Raja-matariginl. With the help of this goddess. a form of Matarigi. in a high-caste Brahman sort of way. The first myth stresses Matarigi's association with leftover food. which is normally . several important themes are emphasized that seem central to Matarigi's character. And so she was reborn in the untouchable area of Varanasi and in such polluted circumstances found herself very unhappy. complaining bitterly to Parvatl about Siva's disgusting habits. Kauri-bai (whose name associates her with the cowrie shell) was Siva's sister. She emitted brilliant rays from her eyes. the goddess Tripura-sundari appeared before him. located in a low-caste area of Varanasi. After Siva married Parvatl. 6 7 8 The Goddess W h o Prefers Pollution In these otherwise dissimilar myths.2i 4 MATANGI Only after performing suitable worship to this form will you [Siva] be worshiped and your worship be made fruitful. A fourth story concerning the creation of Matarigi. Once upon a time Matariga undertook austerities in order to gain the power to subdue all creatures. According to this myth. She was particularly fastidious and was preoccupied. imbibing intoxicants." The third myth that deals with Matarigi's origin is from the Svatantratantra. He was completely inconsiderate of her attempts to keep their house pure and would often track ashes from the cremation ground into her freshly cleaned house. is associated with a small temple dedicated to Kauri-bai. and the goddess Kali emerged. refused all these friendly gestures. such as spending time in the cremation ground. like a good wife. Kauri-bai. She went to Siva. who had many habits that she considered disgusting. inviting her to visit them. told to me by an informant in Varanasi. however. Parvatl made polite overtures to Kauri-bai. who gave her the boon that people on pilgrimage to Varanasi would have to worship at her shrine before their journey could be considered complete. in a burst of bright light.

Matarigi. And the first thing she asks for is sustenance in the form of leftover food (uccista). having eaten and not washed. worshipers should be in a state of pollution. Ramnagar. American Institute of Indian Studies. This is a dramatic reversal 9 10 . but texts describing her worship specify that devotees should offer her uccista with their hands and mouths stained with uccista. that is. Indeed. she herself actually arises or emerges from §iva and Parvati's table scraps.MATANGI Fig. considered highly polluting. Not only does Matarigi request uccista in this story. 36. Nepali Manuscript.

devotees are careful to offer particularly pure food or food that the deity especially likes. that vows of any type are not necessary in seeking her blessing (devotees typically agree to perform some pious deed. a devotee offers Uccista-matarigini a piece of clothing stained with menstrual blood in order to win the boon of being able to attract someone. Normally. This leftover food (uccista. to come to terms with it once and for all and in so doing to overcome its hold over them. who is clean and who is not and under what circumstances.216 MATANGI of the usual protocols for the worship of Hindu deities. although it is often desirable in the case of other deities. After the deity has eaten it (consumed its spiritual essence). As such. and menstruating women are forbidden to enter temples or otherwise serve the deities. Uccistamatarigini. these strict taboos are disregarded. it is exhilarating. indeed obsession. such as fasting or making a pilgrimage. if not spiritually liberating. as having the power to completely devastate one and make one unfit for normal social life. as the embodiment of the polluted. indeed. and how clean one is oneself at any given time and in any given circumstance. are flaunted. and that worshipers need not observe any rituals of purification prior to her worship. even those who are not initiated or who would not be considered qualified to undertake any other goddess's worship. polluted persons and objects may be regarded with fear bordering on awe. 13 . In the case of Matarigi. in return for a deity's favor). the food is returned to the worshiper. although it is not called this) is referred to as prasada (grace). 11 12 In a society such as that of high-caste Hindus. Worship manuals also specify that no fasting is required before worshiping Matarigi. worshipers present her with their own highly polluted leftover food and are themselves in a state of pollution while doing so. anyone may recite her mantra. In one case. who serves the deity and accepts the deity's leftover food as something to be cherished. In the case of Matarigi. Keeping track of what is clean and what is unclean. Similarly. who are probably the authors of most of the texts concerning Matarigi. For such purity-minded individuals. to intensely embrace the forbidden. becomes oppressive at times. The ritual give-andtake in this case emphasizes the inferior position of the devotee. is the goddess by means of whom one can come directly to terms with pollution. preoccupation. with purity and pollution dominates almost every facet of daily life. she is both powerful and liberating. For some Hindus. furthermore. Menstrual blood is regarded in almost all Hindu texts and contexts as extremely polluting.

The Candala identity is sacralized. dangerous food and polluted. The myth also emphasizes that it can be transformative. The story makes the point that Parvatl has a facet that is outside normal society. a form of Matarigi. By disguising herself as a CandalinI. or outcaste people. Siva is even said to make contact purposely with polluting things and people. Given Siva's strong identity as an outsider in many texts. low-caste. Matarigi is born when Parvatl adopts a Candala identity. sums up in her name the polluted and the forbidden: uccista and Candala. indeed. a central message of the myth is that an undue obsession with purity can be dangerous and destructive. are not as preoccupied with pollution as Kauri-bai. As Kauribai. then. dangerous people. In this story. in which she is said to have been Siva's purity-minded sister. Matarigi's association with low castes and pollution is also clear in the ways in which polluted substances are handled among certain commu- . Siva and Parvatl.1-5). as it were. in her character is an "other" identity that transgresses propriety and caste-bound society. This goddess. as in the Buddhist tale of Prakrti. this is not surprising. This affirmation of Parvari's "forest" or "hunter" or "CandalinI" identity can actually be traced to the Mahabharata (3. Siva and Parvati's home lies somewhere outside normal society—in the forest. also emphasizes Matarigi's association with pollution and low castes. Both deities self-consciously and willingly associate themselves with the periphery of Hindu society and culture. in the mountains. in the establishment of the goddess Uccista-candalinl. even necessary. The fourth version of Matarigi's origin.40. to associate with that which is polluted or to worship a deity who is closely identified with those who are of low caste. where Arjuna encounters Siva and Parvatl in the guise of hunters in the Himalayas. cursed by Parvatl to be reborn in an untouchable community. and by being attracted to her. by implication. Parvatl assumes the identity of a very low-caste person. polluted.MATANGI The Outcaste/Low-Caste Goddess The second myth concerning the origin of Matarigi also touches on the theme of the polluted or forbidden by associating the goddess with Candalas and with hunting culture. Traditionally. Matarigi is clearly identified with a goddess who lives among low castes in a polluted environment and who earned this dubious distinction by being overly preoccupied with avoiding pollution. Siva allows himself to be intensely polluted. among tribal. This myth reasserts this aspect of their marital history. Indeed.

That society cannot. T h e lowest group of castes in Nepal. cleaners of latrines. the Pore. and other such things are disposed of at the chwasas. make themselves more sexually appealing to each other. while the sadhaka who performs maithuna with a low-caste woman seeks spiritual transformation. The name Matarigi reinforces this aspect of the goddess as erotically powerful. . 15 T h e second version of Matarigi's origin also emphasizes sexual tension between husband and wife. clothes worn by people just before they died. polluted substances and items are also associated with special rocks called chwasas that are set up at crossroads (a very common location for getting rid of dangerous things). One of the central tensions in the story is the lure and attractiveness of illicit sex. According to some people. In both the story and the panca tattva ritual. while she in turn does the same thing to him. It contains the familiar theme (in stories of the Mahavidyas) of Parvati (or Sati) asking Siva for permission to return to her paternal home and Siva's reluctance to grant it. They are required to live outside the village and in this sense define the boundaries of "pure" society. and fishermen. and Siva lusts after the Candala huntress. the woman with whom maithuna (sexual intercourse) is performed is not one's wife and can be from a low caste. Siva. Her name literally means "she whose limbs are intoxicated (with passion)" and most commonly refers to an impassioned female elephant. They not only collect physically impure things. These castes have the important job of collecting and accumulating the polluted and polluting detritus of other castes and getting rid of it.218 MATASfGl nines in Nepal. such as human waste. W h a t is particularly interesting for our purposes is that members of this group of castes are also known by the caste name Matarigi. in fact. seeks to test and seduce his own wife. Parvati agrees to have sex with the ornament merchant. Remains of sacrificial animal heads offered to deities. Matarigi. They present themselves to each other as "the forbidden" and. Siva is actually transformed into a Candala in the act of sex. she gets rid of pollution by accepting it as an offering and in so doing lives up to her name Uccista-matarigini." who is believed to consume these dangerous materials. the power of illicit sex is transformative in one way or another. function without them: they provide the valve through which it rids itself of its own pollution. perhaps inadvertently (it is not clear). that is. 14 In the Nepalese context. in disguise. includes sweepers. the deity associated with these chwasas "is the dangerous goddess. but are also thought to accumulate pollution associated with death and bad luck. In the panca tattva ritual. This role of low castes is a common theme in Hindu ideas of caste and pollution. Like the untouchables among whom she is found.

This goddess. puts into sharp focus one aspect of Matarigi". In her dbydna mantra in the Sdradd-tilaka-tantru. Who Knows the Forest. and is smiling and singing. Matarigi bears several epithets that associate her with Savaresvari. She is entirely clothed in leaves and wears a garland of gunja seeds and earrings of creepers. or this form of Matarigi. Matarigi is closely identified with a goddess named Savaresvari (mistress of the Savaras). The Savaras are a tribal people often mentioned in Sanskrit literature.Fig. contemporary lithograph. Who Enjoys the Forest (v. to have paintings of leaves on her forehead. she is said. Raja-matarigi is said to listen to the chattering of green parrots. and they typify forest culture. Matarigi. 13). She is called She Who Lives in the Forest. and to wear flower garlands in her hair and conch shells as earrings. In her hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala. 4). She is also said to control all wild animals. to love music (v. like Savaresvari. 103). She holds a basket made of vines. Savaresvari is described as sixteen and short in stature. 3 7 . to play a vfnd. life beyond the boundaries of civilized society. In her thousand-name hymn from the Nandyavarta-tantra. her association with the forest. is collecting fruit with her right hand. Who Walks in the Forest. This association with Savaresvari affirms and reinforces Matarigi's identity with 16 17 18 19 20 21 . and §avari (v.

The sadhaka asks to be like Chinnamasta in showing generosity to others. particularly Bagalamukhi. the power of having everything one says come true. Certain preliminary rites are necessary before making the specific offerings to obtain what one wants. the Mahavidyas are typified according to their peculiar natures and powers. which will be an indispensable part of subsequent rituals. 22 The Goddess of Magical Powers T h e third story points to another aspect of Matarigi. Matarigi is worshiped in order to gain certain magical or psychic powers. The Tantrasdra at several points says that by meditating upon." It is here that the different "recipes" are given for achieving specific benefits in return for worshiping the goddess in question. (3) pouring purified water (tarpana. It is useful in getting a more complete picture of Mahavidya worship to discuss in some detail this aspect of her cult. While Matarigi is not at all unique in terms of being approached for certain desires. in kingly functions like Tripura-sundari. In a prayer in the Mahdbhdgavata-purana.2 20 MATANGl the forest and with tribal culture. and in controlling enemies like Matarigi. and Matarigi appears as a manifestation of Kali in order to enable Matariga to realize his wish. namely. often done for spirits of the ancestors) one hundred times while reciting the mantra. Texts devoted to the Mahavidyas often contain a section called prayog vidhi. her association with magical powers. First. she is definitely associated with acquiring magical powers and granting favors. reciting the mantra of. in this case Matarigi's mantra. Like other goddesses among the Mahavidyas. and the power of attracting people. like Dhumavatl when angry. or worshiping Matarigi one gains power over others. both of which are strongly "other" from the point of view of high-caste Brahman society. (2) offering flowers mixed with honey and ghee in a fire while saying the mantra one thousand times. and of essential importance. The sadhaka empowers the mantra by performing the following rituals: (i) reciting the mantra itself ten thousand times. like Bagalamukhi in battle. The sage Matariga subjects himself to austerities to gain this power. "concerning the acquisition of desires. (4) 23 24 . particularly the power to exert control over others. is the empowerment of the goddess's mantra (purascarna). in times of peace like Bhuvanesvarl.

and sometimes also special places. 9. the worshiper will obtain great wealth. On this yantra altar the sadhaka kindles a fire." The initial empowering of the mantra need not be done every time it is used. the sadhaka will acquire control over others. If turmeric powder (which is bright yellow and hence favored by Bagalamukhi) is offered. the sadhaka will be at- . If horma (fire sacrifice) is done with mallikd flowers (a small. or crossroads. stambhana). and his or her store of grain will increase. including red and white sandal paste. the goddess's yantra is duly constructed (either physically or mentally). accompanied by the recitation of Matarigi's mantra. the sadhaka will gain the power to control others. Depending upon what it is the sadhaka wishes. 4. On subsequent occasions. If offerings of bel flowers are made. Sometimes certain times of day or night. the worshiper will acquire the power to paralyze others (Bagalamukhi's special power. within which the offerings will be made for the desired boons. If salt alone is offered. If offerings of palds flowers or leaves are made. The mantra is now empowered and is referred to as a siddha mantra. river banks. white. different elements or combinations of elements are offered up in the fire. The following twelve "recipes" are prescribed: 1. as it were. the sadhaka will be able to destroy enemies. are offered. If nim twigs with rice are offered up in the fire. or place. kingship. the sadhaka will acquire success in yoga. are specified as the most effective for the performance of the ritual. saffron. the sadhaka need only recite the mantra ten thousand or one thousand times in order to "recharge" it. Next is performed the worship of the pitha. 5. fragrant flower—not jasmine). and camphor. diseases will be destroyed. After. the sadhaka will acquire the power to rule over others. the pitha has been made pure by banishing inimical spirits and summoning protective deities (the guardians of the ten directions). If mm oil and salt are offered. If another type of plant is used. forests. restoring it to its full power. and finally (5) offering food to ten Brahmans.MATANGI sprinkling water ten times while saying the mantra. such as cremation grounds. If eight different fragrant items.

If the mantra is recited an additional one hundred times and sandal paste put on the worshiper's forehead. Karna-matarigi is invoked in the hope that she will whisper in the sddhaka's ear the truth about some question posed by the sadhaka. to insure the success of their sadhana. will be able to control an angry king and his children. In this case. meat. and worship her yantra will get great wealth. and goat meat. We are also told in the same text that to achieve the highest knowledge of the scriptures. and then burn it on a cremation fire. the sadhaka will acquire the power to attract others. any person can be made the sddhaka's servant if the following rites are performed: In the dark of night put a conch in a (presumably dead) crow's stomach. If the sadhaka makes rice powder and with this makes bread and then eats it while reciting the Matarigi mantra.222 MATANGI tractive to people. cooked rice. Finally. In this case there is no homa offering. he or she will become attractive to the whole world. In the Purascarydrnava. If salt mixed with honey is offered up in the fire and the mantra is recited 108 times at night. 26 In the Tantrasara we are told that at night. offer ten thousand flowers in the sacrificial fire. and will themselves become like deities. milk. No homa accompanies this recipe. in a cremation ground or at a crossroads. and incense to Matarigi to acquire poetic talent and victory over enemies and to become a second Brhaspati (the gods' priest-guru). will be immune to the troubles caused by evil spirits. Anyone to whom the ashes are given will become the worshiper's servant. Meditate on the ashes of the burned crow while invoking Matarigi's mantra one thousand times. Matarigi should be offered uccista. 27 29 29 . 11. 10. cat meat. although the burning of the crow on the cremation fire might be thought of as a fire offering to Matarigi. wrap the crow in blue thread. worshipers are cautioned to refrain at all times from criticizing women and to treat them like goddesses. the sadhaka should offer fish. 12. We are told elsewhere that those who recite Matarigi's mantra one hundred thousand times. he will control women.

The Lotus Goddess

She has a beautiful golden complexion. She is being bathed by four large elephants who pour jars of nectar over her. In her four hands she holds two lotuses and makes the signs of granting boons and giving assurance. She wears a resplendant crown and a silken dress. I pay obeisance to her who is seated on a lotus in a lotus posture.

Let Kamala protect us by her wonderful side-glances that delight the heart of Visnu. She is seated on a lotus, has a smiling face, and with her four hands holds two lotuses and makes the signs of giving favors and granting assurance. Her complexion is like the brightness of lightning. Her breasts are firm and heavy and are decorated with garlands of pearls.

She is resplendent like the rising sun and wears a bright moon disc on her brow. She is adorned with a crown and necklace of jewels. She is bent down due to the weight of her large breasts, and in her hands she holds two lotuses and two bunches of rice shoots. She has three lotuslike eyes. She wears the kaustubba gem and has a smiling face.

The name Kamala means "she of the lotus" and is a common epithet of the goddess Laksmi or Sri, who is said to adore lotuses and to be lotus eyed and surrounded by lotuses. Indeed, Kamala is none other than the goddess Laksmi. She is usually listed as the tenth and last of the Mahavidyas. Of all goddesses in the Mahavidya group, Kamala is the best known and most popular and has the oldest tradition of worship outside the Mahavidya context. Her usual position as last in line of the Mahavidyas (which is often interpreted as meaning the least significant, or the lowest, in a spiritual hierarchy) is in direct contrast with her importance outside the group. Compared to Kali, who is usually named as the first of
" 3

Figr 3 8 . Laksmi, contemporary lithograph.



the Mahavidyas, Kamala is a goddess with almost completely auspicious, benign, and desirable qualities. As we shall see below, she is associated or identified with a number of worldly blessings that preoccupy human beings and their ordinary religious practice: wealth, power, good luck, and safety.

The Early History of Sri
Early references to Kamala call her Sri and consistently associate her with positive qualities. Indeed, the n a m c S r i means "auspicious." For example, in the Satapatha-brdhmana ( is identified with food, royal power, luster, fortune, and beauty. Her positive qualities and auspicious nature are elaborated in the Sri-sukta, an early hymn in her praise probably dating back to pre-Buddhist times. She gives wealth and other desired objects to her devotees (w. 1, 5 , 1 0 , 1 4 ) , is beautiful and adorned with costly ornaments (w. 1 , 4 , 6 , 1 3 ) , and is associated with fertility and growth (w. 9 , 1 1 , 1 3 ) . This hymn also associates Sri with the lotus and the elephant, both of which became central in her subsequent history and suggest important aspects of her character. The lotus seems to have two general meanings. First, it is related to life and fertility. On a cosmic scale, the lotus represents the entire created order. The cosmos as lotuslike suggests a world that is organic, vigorous, and beautiful. It is the fecund vigor suggested by the lotus that is revealed in Sri. She is the life force that pervades creation. Second, especially in relation to Sri, the lotus suggests spiritual purity, power, and authority. The lotus seat is a common theme in Hindu and Buddhist iconography. Gods and goddesses, Buddhas and bodhisattvas, are typically shown seated or standing on a lotus. Like the lotus, which is rooted in the mud but whose blossoms are uncontaminated by it, these spiritual beings are understood to transcend the earthly limitations of the world (the mud of existence, as it were). Sri's association with the lotus suggests that she symbolizes a certain perfection or state of refinement that transcends the material world, yet is rooted in it.
s n e 4 5

Sri's association with the elephant suggests other aspects of her character that are ancient and persistent. One of the most common representations of Sri shows her flanked by two elephants that are showering her with water from their trunks. The elephants have two meanings. According to Hindu tradition, elephants are related to clouds and rain, and



hence fertility. Second, elephants suggest royal authority. Kings kept stables of elephants, which they rode in processions and used in military campaigns. Kings were also held responsible for bringing timely rains and for the fertility of the land generally; their possession of elephants is probably related to that role too.

§ri-LaksmI's Association with Male Deities
§ri (also known consistently as Laksmi at a fairly early date in her history) is associated with several male deities, each of whom suggests aspects of her character. One of her earliest associations is with the god Soma, who is identified with plants and vegetative vigor. It is appropriate that §ri-LaksmI, who is also identified with the vitality of plants, should be linked with him. Some texts say that Sri-Laksml is the wife of Dharma. The connection here seems to relate proper social conduct (dharma) to obtaining prosperity (sri). Many texts emphasize that in her relationship with ttie god Indra, royal authority and fertility are central. Indra's political fortunes are directly related to §ri-Laksmi in several myths. W h e n she dwells with him, he prospers politically and economically. W h e n she abandons him, or lives with one of his adversaries, he is bereft of royal authority and wealth. The myths make it clear that kingly power, authority, and prosperity are directly related to §ri and that without her a king cannot succeed.




§rf-Lak§mfs association with Indra also underlines her identity with fertility and growth. The pair complement and reinforce each other in this respect, as he is strongly identified with bringing rain, a symbol of fertility, and his favorite weapon is the thunderbolt. There also seems to be phallic symbolism in his identification with the plow. §ri-Lak$mI's association with the god Kubera is yet another example of her identification with wealth and vegetative growth and fertility. Kubera is related to wealth; he is said to be the possessor and distributor of wealth and to possess and guard the earth's treasure. He is also said to be leader of the yaksas, creatures who dwell in the woods and forests and promote the growth of plants.



Sri-Laksmi and Visnu
Sri-Laksmi's connection with the god Visnu is one of the most important features of her mythology and cult. In Hindu myth, their association begins as a result of the churning of the ocean of milk by the gods and demons, who seek the elixir of immortality (amrta). In the process of churning, they stir up desirable objects and beings, among whom is Laksmi. The lovely goddess is granted to Visnu, who is the leader of the gods in this myth. In Hindu tradition, Visnu is strongly associated with kingship. He is depicted as a divine king. His avatdras ("descents" or incarnations) all serve to uphold the social and political order and promote dharma. He supports righteous kings on earth, through whom he is said to uphold society. Laksmi, as the embodiment of royal authority, is appropriately linked to Visnu. W h e r e she is present, royal authority prospers; where she is absent, it weakens and disappears. Laksmi is often portrayed as Visnu's loyal, modest, and loving wife. She is described as occupied with domestic chores, such as cooking, and is typically depicted as subservient to her husband. Iconographically, she is often shown massaging Visnu's feet and is much smaller than he. Her submissive position is clearly conveyed in an image from Badami, in which he sits on a high stool while she sits on the ground and leans on him, her right hand on his knee. In the Pancaratra school of thought, Laksmi, along with Visnu, assumes a central cosmological role. Although Visnu is said to be the ultimate reality, he is almost entirely inactive, standing aloof from the cosmogonic process in which Laksmi plays an active role. Her cosmic role is particularly striking in the Laksmi-tantra, a popular Pancaratra text, which says that she singlehandedly undertakes the creation of the universe with only one-billionth part of herself (14.3). The text describes Laksmi as pervading the entire created order and as regulating the social and moral orders as well. In effect, in this text she takes over the roles of Visnu as creator of the universe and regulator of dharma. Laksmi plays a quite different, but important, role in the Sri Vaisnava school of South India. In this case, Sri (Laksmi) has a minor cosmological place, but a crucial role in the devotional economy of the school. She is the mediator between devotees and Visnu. Through her grace devotees are allowed to approach the Lord. She is described as an indulgent, forgiving mother who pleads the case of devotees to her husband. In the
14 15 16 17 18



mythology of this school, Visnu is usually described as a just, mighty king who does not tolerate impurity or sin, who is inclined to punish devotees for the slightest offense. His stern, righteous character is balanced and moderated by LaksmI.

The Worship of LaksmI
It is quite likely that LaksmI is the most popular of all Hindu deities. Associated as she is with wealth, prosperity, good luck, and fertility, she is very appealing and is known in every corner of the Indian subcontinent. She is as popular in the North as in the South and is as widely adored in cities as in small villages. Her images are everywhere. Several annual festivals are given in her honor. Of these, the Dlvall festival is the best known and most widely celebrated. The festival links LaksmI to three important and interrelated themes: prosperity and wealth, fertility and crops, and good luck during the coming year. During this festival, many people, especially merchants, worship their account books, invoking LaksmI to reside in them. Farmers are enjoined to worship their crops as imbued with Laksml's presence. Cow dung is also worshiped as an embodiment of Laksml's fecund power. Laksml's association with good luck in the coming year is stressed in injunctions to gamble during Dlvall. She is also called upon to drive away her sister Alaksmi, who is associated with bad luck and misfortune.
20 21

Kamala among the Mahavidyas

Kamala's role among the Mahavidyas is a recent and minor part of her cult and worship in the Hindu tradition. Unlike other Mahavidyas, such as Dhumavatl, Bagalamukhi, and Matarigi, who are barely known outside the Mahavidya group, LaksmI is an ancient and extremely popular goddess, worshiped throughout India in a variety of contexts and sectarian movements. Indeed, her inclusion among the Mahavidyas is not easily explained, and her place in Tantrism, the primary context of the Mahavidyas, seems somewhat out of character. It is also clear that Kamala has been selectively appropriated as a Mahavidya. That is, her iconography and her descriptions in dbydna mantras leave out cer-

Kamala in her Mahavidya form seems to be associated or identified as frequently with Siva or Siva's con- . It is also interesting to note that Vaisnava connections do not dominate Kamala's incarnation as a Mahavidya. but for the most part he is absent. remains central in her Mahavidya form. Radha. she is typically flanked by two or four elephants pouring water or nectar onto her from golden or jeweled containers. Rather. This is to be expected in the context-of the Mahavidyas. As symbols of sovereignty and fertility. In Mahavidya iconography and written descriptions. where a premium seems to be put on the independence of the goddesses. they are almost always in supporting roles (literally. In fact. as in her dhyana mantras from the Sdraddtilaka. it is their power that pervades the gods and enables them to perform their cosmic functions. although she is sometimes associated with Varahi and Vaisnavi. W h e n male deities are shown. and her association with proper dharmic or social behavior. She does not play the role of model wife in any important way. two of the Saptamatrkas (seven mothers). with neither Visnu nor elephants. the elephants convey Laksml's association with these highly desirable qualities. or Rukmini. She is rarely identified with Sita. Their power and authority do not derive from association with male deities. as when they are shown supporting Tripura-sundari's throne) and are depicted as subsidiary figures.KAMALA 229 tain aspects of her character and minimize certain roles that are important in her history and cult. Although she is linked to Visnu from time to time. the Mahavidyas are seen as powerful goddesses in their own right. is not important in the Mahavidya context. either as an example of it or as the rewarder of it. Her association with elephants persists. which say that she has glances that please Visnu or is called the beloved of Visnu. 22 Kamala is >ften pictured or described as sitting alone on a lotus in the midst of a pond. for example. Her central role as mediator between devotees and Visnu in Sri Vaisnavism is completely missing in her Mahavidya incarnation. which are often sought after or mentioned as rewards in thephala stotras. Thus the Gaja-laksmi motif. one of her most ancient aspects. she is rarely associated with Vaisnava avataras or their consorts. For the most part. as one might expect. Kamala is almost entirely removed from marital and domestic contexts. the hymns concerning rewards (or "fruits") that conclude many Mahavidya liturgical texts. It is striking. with which group the Mahavidyas as a group are sometimes linked. that as a Mahavidya Kamala is never shown iconographically or described in her dhyana mantras as accompanying Visnu. In this respect. He may be mentioned.

Laksmi herself.and thousand-name hymns in the Sdkta-pramoda. but none of these is directly identified with Laksmi in that text. She is called. 23 2 25 As in the Pancaratra tradition. at times give her epithets that directly identify her with the demon-slaying goddess Durga or one of Durga's demon-slaying helpers. Slayer of Sumbha and Nisumbha. There are female Vaisnavite goddesses who slay demons in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Bhima (terrible). W h o Is the Cause of Creation. and Kapall. Whose Form Is the Creation. for example. too. She W h o s e Form Is Very Terrible. Her hundred. As a Mahavidya. She Whose Bliss Is Siva. and TamasI (darkness.2o 3 KAMALA sort as she is with Visnu. with the accounts of the origins of the Mahavidyas. Her hundred. Mistress of All. for example. where Laksmi assumes a preeminent cosmic role. a fearsome. * Although benign and auspicious qualities dominate her character as a Mahavidya. Ghora (awful). and Durga. Mahasakti. Slayer of Madhu and Kaitabha. which are almost entirely lacking in her cult and worship outside this context. W h o Is the Form of Highest Spiritual . She is called. W h o Is without Support (that is. Creator of All the Gods. She W h o Is Dear to the One W h o Does the Tdndava Dance. however. literally.and thousand-name hymns in the Sdktapramoda. this is in keeping with the tendency in Mahavidya texts to associate the goddesses with Siva. which usually feature Siva. Vaisnavl. several epithets in her name hymns in the Sdkta-pramoda emphasize her elevated position as a cosmic queen or a transcendent philosophical absolute. She W h o Wears a Garland of Skulls. Pranasakti (the life principle). Mother of the World. Sao". Raudri. "she who is the tamasguna"). Another feature that characterizes the Mahavidya Kamala but is weak or absent from her worship and cult outside the Mahavidyas is her role as a demon slayer. however. dangerous dimension is suggested in these epithets. who supports everything else and alone transcends the need for support). Again. does not take an active part. She is primarily a witness to Visnu or his avatdras while they slay demons or is displayed with Durga during Durga Puja. Kamala also has become associated with fearsome qualities. who are the demon slayers par excellence in Hindu mythology. Her thousand-name hymn in the Sdkta-pramoda. Gauri. and consistent. Laksmi is strongly associated with both Visnu and Durga. for example. namely. when she is said to be Durga's daughter. call her Kalaratri (a fearsome name for Kali). Outside the Mahavidyas. calls her Siva. She W h o Is Situated in the Middle of Countless Universes. for example. and Narasirhhi. Her thousand-name hymn also identifies her with the fierce Vaisnava goddesses Narasirhhl and Varahi. Mahamaya. Varahi.

W h o Is the Three Gunas (the constituents of matter). Kamala is also identified in these name hymns with several of the other Mahavidyas. Bhadra-kall. most of whom share few characteristics with her and are notable for their fearsomeness.KAMALA 231 Fig. by Bhatuk Ramprasad. for example. W h o Creates AH. 26 m 27 . Printed with the permission of Dr. Bhanu Shanker Mehta. Bliss. Mahakall. Whose Form Is Everything. 39. TarinI. She is called. Varanasi. early twentieth century. and several other such designations. and BhairavT. Kamala. Dhua v a t i . Matarigi.

A contemporary s'dkta informant contrasts tantric religion in South. is hailed as a great gc dess and identified with absolute philosophical principles and transcen dent cosmic functions. is the ultimate goal. her superior position) in the group. is hero* and boldly confronts the darkness. Kamala's usual place as the tenth Mahavidya deserves son comment. the formulators of the Mahavidya tantric texts modifie and tailored her character. althoug she is not entirely disassociated from him. In almost all lists of the Mahavidyas. If this position is meant to convey her subsidiary or inferior ] sition (or conversely. but her portrait has bee drawn selectively. reprd sented by the first of the Mahavidyas. demanding ultimate knowledge. like each of the others. on the other hand. to make her more suitable to group. with tantric religion in the North. However. who is taken to be the ultimate or highest expression of truth amor the Mahavidyas. Kamala consciousness is what one seek to restrain. Kamala is the last of t group. . Kali kula.*3 2 KAMALA In appropriating the great and widely worshiped goddess Sri-Laksr as a Mahavidya. every one of my informants in Varana interpreted her tenth position as an indication that she is inferior to other Mahavidyas and represents realities that are distant or opposite fron Kali. the texts then selves do not comment upon it. she. That is. Laksmi as or who pampers her devotees but ultimately is incapable of giving sue supreme blessings as liberating knowledge. She retains her character. and finally transcend. no doub She is definitely recognizable as Sri-LaksmI. she represents the normal state < consciousness in almost all people and. in those tantric texts that disc and describe Kamala. the starting point in thi process of spiritual maturation. as such. it seems. they gave her fierce attribute and they connected her with Siva. is described as a goddess with whom one must struggle. He describes Sri kula as the worship of Laksmi and i seeking wealth and worldly comfort. Finally. Kali consciousness. which he calls Sri kula. 28 Swami Annapurnananda of the Ramakrishna Mission in Varanasi alsci said that Kamala represents a state of consciousness preoccupied with ma| terial well-being and security. overcome. Indeed. whic he calls Kali kula. They stressed her independence from Visnu (as well as any othe male consort with whom she is linked outside the Mahavidyas).

bury it one foot deep in the ground beneath the door of the house. Bagalamukhi. again. 1 .P A R T III Concluding Reflections Having focused on the Mahavidyas as a group and on each of them individually. . . Chinnamasta. the text says: "Bringing a corpse on a Tuesday or S a t u r d a y . and cremation grounds seem to be highly favored as places in which to worship them. . Tara. Corpses and Cremation Grounds Corpses are remarkably often associated with the Mahavidyas. Matarigi." The same text. For example. . Tara. and Dhumavatl are often described or pictured as dwelling in cremation grounds. instructs the sadhaka as follows: "Sitting on a Savasana [a corpse seat] . . Then. perform 108 Japas [repetitions] every d a y . Tripura-sundari. . . sitting on that s p o t . Through such a Japa for eight days the [sadhaka. . Kali. Kali. . "adept"] becomes the lord of various Siddhis ["perfections. and Bhairavi are all said to stand or sit upon corpses." magical powers]. On several occasions the Mantra-mahodadhih stipulates that sadhana (spiritual endeavor) should be done while sitting on a corpse or on a place where a corpse has recently been buried. . in an almost matter-of-fact way. the Sadhaka should begin the Japa at sunrise and continue it without break till the next sunrise. . I would like to comment on a few particularly striking features or motifs and seek to answer certain questions related to these features.

which is made of woven grass and "consecrated with a corpse. or to live in a cremation ground functions as a spiritual test. The goddess 8 .000) [repetitions] of this mantra. his mantra becomes potent and all his cherished desires are soon fulfilled. which encourages him or her to see beyond or through its lures to underlying spiritual truths. It is tempting to suppose that this death imagery belongs to the ascetic. to meditate in. To meditate upon. or at least several. and worship of nearly all of them is said to be most effective if undertaken in a cremation ground. As a group. These rituals are not described as applicable to a particular goddess among the Mahavidyas." In discussing the relative power of different "seats. has detailed descriptions of both s'ava sadhana (spiritual endeavor with a corpse) and citd sadhana (spiritual endeavor on a cremation pyre). so probably both techniques are appropriate in the worship of any. no matter how polluted or terrible. a text devoted primarily to the Mahavidyas. the Mantramahodadhih says: "A Sadhaka who. 7 The cremation ground also plays the role of a "forbidden thing. death imagery and death rituals make sense: they reinforce the renunciant's decision to pursue spiritual liberation by giving up the lures of the world." a kind of sixth tattva. which uses an aborted fetus or the corpse of a five-year-old child. performs one lakh (100. In such a context. This is perhaps most explicit in the case of Kali. which is that all things. they seem to be associated with a type of spirituality that relies heavily on death imagery." the Mantra-mahodadhih describes the komaldsana." The Tantrasdra. And surely corpses and crefnation grounds do play this role in Mahavidya sadhana. In what has been termed the "samddhi [heightened or intensified consciousness] of horror.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS Through such a [process] the Sadhaka becomes fearless and master of various Siddhis." In discussing the empowerment or perfection of mantras." the adept discovers a distaste for the world. are pervaded by s'akti (energy or power) (see the chapter on Kali). 2 3 4 s 6 It is important to reflect on these associations if we wish to come to an understanding of certain individual Mahavidyas and of the group as a whole. of the Mahavidyas. Meditation upon death puts worldly pleasures in a perspective where their attraction can be minimized or subverted altogether. sitting on a corpse. world-denying vein of Hinduism. in which renunciation of worldly desire is central. and the vistardsana. which is accomplished primarily by repetition. But corpses and cremation grounds are central in descriptions of several of the other goddesses as well. the first and most important of the group. which the heroic sadhaka must confront in order to glimpse the underlying nature of reality.

Siva thinks her stench is fragrant incense. that is. something beyond this seems to be involved in the use of corpses and cremation grounds. W h y might this be so? It is clear that texts describing the Mahavidyas and their worship as- . and Siva. and he takes her corpse on his breast. It is also clear that the desires that motivate this type of spirituality are often worldly: power over one's enemies. 9 10 There is some evidence that cremation grounds are sometimes used for initiation into certain tantric cults. where people die to one mode of being and are born to another. she assumes a terrible form to test Brahma. If the candidate's initiation into a tantric cult is meant to signify dramatic transformation. in the cremation ground. and so on. eloquence in speech. Corpses and cremation grounds seem to function as more than dramatic reminders of the transience of worldly existence and the futility of physical and mental desires. Power seems to accrue to the individual who associates with corpses and frequents cremation grounds. Brahma turns his head away. as it were. They also seem to function as objects and places of power by means of which or in which extraordinary achievements may be accomplished. that from life to death. a cremation ground seems an appropriate venue. seems to be. the goddess appears to the three male gods as a rotting corpse. and for this heroic ability she gives him the blessing of becoming a great yogi. Only Siva is able to continue to gaze on her. Visnu. for it is often clear that people undertaking these rituals are householders who have not renounced the world." Insofar as initiation rites often involve the symbolic death and rebirth of the initiate. The aim of this sadhana. and thus as appropriate accoutrements or contexts for the spiritual quest. In the Mahabhagavata-purdna. not so much to triumph over the lures of the world or even to see through its illusory facade to its underlying reality as sakti. are not engaged in ascetic practices. the cremation ground is a most suitable place for it.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS herself is sometimes described as putting the male gods through similar tests. It is a place of transformation. do not seem primarily concerned with affirming the underlying divinity of the forbidden or the polluted. To avoid looking at her. In a similar scenario. kingly authority. and are not undergoing initiation into a tantric cult. but rather to gain success and well-being in the world. and Visnu closes his eyes and plunges into the water. The goddess blesses him by placing his lirigam in her yoni. 12 However. The challenge is for the spiritual aspirant to be able to perceive the presence of the goddess even in the most terrible and polluting objects and places. The tantric sadhaka is tested. It is the locale of the greatest human transformation.

pretas. All of these beings are more powerful than humans or have some .yoginis. rdksasas. vetdlas. literary forms. ddkinis. 40. pis'dcas. sume the existence of a world of spirits that is parallel to the physical world and impinges upon it. asuras.236 C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS Fig. and other classes of beings that are not visible under usual conditions but that appear from time to time in the physical world. bbutas. siddbas. kinnaras. This assumption persists in and to a great extent dominates contemporary Hinduism in both its popular and its refined. gandharvas. ndgas. The inhabitants of this world include gods. goddesses. Tara on Siva in cremation ground. contemporary lithograph.

betwixt and between worlds. Such eruptions may result from either bad karma on the part of the victim (who caused the disease by wicked deeds or thoughts) or unsatisfied passions or desires on the part of the spirit being. spiritual world? Where might the barrier between the visible and invisible worlds be most permeable? One place is certainly the cremation ground. unexpected or willed. ghosts). and accidents. particularly if the proper death rituals have not yet been done. Indeed. where radical transformations take place and contact between worlds is relatively common. who tries to fulfill them by possessing the human victim. particularly of the recent dead. the transition from one mode of being to another. and it is in this context that much tantric ritual probably should be understood. Contacting the spirit world deliberately (as opposed to being contacted by it unexpectedly) is also assumed to be both difficult and dangerous. Much of Hindu belief and practice concerns warding off or dealing with such inimical intrusions into human affairs. to a great extent this is precisely what death is. The cremation ground is the "terminal" where such transitions routinely take place. are vehicles with which one can move from one world to the other. still hovers in the 13 14 . Tantric rituals in many cases are clearly aimed at crossing the barrier between the visible and invisible worlds. A recently dead person. often one of the Mahavidyas. another large part of Hindu ritual and practice deliberately seeks contact with this invisible world for a variety of purposes. The goal of the sadhaka is often made explicit: to gain a blessing. from that of a physical to a nonphysical being. usually a deity. This is where the importance of corpses and cremation grounds becomes understandable in tantric worship. from a being in the spirit world. It is a liminal place. Their eruptions into the visible world of human beings can be beneficial or harmful. These are often attributed to the actions of bhutas and pretas (spirits of the dead. and often terrifying. it represents a more-or-less-permanent "opening" to the spirit world and the beings that inhabit it. Where might one hope to contact the unseen. On the other hand. Corpses. bad luck. It is where all human beings eventually and inevitably make contact with the spirit world as they pass from life to death. In this sense.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS ability or cunning that surpasses normal human abilities. usually in the form of some kind of power or ability. of coming and going from one world to another. but also to other inimical spirits or deities. either by allowing the sadhaka to enter the spirit world or by enticing or forcing spirit beings to appear in the visible world. Examples of harmful and unexpected eruptions are illnesses. It is a place of spirit traffic.

and acquiring the ability to fly by eating human flesh. References to reviving or gaining control over a corpse. The Mantra-mahodadhih stipulates that the sadhaka should bring a human skull to a remote place in the woods. Chinnamasta. purify it. He or she is on the way to the "other world". with a foot in both worlds." These references make clear that a corpse is a numinous object particularly useful for making contact with the spirit world and acquiring powers and abilities associated with spirit beings. is to make that transition also. is that of Chinnamasta. their prevalence among the Mahavidyas generally deserves further comment. During the Vedic period. Elsewhere we read: "Dead and putrefying corpses submerged near cremation grounds are still brought to life by the force of the sadhaka's mantras. to ride that person's corpse. later. most blood sacrifices were directed to goddesses. Some texts devoted to worship of the Mahavidyas also prescribe skulls as seats upon which effective sadhana may be performed. bury it. as it were. blood sacrifice is still almost invari- . animal sacrifices were commonly offered to many deities. Matarigi. who has severed her own head. 18 19 Perhaps the most obvious interpretation of these skulls and heads concerns head offerings. Animal (and sometimes human) sacrifice was fairly common in the Hindu tradition. The most dramatic example of a chopped-off head in the context of the Mahavidyas. and Bhairavi all wear garlands of skulls or severed heads and are often said to hold a freshly cut head or a skull in their hands. and perform worship while seated on that spot. or the spirit that inhabits it. In contemporary Hinduism. Kali. The Kathdsaritsdgara also mentions revitalizing corpses. He or she is a liminal being. Although I commented upon the significance of skulls and choppedoff heads in the discussion of Chinnamasta. Skulls also adorn Tara's forehead and sometimes Kali's hair. and made to render aid to sadhana and siddhi.238 C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS physical world while already having been transformed into a spirit being. and the typical way of killing the victim was by decapitation. Tara. are not infrequent. which continues a tradition that is hundreds of years old. The Uddisa-tantra gives mantras for reviving a corpse. gaining control over them in order to use them at will. 15 16 17 Skulls and Severed Heads Another remarkable feature of Mahavidya iconography is the prevalence of skulls and chopped-off heads. or otherwise associate with or dominate it. of course.


or the spirit that inhabits it. The most dramatic example of a chopped-off head in the context of the Mahavidyas. 18 19 Perhaps the most obvious interpretation of these skulls and heads concerns head offerings. 15 16 17 Skulls and Severed Heads Another remarkable feature of Mahavidya iconography is the prevalence of skulls and chopped-off heads. who has severed her own head. is that of Chinnamasta. Kali. The Uddts'a-tantra gives mantras for reviving a corpse. During the Vedic period. Animal (and sometimes human) sacrifice was fairly common in the Hindu tradition. Tara. In contemporary Hinduism. gaining control over them in order to use them at will. He or she is on the way to the "other world". purify it. or otherwise associate with or dominate it. of course. and perform worship while seated on that spot. References to reviving or gaining control over a corpse. and Bhairavl all wear garlands of skulls or severed heads and are often said to hold a freshly cut head or a skull in their hands. bury it. to ride that person's corpse. most blood sacrifices were directed to goddesses. The Kathdsaritsdgara also mentions revitalizing corpses. and the typical way of killing the victim was by decapitation. Elsewhere we read: "Dead and putrefying corpses submerged near cremation grounds are still brought to life by the force of the sadhaka's mantras. are not infrequent. which continues a tradition that is hundreds of years old. and acquiring the ability to fly by eating human flesh.238 C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS physical world while already having been transformed into a spirit being." These references make clear that a corpse is a numinous object particularly useful for making contact with the spirit world and acquiring powers and abilities associated with spirit beings. Matarigi. blood sacrifice is still almost invan- . He or she is a liminal being. their prevalence among the Mahavidyas generally deserves further comment. Skulls also adorn Tara's forehead and sometimes Kali's hair. and made to render aid to sadhana and siddhi. is to make that transition also. animal sacrifices were commonly offered to many deities. Although I commented upon the significance of skulls and choppedoff heads in the discussion of Chinnamasta. Chinnamasta. Some texts devoted to worship of the Mahavidyas also prescribe skulls as seats upon which effective sddhand may be performed. with a foot in both worlds. later. The Mantra-mahodadhih stipulates that the sadhaka should bring a human skull to a remote place in the woods. as it were.


Those chopped-off heads and skulls might be symbolic of sadhakas who. the theme of symbolic death in many religions functions in just this way. In short. by a particular goddess's blessing or their own efforts. daily sacrifices are made. they have achieved the status of spirit beings by having died. transcendence of time and space.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS ably associated with certain goddesses. which uses male animals almost exclusively. the adept seeks to transcend in some manner the limitations of the physical. might be thought of as symbolic of transformed consciousness. including precognition and clairvoyance. or to fly. namely. Second. have accomplished these feats. to become small or light. suggests a divorce of body and mind. the sadhaka seeks a direct encounter with the spirit world in order to acquire powers associated with spirit beings: superior power. the liberation of the mind from the body. worldly existence: the mind (symbolized by the head) has left the body and is no longer attached to or limited by it. The chopped-off heads that several of the Mahavidyas wear or sit upon can be thought of as sacrificial offerings. 22 A common motif in the world's religions is the quest by a spiritual master to acquire techniques for transcending the human condition. usually of goats and chickens. The shaman and the mystic are examples of this. especially when worn as an ornament by one of the Mahavidya goddesses. "blood sacrifice. the severed heads may denote consciousness that has transcended the limitations of physical. however. The severed head (or skull). 20 Another interpretation of skulls and severed heads also seems possible. to dramatically denote a drastic change in status. They might be thought of as symbolic of transformed consciousness in two ways: First. 21 That these spirit powers often denote transcendence of corporeal limitations and the expansion of consciousness. often on a platter. That these human heads are always male in Mahavidya iconography is still reflected in contemporary practice. or even omnipotence. By means of spiritual exercises in the cremation ground and with corpses. or omniscience." and makes it clear that the proper method of killing the victim (which according to the text may be a human being) is by decapitation. and the ability to change form at will. the ability of the consciousness to drift free of the body and roam at will. The Tantrasara devotes a section to bait. At some goddess temples. In almost all cases the animal's head is cut off and offered to the image of the goddess. and is more in line with the importance of corpses and cremation grounds in Mahavidya worship and iconography. expanded knowledge. earth-bound human condition by direct association with the spirit world. Both undertake spiritual jour- .

The mythology concerning the origin of certain individual Mahavidya goddesses (for example. mythology. transcendent condition. and Tara. Sexuality and Awakened Consciousness Mahavidya iconography. Just such a dismemberment was described by Pagal Haranath (b. While traveling in Kashmir. signifying a new. who then reconstitute his or her body with indestructible pieces. and ritual are dominated by implicit and explicit sexual symbolism. shamanic powers. Chinnamasta. That all of these chopped-off heads seem to wear a look of peace and satisfaction seems to confirm this interpretation. appeared to him. The centrality of sexual imagery in Mahavidya worship »d iconography deserves further comment and analysis at this point. Haranath had acquired magical. Chinnamasta and Matarigi) stresses sexual tension. the famous Bengali Vaisnava reformer. The severed heads that the goddesses wear might signify both the symbolic death and the transcendent consciousness of successful sadhakas. he fell into a deep trance. 23 Mystics often pass through a "dark night of the soul. that is. worship. before experiencing the bliss of union with the divine.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS neys to achieve an unmediated and transformative experience of the spirit world. expanded consciousness. where they are reconstituted as spiritual beings equipped with spiritual powers that go beyond the limitations of earthly existence. in association with corpses. in which sexual intercourse is the culminating act. The yantras that represent the Mahavidyas contain implicitly sexual symbols. and most of the individual Mahavidyas are described as sexually attractive and powerful. and to achieve it they must often undergo a symbolic death and dismemberment. tantric sadhakas undergo a symbolic death before entering the spirit world." in which they feel as if they have died. and then proceeded to clean and purify them. divided his body into sixty-four parts. Sexual intercourse is explicitly portrayed in the dhydna mantras and portraits of Kali. Sexual imagery in Mahavidya materials must be related to the tantric 24 ar . It is also the case that most of the Mahavidyas may be worshiped through the panca tattva ritual. 1865). and the central metaphor of awakening kundalini s'akti may be interpreted as the arousal of sexual energy. The shaman is often said to be torn asunder by spiritual beings. a Bengali Vaisnava. In the cremation ground. Caitanya. W h e n his body was reassembled.

sexual attraction. which is the manifestation of the dynamic. in the very center of the diagram. but related. At the level of human existence and human relationships. that from which all creation proceeds or that in which all creation is contained. energetic. particularly when it is enclosed in a downward-pointing triangle at the center of the yantra. and sexual intercourse suggest the underlying texture of reality. In the context of Tantra. from whom creation emerges and in whom it is contained. but still fairly coded. sexual behavior. level. This imagery can be understood on several different. In many of the Mahavidya yantras. This dot is often said to represent either the two principles of Siva and Sakti in union or the male seed. On the most abstract level. and harmonious interaction of Siva and Sakti. sexual imagery suffuses the yantras and mandalas associated with all of the Mahavidya goddesses (as it does tantric maiidala structure and symbolism generally). the petals of the inner lotus are charged with the presence of dif- . As the basic underlying principles of reality. The lotus also has sexual connotations. the cosmos emerges. As it opens and blossoms. Another feature of yantra design is the presence of a small dot. The yantras representing the Mahavidyas are also charged with a group of powers—male and female deities—who are located at various points in the design. At a more concrete. Siva and Sakti obviously may be understood in a wide variety of ways.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS philosophy and ritual that are its primary religious context. The sadhaka places these powers in the yantra while either drawing or imagining it during sadhana. they denote sexual union. The dominant forms of the yantra—the triangle and the lotus—both have sexual connotations. W h e n the two are superimposed on each other. levels. Siva and Sakti are present in the mutual attraction and complementarity of the sexes. called a bindu. creative. as in most of the yantras representing the individual Mahavidyas. It is often a symbol of generation. Several sophisticated philosophical systems have been constructed on the meaning and interpretation of these two principles. particularly when it is pointing downward. Kashmir Saivism perhaps being the most impressive. An upward-pointing triangle is sometimes held to represent the phallus. the basic components of the essential texture of the cosmos. The triangle. is symbolic of the vulva. Siva and Satki. sexual imagery reflects the tantric vision of reality as the dynamic interaction and tension between the two great principles. they are inherent and embodied in individual males and females. In this sense it represents the womb from which the world is born and may be associated with the womb or sexual organ of Sakti.

it is clear that the man ejaculates into the woman. the culminating act. Kali and Tara are sometimes shown copulating with Siva. It is not sublimated or curbed sexual activity that awakens the kundalinibut sexual activity properly understood or perhaps properly appreciated. the yantra again expresses the idea that reality in its basic nature is sexually charged. deities associated in particular with sexual vitality and desire. thereby controlling and channeling his sexual energy to achieve spiritual ends. Each of the Mahavidyas is identified with a different part of the yoni. the interaction of Siva and Sakti that creates and . in turn. as he does so. by means of my mind ladle I am ever engaged in offering the modality of my senses through the susumnd channels. It is said to contain. which she is held to embody.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS ferent forms of Rati and Kama. figures in Chinnamasta and Tara iconography. sexual imagery is often explicit. The Yoni-tantra. is said to manifest herself in the form of the Mahavidyas. Sexual motifs and activity also figure prominently in certain tantric rituals associated with the Mahavidyas. usually identifiable as Kama and Rati. he says a particular prayer comparing his ejaculation to an offering: "The fire of atman has been made blazing by the offering of clarified butter. 26 27 28 29 Sexual imagery in Mahavidya iconography and worship plays a symbolic role. then. As schematic representations of both the goddess in question and the cosmos generally. Some interpreters have suggested that the primary aim of the ritual is for the sadhaka to demonstrate that he has mastered his sexual desires. the fifth makdra. The yoni. says that the yoni is a manifestation of the Devi (the Great Goddess). The Devi. It involves the careful purification of many elements and a lengthy worship by the sadhaka of his female companion (the text is written from the male point of view). a copulating couple. however. This act as described in the Tantrasara is highly ritualized. 25 In Mahavidya iconography. but that he interprets his ejaculation as part of a process that awakens kundalinis'akti. in describing yoni puja. In general structure. in which the sadhaka and his s'akti perform sexual intercourse. is maithuna. It may be understood metaphorically as suggesting the dynamic polar rhythm of reality. in essential form. In thepanca makdra or panca tattva ritual. is interpreted as a yantra. not that the sadhaka withholds his semen. In the Tantrasara. furthermore. They claim that the male does not ejaculate during intercourse but redirects his semen "upward" or inward. all aspects of the cosmos in microcosm." This utterance implies. the Mahavidya yantras may be understood as schematic renderings of sexual imagery and containers of sexual power.

n}0 It seems likely that in some cases sexual imagery reflects actual practice. To suggest that explicit sexual activity is a necessary part of Mahavidya worship would be an exaggeration. The rising of kundalini sakti and the bliss of her union with Siva in the sahasrara cakra may be symbolized by sexual union. thus reflecting the form of Siva and Sakti. "the devotee experiences deep trance [samddhi]. wherever there is the union of the two. In an eighteenth-century Kangra painting. 31 32 These are only the most dramatic examples of the juxtaposition of death and sexual imagery. as in the panca tattva ritual. who are copulating on a cremation fire. The Kuldrnava-tantra says that the world does not bear the likeness of the cakra. the lotus. There are also examples of Chinnamasta having intercourse with Siva while he lies on a cremation pyre and she decapitates herself (see figure 24). Tara. Substitutes may be used in the ritual. On the other hand. in particular. however. often combine both types of imagery in their icons. sexual practices clearly have a role. and Chinnamasta decapitates herself while standing or sitting on Rati. Sexual activity seems an appropriate metaphor for the rousing of the kundalini.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS suffuses the cosmos. or the thunderbolt but rather the likeness of the lirigam and yoni. as both are highly energetic processes accompanied by heightened awareness. Kali is sometimes shown copulating with Siva in a cremation ground. It is not unusual for the copulating couple on whom Chinnamasta stands or leans to be lying on a cremation fire. Kali. Tantric texts sometimes warn that only those of a certain accomplished character and heroic nature should engage in this ritual. where sexual intercourse may be used as a means of awakening kundalini sakti. and for some sddbakas in some situations. Certain Mahavidya texts prescribe equally shocking juxtapositions in their descriptions of rituals appropriate to . Sexual imagery may also symbolize awakening consciousness. The Conjunction of Death and Sexual Imagery It is striking that imagery of both sex and death should be so central in Mahavidya materials and that both are so often juxtaposed in the characterization of a goddess and in certain rituals of worship. which implies that sexual intercourse is not necessary to the awakening of the kundalini. and Chinnamasta. Tara stands on Kama and Rati. sexual intercourse may lead to an intense spiritual experience. who is having sexual intercourse with Kama.

First. which are followed immediately by rules governing sava sadhana (spiritual endeavor using a corpse). 33 34 35 36 W h a t might this juxtaposition of sex and death imagery mean? I would suggest two interpretations. Second.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS Mahavidya worship. which puts such a premium on achieving transformative religious experiences. and while the sadhaka's guru may be present. It is the "explosive" nature of death and sex imagery that makes them so central in tantric sadhana. the Mantramahodadhih says that the sadhaka who seeks lordship should sit naked on the heart of a corpse in a cremation ground and offer the goddess one thousand flowers. As symbols they are particularly powerful in evoking feelings that can deeply affect and alter a person. while repeating the mantra. he is to gaze upon. Then. each covered with his semen. the Mantramahodadbib mentions a ritual in which the sadhaka places a human skull at the place where he is to recite the goddess's mantra. The texts are also explicit concerning at least one of the aims of sadhana: to become one with the deity being worshiped. or to be blessed with a vision of the deity—a transformative and probably intense experience. We may typify the tantric sadhaka as someone who seeks concrete religious experience. Also in the section on Tara. In its section on Tara. they can trigger the kind of experience the sadhaka seeks. Priests are not necessary. tantric sadhana. As mentioned above. which is so intimately associated with Mahavidya worship. it is primarily a lone adept who undertakes the rituals described in Mahavidya and related tantric texts. The Uddis'a-tantra gives directions for improving the erotic appeal of a woman. The same section of the text describes a ritual in which the sadhaka should imagine the goddess seated on the chest of a corpse engaged in sex with her consort on a fifteen-petaled lotus while the sadhaka is also having sexual intercourse. places a premium upon direct. Both dying and sex are overwhelming human experiences that can leave a person uprooted from and unprotected by social conventions and ritual insulation. the juxtaposition of death and sex imagery appropriately expresses the nature of reality as constant and simultaneous inception- . while reciting her mantra. But no amount of ritual can guarantee the taming or orderly channeling of either of these basic human experiences. tantric sadhana is secret and private. are highly ritualized in almost every culture. for whom rituals are a means to experiencing an intensity of feeling and emotion. unmediated experience. for example. or the sadhaka may take part in a collective ritual on rare occasions. touch. precisely because the intense emotions they engender are so apt to cause social disruption. of course. Both. and sexually enjoy a woman. It is undertaken by an individual in a lonely place.

who is widely known for her loyal and subservient position as Visnu's wife. maintain.246 C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS creation and destruction. or she undertakes these functions herself." is simply an admission that our view of reality is warped and unrealistic. usually Siva. Iconographically. Other Mahavidyas sit on male corpses. as are the corpses that lie beneath them. Kali and Tara stand on. is shown alone. That sex and death imagery "do not belong together. is appropriately suggested in the simultaneous presentation of sex and death imagery." that we find the juxtaposition in "bad taste. it is because we are in the habit of masking the destructive dimension of reality so insistently that its inevitable appearance is upsetting. or have sex astride Siva. and even the deities before insulting a woman. Theologically. or Sakti. It is also noteworthy that the severed heads that decorate the goddesses' bodies are male. If such juxtaposed imagery shocks us. The Roles of Women and Reverence for W o m e n It is striking how central female imagery and women are in Mahavidya and related tantric materials. and consume the creation. an awareness of the truth of things that does not pander to wishful thinking concerning one's own mortality and frailty. None of the Mahavidyas is shown in the role of a traditional Hindu wife or consort. male animals are offered. Even LaksmI. Frequently in Mahadevi texts she empowers the male gods to create. sit on. She is usually identified with the origin of the cosmos and is said to infuse it and contain it. the goddess. They are images that help the sadhaka tear the veil of maya (illusion grounded in self-infatuation). the individual Mahavidya goddesses are shown dominating male deities. guru. W h e n animal sacrifice is included in worship. Tripura-sundari sits on the body of Siva. 37 38 39 . The Nila-tantra says that one should desert one's parents. Those Mahavidya goddesses who juxtapose sex and death imagery are icons of revelation to the sadhaka. from individual organisms to the infinite cosmos itself. in one form or another is equal or superior to a male deity or principal. The waxing and waning of all beings and all things. Mahavidya and related tantric texts often mention the importance of revering women. which in turn rests on a couch whose legs are four male deities. who seeks an expanded consciousness. Moreover. The Kaulavali-tantra says that all women should be looked upon as manifestations of the Mahadevi (great goddess).

The sadhaka then worships the woman's body: By means of mantras. The sadhaka then worships her vagina. From the moon channel flows water. which is in the middle. which should be seen to have three channels. At several points in the panca tattva ritual. as residing in the s'akti's vagina. 40 41 During the rituals directly related to maithuna. Again using mantras. which he then worships as a pitha of the goddess. and both her right and left sides are imagined as suffused with divine beings. and fire. He affirms as divine that which is normally disdained or shunned. which affirms as sacred what is ordinarily viewed as forbidden or polluting and uses it to worship the goddess. he begins by mentally worshiping the goddess and several different groups of women: dancing girls. and women of the barber. It is from one of these groups that the sadhaka recruits the woman who is to be his sakti in the ritual. Kapalikas ("those who bear skulls. On the lotus sits the goddess. This sacred spot is imagined to be the center of the world and is pictured as a lotus supported by the cosmic serpent in the depths of the cosmic ocean. representing the moon. the theme of worshiping the woman as the goddess is persistent. According to the description of the ritual in the Tantrasara. washerman. By revering such women. represented by the sddhaka's sakti. the sadhaka does elaborate worship of his sakti. sun. These groups are all either low caste or socially or religiously liminal. He should then worship the two goddesses Bhagamala and Bhagaa l i n l (both names mean "having a garland of yonis").CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS Several rituals involve the worship of individual women. or women who are socially or religiously marginal. he affirms their underlying and essential divinity as concrete manifestations of the goddess. the sadhaka directs her to sit on a bed. he divinizes her breasts or empowers them with sacred energy by "depositing" there the deities Vasanta (who personifies the amorous season of spring) and Kama. flows seed. and cowherd castes. from the sun channel flows menstrual fluid. By worshiping women of lower castes." a particular type of religious adept). In short. particularly during maithuna. the adept reverses the normal hierarchy of respect. in addition to his °wn chosen deity. he "deposits" in her limbs the five forms of Kama-deva.-who pervades all things. prostitutes. the god of sexual desire. Having performed bhuta suddhi and nyasa on her body to purify and divinize the woman. The significance of the low-caste or liminal status of these women may relate to a general theme of the ritual. and from the fire channel. Her forehead is imagined to have the moon adorning it (as is the case with many of the Mahavidya goddesses). the sadhaka m 42 . He should also at this Point worship his own penis as representing Siva.

while repeating mantras.248 C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS ritually transforms sexual intercourse into a cosmic event that unites Siva and Sakti. throat. the text says. because the yoni itself contains all their sacred power. prepubescent or virgin girls are offered pujd and fed. which is identical with the yoni. The same text. should touch her heart with his heart. Another common ritual in which females are revered is kmnaripujd. thus symbolizing the uniting of Siva and Sakti. In this 45 6 47 48 49 50 51 i2 . heart. Covering the whole area are Kamala and Kamakhya. specifically certain holy rivers and ponds. and also most of the Mahavidyas. as containing Brahma. her vagina with his penis. instructs the sadhaka. while Matarigi resides in the folds of skin below the navel. the triangle is the Great Goddess herself. In this ritual. is the best of all methods of worship. The Guptasddhand-tantra.* The Mdyd-tantra enjoins the adept to imagine his chosen deity residing in the yoni of a woman "who is not his own" in order to obtain perfection. He is to view her as a goddess and. Kali is said to dwell on all three sides of the triangle. and her face with his face. worship of the vulva. citing the Vrhad-yoni-tantra. navel. Bhairavl is at its root. In short. The Kubjikd-tantra. Visnu. the symbol of the yoni. or the wife of another." or holy places). face. similarly. and vagina by repeating one hundred mantras of his chosen deity. the sadhaka is to offer his semen to Siva and imagine the sakti as his chosen deity. to worship his wife while she is drunk and lying on a bed. discusses the downwardpointing triangle. who emerges from there (perhaps with menstrual flow). then worshiping her forehead. which suggests that the tantric sadhaka should routinely view intercourse as a sacred ritual in which or by which one realizes one's cosmic identity. directs the adept to worship his wife. The Kdmdkhyd-tantra instructs the sadhaka to worship the goddess in the genitals of his sakti. breasts. 43 44 The Yogini-tantra says that yoni pujd. and Siva on its three sides. At the time of ejaculation. The Sarvolldsa-tantra of Sarvananda. and at the end (perhaps deep within) dwells Dhumavatl. Chinnamasta abides inside the hole in the triangle. the abode of all deities. At the root of the hair of the yoni dwells Mahakall. The text also says that worship of the yoni earns one the merit ordinarily obtained by making arduous pilgrimages to holy places. also equates the yoni with sacred tirthas ("crossings. outside the context of the panca tattva ritual. for example. Bhuvanesvari and Tripura-sundari are inside it. citing the Vrhad-yoni-tantra. by washing her feet with water. Some tantric texts also mention ritual worship of a woman preceding sexual intercourse outside the context of the panca tattva ritual. Tara is above it.

As the womb (yoni) of creation. According to the Manthana-bhairava-tantra of this school. at least in this particular tantric tradition. the supreme essence of the oral tradition. s3 In the Pascimamnaya school. The Prdnatosini. are sometimes specified. An example is the Pascimamnaya Kaula tradition. Siva originally revealed the teachings to ttieyoginis. but are simply examples of males setting up women as objects of sexual lust. discusses the conditions under which a female guru might perform initiation. role as sources of tantric instruction. women are said to be transmitters of doctrine. The yogini is the womb from which the enlightened yogi is born and her mouth. and it is therefore unfair to suggest that they are undertaken solely for sexual gratification or involve the implicit or explicit abuse of women. and also the qualities that such a woman should possess. is the sacred matrix (yoni). Mainstream Hindu society has roundly criticized such tantric practices as excuses for sexual indulgence. that these rituals fit a highly sophisticated general philosophy or theology of reality. in short. usually Brahmans. It is clear. That some of these rituals may not suggest reverence for women at all. The secret of all the scripture. According to the Guptasddhand-tantra. In some tantric traditions. even though women are said to be revered . the great autumn festival in honor of Durga.. initiation by a female guru leads to the achievement of all desires and is the initiate's great good fortune. which flourished in Kashmir and Nepal. females from high castes. It is often done today during Durga Puja. particularly in Mahavidya texts.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS case... This ritual is not specifically tantric or associated with the Mahavidyas. even central. to play the role of teacher or guru. 54 55 56 Even though goddesses play a central role in much tantric literature. that females were gurus in at least some tantric cults. citing the Rudraydmala. It is clear. Thus she is venerated as the Supreme Power which bestows bliss [knowledge] of the innate nature of things. is on the lips of the yogini. have played an important. is of course possible. The implication here is that women. while other texts say girls from any caste are suitable. The underlying theme of individual females representing the pervasive divine female principle is again clearly expressed through this ritual... although it occurs in tantric and Mahavidya materials. from which issues the tradition. it is the Lower Mouth (ardbovaktra) which is the essence of Kaula doctrine. however.. no distinction whatsoever should be made between the guru and the yogini (female practitioner). who subsequently handed them down from generation to generation.

The texts in most cases take a male point of view and seem to be written by males for males. however. it is not clear to what extent the Mahavidya materials. might be understood to reflect female experience as well. it is possible that women wrote some of them. and even though in at least one tantric tradition women are said to be the source and transmitters of doctrine. We can only hope that female-authored Hindu tantric texts will come to light in the near future. insofar as women teach. might be informed by female religious experience. The same may be the case in Hindu Tantrism." and male spirituality generally. While men wrote the great majority of tantric texts. especially in cases where both sexes were full participants in tantric rites. Because the texts are preoccupied with goddesses. or even the related tantric materials. I have been unable to find Hindu tantric texts that explicitly discuss or describe tantric rites from a female point of view.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS generally in some tantric texts and are often worshiped as individuals. or any Hindu tantric materials. This does not mean that such texts do not exist. express female spirituality. fully participate in rituals with males. and women. It seems unlikely that scholars of Hinduism have been any more assiduous than scholars of Buddhism in seeking female-authored texts or accounts of female spirituality. During my research I asked scholars and informants if they knew of any materials on the Mahavidyas. and because we know that women were sometimes teachers and full participants in tantric sadhana. as Shaw has argued for Buddhist Tantra. that were written by. No one did. Thus far. The rituals are described from his point of view. and sometimes write tantric texts. since they were sometimes teachers. illustrating how female sources have been almost entirely ignored by scholars of Buddhism. Women are often described as objects of the male subjects. 57 58 . for. that male spirituality. and usually view the female in a positive or affirmative fashion. and the sadhaka is assumed to be male and his partner female. or about females. Miranda Shaw's recent work on tantric Buddhism is sobering in this respect. and in Mahavidya worship specifically. as reflected in texts written by males. It is also possible. Miranda Shaw has argued in the case of Buddhist Tantrism that the "male gaze. female imagery. it is possible that the spirituality described in tantric texts reflects women's religious experience as well as men's.

and probably inhibiting categories of proper and improper. good and bad. they call into question such normative social "goods" as worldly comfort. Perhaps the more marginal. the adept may experience expanded or liberated consciousness. polluted and pure. and honor.C O N C L U D I N G REFLECTIONS The Potentially Liberating Nature of Social Antimodels Finally. security. By identifying with one of them. Bhairavi. each of whom dramatically embodies marginal. especially left-handed Tantra. They often threaten social order. dangerous. Seeking to identify with or become one with these goddesses suggests that the sadhaka in some fashion finds marginality. Chinnamasta. an adept may acquire a new and refreshing perspective on the cage of respectability and predictability. or socially subversive qualities? These goddesses are frightening. by identifying with the forbidden or the marginalized. or may not. polluting. can create a sense of imprisonment from which one might long to escape. interact with socially. imposed. mocking. Dhumavatl. or rejecting conventional social norms. and others). A principle aim in left-handed Tantra is to overcome what might be termed hardening of the categories. the question remains: W h y would one wish to identify with. to break away from approved social norms. where. as social antimodels who can effectively dislocate an individual. violence. as I have suggested at several points throughout this book. pollution. respect. Living one's life according to rules of purity and pollution and caste and class that dictate how. In their strong associations with death. social taboos—the forbidden generally—spiritually refreshing or liberating. and despised marginal social roles. bizarre. roles. or Matarigi. Tara. The perspective from the cremation ground (Kali. "outsider" goddesses among the Mahavidyas facilitate this escape. These goddesses "fit" the logic of certain aspects of Tantra. and which people one may. probably lies in certain Hindu tantric emphases. in which a central aim is to stretch one's consciousness beyond the conventional. a goddess such as Kali. By subverting. which seems to be the aim of the ritual of the five forbidden things (the panca tattva ritual). Wherein lies the potentially liberating power of what we might term social antimodels? The answer. the adept seeks to liberate his or her consciousness from the inherited. and expectations. to actually become (in the logic of Tantra). and loathsome. culturally peripheral person of low caste . or the perspective of a polluted. and exactly in what manner every bodily function may be exercised.

offers tantric adepts a subversive vision of revered social values. . might very well involve or imply a transformation of identity in which hardened categories are jettisoned and the emotions. To take on such a perspective. marginalized widow who is shunned as an ill omen (Dhumavatl). cultural norms. and accepted frameworks of meaning. mind.252 concluding reflections (Matarigi) or of an inauspicious. and spirit are stretched in exhilarating fashion. to become one of these goddesses.

Chinnamasta. : "The Mahadevl. 6 5 . 1986). The list of the goddesses in one manuscript of the Mundamdld-tantra. Kamakala-khanda.90-94. This text has been dated as early as the tenth century C. Annapurna. Dhumavatl alone being absent.7ft. Kamala. 2. Durga. 1986). SodasI. 3. Bhuvanesvari.6 6 . Prabodh Chandra Bagchi. small sections dealing with each goddess. Tara. 1. 1. Bhairavl. Bhairavl. Dhumavatl. Tripura-sundari. Chinnamasta. for example. S.14ft. Banerjee. and Kamala. A Brief History of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. varies in both number and sequence from the corresponding list in another. and Dhumavatl—are described in upa tantras. C. Bhuvanesvari. Studies in the Tantras (Calcutta: University of Calcutta. 1 9 7 5 ) . nine of the ten Mahavidyas are mentioned. Six of the ten Mahavidyas—Kali.E. Bagala. and may be the earliest mention of the Mahavidyas as a group. in the Sammoha-tantra. Matarigi. T h e second manuscript names thirteen: Kali. 1 9 7 4 ) . 1980). and Padmavati. Kdlikd-purdna 74. 4. p. Matarigi. pp. In a list of fifty-one goddesses in the Mahdkdla-samhitd. Mahdkdla-samhitd (Allahabad: Ganganath Jha Research Institute. Matarigi." T h e M a h a v i d y a s as a G r o u p 1. chap. Tara. Tara. (Tripura-sundari). Ibid. 2 53 .. 101. 30. Mundamdld-tantra (Calcutta: ava Bharat. Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press. p. Bhairavl. Chinnamasta. which was probably written in the fifteenth century. Dhumavatl. 2. See David Kinsley.Notes Introduction 1. In the first list the Mahavidyas are given as follows: Kali. Bagala.

surrounded by the other goddesses. p. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Praksan. p. says of the Great women are your different forms. Kali (in the center and much larger than the others). Tara. They include the usual group and from left to right are: Kali. The Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. n. Tantra-mahdvijnana.^54 NOTES TO PAGES 14-20 5. Brhaddharma-purdna. and Kamala.5 0 . Ottawa. The Sdkta Pithas(Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sodasi. Sodasi. Pushpendra Kumar (Delhi: Eastern Book Linkers. 1 9 7 3 ) . chap. from left to right. M. Bagala. Matarigi. 11. 9 . locates them at Kamarupa. Chinnamasta. "The Mahavidyas at Kamarupa" (presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Asian Studies. Chinnamasta. Dhumavatl. Chinnamasta. 1982). Bhairavl. Feminine in the 1986). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Hindu Religious Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press. T h e group is the standard one. Banerjea Road. 6. 20. Bagala. ed. History of the Tantric Religion: A Historical. vols. Bhuvanesvari. Visnu dismembered Sati after she killed herself to avenge her father's insult to her. 1983). 13. 4 8 . Bhairavl. 7. See David Kinsley. as follows: KaminI (Sodasi). June 1 9 9 3 ) . p. Goddess: "All Sdkta Literature . N." 17. and the goddess Kamakhya was added to the usual group. p. Tara. 3 7 9 . and Kamala. Sodasi. clockwise from left to right: Kali. T h e pictures are actually numbered and show the Mahavidyas in the following order: Kali. saying that Kali is in the center there. Bagalamukhi. p. 2. ed. Bhuvanesvari. Visvabharati. Haraprasad Sastri (Varanasi: Chaukhamba Amarabharati Prakashan. Bhuvanesvari. and Kamakhya-devl. 1 9 6 7 ) . T h e goddesses Matarigi and Chinnamasta were absent. Kali. Bhuvanesvari. At the larger of the two temporary pandals housing the Mahavidyas. Upendra Kumar Das. S e e D . MatangI. 2 vols. 1 9 7 1 ) . Dhumavatl". nine goddesses were arranged. 8. Tara. C. For example. vol. Chinnamasta. Dhumavatl. 3 8 . Brhaddharma Purdnam. Dhumavatl. At the other shrine. 4 7 1 . Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. Bhuvanesvari. Tara.P.58-68. Bagala. from left to right: Dhumavatl. which tells the origin of the Mahavidyas. Hindu Tantric and (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Tripura-bhairavi. Traditionally there are said to be fifty-two such pithas. M. with the goddesses depicted in the following order. and Kamala. p. 7 7 . Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya. 81. Bagala. Bagalamukhi. 18. Dhumavatl." 1 9 . Madhya-khanda 25. My description of the place of the Mahavidyas at Kamakhya is based on a paper by Patricia Dold. Kamala. 12. 1 9 7 4 ) . Bharatiya Saktisddhand.1 1 .: Sarhskrti Sarristhan. T h e s'dkta pithas are places sacred to the goddess because pieces of Sati's body fell on them. T h e group consists of the usual ten: Kali. 5. Vedamurti Taponista. Tara. Bhuvanesvari. ten goddesses were arranged as follows. The Sdkta Pithas. and Kamala. Sircar. located on S. 2 U. which is the usual group of ten in a relatively common order. 9. Matarigi. Tripura-sundari. Chinnamasta. 16. 15. and Kamala. Sircar. Matarigini (Matarigi). Sodasi. For example. 389. Tripura-sundari. 1981). Tara. Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. Devi-mdhdtmya 1 1 . 3 4 8 . 9: "The Mahadevi. Tripura-bhairavi. 10. (Bareli. 14.

Bhuvanesvari to her right (west). 390. 8 2 . Sundari. As follows: Tara is to her left (east). In his wanderings. Pastoral Deities in Western India." Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer. DhumavarTs spreading of disease might be understood on the analogy of the Buddha as an avatdra of Visnu. Bhairavl. 1 2 8 . 40. who serve the one who wins them by his asceticism or in some other way. Chinnamasta is Parasurama. Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Himalayan Pilgrimage (New York: Oxford University Press. Tripura-sundari is Nrsirhha.78. Madhya-khanda 8 . 35. 39. Govinda Sastri. William Sax. in the northwest. Dhumavatl is Vamana. vol. vol. ed. 2 2. Dhumavatl. 4 5 . Dhumavatl to the south. "Karunamayi Tara. Bhuvanesvari to the west. 6 .133. 34. 1991). Madhya-khanda 6. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. Tripura-sundari to the northeast. When the Buddha is included as an avatdra. Bagala is Kurma. and in the south. in the northeast. Bhuvanesvari is Varaha. Matarigi is the Buddha. 2 . 9 2 . Chinnamasta. and SodasI is Kalki. 1978). SodasI to the southeast. 33. 2. 32.9 1 . Madhya-khanda 6. Bhairavl to the southwest. 36. T h e accounts are found in Brhaddharma-purdna. Another example of a group of goddesses personifying magical powers is found in the tale of Biroba. Kali is said to be present in all the directions. feminine powers. Brhaddharma-purdna. 1 2 4 .6 7 . in the southeast is SodasI. trans. Tara is Rama. 28. 8 9 . 91ft". Madhya-khanda 6 .4 0 . Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 23. 26. 38. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8. 7 3 133. and Matarigi above. 1 3 9 . Kali is Krsna. Taponista.9 5 . a regional deity of western India. 37. "But in a broader sense. the purpose of his incarnation is to delude wicked people so that they will get their just deserts.2 6 . in the north. 27. Saktisamgama-tantra. See Sircar. Ibid.9 .132. Anne Feldhaus (New York: Oxford University Press. 1989). pp. 1986). 6.7i. Bhairavl is Hall (a personified and deified constellation). Brhaddharma-purdna. 29. 31. 30. Sundari is Parasurama. Tara is Rama. 4 1 . in the southwest. Tantra Vidyd (Delhi: World Book Co." Candi 6. pp. . 7 9 . T h e locations and names of the Mahavidyas in the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna account ( 7 7 . Madhya-khanda 6. 7 ( 1 9 4 6 ) : 231. the seven goddesses are also the personified. Chinnamasta is Narasirhha. Bagala. B. and Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8 . from whom he acquires magical powers.132. Madhya-khanda 6 . Chinnamasta to the northwest. 3 1 . and Laksmi is the Buddha. Madhya-khanda 6 . p. Biroba encounters seven female deities. P37- 25. The Sdkta Pithas.NOTES TO PAGES 20-29 255 21.. Laksmi Narayana Sarma. 9 . eight—siddhis. Dhumavatl is Matsya.3 4 ) are somewhat different: Tara is to the east. 24. 6 6 . the seven—or rather. As follows: Kali is Krsna. Bhuvanesvari is Vamana. supernatural. no. as he is in some late Vaisnava texts. Bagalamukhi is Kurma.3 1 . Kamala is Matsya. Bagalamukhi to the north.

Eck. and several upa purdnas. 1982). 60.9 0 and Vardha-purdna 1 7 .73. 6 4 . p. p." by which the author means that the number and identity of the group vary.1-30.50.: Princeton University Press. Vdmana-purdna 29.2 4 . This characteristic of the Matrkas is found in other purdnic accounts of them. 6 1 . 4 8 . pp5 -576 . including at times Annapurna and Mahisamardinl. Matsya-purdna 1 7 9 . The Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sdkta Tantrism in South India (Albany: State University of New York Press.J. Siva-purdna 5. 268. 4 3 . p. 1988). p. pp.5 1 . Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta.J. Tantra Vidyd. 63. 6 8 8 . 4 7 . 1 4 . T h e magical power that enables one to become small is called anima siddhi and is sometimes represented as a goddess. 5 5 .28. See "The Mahavidyas as Forms of the Mahadevi" in Part I. Sahasrandma stotra from the Rudraydmala. The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the DeviBhdgavata Parana (Albany: State University of New York Press. SriTard-sadhand (Vindhyacal: Sri Tara Mandir. 1.1-48. v. see C. Taponista. Vibhuti Narayana Dvivedi and Harisankara Upadhyay. 37.2 3 ) . Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. (Princeton. a form of Durga herself. 1990). Sir John Woodroffe. 195. 52. 2 6 8 . 4 5 . 6 2 . trans. 8 . pp. 1 9 . 73. 3 3 . 5 9 . Mary Shepherd Slusser.7-8.47. Dlksit. For a discussion of the Devi-hhagavata-purdna. Mackenzie Brown. p. 360. vol. Sakti and Sdkta. 2 vols. Swami Vijnanananda (Allahabad: Sudhindra Nath Vasu. p. Devi-hhagavata-purdna 7. Dlksit. 4 6 . p. Ibid. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta.: Princeton University Press.2 2 . 361. Sarma. 4 9 . pp. 1987). A recent scholarly work refers to them as "an unstable set of Durga manifestations. 58. 7. for example. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 36. T h e classic statement of Vaisnava avatdra theology is in Bhagavad-gitd 4.. Goudriaan and Gupta. v. 1 4 2 . N. 1992). p. pp. 4 4 . 1 . 3 . T h e Mahavidyas are closely associated with Durga in Nepal. Private communication from Hillary Rodrigues. Banaras. p. The Goddess of Tantra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. City of Light.NOTES TO PAGES 29-42 4 2 . 50.5 2 . Skanda-purana 7 . 56. Pranab Bandyopadhyay. Essays and Addresses (Madras: Ganesh & Co. 4 6 .6 9 . Dlksit. p. 2 4 . See Thomas B. along with other siddhis. 53. Encountering the Goddess: A Translation of the DeviMdhdtmya and a Study of Its Interpretation (Albany: State University of New York Press. 1 9 2 1 . 4 7 . 1988). Banaras.9 2 . N. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Braj Printers. 57. 1 9 9 2 ) . Rajes Dlksit. 5 1 . 1992). pp. 6 5 . 4 9 . 1982).3 7 . p. The same grouping of the Mahavidyas is given in Sarbeswar Satpathy. 1991). 5 4 . Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. Coburn.. see Diana Eck. 1990). see Douglas Brooks. 4 5 . City of Light (Princeton. For the nine Durgas. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. 322.

Banerjee. 4 7 0 . and pasu (the lowest. p. The Mother Goddess Kdmdkhyd (Gauhati. N. 6 9 . p. Banerjee.NOTES TO PAGES 42-48 6 6 . 31. 3 2 2 . Chinnamasta. N. See Sures Chandra Banerji. 1981). 28. and Dhumavatl are called Vidyas. pp. 81. 80. 68.4 2 . chap. 70. 1 4 1 . 1 1 . see the treatment of the individual Mahavidyas in Part II. Bhattacharyya. in the Dasamabdvidyd-stotra. p. 7 5 . pp. 5 5 f t . 7 2 . pp. 348. Pushpendra Kumar. 1948). Histoiy of the Tantric Religion. 155. 3 6 . although I have not yet found clear examples of the Mahavidyas being related to the three bhavas. pp. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Kdlika-purdna 78. See June McDaniel. Mahdnirvana-tantra 13. 1989). Bani Kanta Kakati. See Banerjee. 77. Tara-khanda 1. 7 9 . 82.3 3 . 140ft. 7 6 . The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. is there any comment on the meaning of these three designations or the distinctions they . Tantra in Bengal: A Study of Its Origin. Kall-khanda 3. vira (said to be the appropriate type of spirituality for engaging in left-handed tantric rites and sometimes associated with the rajas guna). In neither the Mundamdld-tantra nor Kumar. pp. see the works by Pushpendra Kumar listed in the Bibliography.86. pp. For a detailed interpretation of Kali and the other Mahavidyas according to this approach. 6 9 6 . Bhairavl. 343. Mahdnirvana-tantra 10. 1 5 5 . p. 73. 83. Mishra. pp. and Kamala are called Siddhi-vidyas. pp. Kali and Tara are called Mahavidyas. Sdkta-pramoda. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 7 1 .5 3 . 4 7 1 .2 5 . Sakti Cult in Hinduism. pp. vol. pp. p. Significance of the Tantric Tradition (Varanasi: Arddhanarisvara Publications. and Bagalamukhi. History of the Tantric Religion. 7 6 . where she discusses the famous Bengali sdkta saint. Matarigi. Kakati. each of whom reflects a different bhava (mentality): divya (said to be superior and associated with the sattva guna). and Satpathy. p. Significance of the Tantric Tradition. For examples.3 7 . 270. See Kamalakar Mishra. Bhattacharyya. vii.5 2 . p. SodasI.84-90. 31. p. Kdlika-purdna 6 0 . 1991). Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall." type of person or spirituality). where the Mahavidyas and the seven cakras are said to reflect the evolution-devolution of consciousness in much the same way as in Sarhkhya philosophy. This is exactly the interpretation proposed by K. Auspicious Wisdom. "beastly. Bhuvanesvari. however. p. Kalydna. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra. 1 5 1 .32. Brooks. TtrthaArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. In the Mundamdld-tatitra. 5 1 . Bhattacharyya. 67.9 7 . A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Saktisamgama-tantra. 136. N. p.112. there is an implied hierarchy. 1977). 1 9 5 7 ) . 2. Development and Influence (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. also identifies the Mahavidyas with these categories but does not cite any textual reference. and perhaps appropriate types of goddesses. Ibid. There are appropriate paths for each type of aspirant. 7 4 .7 7 .. 1 3 2 . History of the Tantric Religion. 84. Taponista. 7 8 .5 6 . There are often said to be three types of aspirants. 38.4. See also Sarbeswar Satpathy./! Brief History of Tantric Literature. Bamakhepa.

332. Significance of the Tantric Tradition. 1 7 3 . 1 1 6 .7 4 . tantric worship is also described in Kauldvali. Mishra. p. for offerings. p. 101.. p.. 285. 5 1 . pp.5 0 . 1 1 8 . Significance of the Tantric Tradition. 1 9 5 1 ) . pp. "The Indian Mantra. 1 1 . Ibid. pp. ed. p. 1972). Swami Harshananda. cited in Brooks. 1 1 9 . 1 9 7 7 ) . 2-8. Mishra. Sidelights on Tantra (Pondicherry. vol. 1988). See pujd vidhi (rules on worship) for Matarigi in Sdkta-pramoda. See Harold G. Brill. pp. Selected Studies IV(Leiden: E. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (New York: Pantheon Books. Jan Gonda. for a discussion of the Sphota school and the creative role of sound generally in Hinduism. cited in Brooks. Ibid." Oriens. Chap. Uccista-matarigl.J. 6off. but this is not made explicit. 108. Brill. See Goudriaan and Gupta. 100. 1 1 7 . Brooks. Bagaldmukhi-rahasyam (Varanasi: Thakur Prasad Pustak Bharadar. 107. p.2 2 . reprinted in J. 155. B. 96. pp. Hemendra Nath Chakravarty and Mark Dyczkowski. Mishra. Coward. For the achievement of siddhis and other powers as distractions from the spiritual quest in yoga. 18.9 0 . 92. 107. See K. 9 4 . 3. 103. 1 9 7 1 ) . 7 2 . may be related to such goddesses insofar as she is often described as fierce and is said to prefer leftovers. p. p. T. V. 81. 122.z 8 5 NOTES TO PAGES 51-59 denote. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. Yoga: The Method of Re-integration (New York: University Book Publishers. 252. . Van Kooij. Ibid. Sdkta-pramoda. pp. 102. i n . 1 9 3 . Goudriaan and Gupta. p. 1 9 7 5 ) . Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 16 (1963). Brill. 1 4 8 . Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Pracya Prakashan. 104. 1958). p. 106. Pushpendra Kumar. Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. Ibid. pp. p. 190. p. 1 9 7 6 ) . Auspicious Wisdom. T h e importance of purification in tantric worship is discussed by K. 226. It is likely that Kali and Tara as Mahavidyas are understood to be superior in some sense to the other Mahavidyas. R.. 87. Worship of the Goddess according to the Kdlikdpurdna (Leiden: E. see Alain Danielou. n o . p. and trans. 89. 88. 1 4 2 .133. V.1 3 . and passim. The Tantric Way: Art.J. pp.. p. p. 16. 86. Bhartrhari (Boston: Twayne. 1 9 7 4 ) . 9 3 . Auspicious Wisdom. 90. 1988). 9 5 . 97. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. a form of the Mahavidya Matarigi. and Mircea Eliade. Auspicious Wisdom. p. 98. Kapali Sastry. 15.J. pp. Sdmanya pujd to the goddess is described in K. 85. chaps. Goudriaan and Gupta. 82. 1985). 1 2 1 . p. ed. Gonda. Sakti Cult in Ancient India (Banaras: Bharatiya Publishing House.9 4 . 8 5 . 1 9 5 5 ) . 9 9 . Acarya Pandita Sri Sivadattamisra Sastri. 109. uccista. 9 1 . Madhya-khanda 6. Science. Brhaddharma-purdna. Ddmdra-tantra. ReligiousBeliefsand PracticesojNorth India (Leiden: E.9 0 . Sdkta-prdmoda. 105.

p. p. pp. 7. Diana Eck. .. The Yellow Scarf (London: J. 4 6 1 . 10. 1978). vol. Skanda-purdna 5. Lalitd-sahasrandma with Bhdskarardya's Commentary. see Francis Tuker. 28. 4 (May 1981): 3 2 3 . For the Thugs. 27. 1 1 6 . Devi-mdhdtmya 1.: Claude Stark & Co. 5. 2. p. 1 9 5 1 ) .. 2.. 8. 3 8 4 . 134. 4 . 86. p. 115. 1 1 7 . 361.97. R. Vibhuti Narayana Dvivedi and Harisankara Upadhyay. Ananthakrishna Sastry (Madras: Theosophical Publishing House. 1. 1988).6 8 .20.289. 109. Sakti and Sdkta. Ibid. 1 1 9 . A Brief History of Tantric Literature.12-20. For example. 387-88. Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. God as Mother: A Feminine Theology in India (Hartford. Vdmana-purdna 25-29. 201. 1 9 8 1 ) . 1 2 6 . ibid.9. Dhydna mantra of Daksina-kall from the Kdli-tantra: Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 1 1 . Taponista. 6 6 . p. 1 5 . 7 8 . Ibid. Dhydna mantra of Guhya-kall. 1 . 4 . Saktisamgama-tantra.1-21.8 . 6.. Nagaswamy. Cheever MacKenzie Brown. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8. Tantric Cult of South India (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. p. 11. Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. Sri Tdrd-sddhand (Vindhyacal: Sri Tara Mandir. 12. Ibid. B. Dent & Sons. 1 3 6 . This is a term used by Eck. Sir John Woodroffe. 1982). 14. pp. 7 2 . Krsnajanma-khanda 4 1 . 1. 1 9 7 4 ) . 120. 5 7 . Kali 1. vol. M. 1 2 1 . p. p. 1987). See Kinsley. R. 1 9 4 . 1 4 .106.2 0 . Ganesa-khanda 4 5 . 18. 17. 26. 1 2 1 . 1 3 6 . Tantrasara. 14. 113.NOTES TO PAGES 59-73 112. 4 1 9 . 15. 4 0 6 . 5 . 13. no. 1 6 5 . Liriga-purdna 1. p. 3 . 1 1 8 .48-53. 2 and 8.60. 7 . 1 1 . Garuda-purdna 38. 1 6 . Dhydna mantra of Smasana-kall. 1 3 0 . 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. p. chaps. 9 . Mdnasdra-s'ilpa-s'dstra 9." History of Religions 20. trans. 1 9 8 7 ) . p. 3. 1 9 6 1 ) . Essays and Addresses (Madras: Ganesh & Co. 16. Hindu Goddesses. 1 6 7 . Kali Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. 323. ed. 2 8. Ibid. 4 .. 20. Tantrasara. 26. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 2 59 Banerjee. Bhdgavata-purdna 5.4 4 . 2 1 9 . Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 303. 2 1 6 . Rajes Dlksit. 114.82. 4. p. 1984). 9. 19. "India's Tirthas: 'Crossings' in Sacred Geography. Vt.7. Agni-purdna 133.8 9 . pp.

Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak.102. Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya. 2 1 4 . cited in Kripal. Dyczkowski. 28. 1985).4 8 . p. p. G. Development and Influence (Calcutta: Naya Prokash.8 6 .. i 9 6 0 ) . pp. 149. Principles of Tantra: The Tantratattva of Sriyukta Siva Candra Vidydrnava Bhattdcdrya Mahodaya. "Nayars in a South Indian Matrix: A Study Based on Female-Centered Ritual" (Ph. and trans. and Heinrich Zimmer. Ibid. 1 9 5 6 ) .2 1 . pp.6 2 . pp. For the panca tattva ritual. 4 0 . Kale (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 34. 1 9 8 9 ) . 10. 34. pp. 38. For example. Bhattacharyya. Bbavabhuti's Mdlatimddhava with the Commentary of Jagaddhara. Thought and Literature (New Delhi: National Museum. pp. 1 9 9 5 ) . Arthur Avalon (Madras: Ganesh & Co.. 1 9 9 1 ) . N. p. a woman out to seduce. see ibid. History of the Sdkta Religion. 4 3 . Hymn to Kali. 1 9 3 5 ) . 1 9 7 4 ) . 1 9 6 5 ) . Nataraja in Art. Agehananda Bharati.8 0 . 4 1 . 1 9 7 7 ) . 1 3 6 . Skanda-purdna 5 . 86. ed. and trans. pp. older women would disapprove of young females leaving their hair loose when they were in a public place.6 .MirceaEliade." History of Religions 34. The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 24. 36. (Calcutta: Yogadyana.i6o NOTES TO PAGES 73-84 21. p. . in Kerala. 8 2 . 1 6 8 . Sivaramamurti. Kripal. N. Montreal. an actress.. 1 6 . 327-28. Philosophies of India (Cleveland: World Publishing Co. Ibid. Wives of the God-King: The Rituals of the Devadasis ofPuri (New York: Oxford University Press. 1 . pp. History of the Sdkta Religion (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. 1 9 6 5 ) . Mark S. p.138. 5 . Frederique A. 2 2. R. The Tantric Tradition (London: Rider. Dlksit.2 2 . 6. 30. See C. diss. See Sures Chandra Banerji. 33..3 4 . History of the Sdkta Religion.3 1 . that is." Savithri Shanker de Tourreil. 2. P1 2 9 . 1 9 7 4 ) . Srisriramakrsna Paramahamsadeverjivanavrttdta.D. "Hindu women are normally expected to keep their hair tied up. 5th ed. 25. 2 (November 1 9 9 4 ) : 1 5 2 . pp.8 9 .1 5 . no. Ibid..2 4 . ed. 29. Kripal. 1 9 5 8 ) . This story is told in the Adbhuta Rdmdyana. ed. Tantra in Bengal: A Study of Its Origin. 4 2 . pp. 1 1 9 . 5 7 2 . pp.68-76.140-41. 1 3 6 . Concordia University. M. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (New York: Pantheon Books. A woman with loose hair was often equated in literature and common parlance with a loose woman. Marglin. pp. 39. Sarbeswar Satpathy. 84. Bhattacharyya. 23. 37. KdliTantra Sdstra. Hymn to Kali (Karpurddi-stotra). Ibid. 1 9 6 7 ) . 4 4 . "Kali's Tongue and Ramakrishna: 'Biting the Tongue' of the Tantric Tradition. Ram Chandra Datta. 27. "Till recently. Jeffrey J. 26. 1 6 7 . p. 4 . p. 19. a professional dancer. 2 5 4 . 1 2 0 . Mahdnirvdna-tantra 5. 3 0 . p. 2 28-78. n. 8 5 . Arthur Avalon (Madras: Ganesh & Co. and the Bengal Jaiminibhdrata Rdmdyana. 1 1 7 . 32. 3 1 . Sarala-dasa's Oriyan Rdmdyana. 35.

1 9 9 3 ) . Gautam. pp. Swami Annapurnananda.P. p. U. Kali Tantra Sdstra. p. during Kali Puja—said that Kali's standing on Siva. 67. the Niruttara-tantra. 1 4 5 . Dlksit. 5 1 . 125. Such sexual union between the two is often actually shown and is sometimes part of the dhydna mantras of other forms of Kali. in a conversation with me in Calcutta in October 1992—appropriately. 9 1 . June McDaniel. 68. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas. Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth. This is a strikingly different interpretation of Kali's lolling tongue from that of Kripal cited above. 130. Satpathy. 1989).8 7 .' Keeping the hair loose is a sign of impurity. "Hair. Bhattacharyya. who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 6 5 . Hershman. 6 4 .. symbolizes her being above him during intercourse. see Pandurang Vaman Kane. 5 4 . Swami Annapurnananda. citing an interview with a contemporary devotee. T h e details of the following interpretation are particularly dependent on interviews I had with Swami Annapurnananda of the Ramakrishna Mission in Varanasi and on the observations by Dlksit. 1 1 8 . Dlksit. Dlksit. p. Ritual. 4 6 . 3-7. pp.5 . 1 6 5 . For rules concerning menstruation in Hinduism. Erndl. Gautam. Dlksit. Beck. and other sources. and the Kdmadhenu-tantra. Sex and Dirt. pp. Dlksit. 6 9 . 62. 2. Swami Annapurnananda. 4 7 . 50. Alf Hiltebeitel." Kathleen M. as in the Daksina-kall image.1 1 7 . 57.8 3 . Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas. KaliSiddhi (Bareli. 4 9 . See P. 1 9 7 4 ) . 5 5 . N. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Ibid. pt. N. p.2 1 . Gautam. 3. 58. Swami Annapurnananda. 4 5 . Swami Annapurnananda. 6 1 . History of Dharmas'astra. 1 9 8 4 ) . Swami Annapurnananda. 63. 4 4 . Kali Tantra Sdstra. Ibid. See Satpathy. 52. pp. 60." Purusdrtha 5 (1981): 1 8 6 . 4 8 . In a commentary to the Karpurddi-stotra. "Draupadl's Hair. 1993).: Sarhskrti Sarhsthan. vol. 8 0 2 . 87. p.NOTES TO PAGES 84-89 261 'under control. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kali Tantra Sdstra. p. 1 2 1 . Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Guy L. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Dlksit. as after the death of a close relative or during menstruation. n. 5 3 . Dlksit. Ibid." Man 9 ( 1 9 7 4 ) : 2 8 2 . 5 9 . p. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Dlksit. Caman LalGautam. Gautam. and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press. 2 (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Swami Annapurnananda. 6 6 . 5 6 . 2. .

Bhattacharyya. 5. 2 1 2 . Beyer. B. 1 4 7 . 386. discussed in vol. 5 5 . Ibid.. 302. Boddhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Boulder. 13. 9. 4. p. r2. 20. p. She gets drunk on fresh blood and behaves in wild. 4 6 9 . L. 2 2. 206.262 NOTES TO PAGES 89-97 70. Ibid. This myth is found in the first and second chapters of the Brahmaydmala . Dyczkowski. 2. Colo. 1 9 6 3 ) . 3 8 6 . p.4 6 . (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office. 5 3 4 . see Beyer. The Doctrine of Vibration. p. Indian Buddhist Iconography.4 0 . 9 0 . 8 . Ibid. 3. 5 9 . 1 6 .. Ibid. pp. 71(a).9 1 . Beyer. Beyer. B. 1973). 7. pp. and Blofeld.. 292. p. 1968). See Blofeld. 21. 2 3 3 .. 302. p. 1 2 4 . Philosophies of India (Cleveland: World Publishing Co. pi. Tara: The Supreme Goddess (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. p. 53. see ibid. see Giuseppe Tucci. For example. p. Beyer. The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet (Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. Tara 1.4 . pp.8 8 . 12. (Rome: Libraria dello Stato. 6.2 1 . pp. 11. 10. tanka 4 4 . p. 1 3 4 . pp. 2 vols. For a description of the "eight terrors" from which Tara is said to save. Mukhopadhyaya. Stephan Beyer. p. pp. 1992). unpredictable. pi. Indian Buddhist Iconography. K. pp. For references on the history of Tara in Tibet. pp.7 1 . N. 403ff... 78. p.1 3 . Pandey. Heinrich Zimmer.: Shambala Publications. 18. 19. Ibid. 5 1 3 . 72. Bhattacharyya. p. 2d ed. 303. 1 0 3 . 1 4 . Ibid. see also Chintaharan Chakravarti. Beyer. Beyer. p. see also Nalini Kanta Bhattasali.. 72.. pp. 190. p. 306. dangerous ways. 4. pp. 17. 1963). Pushpendra Kumar. where Tara blesses a young couple with a child after rescuing them from calamity. facing p. Drinking blood results in intoxication in many myths featuring Kali and other goddesses. pp. 8. Tibetan Painted Scrolls. 1949). shows quite clearly that Kurukulla was originally an Indian tribal deity. p. See the Tantrasara on Guhya-kali. C. Tantras: Studies on Their Religion and Literature (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 1929).5 2 . 1978). 1 9 5 6 ) . The Indian Buddhist Iconography: Mainly Based on the Sddbanamdld and the Cognate Tantric Texts of Rituals (Calcutta: Firma K. 1 3 . John Blofeld. Bhadra Bahadur. 15. Abhinavagupta: An Historical and Philosophical Study. Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum (Dacca: Rai S. 7 1 .2 5 .1 0 . see also Benoytosh Bhattacharyya.

no. Sakti Arik. Dlksit. vol. 1992). 4 3 . p. For his use of "Tara" to suggest the benign aspect of the goddess. 37. Ibid. 131. 132. p. Dlksit. 7 ( 1 9 4 6 ) : 216-20. where he refers to Tara as the "doer of good. 35. Dlksit. "Tara Astakam.1 6 . p. Nila-tantra 3 1 . 1989). pp. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. p. Kalydna. Alan Morinis. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. Robert E." p. In McDaniePs account. 4 1 ." and as having a "smiling face. Ibid. which is based on an interview with a devotee. 4 2 . Tara Tantra Sdstra. She changes her form to Tara. 225. 4 6 . 1. 1986). This elaborated version of the story is from Rasmohan Cakravarti.. 79." 29. Dlksit. Ibid. 25. p. Rajes Dlksit.3 4 .1 8 . 38. Dlksit. 1934). Jadunath Sinha (Calcutta: Sinha Publishing House. See also June McDaniel. Ibid. 4 0 4 . 4 9 . 1 1 7 . 10. pp. 128. the good of all. 1 2 . 33." .M. 224. Sakti Arik. Tara Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. 1984). Dlksit. 4 4 . 80. Aghora: At the Left Hand of God (Albuquerque. 2 1 . 89. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. she says.106. p. see song 221." from the Brhannila-tantra. p. 40. Kalydna. I have edited the translation. passim. N. Swami Annapurnananda. pp. 39. see Rama Prasada's Devotional Songs: The Cult of Shakti. See the discussion of this myth below.: Brotherhood of Life. "Tara-rahasya. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. p. p. 24. 48. 1 1 8 . Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. the role of the Buddha is to delude sinners with his false teachings so that they will receive their appropriate karmic rewards. 1 6 6 .3 3 . Tdrd. 167. Ibid. pp. 1 2 8 . 1 9 6 6 ) . ed. Swami Annapurnananda. In such cases. p. grantor of safety. trans. 4 5 . 50.. p. 27. 6. For the poetry of Ramprasad and his use of the epithets Kali and Tara. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. E. 1 7 9 . 101. Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: A Case Study of West Bengal (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 130. 26. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. 4 7 . pp.NOTES TO PAGES 97-108 263 and the tenth chapter of the Rudraydmala. pp. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. "Mahavidya Tara ki Sadhana. 1 1 5 . Mahidhara. 34. 1984). Ibid. 28. Svoboda. Kumar.1 9 . 31. 32. and trans. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. Liriga-purdna 1. 4 1 5 . Note that the Buddha is included in some late lists of the avatdras of Visnu.8 0 . Mantra Mahodadhih.6 7 . because "I canl o t nurse my own husband. 30. Kalydna. Dlksit. 1 2 8 . pp. 108. 36. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. Tara Tantra Sdstra." Candi 6..2 3 . it is Kali who comes to Siva's rescue. 23. pp. 1987).

Morinis.3 1 . The Divine Player: A Study of Krsna Lila (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 230. p. 2. 7. p. p. December 1 9 9 2 . Dlksit. 1 7 8 . 182.5 8 . 1 9 3 4 ) .. 5 6 . 9 . pp. 1 9 9 2 ) .8 5 . Ibid. 52. 5. Tripura-sundari is described as a female version of Siva. From Lalitopdkhydna 30. 137-49- 20. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividyd Sdkta Tantrism in South India (Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 2 0 5 . p. 3 5 6 . summarized in Brooks. This was described in Part I. 358. Svoboda. 54. pp. translated by Woodroffe in his introduction to the text. says that the stone image is actually ill defined and that the devotee must use considerable imagination to detect Tara nursing Siva. following the Tripurd-rabasya of the Mahatmya-khanda of the Brahmdnda-purdna. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 177. Morinis. pp. 10. name 5 2. Levy. Auspicious Wisdom. Sodast Tantra Sdstra. Sodas! Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. p. p. Douglas Renfrew Brooks. Robert I. 13. Diksit. ed. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. Ibid. 1 7 1 . 7 2 . Kalydna. Kalydna. pp. pp. Ibid. Ibid. 14. 7 7 . Ibid. Ibid. 1 3 6 . Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. p.. John Woodroffe (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 4.5 2 .1 0 . p. pp. Varanasi. pp. p. Biswas.. Prapancasdra-tantra. particularly her place in South India. 19. pp. 28. In this description. Conversation with T. 17. 1 9 7 9 ) . 53. 1 9 9 1 ) . pp. 1984).. 137. 3. 1992).264 NOTES TO PAGES 108-118 51. .2 4 . 15..7 9 . 5 6 .56. 6 4 .. . 6 7 0 . 404. 12. 2 2 9 . 57. The following discussion of Tripura-sundari. 68-69. p. SodasI Tantra Sdstra. Lalitd-sahasrandfiia.8 0 . 9.. 55. 7 . ibid. Interview with Swami Annapurnananda.d. 6. 8. p.). p. Bharat Kala Bhavan. follows the excellent work done on her cult by Brooks in Auspicious Wisdom. 1 8 4 . 1992). Rajes Dlksit. p. p. See "The One Hundred and Eight Names of Sodasi" from the Brahmaydmala and the Sahasrandma fromvthe Vdmakesvara-tantra. Ibid.. 1 5 3 . p. 2 3 . Diksit. 11. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. n. Joint Director. Sakti Auk. See David Kinsley. Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1 3 9 . I. 58.. 18. K. 7 1 . Ibid. 16. Tripura-Sundari 1.

24. p.9 4 . The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Sdkta Tantrism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1959). Mantra and Tantra (Bangalore: Kalpatharu Research Academy.. 2 0 8 . 5 1 . T. L. Auspicious Wisdom. pp. Brooks. 4 5 . 4 9 . and Kalaratri. p. Basham. 4 1 .. summarized in S.5 1 . 38. p. p. "In §ri-Vidya ideology. Kdlikd-purdna 78. p. 77. cited in Brooks. 23.NOTES TO PAGES 118-126 265 21. Brooks. pp. p. and the expressing consciousness and the expressed energy are fundamentally one. 4 7 . and the consonants 35) of the alphabet correspond to the 36 principles (tattvas) that underlie the constitution and function of the universe. Auspicious Wisdom. Ramachandra Rao. Sri-Cakra: Its Yantra. Brooks. 118.2 6 . Auspicious Wisdom. Sastry. Varivasyd-rahasya 2. p. 9 3 .. Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall. Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. 254. pp. A. Visvabharati. Nityasodas'ikdrnava 1. 7 6 . 48. C. 34. Kakati. 137. 33. cited in Brooks. Ibid. Auspicious Wisdom. there is no disparate existence of signifying sound and the signified object. Auspicious Wisdom. 31. 5 2 6 . 38.. Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. is nothing other than the expressive sounds that constitute the alphabet. 7 9 . 1 9 6 7 ) . 1 9 9 3 . . p. Yogini-tantra 1. p. Ibid. Brooks. T h e 36 letters (15 vowels taken as one. Swami Annapurnananda. For a description and interpretation of the Sri cakra. Ibid. 1986). Ibid. Ibid. 9 3 .12. 60. 28. 5 0 . p. p. 5 2 5 . Conversation with a tantric scholar in Varanasi. . Sastry. p. 7 7 . two scholars of Tantra. Sidelights on Tantra (Pondicherry. 7 7 .1 0 1 . . January 1 9 9 3 . p.100. 39. pp. 1982). vol. A Brief Histoiy of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. 25.9 1 .4 8 . K. p. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. p.17. p. Commentary on the Lalitd-sahasrandma. 9 0 . Dlksit. Das. . 109. V. 2 vols. 4 4 . Sastry. Auspicious Wisdom..14. The Mother Goddess Kamakhya (Gauhati. 5 2 5 ." S. Tripurd-rahasya 10. p.1 2 . where she is called Kali. 1 4 3 . Upendra Kumar Das. 4 3 . Brooks. 1 6 2 . Auspicious Wisdom. Brooks. and Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. 107. 525... 4 0 . Auspicious Wisdom. Kalika.6. pp. 35. 4 2 . 32. 4 6 . Ibid. 140. cited in Brooks. Dlksit. 1990). The universe of experience . citing Sastry. 4 5 . Mark Dyczkowski and Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. Auspicious Wisdom. Kakati. p. 1948). 108. pp. p. 1 9 7 1 ) . Douglas Renfrew Brooks.. 37. Bani Kanta Kakati. pp. 36. pp. 1 4 7 .6. 9 9 . Brooks. 29.163. 22. Auspicious Wisdom. p. see the Kdmakaldvilasa. Auspicious Wisdom. p. pp. 27. 1. 1 3 9 . 30. Banerjee. 254. cited in Brooks. private conversations in Varanasi. 137. 26. The Wonder That Was India (New York: Grove Press. 50. Prdnatosini5.4 6 . (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. 50. Das.

chap. 4 7 2 . Rajes Dlksit. Prupancasdra-tantra. 1981). p. 4 5 . p.7 5 . Mantramaharnava. 1992). p. 3. p. 19. Mantramaharnava. 1 . 1 7 3 . 11. U. trans. (Bareli. see also Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 1 7 6 (blue form). 2. Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta.: Sarhskrti Samsthan.6 8 and is translated by Woodroffe in his introduction. 4 6 8 . Mantramaharnava. 13. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 23. 1980).). Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta.4.2 3 ) .6 9 (golden form) and 4 7 1 (vermillion form).6 2 . Vedamurti Taponista. 6 . Auspicious Wisdom. p. Ibid. 21. Ibid. 7. 21. p. 12. 4. 3.5 2 . In the English translation.5. From her thousand-name 1904)1 P. pp. 18. 4 7 . 8. hymn.4 1 . 2 9 . p. Hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala. Dlksit. p.2 8 . Ibid. 2 vols. Tantra-mahdvijndna. Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Woodroffe numbers the verses of the hymn beginning with 1. 89... 9.2 9 . 4 . See Tantrasdra. Mantramaharnava. the interpretation follows that of Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. Prapancasdra-tantra. ibid. Brooks. pp. 17. n. 319. 24.5 2 . 1 4 .. pp. p. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Braj Printers. n. 204-5. pp. p.266 NOTES TO PAGES 127-136 The Tantric Way: Art. 4 7 2 . Swami Vijnanananda (Allahabad: Sudhindra Nath Vasu. Bhuvanesvari-stotra from the Rudraydmala.4 7 6 6. pp. pp. Ibid. 16. The Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam.5 1 .). the hymn is found in 1 1 . and Introduction. p. p. pp. a scholar of Tantrism . 1 9 2 1 . 27. 2 6 . 4 7 0 . Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan.5. Dhyana mantra from Mantramaharnava (Bombay: Khemraj Srikrsnadas Publishers. p. 1990). 5 9 . 1 4 0 . pp.3 7 . 1 2 8 . 4 5 . 1 9 . John Woodroffe (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.8 . 1971). 20. Dlksit. 15. ibid. T h e following description is found in the Tantrasdra.d. and Mantramaharnava. 5 . which corresponds to verse 49 in the text. Ritual (Boston: New York Graphic Society. Bhuvanesvari 1. 52. 17. 1 9 . 2. 26. 12. Science. 4 9 . 4 7 2 . From the Rudraydmala-tantra. Ibid. 10.. 4 9 9 . p. 25. 4 7 1 . 6. 3. 4 6 8 . Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. ed. 1988). 22.d. pp. Mundamdld-tantra (Calcutta: Nava Bharat. 5. pp. 4 7 . Ibid.P. p.

Ibid. diss. Here the names of the deities. Columbia University. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan.4 7 . n. 1978). 1992). From a hymn addressed to Chinnamasta. pp. 35. Bhuvanesvarievam Chinnamasta. with Reference to the First Seven Centuries A . "Chinnamasta: T h e Awful Buddhist and Hindu Tantric Goddess" (Ph. p.2 9 and Vdmana-purdna 30.D. 4 6 8 . pp. 3. " (Ph. 12.7 3 . 3 4 . 10. p. 8. Australian National University. an eighteenth-century Bhuvanesvari yantra from Rajasthan. p. p. 6. 1992). and trans.d. 2 8 . p. 5 . 2. 205. translated by Benard. p. diss. 28. Mahidhara. 3 1 . p.). 33. 4. Sdkta-pramoda. 1 9 4 . 2 6 1 . vol. p. 378. Sdkta-pramoda. 3 5 . ed. p. This version is also told. 1981). Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. vol. New York. 5. T h e yantra itself is also pictured in the Sdkta-pramoda. See also Ajit Mookerjee. In Chinnamasta's 108-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda. 3 6 . 5. Mahidhara. 1 9 9 2 ) . Tiwari. Mantra Mahodadhih. p. 6 7 ..NOTES TO PAGES 1 3 9 . 4 7 1 . D . p. ed. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 29. and in her thousand-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda she is called Killer of the Demon Kesi (name 90). pi. 3 1 3 .. 18. "Studies in Goddess Cults in Northern India. 221.3 6 . 38. T h e following names and their numbers are from Elisabeth Anne Benard. 7. p. Prdnatosini-tantra. 2 5 6 . Sri Chinnamasta Nitydrcana (Prayag: Kalyan Mandir Prakasan. private conversation. 1 5 2 . Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. and several other epithets that associate her with demon slaying. 11. Ibid. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. B. pp.3 7 . 2 0 4 . 36. Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.D. Prdnatosini-tantra(Calcutta: Basumati SahityaMandir. she is called Killer of the Demons Canda and Munda (name 7). 378. pp. 30. 3 1 2 . ed. 1928). Tantra Asana: A Way to Self-Realization (Basel: Ravi Kumar. Tantrasara. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. 3 3 4 . in Sri Swami Ji Maharaja Datiya. and guardians are actually written out. pp. 207.5 . p.1 4 9 267 in Varanasi. 1978). Ibid. Chinnamasta 1. She W h o Is the Battle Cry (name 7 6 7 ) . for example. 1. .1 5 . Mantra Mahodadhih. 9. Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. vol. p. Jagdish Narain Tiwari. Saktisamgama-tantra. 1. with slight modifications. translated by Benard. 32. See also Devi-bhdgavata-purdna 5 . 1 9 7 1 ) . 2 3 4 . Diksit. Ibid. and trans. 1990). p. 3 1 7 . Hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala. s'aktis. Dhydna mantra of Chinnamasta. p. She W h o Is the Battlefield (name 768). Taponista.

39. translated by Benard. Pal. 235. 3 3 5 . for details of why Siva carries a skull after killing Brahma by chopping off his head. 1 7 6 . 16. 27. 31. p. 19. p. p. 22. R. Sdkta-pramoda. 24.P: Sarhskrti Sarhsthan. and U. p. Nagaswamy. pp. Hindu Religion and Iconology (Los Angeles: Vichitra Press. 30. 1984). 29. "The Head-Offering to the Goddess in Pallava Sculpture. 2 7 6 . Datiya. 1965). Alain Danielou (New York: New Directions Book. translated by Benard. Lorenzen. Sdkta-pramoda. p. 371. Vedamurti Taponista. 333-4°- 18. Ibid.4 3 .6 4 . Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology (Berkeley: University of California Press. 4 7 9 . pp. 14. 1 9 7 9 . Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall. B. 1976). Prince Ilango Adigal. 351.. p. Several examples of human sacrifice to goddesses are mentioned in Bani Kanta Kakati. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. E.3 6 .8 0 . 1984). 1948). pp. p. P. Ghosal. Acarya Ananda Jha. 172. 108. 374. p.6 3 (this story of transposed heads is originally from Kathdsaritsdgara 6. pp. 1972)." Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies (London) 6: 5 3 9 . 187. The Kdpdlikas and Kdlamukhas: Two Lost Saivite Sects (Berkeley: University of California Press. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. p. Emeaneau. 32. "Chinnamasta Tattva. July 26. 23.7 7 . 1982). U. 371. and Wendy O'Flaherty. 1 9 7 1 ) . Sdkta-pramoda.4 6 . Tantrasara. 1965). pp. p. 2 4 3 . Studies in Indian History and Culture (Bombay: Orient Longman. 1 4 5 . translated by Benard. Ghosal. 2 vols. Translated by Benard. p. Vogel." trans. pp. 82. From her thousand-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda.4 3 . Religious Institutions and Cults of the Deccan (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. (Bareli. 38. . Tantrasara. 26. 21. Tantra-mahdvijnana." Sanmarg—TantravisesAnk (Varanasi). 26. 170. Ibid. American Oriental Society 4 (1934): 5 9 . Sdkta-pramoda. 1988). 5 3 9 . 28. 7. 1981). p. p. pp. Benard. 172. 25. Alan Morinis.7 1 . 34. 35. trans. Swami Harshananda. 15. For examples.NOTES TO PAGES 150-160 13. p. P. 6 9 .80). M. N. 234. The Mother Goddess Kdmdkhyd (Gauhati. 173. Ibid. 33. Ramendra Nath Nandi. 36. Head symbolism is discussed by Benard. p.6 1 . See J. p. 6 1 . 17. 1973). 143. pp. Sbilappadikaram. See David N. Ibid. pp. Tantric Cult of South India (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. 20. Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: A Case Study of West Bengal (Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 222. 37. Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. see "Jambhaladatta's Version of the Vetalapaficavimsati. 1 7 1 . for the story of Renuka's beheading.

Sdkta-pramoda. Mahidhara. 355. quoted by Benard. p. p.4 1 ..: Sarhskrti Samsthan. 308.. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl Tantra Sdstra (Agra: n. 4 5 . 1988). 4 2 . 1993). 56. Tibetan Tantric Tradition (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann. Dhyana mantra of Rudra-bhairavi. p. Benard. p. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 4 8 6 . 525. 2 1 1 . 4 7 .5 8 . pp. 51.8 9 . 4 0 . p. 1. Ibid. p. p. p. U. 1 4 8 . 3. 4 1 .9 4 . to be a circle of fire. exoteric. 1 6 7 .4 9 . pp. and completely ordinary (sadhdran) or vegetarian (Vaisnava). p.. p. 1 9 7 7 ) . 52. Sdradd-tilaka 1 2 . 9 3 . 50.NOTES TO PAGES 160-171 269 40. Ibid. 1984). 1992). Kathleen M. 4 3 . and to be destructive fire. 53. 1982). p.. Tantra-mahdvijndna (Bareli. Vedamurti Taponista. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. 61.9 5 . Ibid. S. where she is said to exist in a circle of fire. Chinnamasta stotra.. 5 7 . 4 9 . Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 5 8. v. . 92. p. Ibid. Bhairavl 1. Sexual Metaphors and Animal Symbols in Indian Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.. pp. 6 4 . Erndl. 4. Laksmlrikara. There is some evidence that the Cintpurni temple in Himachal Pradhesh was once a Chinnamasta temple. p. pp. 57. 249. 8. Buddhist devotee.E." The worship of Cintpurni today is nontantric. p.7 2 . Bcnard. Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth. p. Sdradd-tilaka 12. 54. 147. Chinnamasta "is the original name of Cintpurni. Dip Publica- 6. 288. 87. 4 4 .3 5 . 1 3 3 . Ibid. 534—37. On the basis of Chinnamasta's appearance in the teachings of a ninthcentury C. p. Sdkta-pramoda. pp. 105. See Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. ed. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 8. 3 5 . and according to one of the priests at the temple. concludes that Chinnamasta appeared in Buddhist sources at least a century before she did in Hindu materials. pp 1 9 7 1 ) . Benard. and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press. pp. Bhdrat Tilth Darsan (Varanasi: Bhola Yantralaya. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. 228.P. Cintpurni is described as benign and similar to Durga in appearance. Saktisamgama-tantra 6. 51.79-82. 4 3 . The name Chinnamasta is written on the gateway to the temple. T h e story is told in Benard. translated by Benard. Rajes Dlksit. 1981). pp. 8 1 . Dlksit. Ritual.31. pp. Dhyana mantra of Bhairavl. 4 4 .4 4 . Jagannath Prasad Sharma. 2 6 9 . 7. Ibid. 1 7 4 . see also her thousand-name hymn in the Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 61. 5. 4 8 . 2. Rao. 140.6 7 . 2 6 6 . 1984). K. 178. 4 6 . Translated by Benard. 55. pp.

6. Leslie. p. Dhyana mantra of Dhumavatl. 58. 19. Mary Shepherd Slusser. Bhairavl evam DhumdvatlTantra Sdstra (Agra: Dip Publication. 1 9 1 4 . Nepal Mandala.6. She is mentioned in the Baudbayana-gflryasutra.5 6 . Library. Tantrasdra.. 2 6 6 .7 8 . Elemoits of Hindu Iconography. 12.110.9. (Princeton. 5 6 . Bharatiya Saktisddhand. 60. Prapancasdrasdra-samgraha. 2 2 .NOTES TO PAGES 1 7 1 .9. p.7. see also Sdradd-tilaka 10. 7. p. 1 4 1 . 9. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. Mother Goddess in Indian Art. p. 1 9 7 1 ) . 6 4 . pp.83-87. p. Goddess LaksmI: Origin and Development (New Delhi: Oriental Publishers. vol. 6 1 .1 7 9 9. "Sri and Jyestha: Ambivalent Role Models for Women. (New York: Paragon Books. 10. Sdkta-pramoda. Ibid.3 1 . 5 3 5 . 393.. 236. 1 5 0 . 4.1. Ibid. 1. pp. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. 5 5 0 " (Ph. 18. "The History of the Worship of Sri in North India to cir.: Princeton University Press.2. pp. 2 6 6 . University of London. 1 1 3 .J. p. pt. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. 1 1 4 . 2. M.i:xi. 5. 2 9 5 .S. P. Conversation with Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. diss.D. 60. Ibid. 18. 1988). History of Dharmasastra. 14. ir. 152. 2 parts (Thanjavur: T. Ibid. pp.4. 2 vols. vol. 2 3 4 . 6 2 . 15. Ibid. 328.M. pp. Girvanendra SarasvatI. Gopinatha Rao. Dlksit.1 6 ) . Visvabharati. 1978). 1 7 9 . p. 16. see Bandana Sarasvati.4 2 . Swami Harshananda. Upendra Nath Dhal. p.3. 2 vols. 1 7 8 . 11. ed. 2. 15. 6.2. p. Dlksit.S. 2 vols. C.. Ibid. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. 2. p. 13. 1.3 1 5 . pp. A. 1 9 7 9 ) . Liriga-purdna 2. 1982).A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu ' Valley. A. Tantrasdra. Taittlriya-brdhmana 1. Upendra Kumar Das. 2d ed.D. 315.. 265. 3. 1992). Dlksit.3. cited in Julia Leslie.. . 1 1 5 . 3 1 5 . Rajes Dlksit. 17. 1980).3 5 . 2.. 1 7 7 . p. Satapatha-brdhmana 5.. 20. pt. 297.C. p. Atharva-veda 5." in Julia Leslie. Leslie. 14. 10. 1 9 . 17. 9 4 . For the text and translation of the Srl-sukta.1. 268. pp.1 9 . ed.. Dhumavatl 1. 8. pp. Archaeology and Literature (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. p.E. 1988). T. 1 6 . 190. 12. N. Sdkta-pramoda. 1 9 6 7 ) . Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 13. Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Srivastava. p. 6 4 . Tantrasdra. p. which can be dated between 600 and 300 B. pp. 9. Kane.

p. 87 and 92. Science. Dhydna mantra of Bagalamukhi. 4 6 3 . v. 22. p. pp. 1992). Prapancasarasara-samgraha. ed. 2 3. Vv. 1 2 5 . 1 9 1 . 1 6 2 . Paul R. 122. 333—34. 36. 236. 4 4 . Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 26. 2 8 3 . Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. vol. 4 2 .8 4 . 4 3 . Mary Shepherd Slusser. 234. 1 4 7 .pp. 1 6 7 . Golding and Virendra Singh (MS. 21. Kalydna. 9 5 . 27. 5 4 2 . This myth was also told to me by the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi. The Principle of Sakti (Delhi: Eastern Book Linkers. 152. N. pp. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 1 6 9 .6 7 . Shiv Prasad Mishra Kahikey. 33. T h e priest at the Dhumavatl temple said that she is the same as Smasana-kall. October 1 9 9 2 . p. pp. pp.NOTES TO PAGES 180-193 20.J. 28. p. According to the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi. 1978). 1 9 9 1 ) . There are also small Dhumavatl temples at Ranchi in Bihar and near the Kamakhya-devI temple near Gauhati in Assam. Dlksit. 1 9 6 7 ) . 4 5 . Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. pp. "Kali who lives in the cremation ground. 70. 37. Diksit. pp. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. i.6 7 . 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. 2 6 4 . Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. Sarbeswar Satpathy. p. 234. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. 159. 2 4 . p. 6 9 . T h e painting of Dhumavatl by Batuk Ramprasad is discussed later (see figure 31).d. Bhairavl nam Dhumavatl. Visvabharati. 108.9 7 : Dlksit. p. 234. Upendra Kumar Das. 31. p. 4 6 .). Dhumavatl stotra. Prdnatosini-tantra 5. 1934).2 5 . p. 1 9 7 7 ) . p. Varanasi. (Princeton. p. n.4 8 . 38. Bhairavievam Dhumdvati. Diksit. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Pun- thi Pustak. 1984). 2 vols. 4 1 . Saktisamgama-tantra." 39. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 2 vols. Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 1986). Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 24. 25.6 4 . 1 6 6 . 34. Harshananda. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press.2 6 . "Bahati Ganga (The Flowing Ganges). 1982). Diksit. 234. p. Vv.: Princeton University Press. Diksit.^." trans. The Tantric Way: Art. 1 9 9 2 ) . 1 6 6 . Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. 40. According to the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 6 . p. Thousand-name hymn. B. 30. . 35. p. vol. 29. Brhat Tintrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publications. Diksit. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. Bagalamukhi 1. 32. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. p. 1 6 0 .6. Sarbeswar Satpathy. Vv. 32. Conversation with Kamalakar Mishra. Pushpendra Kumar.

1980). 3. Visvabharati. 179.. 18.d. 83. Montreal. Shastri and Nicole Menant. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi Tantra Sdstra Prakashan. 1982). 6. 20. Sastri. 149-51. Tantra-mahdvijriana (Bareli. 81. The tradition of acquiring magical powers is ancient in India and pervades tantric literature in particular. 15. Concordia University. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. 2 vols. 68. 22. 25. Tantrasdra. M. 1988). 6 . 57. n. p. Swamiji. p. Usha P. 1951). 4 6 6 . p.. Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam. pi.P. p. see also pp. 320. 14. 16. p.). P : Sarhskrti Samsthan. Bhattacharyya. Mahdbhdrata 3 .3 9 . facing p. Matarigi(Dattiya. Mitchener. Bhuvanesvari. p. Hindu Polytheism (New York: Bollingen Foundation. For a discussion of magical powers in Hinduism. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. 1 . p. 11. 1 8 7 . and Alain Danielou. Kalydna. U . Ibid. diss. Vedamurti Taponista. a tantric informant in Varanasi. N. 3 1 .D. p. p. 10. Dlksit. and 204. 4 9 2 . Swami Harshananda. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. 13. Vv. 84. 15. see also Tantrasdra. 2. ibid. while in fact its entire attention is directed toward capturing and devouring fish. Sastri. 8. 7. Taponista. p. 5 . Pitambari-upanisad. 21. ed. A. p. Traditions of the Seven Rsis (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 12. Sastri. 4 6 5 . For example. p. (Agra: Sumit . 9. Hymnes a la de'esse (Paris: Le Soleil Noir. p. see also Acarya Pandita Sri Sivadattamisra Sastri. 88. 4 9 4 . 108. Savithri Shanker de Tourreil. "Nayars in a South Indian Matrix: A Study Based on Female-Centered Ritual" (Ph. 6 4 . in fact. p. Mahavidya Catustayam: Tara. 73. Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam. p. p. and Upendra Kumar Das. See Tantrasdra. p. Dhumavatl. Sastri. like a yogi. pp. see N. 1 1 . Sri Bankhandesvara. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. cranes are taken as symbols of false yogis or holy men in Hindu culture. Sakti Arik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. 5. p.. vol. Sastri. Histoty of the Tantric Religion: A Historical. pp.NOTES TO PAGES 193-199 2. 24. 82. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. 198. pp.9 5 . n. pp. 1989). 283. Dlksit. 4 6 6 . 1982).6 . Conventionally.3 0 . trans. 12. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. 19. 1 9 7 1 ) . Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam (Varanasi: Thakur Prasad Pustak Bharadar. Rajes Dlksit. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. A. 5444. John E. B. 23. 103. A. 1 9 6 4 ) . The false yogi is not actually meditating. n. Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. A. T h e crane appears to be rapt in meditation. Saktisamgama-tantra. 23. 1934). A. vol. also says the name of the goddess was originally Valgamukhl. 1978). p. 17.: Pitambara Pith. he is pretending to meditate while conniving to cheat or seduce unwitting people. p. 4 6 5 . Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 1995).1 0 . 1 9 6 7 ) . for her yantra. 1 7 6 ..

p. 4 6 ." p. 4 9 .: Cornell University :ss.4 4 . Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. ed. 84. pp. p. C. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. p. 28. Sakti Arik. . 195. concerning gaining power from a corpse by means of cremation-ground rites. 15. p. Dramas. no. 4 3 8 . p. See N. 1989). Fields. Diksit. 89.: Brotherhood of Life. 29. pp. chap. P H . Ibid. 40 (October 1981): 1 7 . 36. 34.8 9 . pp. 51. This is also specifically mentioned in the Kauldvali description of the ritual. V. pp. See her hundred names from the Rudraydmala. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi." Candi-j. N. describes gaining power from a corpse by reviving it. Diksit. Tantrasara. 4 1 . Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Sakti Arik. nd Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca. 88. 1986). 6 3 . 48. Pott.3 9 . 76. 35. 1 3 7 . Ibid. 43.8 1 . 1985). 8 0 . 407. "Puja wamiji aur Sri Pitambara Pith Datiya. 38.Y. Yoga and Yantra: Their Interrelation and Their Significance for InArchaeology (The Hague: Martinus NijhofF. Goudriaan and Gupta. Robert E. 4 3 8 . History of the Tantric Religion. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. 19. 50. pp. 108. p.2 1 . 89. Swami Annapurnananda. Svoboda. Ibid. N. A. 4 6 8 . T h e idea of liminality is developed in Victor W. summarized in S. 1 2 0 . 32. 4 4 . The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. "Sri Bagalamukhi Upasana. Attempts to converse with and control spirits in the cremation ground. which will then be used as a "power instrument. p. 7 3 . 15. p. 27. 1-2. see also Kauldvali. Aghora. Kauldvali. pp. p. chap. to bring about desired goals.2 0 9 . Ibid. Tantrasara. 37.4 1 . 2 5 1 . 1 9 6 6 ) . Turner.M. 1 8 7 . 81. 78. 1 9 7 4 ) . p. Bagaldmukhi-rahasyam. pp. A Brief History of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. 40. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. 4 9 . 1981). Kalyana. p. chap. Banerjee.5 2 . 13. Dlksit. pp. At many points in this ritual it appears that the sadhaka is seeking to revive or control the spirit of the corpse.At the Left Hand of God (Albuquerque. pp.NOTES TO PAGES 199-208 26. 31. 4 2 . 33. p. 16. Ibid. The particular power (siddhi) mentioned in this case is the ability to see through solid objects and substances. 30. 4. Dlksit. 1 9 8 6 ) . Tantrasara.2 1 ." as it were. 4 5 . 5 0 6 . and Nila-tantra. and the dangers inherent in such practices are described in Svoboda. Kalydna. See also June McDaniel. 39. 8 8 . Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. pp. p. 47. Kulsekar Sri Mahes Candra Garg. Harshananda. the different kinds of spirits that are present there. Bhattacharyya. Sastri.

p. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. During a visit to this temple I was not able to confirm Kauri-bai's identification with Matarigi. 13. Dhydna mantra of Raja-matarigi from Puras'carydrnava. pp. Dhydna mantra of Matarigi from the Puras'carydrnava. which was uninhabited not very long ago. 6. 1 9 7 6 ) . vol. Bangla mangal-kavyer itihasa (Calcutta: E. the goddess who gives food).5 8 . wears flower garlands and conch-shell earrings. 1 9 5 9 ) .3 9 . Zbavitel. Tantrasara. but it now also includes some modern development with uppercaste residents.NOTES TO PAGES 209-216 Matarigi 1. 4 4 9 . and Parvatl. a low-caste woman called a matarigi plays a central role. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. 9. 6 6 . Dhydna mantra of Uccista-matariginI. Bharatiya Saktisddhand (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. Saktisamgama-tantra. chap. Das. ed. 8. story 33: 7. T h e Atharva-veda ( 1 1 . because of Kauri-bai's preoccupation with purity. The story of Parvatl returning to her father's house because of her pique over Siva's philandering. 205ff. 9. 1 3 8 . 1989). 2. celebrates the sacrificial residue as containing cosmic creative force. "Sardulakarna. and Parvati's subsequent disguise as a low-caste woman (in this case a bdgdini) whom Siva tries to seduce is found in the Bengali marigal kdvyas. Raja-matarigi's dhydna mantra adds diat she plays the vind. In Sdradd-tilaka 12. p. Told to me by Ram. not a low-caste area. p. an informant in Varanasi. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. as the location of the temple is in the southern part of Varanasi.4 7 . pp. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. 4 4 9 . 1 5 6 . N. 5. Visvabharati. 3." pp. 1981).30-38. Parvatl is not identified with Matarigi. Svatantra-tantra. See Asutosh Bhattacharya. Tantrasara. 1939). and D. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. p. Divydvaddna. 10. and has her forehead decorated with paintings of flowers. 4 4 9 . Upendra Kumar Das. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 1 . Diksit. Bengali Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. p. 140. in her form as Annapurna. 5 4 6 . in fact. pp. 1967). P. 1928).3 . Stella Kramrisch. Vaidya (Darbhanga: Mithila Research Institute. 4. 3 1 4 . Siva's appearance at her father's house disguised as a seller of shell bangles. p. For example.J. pp.8 1 . p. T h e leftovers or residue of sacrificial offerings (uccista) are regarded as possessing great spiritual potency in some Vedic texts. The Presence of Siva (Princeton. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 1978). That the area was formerly "jungle" is credible. Tantrasara. B. Dlksit. for example.128. 11. 140. the matarigi . 6. In many festivals celebrating village goddesses in South India. in a neighborhood housing lowcaste people. Mukharji and C o . L. T h e story of the origin of the temple also differed in several ways from the story told by Ram. T h e temple is.2 5 . ed. and Rajes Diksit. Prdnatosini-tantra (Calcutta: Basumati Sahitya Mandir. cursed Kauri-bai to live in the jungle. 1 9 8 4 ) . 3 7 9 . however. 5 4 5 . T h e story I was told at the temple did not mention the tension between Siva and Kauri-bai. 7 . p.: Princeton University Press. In these accounts. During the festival. which left her no time even to eat a meal (which insulted Annapurna. 12. pp. 4 4 7 . 16).

7 vols. (Madras: Madras Government Press. 1 9 . Mahdkdla-samhitd (Allahabad: Ganganath Jha Research Institute. Possessed by the goddess. 4 . 157. T h e spiritually transformative role of female hunters.: Published by the author. 28. p. 17. Ibid. Ibid. matted hair. spits on spectators. pp. 2 9 5 . Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 23. 27. p. 15. Ibid. . Dravidian Gods in Modern Hinduism: A Study of the Local and Village Deities of Southern India (Hamilton. and pushes people about with her backside. wear bark and leaves as clothing. Madhya-khanda 2. p. carry hunting gear. 1 4 9 . 1896). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. 316-17. Maitripa finds Savari in the company of two female hunters. 0 .J. p. It is from them that Maitripa eventually gains illumination. Dlksit.NOTES TO PAGES 218-223 represents the goddess. 1992). who would be regarded as marginal and polluted by high-caste Hindu society. see also Edgar Thurston. T h e matarigi personifies social topsy-turvy. p. pp.: Princeton University Press. 3 T . is emphasized in the story of the Buddhist tantric yogi Maitripa. p. and have freshly killed game at their feet. p. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton. p. 8 4 . Tantrasdra. 9 8 . Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. At first Maitripa is repulsed by the women. vol. 105.128. uses obscene language. See Wilber Theodore Elmore. M. p. Miranda Shaw. N. 22. 1 9 9 4 ) . 26. 4 4 6 . 128. 24. Das. she dances wildly. 5 4 8 ... 104. 1 9 7 4 ) . who have long. p. a well-known tantric teacher (whose name associates him with the Savaras. Kamala 1. 20. 1915). p. Robert I. 106. p.8 5 . 4 4 8 . She seems to take special delight in abusing members of the high castes. 1 4 7 . but later he learns that they are advanced spiritual teachers. During this festival an inversion of the usual social codes and rules takes place.69-72. Ibid. 50. 1992). Dhyana mantra of Kamala. 21.. Dlksit. r8. drinks intoxicants. C. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. trans. 29. Exactly what the connection might be between these low-caste women and the goddess Matarigi is not clear. 1909). 28. The Kddambari of Bana. 263. N. Ridding (London: Royal Asiatic Society. Sdradd-tilaka 12.3 0 7 . pp. 353. who travels into the mountains of South India in search of Savari. 14. T h e leader of the Sabaras (Savaras) in Bana's Kddambariis named Matariga. Dlksit.Y. Tantrasdra. Levy. 16. 25. a tribal people). Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. 4 4 9 .

p. see John Carman.8 7 . Ancient Indian Kingship from the Religious Point of View (Leiden: E. 6 8 . 1 6 4 . S. 20. 1 4 . Dhal. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. P.7 7 . Bosch. Human Bondage and Divine Grace: T h e Terikalai Sri Vaisnava Position" (DePaul University. "Laksmi in Orissan Literature and Art. Saraswati. 5. Foreigners in Ancient India and Laksmi and Sarasvati in Art and Literature (Calcutta: University of Calcutta. 2 2 4 . 2 parts (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.276 NOTES TO PAGES 223-229 2. C. 3." in Sircar. pp. pp.6 1 . and Vasudha Narayanan. pp.3 1 . pt. J. 22. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. see F. ed. 1 3 8 . "Gajalaksmi on Seals. For the symbolism of the lotus. Saraswati. 1 1 2 . The Art of Indian Asia. 1982). pp. Brill. pp. 1 9 6 9 ) . A . 1. Sanjukta Gupta (Leiden: E. pp.6 1 . see Niranjan Ghosh. 1 9 1 6 ) . Brill. Jan Gonda.6 9 . referred to as Gaja-laksmis. Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Sambitd (Madras: Adyar Library. 1 5 9 . The Divine Consort: Rddhd and the Goddesses of India (Berkeley. University of London. p.8 2 . 6 8 . 4 3 2 . 10. Foreigners in Ancient India. pp.4 7 . Dhal. diss. pp. Goddess Laksmi: Origin and Development (New Delhi: Oriental Publishers. West Bengal: University of Burdwan. 18. K. pp. Srivastava. 1 7 6 . Aspects of Early Vtsnuism. D.4 4 . M. See Laksmi Tantra. 189. D . Sdradd Tilaka Tantram.J. 2d ed. 5 5 0 " (Ph. i 9 6 0 ) . 1 9 7 1 ) . 7 . 2 2 . 242. pp. 1 9 7 9 ) . The Golden Germ (The Hague: Mouton. p. and Dhal.: Yale University Press. 32ff. Upendra Nath Dhal. K. Ananda Coomaraswamy. e d . pp. "The Goddess Sri: T h e Blossoming Lotus and Breast Jewel of Visnu. . 1 7 3 . 19. 1982).8 . 9 1 . p. Otto Schrader. 1970). Calif. For the text and translation of this hymn. Sircar. C. Dhal." in John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff.D. 3 4 . 16. "Karma and Krpa." in D. Yaksas. 9. eds. Heinrich Zimmer. 2 vols. 11. See particularly the myths of the demons Bali and Prahlada in Saraswati. pp. 1 9 7 9 ) . 15.3 7 . 420. 2 3 8 . pp.2 5 .: Berkeley Religious Studies Series. pp. 1 9 5 5 ) . 7 5 . See Saraswati. 4. 12. 17. Archaeology and Literature (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. "The History of the Worship of Sri in North India to cir. 6. vol. p. Dhydna mantra of Kamala. pp. 1 3 8 . Saraswati. n. pp. Mother Goddess in Indian Art. The Theology of Rdmdnuja (New Haven. 1978). pp. Vasudha Narayanan. 4 2 4 . pp.d. Behera.4 7 . pp. Concept and Iconography of the Goddess of Abundance and Fortune in Three Religions of India (Burdwan. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. and Kiran Thaplyal. Chicago.6 7 . 8. 8 1 .3 5 . p. trans. 1 9 7 4 ) . Jan Gonda. 1. pp.6 6 . 1 6 0 . 13. 1 5 0 . Conn. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. F. Dhydna mantra of MahalaksmI. For a discussion of these images. pp. see Bandana Saraswati. 1 9 6 9 ) . e d . 420. 101. 7.). 1972). 1 9 7 1 ) .5 3 . 21. Saraswati.9 3 .6 9 . (New York: Pantheon Books. For Sri-LaksmI in Sri Vaisnavism. a Pancaratra Text. 6 5 .

4 4 .NOTES TO PAGES 230-238 2 77 23. S. see also Robert E.3 6 . G.. MarkS. C o n c l u d i n g Reflections 1. Ibid. 1.7 5 . 3 7 0 . chap. pp. 3 7 5 . 1 9 8 . A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 27. 12.3 8 . and trans.^4 Brief History of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. 10.. N. 1982). For a vivid description of the cremation ground as the locale of a host of spirits. Banerjee.: Penguin. 1 9 6 6 ) . See David Kinsley. 5. 4 9 6 . Mahidhara. Banerjee. for a discussion of making contact with spirits in the cremation ground. Sexual Metaphors and Animal Symbols in Indian Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp. p. 6 . TbeCa?ionoftheSaivdgamaandtbeKubjikdTantras of the Western Kaula Tradition (Albany: State University of New York Press. 9 7 . 9 9 .M. 2. 1986). 77. 9. S\oboda. pp.7 . 1 6 . 1 9 9 2 ) . Ibid. 7. p. p. 377. 4 3 4 . 1981). U.K. p. p. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. pp. pp. 1 9 6 9 ) . eds. Sexual Metaphors.2 1 0 . Pott has used the term in reference to rituals in cremation grounds by tantric Buddhists in Nepal. 150.7 4 . P. 1 5 . 1958). pp. " 'The Death That Conquers Death': Dying to the World in Medieval Hinduism. Ibid. 2 1 4 . u. Mantra Mahodadhih. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Krsnananda Agamavagisa.J. O'Flaherty. 2 vols.. 28.Aghora:At the LeftHandof God (Albuquerque. 374. pp. 4. see Mary Shepherd Slusser." in Frank E.: Princeton University Press. 1 9 8 4 ) . Ibid. Waugh. 378. Brhaddharma-purdna 2 . (Princeton. p. 1986). pp. 333. Uddis'a-tantra. 3 1 . C. Ibid. p. 15.7 6 . The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure (Harmondsworth. 1989). 3 6 9 . 25. 325. 26. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. Ibid. N. p.. Ibid. 3 6 9 . H. Ibid. Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth i Rebirth (New York: Harper & Row. 3 7 5 . vol. . p. vol. pp. 1988). 1 4 5 . see also p. 379. 1 9 7 7 ) . 98. 6.1 0 8 . 16. See Victor Turner. 1 3 .. 8. 1 8 7 . Yoga and Yantra: Their Interrelation and Their Significance for Indian Archaeology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 4 3 8 . Reynolds and Earle H. 9. Cited in June McDaniel. 3. See Mircea Eliade. 1. 1 4 . pp.: Brotherhood of Life. 24...9 7 .. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 3 . Sakta-pramoda. Religious Encounters with Death: Insights from the History and Anthropology of Religions (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. pp. Dyczkowski. ed. 379. 3 7 3 .7 0 . 1 4 6 . 3 7 3 . for a definition and discussion of the "liminal" as central to many sets of rituals. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Katbmandu Valley.

702. N. pi. Jani (Baroda: University of Baroda. He is naked and has an erection. A well-known example of the ability to change form at will. 1 1 2 . 26. pp./} Brief History of Tantric Literature.' " 23. Mahidhara. 40. 29. 58. ed. 1 1 1 .14. 36. " 'The Death that Conquers Death.7 0 2 . McDaniel. 6 9 4 . p. 1985). 3. Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. p. 39.6 7 . ' Parasurdma-kalpasutra. N. which is identified as Kali but is actually Tara. 2 1 4 . pp. Mahidhara. p. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. A. 1 6 6 . 27.8 3 . 25. See Mookerjee and Khanna. pp. 24. 22.8 8 ) . A Brief History of Tantric Literature. and jackals. 21. 20. 217. In one rendition of Kali and Siva. p. Oriental Erotic Art (New York: A and W Publishers. 7 . 147. ed. including changing into animal form. 16. 1981). For example. he is lying beneath her feet on a cremation pyre that is surrounded by bones. 1 9 7 9 ) . 3. 31.J. 1 7 1 . 16. 32. A. for a brief discussion of women in tantric literature. s e e a s o 11.9 . 325. See the discussion of chopped-off heads in the chapter on Chinnamasta. Banerjee. Tantrasara. 19. Miranda Shaw. Kauldvali. McDaniel. she argues. is Mahisasura. Chap. is a meditative technique whereby illumination is achieved (pp. 1 4 5 . Kuldrnava-tantra 1 0 8 . The Yonitantra. J." Sexual union. Ibid. Kauldvali-tantra. ed. fig. p. 222. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. pp. 35. p. include some of these abilities and are ancient in the Hindu tradition. pi. chap. 23. chaps. 253. 18. Kinsley. June McDaniel. It is not fair to conclude from this text. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 1 8 5 . p.: Princeton University Press. p. 1 9 9 4 ) . 12. Ibid. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton. that only low-caste or 33. argues that sexual complementarity and sexual union are central to Buddhist tantric spirituality and that sexual union is used to clear the central channel (avadhuti) of all obstructions and "knots. Tantrasara. 4 9 9 . Banerjee. Uddisa-tantra. 245. pp. the buffalo demon whom Durga slays in the Devi-mdhdtmya. p. Mahidhara. p. p. 181. 37. chap. 1980). 38. however. . and Kahkdlamdlini-tantra. The Tantric Way: Art. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan.5 0 3 . 83. For example. p. chap. p. 28. 1 8 6 . 181. Tantrasara. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 160. . Philip Rawson. 6 9 2 . p. Mookerjee and Khanna. Science. Schoterman (New Delhi: Manohar. crows. Banerjee.9 . which are superior powers or "perfections" achieved by means of yoga. The asta siddhis.28 7 NOTES TO PAGES 238-247 17. 10. see Banerjee. 10. 6 8 2 . 34. p. 1 9 7 7 ) . 30. 4 1 . 3. 1989). 253. Tantrasara. 4.

Ibid. see also The Yonitantra. 122. The Canon of the Saivdgama. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Banerjee. Banerjee. esp. Mark Dyczkowski. 54. Shaw. loyalty to her husband is mentioned first. T h e conditions under which a female may function as a guru depend on whether her husband is a guru. p. Gandharva-tantra. passim.37. where this rite is described as being undertaken on a corpse. 992)- . 121: "In the Tantric religious system a woman has the right of initiating persons into the secrets of the cult and acting as guru. 46. 184-85. chap. P347- chap. and so on. 1953). 35-68.3032. 65. 174 and passim. Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. 64.2. 193-210. p. p. See Shaw. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Yogini-tantra. the author of several books on Hindu Tantrism. chap. 53. Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.40-42. p. 50. Kubjikd-tantra. Prdnatosint-tantra (Calcutta: Basumati Sahitya Mandir. 7. For a discussion of tantric female spirituality in the Hindu tradition. 15. 47. chap. History of the Tantric Religion: A Historical. 184. 55. Mdyd-tantra 6. 23-24. Ibid. McDaniel. See also N. 44. 45. 52. See Kauldvali-tantra." pp. Guptasddhand-tantra. has told me that both Hindu and Buddhist tantric lineages mention female teachers. Tantrasdra. 1928). and Nila-tantru. McDaniel. whether she has a son). p. Sarvolldsa-tantra (Calcutta: Harambacandra Bhattacharya. 7. 50. 225-27. Kdmdkhyd-tantra 36. 251. 5t. 43. chap. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. p. 96. 123. p. 48. 11. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 1982). 4. ed. 701. 15. Banerjee. 2.NOTES TO PAGES 247-250 socially marginal women took part in tantric sadhana. 49. 58. pp. Sarvolldsa-tantra 50. chap. both injua Leslie.5 {The Yonitantra. 50. Similarly. pp. 42. "Varieties of Hindu Female Asceticism. Dyczkowski. It is also clear in this passage that the discussion is very much from a male point of view. chap.. if so. Kdmdkhydtantra." pp. Bhattacharyya. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. see anjukta Gupta. Banerjee. p. "Women in the §aiva/§akta Ethos. r8. 20) specifies that yoni pujd should be undertaken during menstruation. p. whether she is a widow (and. p. pp. although they are clearly in the minority." 57. 223. and Lynn eskey Denton. p. among her commendable qualities. p. 56.. 202. N. 16. N or would it be fair to say that low-caste or socially marginal women were never full participants in tantric sadhana (as opposed to being simply "used" by male sddhakas). chap. Banerjee. Kubjikd-tantra. Yoni-tantra 6. p.

" one of the Mahavidyas Seed syllable. a ghost A ritual in which the adept imagines the dissolution and re-creation of the cosmos "Mistress of the world.Glossary Simplified pronunciation guide: the letter c should be pronounced ch. The letters /and s should be pronounced sh.1 9 1 1 Bhairava Bhairavi bhava Evil. immorality "She who is inauspicious." a goddess Seat. sound seed Seed mantra bhuta bhuta suddhi Bhuvanesvari bija bija mantra . mentality one of the five elements." one of the Mahavidyas Blood offerings A famous Bengali devotee of Kali A fierce form of Siva "The fierce one. used in reference to spiritual practice "Self" or soul. Laksmi's sister Nectar (of immortality) "She who is full of food. also. adharma Alaksmi amrta Annapurna dsana dtman avatdra avidyd Bagalamukhi bali Bamakhepa 1 8 4 3 . the spiritual essence of a person "Descent" or incarnation of a deity Ignorance "She who is crane faced." one of the Mahavidyas Spiritual mood." a goddess.


s'abda brahman A member of the priesdy caste A spiritual center within the body A very low caste "She who has severed her head.282 bindu Brahma brahman Brahman cakra Candalas GLOSSARY Seed." an epithet' of Parvati Qualities or constituents that constitute all matter: sattva (spiritual. which often describes the physical appearance of a deity A demon-slaying goddess A festival in honor of Durga. or essence. dot." the inner shrine of a temple "The golden one. Cosmic and moral order "She who abides in smoke. and tamos (lustful. ignorant) T h e Himalayan mountains personified as a god Ruler of the city of the gods A physical sense. ultimate reality. powerful). the creator T h e absolute.E. also the gift given to a priest after a ritual Viewing of a deity's image Goddess T h e most revered of Hindu sdkta texts. a component of yantras One of the gods of the male trimurti." one of the Mahavidyas Meditation mantra A meditation mantra. rajas (energetic." "she who nurses the world. pure)." one of the Mahavidyas South. See also nirguna brahman. clockwise." a goddess Repetition Chinnamasta daksina dars'an devi Devi-mdhdtmya dharma Dhumavatl dhyana dhyana Durga Durga Puja Gaja-laksmi gandharvas Ganesa garbha Gauri gunas Himalaya Indra mdriya Jagaddhatri japa . also known as Navaratra. right. the festival of nine nights An image of LaksmI flanked by elephants Celestial beings An elephant-headed deity grba "Womb room. probably written around the sixth century C. sensory perception "World nurse.

" a goddess. also known as Sri or Laksmi A goddess center in Assam "One who bears a skull. in which morality has declined." a deity A deity associated with wealth "Family." "she who is lovely. also an epithet of Siva "The black one. an overarching." an epithet of Tripura-sundari." the name of a type of religious ascetic. one of the Mahavidyas "Soft and delicate. the last of the four yugas Sexual desire T h e god of love "She whose eyes are filled with desire." an epithet of a goddess A group of ten tantric goddesses "Slayer of Mahi§a. transcendent female reality T h e chief priest at a temple "Great knowledge." a type of protective invocation Also known as Sri or Kamala. one of the Mahavidyas "The thousand names of Lalita. knowledge "She who is black." "great mantra." one of the Mahavidyas." one of the Mahavidyas Kali's most famous temple." a lineage or group of worshipers An inner power in the form of a serpent that is aroused in tantric yoga s'akti Kundalini as a female power or deity "Armor. also the place where she is worshiped in Assam "She of the lotus.GLOSSARY Jaya 283 One of two females flanking the goddess Chinnamasta Life force Liberating wisdom. for which Calcutta is named A festival in honor of Kali T h e present cosmic era." a famous goddess hymn "Great goddess"." an epithet of Durga Sexual intercourse jiva piana Kali Kalighat Kali Puja Kali Yuga kama Kama or Kama-deva Kamakhya Kamala Kamarupa Kapalika Krsna Kubera kula kundalini kundalini kvaca Laksmi Lalita Lalitd-sahasrandma MahadevI mabant Mahavidya Mahavidyas Mahisamardini T naithuna .

" an epithet of Bagalamukhi A seat.284 mandala marigal mantra GLOSSARY A graphic and symbolic representation of the cosmos kdvyas "Auspicious poems. where the kundalini sleeps An image A vein or artery Hymns consisting of names or epithets Without or beyond qualities. beyond all quality and form Ultimate reality without qualities An inauspicious goddess Final liberation and freedom from rebirth A ritual in which one suffuses one's body with the seed syllables of deities or divinizes one's body with mantras and mudras panca makdra panca tattva ritual ritual See panca tattva ritual A ritual in which the aspirant partakes of five forbidden things "She of the mountains. a deity in verbal form A tantric manual The power to cause a person's death simply by willing it One of the Mahavidyas "Mothers. shrine." a goddess. freedom from rebirth i 1 -M The lowest cakra. Siva's spouse A wife devoted to her husband Flesh-eating demons "She who is dressed in yellow. usually associated with a goddess Parvatl pati pis'dcas Pltambara pitha vratd . or sacred center. self-infatuation. magic power of illusion iJlk'^Lhntt ll4t^'4ij f'Miyfoii<uifir'' i l Mantra-mabodadhih mdrana Matarigi matrkds Matrkas mdyd moksa mudras mukti mulddhdra murti nddi ndma nirguna nirguna Nirrti nirvana nydsa brahman stotras cakra Spiritual liberation from rebirth Hand gestures Liberation." sounds or letters that give birth to the creation A fierce band of goddesses False consciousness." a genre of Bengali literature A sacred verbal formula.

consciousness. this world rajas Rama Ramakrishna 1836-86 Rdmdyana Rati sabda sacciddnanda sadhaka sadhana sahasrandma stotru sahasrdra cakra akambhari '. depicted as a thousand-petaled lotus located just above the crown of the head "She who bears vegetables.la s'dkta pithas Sdkta-pramoda ti Icti Saktisamgama-tantru "amsdra . one of the three gunas The hero of the Rdmdyana A famous Bengali devotee of Kali A Hindu epic "Sexual intercourse." wife of Kama." a common epithet of Tripurasundari Energy. power The embodied form of sakti as a goddess A tantric digest The realm of rebirth. and ritual instructions "Queen of kings. partial to sakti "Seats of Sakti. ethics. and bliss." a goddess Pertaining to sakti.GLOSSARY prakrti pralaya Prdnatosini or Prdnatosini-tantra Praparicasdrasdrasamgraha Praparicasdra-tantra preta Prthivi pujd purdna Rajarajesvari Nature or the physical world Cosmic dissolution A tantric digest probably written in Bengal in the seventeenth century A tantric digest An early South Indian tantric text attributed to Sankara A ghost T h e goddess Earth Worship A genre of medieval texts that include mythology. legend." a common definition of brahman A religious adept Religious endeavor. spiritual exercise Thousand-name hymn T h e topmost cakra. the god of love brahman T h e underlying essence of reality as manifest in sound "Being." places sacred to goddesses A tantric digest or manual Energy.

wife of Rama A deity associated with the Mahavidyas. "gross" aspect of a deity A hymn nodi T h e central vein or channel of the subde body in tantric yoga T h e essential form A tantric digest Ignorance. an epithet of Tripurasundari." "the sixteenth. source of the Mahavidyas in some accounts Purity. a school of Tantrism T h e power to immobilize or paralyze a person T h e physical. asceticism. one of the three gunas Spiritual T h e first and most perfect of the four periods of a world cycle A famous goddess hymn attributed to Sankara Spiritual practice using a corpse Celestial beings "Perfections. one of the Mahavidyas "Auspicious". also. and cosmic destruction sadhana Spiritual practices appropriate to cremation grounds "She who is sixteen. one of the three gunas A form of Hindu and Buddhist religious practice A genre of scriptures concerned with tantric practice and theory Sankara 788-820 Sdradd-tilaka-tantra Sarasvarl Sari sattva sattvic Satya Yuga Saundaryalahari sava siddhas siddhis Slta Siva smasdna SodasI sadhana Sri Sri-sukta Srividya stambhana sthula stotra susumnd svarupa Svatantra-tantra tamas Tantra tantras ." "she who has sixteen (good) qualities". another name for Kamala.286 GLOSSARY A famous Hindu philosopher A tantric digest Goddess of wisdom and learning Wife of Siva." magical powers A goddess. anthropomorphic. one of the Mahavidyas An ancient hymn to the goddess Sri T h e form of the goddess tfripura-sundari as mantra. heroine of the Rdmdyana. yoga.

usually briefer and more recent than principal purdnas Vehicle of a deity. the power to eradicate Leftover food purdnas Lesser or "younger" purdnas. the Hindu triad of Brahma. usually an animal Pertaining to Visnu. in tantric contexts. partial to Visnu 287 Tantrism Tara tattva tattvas tirthas tithis trimurti Tripura-sundari uccatana uccista upa vdhana Vaisnava vdk siddhi T h e power by which whatever one says comes true. and Siva.GLOSSARY Tantrasdra tdntrika A tantric digest or manual One who practices Tantra A form of Hindu and Buddhist religious practice One of the Mahavidyas Thing or truth Categories of creation "Crossings." one of the Mahavidyas The power to make one's enemy sick by willing it. the maintainer Supernatural beings often associated with the forest or with heavenly places King of the dead and ruler of the south ^macara idyd vra isnu tra ginis A schematic rendering of a deity or the cosmos A female practitioner Female beings associated with magical powers T h e periods or stages of the world or universe . the destroyer "She who is lovely in the three worlds. the power of superior speech The left-handed path in Tantrism Knowledge. the maintainer. the creator. a type of religious practitioner qualified to undertake certain left-handed tantric practices One of the three great male deities of Hinduism." sacred centers T h e thirty days of the waxing and waning moon "Having three forms". mantra "Hero". Visnu.

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and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Dent & Sons. P. 1968. Translated by H. 1961. 112-25 D. Rome: Libraria dello Stato. Harmondsworth. -. a System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition.d. Mathura: Gita Press. Thurston. 1980. Edgar. . Zimmer. The Yellow Scarf. Edited by J. Sakti and Sdkta. A. Foreigners in Ancient India and Laksmi and Sarasvati in Art and Literature. Leiden: E. Woodroffe. Samvit 2024.J. n. Kiran.BIBLIOGRAPHY Thaplyal. Gorakhpur: Gita Press. The Art of Indian Asia. Varanasi: All-India Kashiraj Trust. Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Madras: Madras Government Press. Edited by Anand Swarup Gupta. K.: Cornell University Press. Vtsnu-purdna. Vardha-purdna. Bengali Literature. Worship of the Goddess according to the Kdlikdpurdna. Brill. "Studies in Goddess Cults in Northern India. Essays and Addresses. The Vishnu Parana. "The Head-Offering to the Goddess in Pallava Sculpture. 3d ed. with Reference to the First Seven Centuries A . R. 1956. H. Wilson. diss.d. Mukhopadhyaya and others. "GajalaksmI on Seals. Vogel. Yogini Tantra. n. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 1987. Schoterman." Pp.Y. New Delhi: Manohar. D . 2 vols. 1976. 1969. " Ph.D. Jagdish Narain. Victor W. C. m !955- . J. The Yonitantra. 1974. Calcutta: University of Calcutta. Ithaca. Fields. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure. 2 vols. Australian National University. Francis. M. 7 vols. Tucci. Tibetan Painted Scrolls. Tiwari.K. Madras: Ganesh & C o . U. Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. 1972. Translated by S. N. 1970. Philosophies of India. Heinrich. Cleveland: World Publishing C o . 1949. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. Zbavitel. Turner. Giuseppe. New York: Pantheon Books. Edited by Biswanarayan Shastri. Vdmana-purdna. 1961. Dramas. M. 1909. Sir John." Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies (London) 6: 539—43. Van Kooij. ed. 1982. London: J. Tuker. Sircar. First published in 1927. D.: Penguin.

98. 253n4 Annapurna-bhairavl. 251-52 Aparajita. 75. 32 Aiyai. 17 / Advaita Vedanta. 281 Astamatrkas. Abhinavagupta. 84. 14. 93 Atman.138 Agni-purdna. 178-81. in Mahavidyas. 256n5i. 137 djnd cakra.' 137 Amitabha. See also cosmic serpent antimodels. defined. vedana-devi. 118-19. 90-91. -vedya. 140 . defined 281 'hata cakra. defined. 121 atman. of Tripura-sundari. 96. 153. 6-7. -kusumatura. defined. 115-16 asta siddhis. 89. 238-40. 76-79. 93 avaranas. 110. 197. See also Animal sacrifices. 40 Annapurnesvari-bhairavi. 93 . 126. 93 Amoghasiddhi. 97. 150. 281. 20. 67. 281 adi Mahavidya. 281 Amavasya. -madana. 126. 169. -mekala -devi. 227. -rupa-devi. 278 asuras. 45 ambika sakti. 281. 1-2. 137 Arjuna. 167 adepts. 115 Aksobhya. 204 Anariga-kusuma. 135. 52-57. of Kamala. defined. 151. 3-4. 68. 230. 201 Arya. of Tripura-sundari. 172. 112 adi pitha. 138 arikus'a. 183. 149. 95. 47.Index Note: Page numbers of illustrations are italicized. -madana-devi. 86-87. 48 Akhilandesvari. 143. 236 Atisa. 243. 6. 48 Ananda. Lalita as. 5 Atmavidya. 50. 210-12 Ananda-bhairava. -madanatura. 174. of Bhuvanesvari.159. 217 artba. 88.174 anthropomorphic images. 225. 245. 123-28. defined. 122-23. 60. 151 AjitS. of Bagalamukhi. 228. 60 auspiciousness. 138 Annapurna (Annapurna-devT). 121. 138 dsana(s). 246 sadhaka(s) adharma.138.126 Ananta. 90 Agni.100 AlaksmI. See also inauspiciousness Avalokitesvara. 141. 70 Aindri.


74 Bhayarupa. 172. 208. 220. 201. Sri and. 198. offerings to. defined. 172 Bherunda. 202. illustrations.i5. 203 bhava(s). 247 BhagamalinI. 118 Bali. of Tripura-sundari. illustrations. 155. frightening nature of. Tantrasdra and. 174. Ka- mala and. sexual intercourse and. boons and. 146 Bhairava. 171. worship of. yoni. 9. 102 Baudhayana-grhyasutra. hymns to. 197. 15. 42-43. dhyana 193. 205. 195-96. 146 battlefields. 197. severed heads and. 247 Bhdgavata-purdna. 11. 207. 2. 7> ' o 6 . 169-71. n. hymns to. gods and. 171. iconography of. 186. 9 of. 281 Bhavabhuti. in Nepal. 207. 201-2. 167-75. 164 Bhayavidhvamsini-bhairavi. Kali and. 281. 29. in Tibet. -palikadevi. in Nepal. i n . kundalini md. 167. n. yoga and. 101. 170. 47. 102. blood offerings to. 203.i2. 195-96. 228. as demon slayer.236-37. as demon slayer.7 5 . 62. Visnu and.30. 30. 200. 172. 195. 238. 108. 165 Bagala. Kama and. frightening nature of. Brahma and. 201. defined. 11. 29. temples to. 44. 29. lirigams and. 138 . 174. 174. 104. 172. 167. 207. yantras of. 44. 207. 169. 202. 193. 207. cremation grounds and. order in Mahavidyas. 168. 172-74. defined. n 6 . yoni pujd and. destruction and.1 7 bharana. cosmic order and. 16. 3 origin myths of. corpses and. 44-45. 21. defined. See Bagalamukhi Bagalamukhi. hair of. 18. 81. 231 Bhagamala. 193. 32. 198-99. 169. 35. 201. of Visnu. control and. 37. cosmic functions and. 195-96. Sarasvati and. 14. 167. defined. vdhanas of. 247. 201 x 255nn29. an- Bhairavi. I0 2 0 1 2 171. 116-17. 21. n. lotuses and. 229-30. 175 Bharati. 194-95. 207. 169. 201. 199. 1 9 6 99. 172 Banasura. 34-35. 149.23. 46. 170-72. 39-40. 167. 257n84. 169. 281 Batuk-bhairava. consciousness and. 199. 133. as Kurma. 164. 207. 202. 61. 193-208. See ahn elements of creation bhuta(s) (ghost). 70. 207. 248 Bhanda. 208. 59. 11. 238.121-23. 1 6 9 71. defined. 2551^129. -pala. 23. 172. 199. cremation grounds and. 281. 20-22. 193. 167. 1 7 4 . thropomorphic images of. Tripura-sundari and. 197. 227.INDEX avatdras. See also blood offerings Bamakhepa (Vamakhepa). gunas and. 166. 2541^8. i n . 221. shrine to.9. Chinnamasta and. 195. 152 baka. 197. 37. 2 5 n 4 . Siva and. 257n84. forms of. 254nn8. 131. 131. 231. 169. fire and. 14. 240. 14. 172. 172. 193-96. corpses and. . 253m. 167. demons and. 171. 169. Brahma and. 281 Bhutabhairavaseviti. 169-70. 1 6 9 . color of. 169. 207. -vega-devi. 198-99. 208. mantra mantras of. yantra of. 5 7 7 5 i defined. 125-26 Bagaldmukhi-Tubasya. zjony Bhadra-kali. Siva and. 207-8. 281. defined. 171. dhyana mantras of. 90. Parvati and. 44. magical powers and. 6. 174 bhuta(s) (element). 195. 281 2 n bdna nydsa. 255n25 avidyd. 196 Bala. 208. 46. 118.173. sexual desire and. yoni. Chinnamasta as. 75. meditation on. 169-70. 47. as Hall. blood and. 198200. 233. 117. 97.7 1 . 16. 201. 220-21. 37-38. 208. 281. 117 Bhaskararaya. 16. 58. order in Mahavidyas. 193. worship of.15.3o. 14 Bala-tripura-sundari. 174. Visnu and. 281 Bhuvana. 16775. 38. 118 Bhima. 201. 198. Dhumavatl and. 146-47. lotuses and. skulls and. 34-35. 205-6. 50. 199-201. 57. 42. 172. 57 Bajresvari-devT. 253n4. 164 bbutasuddhi. gunas and. 83. 50. 174. defined. shrines to. 206. 27. 172. 179 bali. 169. Tantrasdra and. defined. 198-99. 18. r j . 2 5 5 ^ 3 . 199. 255nn22. 100. 43. 47. consciousness and. 281. 230 Bhumi. 206.8 . mantras of.n. 281 Bbairava-tantra. defined.

141-42. 3. 62. 282 bird symbolism. 16. 5. to Kali. 50.iri. 78. 108. Dhumavati and. 225. Visnu myths of. 1 6 1 62. See also seed syllables bija mantras. 134. 141. 250. Kamala and. 238-40. 132. 58. 88. 151. 198. Kali and. 7. 54. 18. 129. cosmic functions and. 13033. See also boons avatdra of Visnu. 76. 134. 221. 32 brahmarandhra. 134. yoni. 48. cults. 32. bija mantra of. Siva and. 238-40. in Hinduism. Tara and. to Tara. 70-71. 171. ' Matarigi and. boons and. 141. 237. Matarigi in. Dhumavati and. 136-40. 149. sakti. 54. 134. tantric.30. 5. 59-60. 129 Bodhisattva. 281. 96 Brhaddharma-purdna. 142. 7 9 5 5 ! Chinnamasta in. 141. 138. 143. 131. 141. 187-88. crows Biroba. 167. ' 8 6 . Laksmi as. 143. 136. 183 Bhuvanesi. 147. Bhairavi and. 205. 144. Sarasvaa and. 142. 54. 248 Bhuvanesvari-bhairavi. 73. 7. 6.194. Bhairavi and. 141. 176. 255n23. 209-12. 137-38. See also menstrual blood blood offerings. 138.bbuvanas. 5. 172 Bbuvanesvari-stotra. 133-34. Bagalamukhi and. Bhuvanesvari and. 86. 2 7 5 ^ 2 . 172 cakra(s). 2 5 5 ^ 2 . defined. 2 7 8 ^ 9 . 60 Buddhirupa. Kali and. defined 282.n. Tara and. beauty of. Tantrasara and. hymns to. 174. 89. 132. 153. 55. 40. 142. cosmic order and. 126-27. 134. 21. 63. boons. Tara and. Tara and. See also reality. auspicious- ness of. Bhairavi and. 80-81. illustrations. frightening nature of. Brhasp. 149. 217. 120-21. 249. 129-31. 199. 21. 41. 21. origin 112-13. Kali and. 21. 22. Chinnamasta and. 126. 131. 76. defined. 60. 7. 50. 172. 213-14. 169. 133. See also Sri cakra calcitras. 253n4. 12. lotuses and. as Varaha. 131. 9. Tantrasara and. defined. 126. 248 Brabma-vaivarta-purana. 199 Brahmavidya. 2 n blood. 131 282. 47-48. 134. 235. yoni pujd and. 92-93. at Tarapith. 5. n o . 244. 186. 281. 6. in yantras. 37. 86. 211-12. 157-58.prakrti and. 167. 131. worship of.i2. 281. 136. 223. Durga and. 82. 109. 131 Bhuvanesvari. yantra of. de- and. gunas and. defined. 147. 220. 132-36. as physical world. 120. 151. sadhani and. n. defined. 9. Brahma and. 53-54. 47-49. 242. 42. 117. 50. 93. 47-48. Set also blessings Brahma. 161-63. 28 bija(s). 32. 159. 158. 51. Lalita and. 225. 129-43. 136. 92-100. Matarigi as. 105. 2 5 5112 5. 50. nirguna. 197. 132-36. 70-71. 282 brahman. Caitanya. 41. Tara in. 151 Buddha. Lalita and. 60 Brahmaydmala. 100-101.i5. 33 240. 147. 160. 96-97. See also cranes. Tripura-sundari and. dhydna mantra of. 134. 5. 159-60. 35. 241 Caitanya-bhairavi. 67. 225 boksis. 141. lotus. 151. Sodasi and. Kali and. 257n84. rjo.9. worldly. 136. 106. as demon slayer. Chinnamunda and. 2 5 5 ^ 2 huddhi. 131. 56 seed mantras bindus. 87. 75. 115. Siva and. 140-41. 129. 207. 53. 185-86. 57. yoni pujd and. 220-21. 32. 23. 24-25. 57. to goddesses. as Vamana. Chinnamasta and. 46. 134. to Dhumavati. Laksmi and. 151. Visnu and. to Bagalamukhi. as defined. Tripura-sundari and. Bhuvanesvari and. 44-45. 60 Buddhism. 2 5 5 ^ 9 blessings. 125. worldly. 255n23. 180. 106. 255^129. lotuses in. 209-12. Tripura-sundari and. 131. Laksmi and. 11. 100. to Chinnamasta. 108-9 159. lotuses and. 1 3 9 - fined. 105. Lalita and. 121. 141-42. I I . 96. 146. 134. in yantras. 60 Brahman(s). See also bali . 29. 139-40. 134. 50. 11. 158. 73-74. 254nn8. 238-40. 171. 250. Bhuvanesvari and. 282. See also Brahmastra. 100. s'abda brahman Brahmani. 139. 222 Brhatkalhamanjari. cakras and. 7 9 ) order in Mahavidyas.155. 135—37. 90.

196-99. 145. 149. I I . 9. 146. mantra of. u . 9. 164. 12. 47. Siva and. 98. 37. 233. as Parasurama. 163 Chinnamasta. 11. 26 n7. 246. 150. 108. 46-49. 21. 2$i. 202. 206. 164. Kali as. 227. 161. Chinnamasta and. 244. 87-88. 97 Cintpurni. 244. 144. Kali's black. 28. 144. 144. fertility and. 6 2 illustrations. 167. 9 202. 83. iconography of. 144-47. skulls Bhuvanesvari and. 169-71. 160. Tripura-sundari and. dhydna mantras 7 of. 164-65. 233. 1 7 2 . 206. 87. 244. self-decapitation of. Bagalamukhi and. 82. 202. 212 Candamati. Tara and. Durga and. 245. 112. 156-57. Matarigi and. 151. 102-3. 146. 218 defined. 165. 233. 149-50. hymns to. 88. 20-21. kundalini and. Chinnamasta and. 62.120 cosmic order. 70. 14 Canda. mantras and. 206. Bhairavl and. 202. severed heads and. 117. yoni pujd and.15. 204 Caral-devT-raati.. 244. 5. 241. 186. 147. corpses and. 11. 180. 282 Canddlikd (Tagore). 232. 93 Cina-tara. 34-35. blood and. 202. Bagalamukhi and. 154-55. 57. false. 133-35. 79. 208. 193. 87-90. 32. 157. 241. 32. Tara and. 39. prototypes of. 41-42. Bhairavl and. 158. 157. 238. blood offerings to. 206. stages of. 60. 202. 147. 229. 141. 163. 57.INDEX Camunda (Camunda-devi). Tripura-sundari and. 248 cosmic serpent. Bhairavl and. 104. 202. yugas. 150-51. 243. 255^129. 78. 240-41. Camunda-kaii. awakened. meditation on. 238. 156. 166. 4 7 . 5 4 5 n n 8 . 155. 63 control: Bagalamukhi and. 240. 163. 15-16 cetand. 147. 154-57. 171 and. 202. 71. 238. lotuses and. 157. 147-49. 202. 246. Bhairavl and. (see also mdyd). n. 234 color: Bagalamukhl's yellow. 217-18. 164. 148-49. 240. Kama and. 220-21 corpses. 170. 43. n. 206. 233-38. 247. 182. 35. 148 Candesvari. 153. 20. 2 5 5 ^ 3 .30. Mahavidyas as. 21. 245. 160. 41-42. 80. 6. 240. reality and.7 0 . Tripura-sundari and. Kali and. 159-62. frightening nature of. Bhuvanesvari and. 157. 282. 201-2. 146-55. 62. 144. 144. 198 consciousness. 25. 233. 159-60. I I . 1 5 4 57. origin myths of. 63. atTarapIth. 251. 267117 Candalas. 9. 55. 253n4. 164 Candi. 157-58. 146. 30. 42. 24. 23. 14. 221. hair of. states of. reality and. 7. 35. 232. Parvati and. Matarigi and. 243-44. 144. cremation fires and. sexu- ality of. 38. 164-65. spiritual. 144-66. 122. 51. 174-75. 11. 198-99. 147-50. 211-13. Kamala and. 253m. 28. 29. Tripura-sundari and. Dhumavatl and. 233. 117. 2 5 5 ^ 2 . 220. 144. 159. 171. 46. 84. 148. Mahavidyas and. 202. 154. 47. 159-60. 146. temples to. 44. 241-44. 163. 209. 149-50. sddhakas and. cremation grounds and. 62. as avatdras. 12. 144. 5. 67. 63. 70. 257n84. 157. 244. gunas and. 16. 162. 131. shrines to. I 5 7 . 2 6 9 ^ 0 citdsddhand. Tantrasdra and. 47. 119. 121. 206. .sddband 149. 75. Rati and. 146. 100. 44-45. 1 4 9 50. 1 6 9 . 161-62 chwasas. 146-48. 2. 32. 41. 50. mantras and. I I . 155. 206. 171 Candika. death and. 139. See also Ananta . order in Mahavidyas. 96. 154-55. See also s'ava sddhand cosmic functions. 14. Tara as. 195. See also dharma cosmic roles. 63. 117. as demon slayer. 163. Kali and. 154-55. 164. in Buddhism. 112. 11. yantra of. cosmic order and. 87. 160. 117. 159. 163. 21. 154-57. 1 5 7 58. 112 Consort(s): goddesses as. 79. 47. as Narasimha. Mahadevi and. severed heads and. 159-60. 233. 8 < > io 1 I 0 and. defined. 230. 248 Chinnamunda. Bagalamukhi and. 157. 16. history of. 54. 180. 50. 144. sadhana and. 163-66. 164 Candanayika. 134. 233-34. 63. cakmsand. 149.161-63. Kamala and. Kamala as. worship of. Kali and. 147. 246. 60 Cheating Death. 233. sddhakas and. 60. sexual intercourse and. 148-49. 75 Cdmundd-tantra.

blood offerings to. 235. 89-90. Dattdtreya-tantra. Nirrti and. 32-35. 188. 202. yantras and. Chinnamasta and. 60. 176. 2I r 2 n > 244 cremation grounds. 29. meditation on. 179-82. 86-87. 227. 190. 207-8 creation. i n . Dhumavati and. 56 danda. 179-80. 134. Tara's. 205. Tara and. 39-40. 97. 208. Dasamahavidyas. 182. 62. Tripura-sundari's. 86. 93. 71. lotuses as. 78. 138 Dhara. 38. defined. Daldni. 81. 157-58. Bhairavi and. 144. 214.cosmology. 83. 49. 273n46. 60. 282 devotional poems. 176. Dhumavati and. 109-10 Dhanapati. 233. 202. sava 149. 259m Daksinamurti. 176. 230. 187-88. 186. 186. Chinnamasta as > ^9-5°^ 55> ° 7 7 i Dhumavati as. 234-35. Tara and. Kali and. 116. Kali and. 245. 21.182. 251. 170 Damara-tantra. 142. cult. Dhumavati's. 176. 244. 27. Laiita as. 249. defined. 179. 49. 187. 5 4 cranes. frightening nature of. 208. 182. Bhuvanesvari as. 252. as demon slayer. 20. 230 demons. 182. gunas and. 5 . 170-7'2. 108. 137-39. Bagalamukhi and. 49. boons and. 41. 38. 243 devi. Chinnamasta and. 158. 178. 213. 171. 120. 233-38. dhydna mantras of. 94 dorian. Chinnamasta and. n. See also cosmic order Dhrti. 202. 221-22. 82-84. 116-17. 88. Dhumavati and. 202. 146. Tara and. 135. 87-88. 230-31. 178 cults. Dhumavati and. 2. corpses and. sadhakas and. 131. n o . 84. I I . 226 dharma. 176. 160 ddkinis. 80. 94. 103. 100. 235. 30. 44. 56 goddesses and. 43-44. 51.176-92. 30. 233. Bagalamukhi and. 2 2 2. 230. 180. Kali and. Bhuvanesvari's. 192. 48. mantras and. 33-35. 180. 208. 282 I l a ee c o s m crows. 222. 18. symbolic. at Tarapith. 74. Matarigi and. 178. 100. 38. 206. 62. Bagalamukhi and. crows and. 22-27. 138 Dhumavatl. 16-17 208. 89. 90. 110. n. Bagalamukhi as. 55. 244. cremation fires and. 234. 233. 70. 207. 190. atTarapith. Kali and. 100. Bagalamukhi and. 199. 11. 206-8. 103-5. Nirrti and. 62. Sec also specific names sadhana and. 73 daksina. 37. 201. 141. 102-4. 282 Daksina-bhairava. 84. 73. 68. Sri cakra and. Visnu and. 60. 197. 34. 53. 180. 56.i76.125-26 cosmos. Tara and. 179. defined. 209. r 53 destruction: Bhairavi and. Kali and. Laksmi and. in Tantrism. 21. 253m. 7 8 79. 138 Darmadra. Durga and. 1 8 . 102. 151. 35. 206. hair of. See also cosmic functions cremation fires. 139. 196-97. 186. 197. Kamala's. 282. defined. 38. no. 127. 149. Visnu as. 100. 5. 157-58. Kamala as. 202. cremation grounds and. 86-88. 32. 134 Devi-mdhdtmya. 86. 29-30. 20. 79. 27. 7. 6-7. defined. 87 Daksinacara. S "h" i c functions Devi. 225. 282. 202. 148-49. 176. 176. destruction and. 30. Matarigi and. Tara and. Tara as. 233. 75. 125-26. 197. 228. 197. 58-59 blood and. 21. 234. 194-95. 35-36. 230. 119. 251. Tripura-sundari as. Sri-Laksml and. Alaksmi and. 90. 244. 27. 6. 62. m. 186. 233. n. 186. Kali as. 244. 9. 182. 206. 140. 81-82. 157. 119. 48 Daksina-kali. 234.187. 176. Kali's. 8> IC| I I O 240-41. Durga as. 187. 14-15.182.122 Devi-bhdgavata-purdna. defined. 88. 240. sexual imagery and.190. 34. 278n2i. 244-46. 62. 233. yantras and. 67-68. 88. . 202. 38. 176. 97> J 202. 49. 70-71. 14. 15. 257n84. 11. 105. 220. 115. 52. Daksa. See also maraud demon slayer(s). Jyestha and. n. 71. 63. 131. 5. 114. 164. 244. 226. 73 dasamahavidya. 278n2i. 227. 195-96. 30. 147-48. death. 42. Chinnamasta and. 55. 183. 282 Daruka. 49. . Bhairavi as. 190. 119 Dharma. 190. 236 134.

89. 15. knowledge and. 154.i2. sadhand and. 208. Kali's. 197. 22. 41. 282 Gariga. 1 7 . Chinnamasta and. 34. 151. 207. worship of. 16. 79. Kali and. 180. 197. 187. 39. 33-35. 225-26. and Nine Durgas. hymns to. 108. 253n4. 138 Durgd-cdlisd. Sri and. 218. 187. 207 Garuda-purdna. 188. elephants as symbols of. Tara's. 137. 184. 138 Gaja-laksmi. 180. 186-87. 62. 231. 62. 81. LaksmI and. 241. 249. 126 131. portraits of. 50. 178. tongue of. . inauspiciousness of. 2 56n5i. 84 Drstisamharakarinl. 183-84. 187. 117. hymns to. role of. 209 Gagana. 167. Rati and. 62. 181-82. 185-86. defined. 118. 105. 223. 216 females. LaksmI and. as symbols of fertility. vdhanas of. as demon slayer. 230 Ghoraghurghurnadini. 185. 229 Matarigi and. 176— 81. 230. 229. Kamala's. Kama and. 82. 71. 190-92. 230. 255n23. 164 Ghorasattva. 118-19 fire: Bhairavl and. 184. 135-36 Ghora. 221-22 gada. 83 Durgama. Dhumavati's. yoni pujd and. Kamala and. 147. 188. 15. 60-61 garbha grha. 282. 35 Duryodhana. 21. 172. 5-6. 62. sexual intercourse and. 248 Dhurvasa. 230. 188. 4 myths of Mahavidyas and. 62. defined. 79. 16. defined. 1. 282 gandharvas. Puja. 14. 40. 225-26. 36. 5. 55. 176. 209. in yantras. 72. 71-73. 197. 229 fasting. origin Gauri. no. 282 Garuda. 137 Draupadi. yantra of. 164 Ghorarava. 133. 219. Tripurasundari's. 138. 5. Mahavidyas and. 198 Eck. 144. defined. 29. 81. illustrations. 126. 179. 62. 183. 15 Durga Saptasati temple. 18. 164 Ghora-tara. 81-82.INDEX Dhumavatl (continued) 188. 61 elements of creation. 2$ynj2 Divydvaddna. 186-87. prototypes of. Kali and. 179 Dvapara Yuga. See also Parvati Gayatri. bird sym bolism and. in Nepal. sexuality of. 166. 30. 94. dharma and. 98. Sati and. 16. r j . 14. 228-29. 188. 39. 84 Dussaha.9. 67-68. knowledge and. 188. 18. vdhana of. 176. 137. 5. 2 30. 190-92. 188-90. 183. origin myths of. 38. lions and. 253n . 5. Bhuvanesvari and. 73. 185. Ka mala and. Bhairavl's. See also specific names goddesses. Chinnamasta's. 9. sexual intercourse in. 181-82. 254nn8. 278n2i. 1 7 7 . Bhuvanesvari's. order in Mahavidyas. iff. 195. 282. 46. 182. 191. 100. 137 Gagana-rekha. 236. lions and. 164 Durga. 20. 171 Ghorattattvamayi-devi. 14. 187. 70. Visnu and. 282. 236. 180-82. Tripura-sundari and. 180. temples to. 34. 30-35. 169-71 fire offerings. Sri and. 134. 15. in Mahavidyas. 10. 201. 164 Ghoramantrayuta.30. n o . illustrations. 187-90. 152 Dlvall (Dipavali). defined. Dogdhri. 18. 5. tempi to. 282 Ganesa. skulls and. Matarigi's. 164 goddess festivals. elephants: Kamala and. 185-87. 191. 208. 57. defined. 147.i5. 192. 180-85. 193. 88. 14-15. Tripura-sundari and. 15. 2551^129. 189. Parvati and. 53! Bagalamukhl's. 31. as Matsya. 11617. 180-82. 115. 36. 190-91.n. 187-92. 23. defined. 223. 183. 174. blood offerings to. 192. 18. 129. 138 Siva and. 52. 282. yoni. 18. 5. 191. 228-29. 228 divya. as Vamana. 169. 255n22. lotuses and. 149. See women fertility. 198 in Nepal. 252. 89. 186 dhyana. mantra.panca tattva ritual and. 112-13 Dhyanu. 62. 187. offerings to. siddhis and. 60. defined. 164. Diana. 164. 229. 187. See also meditation dhyana mantras. Chinnamasta and. 18. 149.

81. 153. 93 Guhya-kalls. 56. 178. 230. 102. meditation and. subordinate to Mahavidyas. in yantras. tamos. 101 63. Chinnamunda's. 116 homa. 100. 282. See also specific names human sacrifices. SodasI and. 54. 5. Tara in. Sri-LaksmI and. 126. 15. to Laksmi. 179. 102. 257n72. Sri-Laksml's. in yantras. 101. 246. 105. 36. 179. 87. 15. 153. 80-81. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 73. 230. 169. Tara's. skulls and. to Kamala. 41. 178. knowledge and. 15. 109-10 hair. 238 hymns. 94 hrim. 53. Bagalamukhi's. 35. 37-40. 58 granthis. 3-5. 2 5 9 ^ Guhyatiguhya-tantra. 123. 9. Dhumavati's. to Kamakhya. 134. 21. 248. relationship with worshiper. 79' 9 > 22 of women. 48 Hali. 132-36 76. 179. Alf. 34. See also mudras Hanuman. women as. Kamala's. 83-84. 100. 141-42. 5 8 59. 231. Chinnamasta's. 15. 154—55. 153. 98. 238-4°. 62. 4 2 43. as Hara-vallabha. 192. 199. 80. 37-40. n o . 37-38. Sati's. Tripura-sundari's. 197. 78. 126.139 Gyan Babu. 11. to Dhumavati. 89. 24. I I . worship of. 21. Jyestha's. See also specific names gods. 246. stotras iccha. 221-22. 178. 7. 87. to Bagalamukhi. 119 Hakini. 83. 78. 115 hand gestures. 160 inauspiciousness. 93. 77. 48. 282 Hinduism. 190-92. 236. 20 gunas. 39. 151 Guptasddhana-tantra. 144. 146-47. 204. 190. 61. 48. 229. 188. 246. sattva. 62-63. 9. 5. defined. tantric. 58. 150-51. 5. tantric. See also specific names. 144.panca tattva ritual Kali's. yantras and. 201. 74. 42. 144. 243. 15-18. Tara as. 63. Kali's. 39. as consorts. 8$. 249. 180-85. 6. Tripurasundari and. 32. siddhis and. defined. 96. 126. 131. as sisters. 148. 238 Hiltebeitel. 225. Tripurasundari's. to Tripura-sundari. 83. 80. to Sri. 3. 158. to Matarigi. defined. I I . 240. 41. 103. 154-55. 234. Kamaksi's. 117-19. See also fire offerings Homages to the Twenty-One Taras. 159-60 Great Goddess. 158. 151. 3. to Gariga. 87. 146-48. 187. 140. death imagery and. 225. 75 Hamsesvari-devi. origin myths of Mahavidyas and. of Mahavidyas. 3-5. 55. 236. 76. 98. 68. Chinnamasta prototypes. 40. 42-43. nude. forms of. 32-34. 5. 101 head offerings. of Mahavidyas. 5. 96-103 Hiranyakasipu. sacred places and. 32. 3. 30. 226. 59. 169. Kali's. 2 55n2 3 Hamsa-kall. to Bhuvanesvari. 226. 248-49 iconography: Bagalamukhi's. Bhairavi and. 137 iccba s'akti. 114. 5. 20. 89. 30. 164. 26. 34 Hara-patni. Jan. cosmic functions and. 32. knowledge and. 169. 113.151. 200-201. 229. at Taraplth.n . 75. 230-31. 40. 245. 182. 227. 112—13 idd nidi. 67. 185. 22. to Kali. 60. 20-21. 250. 57~^ ' I 1 gurus. 121. blood offerings in. 181-82. 137 Gundadabbe. 50. 151. 79 Indra. 23840. Chinnamasta's. 151-54. 252. 42-43. to Nirrti. 88. 167-75. 35. 230 159. Sri-LaksmI and. 112. 117. 83-84. 184. 108. yoni as. 19091. 104. 219. See also auspiciousness independence: of goddesses. 4. 116. J 229. to Bhairavi. 195. 53. 243. Tripura-sundari and. 126. 36. cosmos and. 32 . 7. Alaksmi's. 125-26. 54. 94. 115. 84 Himalaya. 63. 229. to Durga. 114. lotuses and. 176. 138 Indrani. 6 2 - and. 149. 128. 146. 2 5 7 ^ 2 . Dhumavati's. 146-47. 180. 5-6. 229. Tara's. 164. in Nepal. 100-101. 83. superiority over gods. Jyestha's. mantras and. 160. 6. 228-29. to Chinnamasta. 75. 60. 161. independence of. 97. 63. reality of. See also Mahadevi Green Tara. 133. rajas. 93. 61. 115. 83. 282. 213. to Tara. 34. mythology and. 81-82. ' 5 7 ' Gonda.

80. 9. cosmos Kali Yuga. Sati and. 80. 153. 67. 151. 151 90. as sakti. 159. 87-90. 67. cremation grounds and. 198. 100 Kdlikd-marigal-kdvya. 282 initiation rites. origin knowledge Jnanada. 3 jatd. Tara and. 232. 73.115. 134. 117 Jagaddhatri. 1 6 . 79. 152 Jyestha. knowledge and. 201. 21. 88 jnana sakti. 170 Kalaratri. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 105 JambhinI.134.119. 7 indriyas. 87. 112. defined. 191. 102. 71-73. 241. 76. 7 0 71. boons and. 188. 283. 41. 100. Brahma and. 37. 35. 62. 80. 56-57. 68. 18. as consort. 38. 283. 202. 88.23. 18. as Krsna. Jaya. sadhana and. 70. 88. 61. Chinnamasta and. 184. Siva and. 39. yoni puja and. 89. S 3 . 113. 67. 70. 137. 220. 79-82. 79. 138 Isvara. hair of. 245nn8. 233. 81-82. 80-81. 79. history of. 61. 80-81. 75. wor- in Astamatrkas. 257n84. defined. 223. defined. 105. 9. 78. as demon slayer. 42.141.100. lingams and. yantras. inauspiciousness of. 71. 82. 39. 2 Kakini. sadhana. kula. Mahadevi and. 1 4 . See also 78-79. 140. 255n22. 149. 243 kdma. 86-88. 9. 15 Kalighat. 137 90. 84. Dhumavatl and. 82-84. 5.i5. 74. n o . 151. defined. 121. 230 Kdlarudra-tantra. 70-71. 5 i temples to. 248 149. 73-74. 67. 51-53. 244. Tripura-sundari and.i2. 63. 8 6 - Jvalamukhl 0valamukhi-devl). 283 Kalika. blood offerings to. 70. 70. 23. Dhumavatl and. pollution and. 22. 25. 73. 8$. 87. 239. Camunda-devT and. 137. 56 Kdlikd-purdna. 78. 73. 70. 1 1 9 . blood and. 76. 112. 164. 159-60. 108. color of. 75-76. 1-2. 75-79. 70-75. ship of. 120 Katingattuparani. 68. 78. tongue of. 118. 60 fndndgni. 75. 78. 75. 88. 253m. 80-81. i i. 30. Bhuvanesvari and. 67-68. 138. 67-68. 232. 15. 103. 76. 283 jnana. 137 myths of. 86. 84. 1 4 9 . demons and. 108. 158. 56. 243-44. death and. defined. 86. 283. 80. 49. 2 55n2 2 Kama (Kama-deva). 283 Kallti. consciousness and. 160. 81. Durga Kdmadd-tantra. 80. 76. meditation on. as prakrti. sexual intercourse and. 243.n. 88. 44-45. 67. frightening nature of. 81. 56 Kali. 154-57. 282 83-84. 153. 91. 43. Kamala and. 100-101. 12. 50. 79. 83-84. 238. 73-76.55. 86. 255^129. 244. 42-43 .9 1 . hymns to. dhyana mantras of. 36. 73-74. 1 7 1 . 78-79. 214. 80. 76 Kdmadhenu-tantra. Kamakhya and. 35 japa(s). 172. Visnu and. 119 magical powers and. 77. 71. 16. 52. defined.137 77. 79. 46. 20. 62. 121.2 0 . iconography of. Jaganmata. Chinnamasta and. 78-79. 78. 117. 70-71. 282. 73. 8 1 I 10 83. corpses and. 7. 21. 100. 75. 67-68. 42 243-44. 235 I sana. de- fined. Sita and. 105.198. defined. 80. 247. 80. 175 Jalandhara. 21. brahman and. 171. 81. mantra. Tantrism and. 89. 233. 72. 1 0 0 . 29-30. 9. Jalesvari. 154. 147.9. 79. 79-80. 206. Matarigi and. 78. 51. 24. 201. 9. 74. 83-90. 73. 81-82. 283 jiva. yoni. defined. mantras of. 38. 4^> skulls and. 48. 9. 82. 74. 47. cremation fires and. 253n4. defined. gunas and. 86. 151. 118. 60. cults. 61. 238. 87-88. 233. 119-21. 283 m 234. 102. 90. 144. 100. 243-44. 89. Kaitabha. 133. 67-68. 70. 9. 87. 21. 68.175. 9 . 11. 89. 32. Kali-bari. 5. 92. 90. 79. 87.30. Tara and. 230 kaivalya. 80. and. 6-7. 42-43. 178-81 jyesthd s'akti. 16. Bagalamukhi and. 84. 35. defined. Bagalamukhi and.1 0 3 . reality and. severed heads and. in Nepal. 54. 43. 11. 119. 49. 70-71. 87-90. 88-89.134. Puja. 116. 158. 48 Kala-bhairava. 90. 89-90. yantra of. 27. 6 7 . Parvati and. illustrations. order in Mahavidyas.306 INDEX and.

283. 34 Kanakhala. 14. 222 Karna-pisacI. 41. defined. See also jridna. 115. 231. 138 kinnaras. sadhana. Dhumavatl and. 62. as consort. Mataiigi and. 241. 205 Karpurddi-stotra. 49. 146 Kripal. 137 kriya s'akti. 230. 62. 34. 48. 237 Krta Yuga. Visnu and. 157 auspiciousness of. 32 Kashmir Saivism. 2 54m 5. 283. 17. 232. Kali. 202 krsna paksa. 243-44. 89. 230. 9. illustrations. 137 11. offerings to. 121. 118. 157 Kamakhya (Kamakhya-devi). goddesses and. 159-62. 62. 4 4 45. as demon slayer. 146-47 Kotaraksi. 59-60. 60. 183. 229-30. 231. 283. cosmic functions and. 137. 115 Kamala. 62. role in Mahavidyas. 47. 223. 230. 123. 14-15. 29. 148 Krodharupa. 48. 232. 20-21. 161 Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 42. 136. 44-46. 223. 248-49 kundalini. 229-30. 231. yoni. s'akti. 242 Kathdsaritsdgaru. 283 Kubjikd-tantra. 117 kumaripujd. Kali and. in Mahavidyas. 248. 207. 138. 17. 223.157. 78-79 Kamakautukakarini. 246 Kamaksa.159. 169. 14. 234 Kopatura. 244 Kumari. elephants and. 136. See also Laksmi. as Matsya. 230 Kapalika. temples to. See also Tripura-sundari Kamesvari-bhairavi. 97 Kuldrnava-tantra. boons and. 16. 38. 230-31.12. defined. 232. iconography of. 108. 16. 37. 104. Bhairavi and. hymns to. order in Mahavidyas. 232. defined. 232. 228-29. 47. 180 Kartikeya. 60.Kamakala-kall. Kaumari. 164 Krodhini. 54. Siva and. 172 Kami-devi. yoni pujd and. 2 5 7 . cults. 14. 238 Kaulacara. lotuses and. 137 Karalini. 39. 108. 39. 21. 164 Krsna. 229. Sri. 56 Krodha Bhairava. 73 KesI. 223. 232. 112. 62. defined. fertility and. » > i v a a n d 47-48. knowledge. 2. 171 Kotavi. 283 kula marga. 257n84. 2 5 4 ^ 8 . 61. 57. See also Siva Karalika. 23. 75 Kamakald-vildsa. 228-29. 17. 48-49 Kauldvali-tantra. 131. 151 Kubera. 283 Kamesvara. 228. vidya Komaldsana. 5. 121. Chinnamasta and. 2 5 5 ^ 2 . 121. 255nn22. 217 Kausiki. 47. Tara and. 283.185. 225. 223. 15. magical powers and. 138 Kamini. dhydna mantras of. 161 Kanti. Sri Kdmaratna. Tantrism and. 223-32. 138 Kapali. 49. 236 klim. 165. 46. 35 Kamaksi. Kali and. 9 . defined. 138 karma. Sodasi and. 198 Ksemendra. yoni pujd and. 24. 15 Kdmdkhyd-tantra. 121 Karna-matahgi. Kali as. defined. 35. 157. 193. 229. 96-97. 253n4. 47-48. 248 Kdmdkhyd-cdlisd. 247. 160. 32 Kauri-bai. 49. 226. 121 Kamarupa. 267n7 khadga. 41. defined.23 Krsnacarya. skulls and. Kali and. 159 . 204. 2 54m 5 Kariisa. frightening nature of. Jeffrey. 5. 42. 230. 232. 232. 164 Korravai. 228-32. 76. hymns to. consciousness and. 230. Great Goddess and.15. 47. 113 Kamesvari. 103. 244. 148. defined. 157. 25. 174. temple to. 81-82 kriyd. Bhairavl and. yoga. 172. 153. 283. 60. Durga and. Dhumavati and. 165. 18. 87-90. 214. 229. 248 Kartik. gunas and. 248 kula(s). 63. 90. Sita and. Sari and. worship of.

134 mahavidya. 248 Mahalaksmi. 102. skulls and. Mahadevi and. 138. 144. 204 Mahavidyadhari. 76. temples to. 205. 142. 24. 247. See also Tripura-sundari Lalitd-sahasrandma. 253m lions. 14. 208. 228-29. 208. Bagalamukhi and. 7. 227 70. 225. 100. 134. 11. 185 Mahdkdla-samhitd. of Chinnamasta. 43. defined. 36. 115 Linga-purdna.197. of Tara. 37-38. Matarigi and.3 o8 INDEX lotus cakra. mahant. 226. 242. 229. in Tantrism. 3*9. 38. lotuses and. fertility and. 60. 14. . Durga and. 35-36. cosmic functions and. 37-38. 115. 230. reality and. corpses and. 140. See also uccista liminality. 283 Lanka. 187. 40-41. 244. 22-26. 244. 246. 97. 67. 220-21. 55-57. 129. Matarigi and. 112. 154-55. 230 Mahasarasvati. Bagalamukhi and. 63. 230 Madonmattasvarupini. 245. 25. in Buddhism. 185 Mahasakti. 61. Jyestha and. 95-98 Mahadev. 60. iconography of. See also Great Goddess Mahakala. 61. Tara and. 231. 283 Brahma and. 46. n. 47. 98. 178. 257n72. creation and. 100. 206. 20-21. iconography and. Tripura-sundari and. 42. 213-17.10. 253n4. 51. 164 mahdbhutas. Mahabhayarikari-devl. 41-42. Kali and. 112. 164 Mahacina-tara. 137-38. Siva and. 169. Kamala and. 5. 119. 43. 34. 108. 35. 112. 89-90. 89. 36-37. 197. 220-22. 283 Mahaplthas. 55. 57. 43. 225. 27. 207. 154. 166.235. 106. 235. 217 Lalita. Chinnamasta and. 154 Madhu. 73. as cosmos. 54. 68. 164 lotus(es).23 Kurukulla. 207. 166. 34 left-handed tantric worship. 209. 197. 17-18. i n . 159 lunar phases. Tripura-sundari and. 43. 116. §ri Laksmi-tantra. 101 Mahabharata. 188. Dhumavatl and. as Buddha. 95 Mahdnirvdna-tantru. 131. 164 Mahabhima. Durga in. 201. 3. 54-55. 148. 18. 283. 171. 258n87. 224. 75. defined. 62. 230 Mahamaya-vijayavahinl-tara. 141-42. Alaksmi and. See Tara Kurukulla kvaca. 251. 283. Mahavidyas and. 58. 15. 230. 122. 80. 228. frightening nature of. women as. 201. of Dhumavatl. vdhanas of. See also bhuta(s) 121. 18687. 49. 283. 140. 211-12 Mahavidyas: as antimodels. 60. Sodasi and. Durga and. cakra and. 255nn22. Kali and. 41. 47 Mabdtantra. Mahadevi and. 225. 21-22. 117-19. 230-31. 60 Mahacanda. 101. 220. 15. in yantras. 62-63. 43 Lokapalas. hymns to. worship of. 115. 187. 60-61. 29-30. 194-95. 41-42. 126-27. 138 lokas. Sri and. 6. 131. sddhakas and. Bhairavl and. 60-61. 254ni4 Mahabhairava. 116. 48. See also paths in tantric worship leftover offerings. 255n2 3. 30. defined. defined. 283 Laksmana Desikendra. 24. See also siddhis Mahabhdgavata-purdna. 57-60. 142. 103 Urigams. Kamala and. 229. 137 Mahapralaya. 233-34. 5. Tara and. defined. Bagalamukhi and. 140. 43. 14. of Bhairavl. 57. 18-22. 76 Lomamansaprapujita. 148. 109-10. 55-57. 202 Madanatura. 246. 38. 167 LaksmI. Kali and. 283. 178 Mahabuddhi. defined. 41-42 mahdsukha. 41-42. 213. defined. 48. in yantras.247. as a group. 134. 41. 78. 134. 234. Bhuvanesvari and. 15-18. 225. 157 magical powers. See titbis Madan. sexual imagery and. 193. Bhuvanesvari and. in Astamatrkas. 112. 4. Dhumavatl and. 46. 82 Mahadevi. Mahavidyas as forms of. 223. 43. See also Kamala. 9-63. 4°> 43> 4 ^ 2 2 2 . 179. 78. Tripura-sundari and. !57. 2 7 6 ^ Mahamaya. as consorts. 129 Mahakall. Kali and. defined. 84. Kurma. 199-201. cakras and. 237-38. lions and.

245. defined. Bhuvanesvari's. 62-63. 221. 71. 187 ^ moksa. 161 menstrual blood. 219. on death. 63. Satl and. 1 4 . See also dhydna 160. hymns to. 214-18. 37-38. 18. 63. 18. elephants of. sound and. 4 5 . sadhana and. 139. 46. 60. 253n4. 163. 79> 9 5 interre22 Mantra-mahodadhih. 170. yantras of. See also death Matariga. 186. 48 Mantbdna-bhairava-tantra. 220 Matarigi. defined. 284 mdrana. 33. 197. 38-49. 284 mdtrkds. in sava sadhana. 137 Maihar-devi. cosmos and. See gods male-female tensions. Matarigi's. 214. 37. 2 2 209-22. Mekhala. See also sexual intercourse Maitripa. 7. 6. 247. 33 Mahisamardini. temples to. 2 5 4m 5 Mati. defined. 51-53. 213-15. 80-81. dhydna mantras of. 56. 160-61. Tripurasundari's. 22-38. n . 172. 136-40.12. 88. on Chinnamasta. 210. 11. 220. cremation grounds and. 213. defined. 241. 70. worship of. 13. 213-15. See also consciousness: false Mayd-tantra. 75-76. 166. 243. 3. siddhis and.12. 220-21. 238. 163. sexual intercourse and. 14. 14. 5. illustra- Mahesvari. 39. 46. gurus and. yoni pujd and. 283 tions. 7. Kali's. 207. 50. 233.15. MatariginI. 25. defined. 253m. 63. 220- Mahisasura. 49-55. 218. 216 Milarepa. 217-18. defined. lationships among. 9-14. 217-18. 4 > 3 > 253114. boons and. literary contexts of. gunas and. reality and. Kamakhya in. 58-60. model for. 284 manipura-cakra. 21. 234. 278n2i Mahoccusma. 2 5 5 ^ 9 . 255^2. 221-22.INDEX illustrations. 16-17. defined. 220-22. Kali and. 209. 26-27 22. 16. shrines to. 61. 7 8 . 88. denned. corpses and. 284 and. 135. 284. 108. 116. \25-26Japa. Kamala and. 57. order in Mahlvidyas. 13236. 146. frightening nature of. origin myths of. 9. 14-15. defined. See also specific names and.9. siddha. 135. 220. 6. 217. 2541^8. 29. 2. 163. 202. 216. 210. 242. 214. 22022. Tripura-sundari and. 36 Mahl. 137 marigal kdvyas. 31. 218. 248 Medha. 56.7 . i 5 . 198. 98. 218. 119 Mahisa. 162-63 Tara's. 32. 222. yantra of. 2 5 6 ^ 1 . BhairavTs. 1 4 . 114. maithuna. magical powers and. i 2 . skulls and. 201. in Buddhism. Laksmi and. 209. 141. 105-6. Tantrasara male deities. Mahavidyas and. 248 Marigala. 138 Matrkas. 123. 199. 172. on Kali. 196. pollution 2 I _ I and. 211.23 mdyd. 55-57. 200-201. 217-20. 18-22. See also dhydna mantras Minaksi. 10. worship 2 n n 2 control and. 220-22. 43. Mahadevi as form of. 149. 216. 257n84. 63. 165. 51-54. 42. 5 5 9 > 3 ° . 212-14. 252. corpses and. 2 5 4 n n 8 . 220-22. 238. Bagalamukhi's. 25. 195. 219. 258 n87. 249 mantra(s). 228. 153 234. 136. sadhana. 17. 3 8 . 152 mait(s). magical powers and. Matsya. 70 manaalas. 95-96. 44. 220-22. moods of. 78-79. 284. independence of. 163. order of. defined. Visnu and. 76. 56. 215-16. 35 Molaram. 122-28. 32. 246. 3. 157. 108. 35. 247-48. Parvatl and. 79. low castes and. 138 meditation. 221-22. vdhanas of. mantra of. 163. 122-28. 255n22. 60. 214. as Buddha. consciousness and. J 2 2 233-34.1 5 . 114 MohinI. 209. 120. 215. 63. 203-5. 74 origin myths of. 51. 135. 135-36. 14. 76. 24. 218. 8 0 81. 209. on Bhairavi. 13. yoni. 2 7 5 ^ 2 makdra. 35. 1 2 5 26. 58-59. Chinnamasta's. 140. 103. 23. 202 Manasara-s'ilpa-s'dstra. Srividya. 231. 284 . 88. offerings to. 6 . 25. 213-14. 116. 139. 16-18. 283. demons and. 209-12. 209-12. 213. 284. 15. number of. 21. 284. 134. defined. 33. Siva and. 209. 243 Mdldtimddhava. 56. 172.

Nilakantha. 26-27 Nandydvarta-tantra. Siva and. to Dhumavatl. 284. 87. 241. 79. 53. 52-54. 178-81. 147-50. 249 pasu. 138 Padmasambhava. 20. "5 Nigama-kalpataru. defined. to Matarigi. 139. 204. gurus and. 100. 185. 105. 246 241. 73-74. 71. 160. Kali in. 76 Parvati. Matarigi and. 284 Niruttara-tantra. 184. defined. 147 Naramansapriyanitya. 284 nirguna brahman. P.230 Narayana. 51. 195-96. 79. 4 7 . 284. 249. 90. 247. 106. 95. 74. 185-86. defined. 2 5 5 ^ 2 nydsa. Chinnamasta and. 172. 3. 219 padma. 284 Muttusvami. 240-41 nddis. Tripura-sundari in. 251. 93. of Mahavidyas. 248. 284 mukti. 2 53n4 Paksa-raja. 36. 6. 93. 193-96. 138 Nisumbha. Durga in. 284 Nirvana-sakti. bdna. Dhumavatl and. 39. head offerings.101. 54. 174 pardvidyd. See also blood offerings. 71 Pancaratra. Dhumavatl in. defined. 79. 174 panca preta. 60. 218. 14. in sava sadhana. 161 Padmavati. 62. 175 Parama. 169 Navaratra. defined. 171. 190. 32. 164 panca mahdbhuta. 68. 153 2 miirti. 76 Padmanidhi. 172. 217-18. 284 nourishment. iconography in. Bagalamukhi in. 78. 158. 54-55. 119 Ndrada-pancardtra. 14. 284 offerings. See Paramesvari. 15. 22-38. fire offerings. 230 panca tattva ritual. 183. 253n4. 181-82. 175 paramdtman. 178. Matarigi's. 243. Naina-devi. 230 Nitya. 46. 175 Parasurama. Kali and. 247 Parabrahmasvarupiru. sexual intercourse and. 112. 196 pdsa. 2 2 5 ^ 3 Narasimhl. 212-14. Dhumavatl and. defined. 220-22. 244. 147-49. 207. 30-35. 196. 98 Nila-tantra. 207 Pal. 202. Bagalamukhi and. 63. Kali's. 150 Palaladipriyanitya. 284. 108. 150. 108-9 2 I _ I Nanda-devi. 54. 138. 22. to Bagalamukhi. 209. 164 Narasiriiha. 27-29. 138 Narada. 170-71 Nrsirhha. 34-35.4 9 .243-44. to Nirrti. 218. 60 also brahman Nirrti. 136. 54. to Tara. 48 Nirvdna-tantra. defined. leftover offerings origin myths: Bagalamukhl's..INDEX moods: of Mahavidyas. 187. 172. 7 8 . 198-200. 50. defined. 71. 78. 116. 159. 76 origin myths of Mahavidyas. defined. 163. 78. 137 Nityalinna. 241. See also specific types ndgas. 38. 213-15.23 Parasurdma-kalpasutra. 32. 57n84 munddsanas. 46. See panca tattva ritual Pancamukha-siva. 241. Tara's. 48. to Ka- Munda. defined. 18. 236 mala. 284 Durga's. 284 mulddbdra cakra. 135 • Nine Durgas. of Tarapidi. 76. 192. 22.101-2. 2 6 7 ^ Mundamdla-tantra. 149. 114 mystics. 255^122. 2 5 6 ^ 1 . 134. See also Durga Puja Navavaranakirthis (Muttusvami). 284. 181. 167. 114 Nepal. in nirvana. 40 nirguna. 108 Nila-sarasvatl. 257n72 . Chinnamasti's. 187. 87. 48. 118 Pascimamnaya Kaula. 15 ndma stotras. 30. 164 Nararaktapriyasada. 174 Narayani. 87. 129-31. 187-90. defined. Bhuvanesvari's. defined. 15. 227.106. 180. Dhumavati's. 43 mudrds. 115. women and. 75. 88 panca makdra ritual. defined. 160. Bhairavl in. 20. 73.

137 etasana. 198. 56 Picchild-tantra. 182. no. 15 pollution. 155 rasa. 185. 51. 118. adi. yoni. See also left-handed tantric worship pati vratd. 140. defined. 138. 235. 198 puranas. 10. See also Bagalamukhi pitbas. 88 Puspayudhadhara. 157 raudra. 21. 131. 43-44 raudrd s'akti. 172. 157 Ratiragavivrddhini. 116. sexual intercourse and. 204 Pracandacandika. 71. 137 Raktablja. 51. 230 Prdnatosini-tantra. 46. 60 Prakrti. 193. 7. 285. 26on22. 247.2 3 Ramakrishna. 144. 220 n Phetkarini. 134 Raktapanaparayana. 164 Rama. 109. defined. Raudri. 191. 247. defined. 139. 285 prdnas. 181-83. 121. 4. 126. 88. defined. 42. 6-7. 116 rddhis. 30. 137. 205-6. 104 defined. 35. 71. 34. 285 ptija. 154-57. 174 paths in tantric worship. defined. 20. 284. 285. 218 possession. Kali as. worship pujd paddhati.112. 159-60. 236-37. 2 7 4 ^ Raja-matariginI. See also specific titles puras'carna. 14 prayog vidhi. 175. See adepts. 133-35. n. 243 rati. Tara and. 133. 213. 219. 243 Purnagiri. 87. 211-12. 157 Pusri. 119. 164 etasananivasini. 100 Ranajaitri. 18. 139. 52-53. Ramprasad. 236 Rakta. 251. 48. 103. 285 prdnaydma. 284 Pitambara (Pitambara-devi). 185. 214-18. 147-48. 17. defined. defined. 137 purnimd. See alsn Tripura-sundari rajas. 73. 133. 115. 131. Matarigi and. 5 pralaya. 87. 248. 155 Ranastha. Kali and. See also sdkta pitbas purification. 243-44. in yantras. women and. 89 rdksasas. 196. 284. 138 Radha. . 166. 285. 248-49. 255nn2 2. 17. 222 . defined. Dhumavati and. 134. 5. sddhaka(s) Pradhana. 221. 172. 80-81. kumari. 160 rurascaryarnava. 194. Rati. 214 Rajarajesvari. 75. 2 5 n 2 7 7 RakinI. 55. 102. 116 Prajnaparamita. 230 Ravana. 154. 61. Batuk. 155 Ranotkantha. 76 Pirigald nddl. 285. 103-4. 131. 160. 198. 202. 116. 220 tas.INDEX Pasupati. 56 Pbetkdrini-tantra. 187. See also Durga Puja. defined. 216. 73. 48-49. 243-44. Tara and. defined. 285. 115. 199 reality. 121. sixteen-part. 175 Ramayana. 249. defined. 96 Prajnatmika. 84 Pore. Chinnamasta and. 42. Tara as. 32. 216 Pratyarigiras. defined. 34. 284 phala stotras. 164 Prthivl. 148 practitioner. 133 Prahlada. 55> 118. 83-84. 79. 285 Prapancesvari. 243. Bhuvanesvari and. 118. 229 rahasya. 6. 236. 204 praparica. guna. 7. 133-34 prasdda. 217 prakrti. defined. 229 50. 21. 105. Lalita as. 190-91 Ramprasad Sen. 285 ramana. 119. 249. 117. defined. 285. defined. 285 Prapancasdra-tantra. defined. 213. 3. 133 Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 48 Raksa-kall. 285 285. Kali Puja. 144. 186. 82-83. 201 Raja-matarigl. 105. 138-39. 285 Pranasakti. 15. pis'dcas. 45 purusa. defined. defined.

240-41. 213. 127 Sammoha-tantra.Tara Sampatprada-bhairavl. Matarigi and. 136. 123-24. 285 sdkta purdnas. 243. 202. in yantras. 125-26. 178 rituals. 84. 83-90. 118.163. 140 m sacciddnanda. 134. 121. 234.INDEX reality (continued) Chinnamasta and.117. 35. 220-22. 36. yantra. sexual desire and. I I . 125. 148. 86. 58. in yantras. 104-5. 219. 240. Mahavidyas as. 159 sabasrandmastotras. 172 Sakambhari. skulls in.panca tattva ritual and. 242. sexual intercourse and. 76. 285 sabasrdra cakra. 139.141. IOI Sankhanidhi. 26. 204 and. 171-72. defined. literature. mythology. corpses and. 36. 141. 53. 88. 61. 285 Rudra. cakra. 229 Sabaras. 29. of goddesses. 106. Tantrism and. cremation grounds and. 56 Samadhi. 234-25. 4^J skulls 2 and. 43-44. 246. 30. defined. 139. 125. 247. 22. Sodasi and. 285. magical powers and. worship and.148. 58. 86-90. 106. 201. 51 rebirth. 131. 238. 247-48. 59. Tripura-sundari and. 141. 126. 139. 48. 1 Sdktisamgama-tantra. 135. 157. 41. 59. 234. Laliti as. I I . 68. 109. 97. Tripura-sundari and. 41-42 s'dkta upa purdnas. 285. 116. 5^. Kill and. 120. Tara and. 60. 22. 35. Tripura-sundari as. Kali and. 250. 76-78. 138 Rudra-bhairavi. 129. 135. sakti and. power). 21-22. 245. Sri cakra and. 243. 199 . 126-27. 75-76. 61. 117. 17. reality and. 148. 172 samsdra. Bhuvanesvari and. 76. Sahasradalamadhyastha. 48. 237. 86. 24748. See Savaras sabda brahman. 134. Kali as. 32. Dhumavatl and. See also s'ava sadhana Sddhanamdld. 3. 47-63. 242. 51-54 Samhdrakrama. defined. s'ava sadhana and. 235 Rg-veda. 95-96 Sankara. 233-34. 108. See also specific types Saitri. daksina and. Mahadevi and. 39. See also adepts sadhana. defined. 160. Matarigi and. 251. 220-22. 152-53.121. 242. 30. 3. 62. 22.122. 248. 286 Sankara-vallabha. 55. left-handed. 35.102. ni. Sri cakra and. sakti and. 2 6 9 ^ Rudraydmala. 237. 115. 131. 245. 285. 16. defined. 141. 63. 242-44. iSy. 243-45. 227. 137. 154. 16 202-4. 97. theology. 244 sdmanya pujd. 78. 20-21.150. 39. 61-62 sdkta pithas. 235. 153-54. 105 sankalpa. 285 Sakini. 267n7. 46. 120. 235. 137.japa. 127-28. Siva and. 250. 242-43. 163. mantras and. yantras and. 246. 42. defined. 2 2 Rukmini. 86. sound and. 36. 285 sacred places. sakti (energy. defined. 165-66. 75. sddhakas and. 121. 134. 138 Sdnkhyayana-tantra. 136. 206. corpses and. defined. 234. 109. 245. consciousness and. 170. 285 Samsaratarini. defined. 137 Sadasiva. 285 Salya-tantra. 164. 26. 218. yantras. Tripurasundari and. Vasistha as. 117 sddhaka(s). citd. defined. 3. 112. 128. 39. 234. 103. 28-29. 14 sdkta trimurti. defined. 141. See also kundalini sakti s'akti(s) (female associates of the goddess): Chinnamasta and. 78. corpses and.166. S . i n . Visnu and. 16. 48 sdkta. Tripura-sundari and. defined. 96. 135. Chinnamasta and. 138-39 sakti bhavan. 112. 32. 78-79. 2-3. 159 Sahasradalavarttinl. 249 Sdkta-pramoda. 76-79. See also brahman Sakti. tantric. 88. 245-46. consciousness and. 86. 166. 244. 134. 285. 42. 60 samddhi. 199'. 141. 78. Tara and. 285. 138 Saivacara. 233-34. 95. 57. 75. 75. defined. 80. 202. 48. 75. 206. 97. mantras and. 243. 3^> 45S Tripura-sundari 2 2 and. 47. 5. 114. 35-36. 253m 128. 82. 127. defined. smas'dna. 48 Sakalasiddhi-bhairavl. 20. i n . 230. 285 sexual imagery and. 104.

109. 286. 286 sava. 233 Savitri. 56. 172. 23. 78. 48 Sati. Chinnamasta's. 162 5 7 l 6 2 2 3 8 > semen. asta. 154-57. 63. 243. 238. 160-61. 100. 56. 197. 7. See also self-decapitation. 39. 219. 245. Miranda. 101. 22. 71. skulls sexual desires: Bagalamukhi and. 157. 2S6. 43-44 Saundaryalahari. See also corpses Savaras. 16. 134. 48. 167. 51. defined. 6. See also bija(s) self-control. Bhuvanesvari and. 218. 238. 11. denned. semen sexual imagery. 154. 98. i n . 243. 218. 219 Savari. 44. 7> 55 39> 25(^153. 126. 63. 79> 196. 136. pitbas and. 57. Dhumavatl and. sadhakas and. 144. 18. 121. 68. 245. severed heads and. 241. 171. 149. 199-201. 68. Kali and. 67. self-decapitation. 248.170. 186-87. See also cosmic serpent. 234. 68. 278. 146. 7. n. 29. 106. 241. See also menstrual blood. defined. consciousness and. guna. 96-97. 9. 2 7n 2 5 7 serpents. 286 Satya Yuga. 205 shamans. 244. 79-80. 207. 82. 118 sexual fluids. 108. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 246. 138 San ananda. defined. Matarigi and. 159. 68. 138 Sardulakarna. 11. Dhumavati and. 131 Sarvolldsa-tantra. 53. 25. See also bija mantras seed syllables. 39. Chinnamasta's. 22-27. Kamakhya's. 219. 286 Sarasvati. 89. 89 siddha mantra.139. 56 sattva. goddesses and. 180-82. Sati and. 201. 7. 36. Tara and. 100. 61. 80. 75. 151. 28. 87. Kali and. \y2. defined. Dhumavati's. 19. 241-44. 56 Saptamatrkas. Siva and. 238-41. 105 Sarvesi. 153. Tara and. 18.62-63. 154. 248 Sasti-rekha. 118. 167. 190-92 shamanism. Tripura-sundari and. 131 Sarvavamayi. 42-43. Sodasi and. temples to. vdk siddhi Siddhi-vidyas. 240. i . 113. 238. Kamala and. 154. 155. 286. 56. 16-17 Satkarmadipika. skulls and. snakes Sesa. 60. 96. 56. 184 s'antd s'akti. 250 shrines: Bagalamukhi's. 243-45. 63. 241. vdbanas of.sannyasi. 164-65. 24. 171. 125. 73. Matarigi and. 78. 9. 169. 161-62 self-sacrifice. 238Chinnamunda and. 193 severed heads. Chinnamasta and. 112. 236. Chinnamasta and. 112. Bagala6 I2 2 n mukhi and. 286. 60 seed mantras. 241. Tara' and. mantras and. 225 Sat-cakra-krama-vasini. 2 5 7 n 8 4 . 35-36 tatapatha-brabmana. Rati and. 90. tongue of. 241. 161. 219 Savasana. 160. 197. 4 8 . 172. in dhydna mantras.3 . . 96. 218. 154-55 sexuality. 88. defined. 23. 34 Sdradd-tilaka-tantra. Tara and. Bhairavl's. 243-44. 169. 201-6.153. defined. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. See also auspiciousness saumya. defined. 87-88.153-54. 74. 169-70. 16. Dhumavati and. Chinnamasta's. 56 sat-karmdni. 54. 146-55. 221 Siddhantacara. 46. 286 saubhagya. 42. 248 Sarvarupa. 275ni6 Savaresvari. 151-52. defined. 230.158. 148. 67-68. Bhairavi and. hair of. 286. 211-12 Sarva-sisira-devi. 21. . in yantras. 2 243-44. 191. 204. 16. 240-41 Shaw. 42. 148-49.248 229. Kali and. 6. defined. 56. 166. 207. 137 santi. 138 Sataksi. Matarigi and. 118. 23. Tripura-sundari and. 183. Kali and. Tarapith and. sadhana. 118. yoni. 47-48. Bhairavi and. 150. 286 siddhis. 117-18.sadhakas and. 229 Saptasati. panca tattva ritual and. 98. 55-57. 68. 165 Siddha-kall. 144. 241-46 sexual intercourse. 244. asana. Visnu and. See also magical powers. 100. Chinnamunda's. 48 siddhas. Bhairavi and. Mahavidyas'. 118. See also maithuna sattvic.

Brahma Sundara. 17-18. 62. 121. 138 stambhana. 153. 134. 48. 117-18. 238. 153-54. 96. 217-18. 79. 123. 102 Smasana-kall. 153. 195. 179. 88-89. ii. 21. 17-18. 243-44. 232. ndma stotras. 179. 238. 22-38. 62. 196. 63. 153. 135. defined. and. 206 Sri. 4 7 48. 112. 171 smasana sadhana. 100-103.INDEX Sila-devi. 225-26.119-20. 34-35. 286 sthula. 242-44. defined. 174. 245. 120 sound seeds. 124. 113. 21. 74. 23. SS. 186. gunas and. 2 7 1 ^ 8 Smasanalaya-vasinI. 153. 14. 226-28. 117. order in Mahavidyas. See Tripura-sundari Surya. defined. lotuses and. 62.100. Indra and. Bhairavl and. 236. 9. Bhairavl and. 171 Smrti. 226 soma. 38. See also Tripura-sundari srstikrama. Parvati and. 96. 169. 126. Rudra and. 78. 248 Siva (feminine form). yoni io 286. 86. 30. 230. Sodasi and. 203. 98. 68. 152-53. 243. Sri and. 129 as Kapalika. 156-57.yoginis and. Chinnamasta and. 21. 75. 230. Brahma and. 11. 58. reality and. 227-29 Srividya. 93 sound.30. 1 1 . 122-28. 199. 119-22. 244. 247. 286. 119. 209. 11. 92 s'ukla ekddas'i. 126-27. 11. 104. 286. mantras and. cult.11. lirigams. 16. Kamala and. 117. 180 sukla paksa. Tripura-sundari and. 141. 46. 86-88. 76. 4^i Kamala and. 180-82. 101. 73-76. 235. 243. 286. 174. 137. 286.phala. 127 Srstisarhharakarini. 121 s'ula. 58 Sraddha. 249. 114. 185. 38. Annapurna and. 100. i n . 245. 197. 38. 202. 154. Kali and. 195-96. 153-54. 149. 138 Sumbha. 119. 17. See also serpents Sodasi. 257n84. 16 Silappadihdram. skulls and. 159. 9. kundalini and. 112-15. 148. 238. sound and. 138 srdddha. sddhakas and. 159-60. defined. Kamakhya and. 39-41. 129 susumnd nddi. sexual intercourse and. 213-15. Songsten gampo. 17^. sahasrandma stotras Subandhu. 135. 25. frightening nature of. 138. 9. 140. hymns to. 44-45. 46. 112-21. 56 Sundari. defined. See also severed heads Smasana-bhairavi. 225. Tara and. 186. ^> 108. 11. Visnu and. 56. insddhand. Bhairavl and. illustrations. 286 . 47. Bagalamukhi and. 5. 159-60. 78. Tripura-sundari and. 114-15. 138 snakes. 96. as model for women. 57. 48. See also Tripura-sundari Soma. 254nn8. n o . defined. 63. 180. 89. 153. sexual intercourse and. Kali and. Sati and. 112. 232. 71. Bhuvanesvari and. 286 Sri Vaisnavism. 7 5 76. 57. 2551122. 6 Siva. 229. 153. seed syllables Sphota. 119. 225. 37. See bijas. i n . 246. Siva and.15. 253H4. 2 5 9 ^ . Sakti and. Tripura-sundari and. 134. 135-36. Kali and. 286. 35> 2 Matarigi and. 104. Dhumavatl and. 248. 154. 246. cakra. 73. 126. iconography and. 138. 2. 122-28. 230 Smasana-vasinI. 238. 62. kula. worship of. 195. 24. 73. 80. 286 stotras. 141. 246. 2 1551^129.12. Matarigi 2 Srl-Laksmi. 62. 232. 136. defined. 229-30. 35 Sivananda. 88. 79-82. Siva and. 175 Sniti. 286 221. 246 Sri-siikta. 104. 32. 11. 38~4i. 125. 11.186-87. 238. as Kalki. 14849. 238. 149. 134. defined. 12. 79-79. Chinnamunda and.4 1 . 62. 42. Dhumavatl and. in yantras. Karpurddi-stotra. 104. 29. 176. 161. 11. 153. 135. See also hymns. 4 0 . 62. 201. 238. 169-70. Kamala and. yantra of. 121 skulls. See also Kamala. 229. 230 Sivaduti". defined. Tara and. 207. 164. 226 pujd and. yoga and. n. yoni. 17. Sri cakra and. 48. 196. 1 1 . 176. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 150. 67-68. 151 Siti: defined. defined. mantra. 207-8. 56. LaksmI sri. lotuses and. and.115. 225. cakra. 121.

106. 140. rituals in. 126. 44. 122. 39. severed heads and. 234. 18. 255nn29. 14. 16. 74-75. 16. 100. Bajresvaridevi's. 228. 42-43. 287. 250. 97. Chinnamasta and. defined. blood and. 148. I I O 245. 90. 95. 245. Green. 170. frightening nature of. Caraidevi-mata's. 286 Svatantra-tantra. iconography of.guna. worship tdntrika(s). 75-79. 153. 98. 101. skulls and. 49-55. defined. 46. 165. 25511^2. 245. 96.102-4. 9. death and. 49. 164. 286 Tantraloka. 108-9. corpses and. I 0 : 253n4. 108-9. defined. 61. 97. 80. Tamasi. 2. 159 svadhisthdna cakra. 11. 100. 153. cremation grounds and. creation and. 49. serpents and. 286 Tagore. 238. 50. yoga and. Rati and. 2 7 8 ^ 9 . gunas and. 102. 102. 17. consciousness and. 100-103. 21. 106. 16. > 244. 92-100. 126. 237. 16. 247. I J I > 43> 246. 105-6. reality in. 61. 153. 240. 100. defined. 98. White. 243-44. 83. Kali and. Chinnamasta's. Bagalamukhi's. defined. 199. 106. 103. 103.i2. 102-3. 100. 100. 109. mantras. 97. 127. blood offerings to. 114. 41. 54-55. 53-54 Tara. Mataiigi and. 15-18. 15-16. 220. 101-2. maternal aspects of. 61. 105. 105. 96-97. 243-44. defined. 98. 21. 75. rituals and. See also lefthanded tantric worship. 93. Brahma and. 11. 104. 42. 2 tantric worship. 114 98. defined. 14. Tibet and. 36. 102. 286. 16. 103-4. 59. 20. 151. '< dhydna IIO Dhumavati's. pollution and. 96. 100. Visnu and. 245. 287 Tantrism. 103-5. 113. as demon slayer. defined. 241. Siva and. 104-5. as Rama.I I . 99. 51. knowledge and. worship of. 185-87. 287 temple pujd. 96. in Hinduism. Durga's. 108. 97. defined. I I O . 93. 144. no. 9. 96. Durga Saptasati's. temples to. 92. 98. no. hair of. 108-11. 9. 16. 214. 188. yantra of. 287. Kamakhya's. 15. 139-40. cakras temples. 41. Bagalamukhi and. 54. 172. Buddhist. in Buddhism. 80. lotuses and. 101-2. yoni pujd and. Tara's. Laksmi's. lotusea in. 62.panca tattva ritual and. Bhairavi and. goddesses in. cults. 98. 94. 153. 137. 100. 100. 5 Kama and. defined. 98. 197. 30. 212 tamas. 206. blood offerings and. pujd. 56. hymns to. Sati and. 97. 243. 100. 100. 9. symbolic significance of. 49. 207. 98. I Q 8. 104. 61. 242. 141. 242. 164. 100-101. 253m. 108. IOJ. 164-65. 29. 16. 287 tattvas. n o . Kurukulla. 7. 70.n. 55. 230 tdmasic. 15. 95. 100. 37. 61. 98. Kali's. 93. 202-5 30. 100-103. Sati and. 58. 49. offerings to. 49-50.INDEX Susumnasvarabhasini. 47. 54. 76. defined. 96-103. illustrations. Kamala and. 46. Kall-bari's. 286 Tantrasara. 42-43. 182. 243-44. 93. 202. 231 tattva. Kali and. 56. 249. 63. n o . 105-6. 35. 106. 102. 235. 245. 34 Taraplth. iconography in. 90. Dasamahavidyas'. 96. Rabindranath. 15. 15. 9. 234. 86. 78. 126. 93. texts. 76. Mahavidyas and.' 8> I0 I I O > 202. 93.I I . origin myths of. 98. 38. 287. 98. 47. 50. 12. destruction and. 106. 16. 251. 254nn8. 186. 257n84. 34. Sila-devi's. 14-15. ioi. 48. 250. and. Camunda's. n o . 164. 98. 102. 152. n. 100. boons and. spirituality and. 97. 250. Naina-devi's. I I O . Bhuvanesvari and. 147. 96. ^> io 108-9. 70-71. 233. 21. 139. 100-101. 15. sadhana and. as Great Goddess.i5. as consort. 105. 76. 94. 16-17. 25. 18. no. 50. 94. 95. 76-78. cults in. 3. 63. 108. 236. 50. 48 svarupa. 28. 20. 182 tdndava dance. 100. 9. 108. 28. . 141. Maihar-devl's. 83. 92-100. 61. 233. Kamala's. 163. 136. I I I . sexual intercourse and. 92-111. 240. sava sadhana and. cremation fires and. 105. 23. 230 mantras. 100 Tarini. tongue of. paths in. 248 Taraka. Tripura-sundari and. order in Mahavidyas. 2. 50. 108-11 Tdra-:antm. 76. 230 Tantra. 96.9. 95-96. 102. 207-8. 75 Tantras. 37. 152. 174. 106. 76. 23. 50. 238. 244. 15. Jvalamukhl's.

119. 23. 221 temples {continued) 61. 32. gods and.121. 43. 29. 92-100. 4. 117. 2 5 8 ^ 7 Uccista-matarigini. 197. 117. 115. 208. 137 112. §odasI Trisariku. 134. 114. 287 Upa-vidyas. yoni. 162 trimurti. 95. 200. 106. Sarasvatl's. Bagalamukhi in. 7> 9> ! 5 ' i88. 248. 211-12 Tulaja-devI. 117. mantras of. 207. 120. 119-21. 2. corpses and.i2 Tripurd-rahasya. frightening nature of. 119. 120. as Parasurama. mythology of. 118. m. 229-30 vajra. cosmic order and. hymns to. 138 28. Sarasvati and. Tripura-sundari's 119 Treti Yuga. defined. 120. order in Mahavidyas. Matarigi's. lirigams. 14. 138. 198 Trikdyavajra-yogini.125. in Nepal. 287 Vaisnavacara. cosmic functions and. 8 8 8 n o . 112-21. defined. 115. 32. 105. 9. 14. 115. Bhuvanesvari and. as Nrsirhha. 81-83. 39-40. 68 updsand paddhati. 115. 117. 41. See Bamakhepa vamana. 216. 202. 14. 2 5 5 ^ 2 . 182. 121. 117. 122.Tara's. 114. 15. 230. triadic nature of. 198 U?as. 137 Ugra-kall. 246. 131. 98. Kali and. 48. 241. 100. sound and. Matarigi and. Kali's. Tripura-sundari's. 35. Laksml's. 112-13. 102. yantra of. 112-13. 39. worship of. defined. 287. dhyana mantras. 56 Uddis'a-tantra. 197. consciousness and. 170. 118. 124. Durga's. 213. 35 turmeric. 125. 98. 229. 248. tongue of. 161 Vajra-yogini.3 i6 INDEX temples to. 57. Bagalamukhl's. 188. 118. 116.116. 37. sadhana and. ^ . 35. 174.122-28. 254 nn9. 214. 108. 196-97 vdmd. 62. defined. 253n4. 115. 71. 287 valga. 120. 213. 20 Turner. 62. 238. Victor. 143. auspiciousness 2 2 I 2 of. 43. 194. 118. 254n . yoni pujd and. 32. 87 Vdmakesvara-tantra. 114. 54. defined. iconography of. 81. 115. avatdras of. 48. 12021. 197. 196-97. 287 Tirumantiram (Tirumular). 120-22. 112. Vamacara. 146. 100. Dhumavati's. sakti. See also leftover offerings Uccista-candalinI. 49. 114 titbis. LaksmI and. Rudra and. as demon slayer. 118-19. defined. cakras and. 56. 123-24. 245 tongue(s): Dhumavati's. 193. ° i anthropomorphic images of. 116. Brahma and. 25. 180 tirtbas. 114. 119. roles of. 120. 197 Vaisnava. fertility and. 187. 112-13. 274m Udddmara-tantra. 113. 108-9 tilaka. 1 1 2 21. defined. 134 vdhanas. Indra and. 118 Tripura-sundari. 175 . 115. 38. 197. 41. 129. n. lotuses and. 287 Tripura. 48 Vaisnavi. 67. 114. 198-99. 222. 138 upa purdnas. 122-23. 125. no Uma. 119. 193-94. 287. 116-17. 138 Vagesvari. 116-17. 117. defined. 287. Durga and. hair of. 2 5 5 ^ 3 . defined. 27. 120. 246. 100 Ugra-tara. 205. 233. 218. 206 uccdtana. 112. 112-14. 287. See also Lalita.142. See also specific names Tibet.122- Uddiyana. 45. Visnu and. 120. 117. 4 3 44. 114. 136. 116. cults. 116. 112. reality and. sakti and. 287 Todala-tantra. 120-21. 119. 120. 113-14. 188. 171. sexual desires and. Tantrism and. 114. illustrations. 114-20. 112. 9 Vajra-varahi. 43 Tripura-bhairavi. defined. 196-97 Valgamukhi. Bagala- mukhi and. Rajarajesvari. names of. defined. 217 Uccista-matarigl. 46. 112. 112-29. 56. 122. 112. 20. 112. 117. 125. 120 Tripura-bala.113. 117-19. 118-19. 117-19 Vamakhepa. 117. Siva and. 161 vdk siddhi. Tara in. 178. 122. skulls and. See also left-handed tantric worship Vama-kall. 287 uccista.

39. sexual imagery in. 134. 42-43 worship. rites. 39. period. 136. 57. Dussaha and. Brahma and. rewards from. 232. 11. 243. 163-66. of Kali. 1 5 1 Vijnana-bhana-rupini. 252 I 9 2 ) 195. 138 Vasall. 174. 97. 287. 195. Durga in. of women. defined. Matarigi's. Kill's. lotuses in. sadhana. 179.15. See also left-handed vfm. 81. 287. 2 7 9 n 5 6 . 287. 97. 21. Chinnamasta's. 151 vetdlas. avatdras of. 138 VilasinI. 221-22. 175 voodoo. 46. 238. Bagalamukhi's. See also mantras Vidyas. as demon slayer. Ananta and. of Tripurasundari. 24-25. 32. 86. mantras. 227. 207. 169. 202. 3. Sati and. 108-11. 40-41. 32. of Bhuvanesvari. 57. of Bhairavi. 94. 140. 140. 236 vidvesa. in yantras. 137-39. 247-50. gurus and. 112-21. 90. 22. 247-50 Woodroffe. defined. defined. of goddesses. 139. 1 1 7 . 108. 11. 246-50. Bhuvanesvari's.> " 7 . 56 Dhumavati as.INDEX Vamana. 44-45. 160 Varuna. 76. 108. dharma and. 46. 2 2 6 2 tantric worship. 178. 255^122 Varahi. 138. worship of. 246. 108. independence of. of SodasI. 12 5. 131 Visvasdra-tantru. 92 Vasikarana. 3. 248 Visnu-purdna. 136-40. 60 Vikaralini. 86. 46. Sri-LaksmI and. 1 3 6 . 60 vidya (knowledge). defined. 1 3 7 . 171-72. 20-22. 235. 230. 3. Indra in. of Chinnamasta. of Tara. 234 sadhana. 108. 18384. 213. Brahma in. 198-99. John. 190. 139. 83-84. 96-97. 118. 21. 174. 1 4 7 . Matarigi and. 83. 138. 6-7. Tara and. 51. 46. 116. 183-86. 77! Kama in. Bagalamukhi and. 187. 137 viparita rati. 49-55. 3-5. pollution and. 247 Vdsavadattd (Subandhu). Dhumavatl and. pujd. 29-30. 14. stereotypes of. 142. 243. ipi-2. of Mahavidyas. 14 Vasanta. 139. of Kamala. 108. 176. 182women: as gurus. 242. reality and. 68. 16. 138. 25. 138. Rudra in. 246. 249. 229-30. 46. 180. Bhuvanesvari and. 34-35. 138. See also knowledge vidya (mantra). 46. 56 Vidya.23 Vamana-purdna. 117 vasya. 189. Laksmi in. 190. 180. 147-48. roles of. hair of. Kali and. 172. Rati in. 103. 287 Viraratri. 41. patterns of. yoni pujd and. 93 widow(s). 106. 287 Yama. 59-60. Bhairavfs. 84. 56 vidvesana. 204. 108. tantric worship yaksas. 51-54. 103. 96-97. 140. 6. 46. 227-28. 108. SodasI and. 241- . 138. ms'ava 193. 46. Kamala and. 138. 242. 170. 46. 34 White Tari. 226. 46. 106. 9> 3 . 140. 105 Vrta. of Dhumavatl. 257n72. 248 Vrksamadhyani-vasini. 79. 200. 5. 187. 136. 46. reality and. 179. 163. 169 Vedic: literature. Dhumavati's. 146 vistardsana. 198-99. 143. Tripurasundari and. 78. 144. 138. 105 Vasuki. gods in. 58. 56 Visvarupa. 136-40. 58. 75. 138. 227. offerings from. 108-9 Vasudha. 57. defined. creation and. 287. Sita as model for. defined. sadhakas and. 48 Varaha. Vasistha. 62.138 Vedacara. Vayu. defined. 46. 243. 187. 21. cosmos and. 151. 3. as Mahadevi. Vedic. 73 visuddha cakra. 228. 146. 62. life cycles of. 57. 195. 1 2 1 . 180. of Matarigi. cakras in. 88 purdnic. 139. 287 yantra(s). 255^122. 139. 114. 81. Mahavidyas'. 229-30. 96. 37-38. 255n25. 247. 148 Visnu. 174. of Laksmi. 204. panca tattva ritual and. 229-30 Varnini. 89. 97. Kotavl and. 2 5 7 ^ 4 Vijaya. 76. 48 Vedas. 215-16. 220-22. 138. n. Bhairavi and. 187. 166. 204 Vrhad-yoni-tantra. 227. 27. 150. of Bagalamukhi.

76. 201. 197. Sakti in. 138.puja.3 i8 INDEX yogini(s) (female practitioners). 172. 118. 157. 88. 244. Sri's. 140. 121. 248 yantra(s) (continued) 43. 49. 140. 200. Great Goddess as. 249. 140. 287 Yogini-tantra. 56. yantras and. 197 Yogini. 287 yoginis (female beings with magical powers). 122-28. 11214. 137. Siva and. 243 Yudhisthira. 17-18. 158. 236. Kamala and. 97 Yogamargapradayini. 115. s'aktis in. 221. yonis and. 188. Tara and. 287. 120. 198. 139. 71. 154 Yoganirata. 248. 154 yoni(s). See also Krta Yuga . defined. 84 Yugas. 137. defined. 169. 154 yogi(s). Dhumavati's. 16-17. 160. Bhairavl and. 154 Yogamayl. 247-48. 159. 248. 118. Sari's. 141. 154 Yoganandapradayini. Tripura-sundari's. Tara's. Matarigi and. 13-9. 138-39. 243. Visnu in. 137. 140. 235. 17. tantric. 243 yoga. Sarasvati in. 137. Bagalamukhi and. 36. 139. Bhuvanesvari and. 55-56. Bhairavl and. kundalini. 243. 136. 47. 101. Tripurasundari and. 204. defined. 154. 154 Yogamaya. 124. Matarigi and. 17. 80. 243 Yoni-tantra. 57. 138. Kali and. Siva in.

Dark Visions of the Terrible and Sublime in Hindu Mythology. and The Sword and die Flute: Kali and Krsna. .DAVID KINSLEY iv is Professor of Religion in M a c M a s t e r University. C a n a d a . He is the a u t h o r of Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition.

It a r g u e s thai a l t h o u g h playful t h e m e s p e r v a d e m . cultic activity m a y n o t be r e d i u ed to play. P a r v a t I . In identifying the t r a n s c e n d e n t d i m e n s i o n s of a n d K a l i . t h e r o l e o l p l a y i n r e l i g i o n s i nil i n g e n e r a l a n d K r s n a c u l t in p a r t i c u l a r . and the Matrkas. < ul tit It also points to e x a m p l e s of divine a n d p l a y in n o n . transported m e n to the "othei d e m o n s t r a t e s thai. Dark V i s i o n s ol t h e Terrible and the Sublime in 11 i i n In M y t h o l o g y I n ira< i n g t h e s p e c i f i c a l l y r e l i g i o u s d i m e n s i o n s o l t h e m y t h o l o g i e s of two of t h e most p o p u i a i I l i n d u d i ities. whcthei s h o r e " ol spiritual l u l l i l h n e n t . l ) u r g a . S u a . T h e r e are s e p a r a t e < 11 si p i e r s d e v o t e d to L a k s m i . S a r a s w a t i . .i< < e n d i n g t o t h e i r m a i n d e v o t e e s . K r s n a a n d K a l i .mi e s a n d r o l e s o l t h e g o d d e s s e s a n d a l s o i n t e r p r e t s t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f ea< i s g o d d e s s within H i n d u i s m I a< li g o d d e s s is d e a l t w i t h sis an i n d e p e n d e n t m y t h o l o g y . c u l t deit) with a c o h e r e n t ol h e i o w n . T h e Hindu Goddesses I h e w o r k d e s i i ihes t h e m a i n a p p e a l . O t h e r ( h a p t e r s d e a l with g o d d e s s e s in Vcdi< literature. the ten M a h a v i d y a s a n d the village g o d d e s s e s . I he< >logy a n d i n s o m e c a s e s . K a l i . g o d d e s s e s associated with geographic al features. It surveys the role of play a m o n g the G o d s . M O T I L A L B A N A R S I D A S S P U B L I S H E R S PR I V A T E D L I M I T E D . ii is u l t i m a t e l y Ki sua r e d e m p t i v e .H i n t h t ti a d i t i o n s T h e S w o r d a n d the F l u t e Kali a n d Krsna. i n s r e l i g i o u s activity in d e v o t i o n to Krsna. Rsidhsi. l i e (or is appre- t h e d i v i n e r e v e a l s itself h e n d e d 1>\ m a n ) i n t e n i i b l e 0 1 s u b l i m e f o r m . he e x p l a i n s IK >V hot II d e n i e s d r a m a t i c ally ex pi ess \ c e n t r a l 11 u t h s of i he H i n d u r e l i g i o u s 11 a d i t i o n .O t h e r B o o k s by David Kinsley T h e Divine Player This h o o k a n a l y z e s the r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n play a n d r e l i g i o n in the c o n t e x t of H i n d u i s m . t h e have both s t u n n e d a n d blessed a u t h o r g r a s p s t h o s e q u a l i t i e s that g e n e r a t i o n s o l H i n d u s a n d h a v e . a n d M a h a d e v l .

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