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."


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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

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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-

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

only the devotee and the goddess (and per- . 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. Tripura-sundari). this goddess becomes the Great Goddess. That is. This relationship between the goddess and the practitioner is individual and personal and in this sense is secret. For the adept. Rajarajesvari (Lalita.INTRODUCTION Fig. contemporary lithograph. i.

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

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

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

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


She is sometimes shown astride Siva in sexual intercourse. Sodas! (also known as Tripura-sundari. in white clothes with no adornments. Chinnamasta stands on the copulating bodies of the goddess Rati and her husband Kama. makes the sign of assurance with another. who is said to nourish the three worlds. her feet and breasts are covered with blood. Visnu." usually sits on a throne of jewels. T h e Kdlikd-purdna says that her eyes roll from intoxication and that she stands on a corpse. the other two jets enter the mouths of two female companions. Rudra. Rudra. unsmiling face. H e r clothes are dirty and her hair disheveled. bow. her primary role in the cosmic process is destruction. light complexion and smiles pleasantly. Dhumavati is tall. the god of sexual lust. H e r four hands hold a rosary and a book and make the signs of fearlessness and granting wishes. "she who has the head of a crane.1 7. She is dressed as a widow. 8. Her complexion is said to be as bright as thousands of rising suns. and her right hands make the signs of giving favors and granting fearlessness. Some descriptions say that the four gods who support her pedestal are Brahma. Lalita. and rides a crow or is seated on a chariot. with a pale complexion and a stern. has a quarrelsome nature. and Rajarajesvari) is a beautiful young girl of sixteen with a red complexion. In one hand she holds a club. and she is naked. and Yama. Bhuvanesvari. She wears a garland of skulls and clothes made from the skins of demons she has killed. and arrows. goad. They in turn are lying on a lotus or sometimes a cremation pyre. 4. copulating with him as he lies beneath her. She often stands in the midst of a cremation fire. She is hungry and thirsty. which is sometimes in the midst of a body of water. Bhairavi has a fierce appearance. with which she . Sometimes she is said to sit on a lotus that emerges from the navel of Siva. H e r left hand supports her head on a platter. her breasts long and pendulous. She is toothless. She holds a winnowing basket and sometimes a trident. 5.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 11 ered head. 6. They are on a pedestal or couch supported by the gods Brahma. H e r four arms hold a noose. who is reclining below her. 3. She has a bright. Chinnamasta has cut off her own head with a sword. Her hair is loose. and holds a goad and a noose in the other two. Sometimes Chinnamasta (with her head chopped off) is shown astride Siva. Three jets of blood gush from her neck: one stream enters the mouth of her severed head. H e r breasts are large and ooze milk. and her nose large and crooked. Visnu. Bagalamukhi. holds a piece of fruit in one of her four hands. She is dressed in a yellow sari. and Indra. and her right hand holds the sword with which she cut it off.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Matarigi. like the avataras of Visnu. he said. 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. five to a side. who is the same as Sarasvati. Dhumavatl is Varaha. who appeared after Rama's defeat of the tenheaded Ravana. and Bhuvanesvari is the formless brahman (the absolute). by implication. and so the Great Goddess took the form of Tara to kill him. A s'akta devotee and teacher in Varanasi.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 2I are also associated. Bagalamukhi was created to paralyze enemies. T h e Mahavidyas are on the other two walls. the insistence that. T h e juxtaposition of the two groups suggests that the Mahavidyas are the female counterparts of the ten avataras. drank it. Chinnamasta is Matsya. Chinnamasta took their share of the nectar. Sodasi is Siva. Dhumavatl was created to spread disease. Kamala was created to spread wealth in the world. Kali was created to eat and drink the blood of demons who threaten the world. we might suppose that Dhumavatl spreads disease to punish the wicked and support the moral order. 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. Although this may not seem a very positive cosmic role. 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. K a mala is Visnu. T h e thousand-headed Ravana could be slain only by a woman. and then killed herself so that they were deprived of it. Bhairavi is Rudra. In most cases. Tara is Rama. through her many . the ten avataras are sculpted on two exterior walls. He stated that. Kali is Krsna. was created to defeat the thousand-headed Ravana. was created to spread music and education and to help human beings acquire liberating wisdom (jndna). At the temple at the Ramakrishna M a t h in Varanasi. as we shall see. and Chinnamasta. Tara. Swami Sadhananda Shastri. the Mahavidyas seem only tenuously connected to this type of activity in most tantric and purdnic texts that mention them. Matarigi is Brahma. Sodasi was created to arouse Siva to sexual activity so his creative powers could stimulate the world. for example. according to Swami Shastri. 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. 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. the Mahavidyas were created to play positive functions in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

to immobilize one's enemies. who in turn was told the story . her husband. Their primary role in the story is to overpower an opponent. Siva.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 27 which could be ruinous. If this p i l grimage is not undertaken. Furthermore. In the logic of the Nanda-devi cult. in this case. 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. because her father has not invited her home for his elaborate sacrifice. 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. as we will see below. Both Siva and Daksa become the targets of her anger. a yearly pilgrimage wends its way through many local villages where she is worshiped. 3 9 They do not resemble the avataras of Visnu in either nature or function. in forbidding her to return to her home village. He and his home are cursed and eventually destroyed by Siva and his hosts when Siva hears of Sati's death. and in several instances the Mahavidyas are compared to the Vaisnava avataras. Sri Rama Shankar Tripathi. 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. and this represents her return to her native village. Indeed. Siva is alternately frightened into fleeing and frozen with fear. and so on. is showing her serious disrespect. the goddess will be offended and assume that she is no longer loved and respected. In the cult of the goddess Nanda-devi. the effect they have on Siva underlines this aspect of their nature. 2 . 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. Such implied neglect or indifference would court her wrath. 3 8 A similar situation exists in the story of Satl. this version of their origin only hints at world-supporting characteristics. Although some of the i n dividual Mahavidyas are more strongly associated with magical powers than others. 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. Although other myths concerning individual Mahavidyas suggest their world-supporting function. H e r mait is not fulfilling its duty to her. this version of the group's origin says that the group as a whole grants these powers.

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

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

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

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

T h e Mahavidya Bhuvanesvari has among her many epithets Vaisnavi. 5 0 48 There is also iconographic support for this fourth version of the origin of the Mahavidyas. Kaumarl. They are Brahmani.62). Varahl. She brings forth Kali while confronting the demons Canda and Munda (7. Mahesvari. and Indrani. is created from certain male gods to help defeat the demons. T h e theology of the text is succinct: "Though she is eternal. T h e Mahavidya Tripura-bhairavi. created from Siva.3 8-51). the Mahavidyas' function becomes primarily that of upholding and protecting cosmic order. Kaumarf. Another feature of the third episode of the Devi-mdhdtmya makes it understandable that the Mahavidyas would be thought to arise there. Durga produces several goddesses to help her. the goddess becomes manifest over and over again to protect the world" (12. then. for example. created from Brahma. Later in the battle.12-20). Mahesvari. so it is not surprising that some Hindus think they appear in the Devi-mdhdtmya. T h e third episode. 4 9 61). Narasirhhi. and she agrees. giving rise to the tradition that the Mahavidyas themselves appear in the Devimdhdtmya. We have already seen that other texts compare the Mahavidyas to the avataras. created from the god Indra (8. intoxicated on the blood of their slain victims (8. Vaisnavi. when Durga confronts the demon Sumbha himself. 4 9 T h e y are the same as the names of the Matrkas in the Devimdhdtmya. Mahesvari. in her sahasranama stotra (thousand-name hymn) in the Sdkta-pramoda.32 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP cosmic balance is threatened by enemies of the gods (i i . T h e y are furious warriors and near the end of the battle dance wildly.3-22) and calls upon her again for help in defeating Raktabija ( 8 . During the battle a group of seven goddesses. Brahmani. includes the creation of a group of goddesses who bear certain resemblances to the Mahavidyas. It is also the case that other texts compare individual Mahavidyas to the Matrkas or give them Matrkas' names as epithets. She then absorbs the Matrkas and Kali into herself. and Aindri. created from the manlion avatara of Visnu. In the course of the battle. collectively known as the Matrkas. created from Kartikeya. and Varahl. Varahl. Vaisnavi.32). saying that her battle companions are only her different forms (10. Narasirhhi. 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. Camunda. except that the Sdkta-pramoda substitutes Camunda for Narasirhhi. created from Visnu.2-5). This is very similar to the Vaisnava avatara theology. he challenges her to single combat. has the following epithets: Brahmani. even though they do not. Contemporary religious art typically shows the .

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

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

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

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

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

World maintenance. while Tripura-sundari is usually shown sitting on him). for example. For the most part. are only rarely described in this capacity. Others. However. Versions 4 and 5 cast the Mahavidyas in the familiar role of forms of the goddess Durga or the Mahadevi. Version 1 implies that all the Mahavidyas are associated with magical powers and that they all create conflict among people. Interrelationships among the Mahavidyas As a group. . created by her to defeat demons who have usurped the position of the gods. T h e extent to which individual Mahavidyas are described or featured as world maintainers or demon slayers varies a good deal. for example. the world-maintaining aspect of the Mahavidyas is stressed in versions 4 and 5 but figures only weakly in the worship. mythology. Versions 4 and 5 differ markedly from versions 1-3 in stressing the world-maintaining function of the Mahavidyas. Group versus individual character of the Mahavidyas. If there is an internal coherence to the group that explains how its members are related to each other. with the exception of K a l i . the Mahavidyas present a curious collection of goddesses. is strongly associated with these characteristics. and some of my informants have speculated about the question. and symbolism of the individual Mahavidyas. As was just noted.3« T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP and Tripura-sundari. Finally. Kali is well known as a demon slayer and is often featured in the role. they dominate him (both K a l i and Tara are shown standing on the supine body of Siva. the extent to which the individual Mahavidyas are characterized this way varies a good deal. it is not readily apparent. These hints and speculations cover a wide range of possibilities. There are hints in some texts. but Kamala hardly at all. world maintenance is a minor theme in stories of the individual Mahavidyas. 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. such as Dhumavatl and Bagala. Bagalamukhi. 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.

this is clearly the case. Tara (v. Chinnamasta (v. 2. an explanation of the interrelationship of the Mahavidyas as centered in their relationship to Siva breaks down outside these three versions. 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. T h e choice of the ten goddesses who make up the Mahavidyas as illustrative of this idea. one would have thought that some of the more popular goddesses. 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. Moreover. and Kamala (v. 12). What continues to be perplexing.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 1. One Mahavidya is often explicitly equated with another or with several others. however. or strongly associated with Siva. such as Durga and Sarasvati. is not obvious and still begs the question concerning the essential interrelatedness of the group. among the names of Bhuvanesvari in her sahasrandma stotra from the Rudraydmala are Matarigi (v. 19). 15). and to some extent Tripura-sundari and Tara. that Dhumavatl is a widow and has no consort (although. If the intention of Mahavidya mythology and iconography is to illustrate the idea that the goddess takes many forms. T h e problem here is that when we look at the Mahavidyas individually. 20). T h e emphasis on the independence . and that Kamala is the wife of Visnu. 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. Kamala. 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. one will find all forms inhering in each particular form. Indeed. To take just one example. Sundari (v." that "they are all one." Indeed. the goddesses who make up this group are not very well known. 10). W i t h the exception of K a l i . we find that some of the Mahavidyas have a stronger affiliation with Siva than others. 60). as we shall see. then. would have been included in the group. Ugra-tara (v. 10). 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. not Siva. one of her individual origin myths relates her to Satl). Kalika (v. some of the Mahavidyas are obscure. as we shall do below. Bhairavi (v.

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

Kamala. It is possible to categorize some individual Mahavidyas under the three functions of creation. corresponding to the functions of the male trimurti (the great male deities. others with destruction. maintenance. in her role as maintainer of the cosmos. Kali and Kamala are members of the well-known s'akta trimurti. "having three forms": Brahma. such as Bhuvanesvari and Sodasi. which the goddess oversees or embodies. That is. and destruction. in her creative aspect the Great Goddess manifests herself as Mahasarasvati (corresponding to Brahma). Indeed. 6 3 The problem with this particular attempt is that the last mentioned of the Mahavidyas. preservation. is thereby associated with destruction. and as destroyer of the cosmos. and destruction.T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP 4i cle are minimized in the mythology of the Alahavidyas. the destroyer). a contemporary practical guide to Tantra for aspirants says: "Mahamaya becomes Sodasi and creates the world. 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. exactly the opposite of her character: she is traditionally associated with abundance and fertility. the maintainer. then she becomes Bhuvanesvari and maintains the world. such as Laksmi. Tripura-sundari represents the creation of time." 6 2 Another author supports this idea. It has been suggested to me that the Mahavidyas might be divided along these lines. others with creation. T h e other Mahavidyas also do not fit at all neatly into this scheme. Siva. That is. the creator. This scheme also. and so on. such as Kali and Tara. 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. however. and then she becomes Chinnamasta to destroy the world. as Mahakali (corresponding to Siva). the tripartite cosmogonic formula that . as Mahalaksmi (corresponding to Visnu). then. some of them are associated with preservation. 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. Few of the individual Mahavidyas. seems unsatisfactory as the key to understanding the interrelationships of the group. Tara represents the first manifestations of creation. Visnu. that they represent symbols of the cosmic process of creation. are primarily images of cosmogonic functions. 5.

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

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

Again. and Bhuvanesvari) illustrate the static aspect. such as SarasvatI. certain Mahavidyas are difficult to classify as either fierce or peaceful. while Sodasi. 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. and sometimes Chinnamasta) might illustrate the dynamic aspect of the goddess. or of the saumya type. Tripura-sundari. 10. and Bhairavl might be included under the saumya forms. Tara. while the others (Dhumavatl. 9. Apart from the fact that I have not found any texts that apply this schema to the Mahavidyas. 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. but she is not actually said to be fearsome or terrible. some more fierce than others. It is true that the Mahavidyas include examples of both the raudra and saumya types. for example.44 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP scheme. such as Camunda. Bhairavl also presents somewhat of a problem. if the primary purpose of selecting ten goddesses to illustrate this dichotomy were the rationale for the Mahavidyas. Kamala. Bhuvanesvari. Others seem ambiguous vis-a-vis such a dichotomy. 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. are omitted from the group. but as a structure to explain all ten of the goddesses the polarity remains unsatisfying. while this schema might be helpful in suggesting how certain s'akta theological themes are reflected in the Mahavidyas. Bagala. for although her name means "the frightful o n e . it is strange that certain goddesses who are unambiguous examples of either the raudra type. Matarigi. Dhumavatl is described as quarrelsome and has inauspicious characteristics. 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. " her descriptions often depict her as peaceful. and Dhumavatl m i g h t be included under the raudra forms of the Mahadevi. Kali. Matarigi. Chinnamasta. Bagala. . Tara. Bhairavl. Also. Kamala. Sometimes an individual Mahavidya has several different forms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pardvidyd. Durga is referred to as Mahavidya twice (1." four times in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Atmavidya. Durga. 5 8 4 ) . Vijnanabhanarupini. identify the goddess with knowledge and wisdom: Mahabuddhi. or discovered within. 6 4 3 ) . and a group of female beings called the Vidyas are described attending the god Brahma (2. the goddess grants the merchant Samadhi liberating knowledge (vidyd) (13.116 Several of the epithets included in the Lalitd-sahasrandma. "she whose form is intellect.11.15). and in this form to manifest herself in different goddesses: Gariga. In the Brahma-vaivartapurdna. or the Great Goddess. a famous goddess hymn. Prajnatmika. 1 1 7 T h e Devi-bhdgavata-purdna frequently refers to the principal goddess of the text as Vidya or Brahmavidya. "intelligence" (no. T h e difference is only one of means and ends. "intellect. 4 4 5 ) . the goddess is said to be supreme knowledge. 11* In the concluding scene of the Devi-mdhdtmya. the ten Mahavidyas are the ten great mantras by means of which knowledge is gained.60 T H E MAHAVIDYAS AS A GROUP sociation between goddesses and knowledge throughout s'akta literature. furthermore. "she who bestows knowledge" (no. We find many textual references to goddesses. Durga is also associated with buddhi and is called Buddhirupa. and Jnanada. "consciousness.21) and as Vidya (1. 253). 549). "she who is wisdom itself" (no. "great intelligence" (no. ." 1 1 5 Durga is also identified with cetand.58 and 11. 261)." in the Devi-mdhdtmya (5.20).16). Mantras are the means to realizing the goal of knowledge. that her identification with vidyd in these verses is related to liberating knowledge. Laksmi. In the Devi-mdhdtmya. "she whose form is a mass of knowledge" (no. 583).13). 2 2 3). knowledge and intellect or other mental attributes related to knowledge and wisdom. In this sense. In the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. M a t i . Mahavidya. 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. A female being named Vidya is mentioned as a member of Parvati's entourage (3." 1 1 8 Perhaps the earliest examples of female beings bearing the name Vidya are found in the Mabdbhdrata.8). "the knowledge of brahman (the highest reality). awakened. or associated with. "great knowledge" (no. Durga is also associated with buddhi.44 and 4. "knowledge" (no. It is clear. Vidya.221. "knowledge of dtman ('self or soul)" (no. and Sarasvao". as identical with. Savitri.

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

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


PART II The Individual Mahavidyas .

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

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

I think. and she smiles. it is explicitly stated that they arise from K a l i when Siva wishes to leave her. as it were. when the cult of the Mahavidyas arose.68 KALI She is like a mountain of collyrium. her limbs are adorned with ornaments. Sati takes on the form of a goddess who resembles K a l i before actually multiplying herself into the ten Mahavidyas. the ^ / M a h a v i d y a . as the ddi Mahavidya. including the Mahavidyas."8 Kali's place as the primary Mahavidya. 6 Furthermore. and Upa-vidyas. are different forms that K a l i assumes. and by the late medieval period. her hair is disheveled. 5 In the origin account given in the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. She is typical. 7 The Saktisamgama-tantra proclaims Kali's priority explicitly: " A l l the deities. As we shall see below. four-armed goddess with disheveled hair and a garland of skulls (which is just how Kali is usually described). Although Kali is not specifically named. She is eating raw flesh. Her character. she is naked. Sati first turns into a dark. the first among the goddesses. 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. according to some interpretations K a l i reveals or symbolizes the ultimate goal suggested or implied in the other Mahavidyas. the primordial or primary Mahavidya. It is quite clear. 4 In some cases it seems apparent that the other Mahavidyas originate from Kali or are her differing forms.' Although the order. Kali is always included and is usually named or shown first. Given Kali's central role among the Mahavidyas. often helps to uncover the meaning of some of the other goddesses in the group. attributes. naked. And her symbolic meaning. 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. She has three red eyes. and names of the Mahavidyas may vary. She is also affirmed in many places to be the most important of the Mahavidyas. In one of the accounts of the origin of the Mahavidyas as a group. and nature are shared by the others. she is drunk on wine. it is important to consider in some detail her history prior to her association with them. K a l i appeared quite early in the H i n d u tradition. frightening. and she is awful to look at because of her emaciated body. and in her right hand she holds a freshly severed head. is reinforced by the fact that she lends the group as a whole her own characteristics. She completes the others. perhaps even paradigmatic. and then creates from herself the other forms. . number. and her abode is in the cremation ground. Siddhi-vidyas. Vidyas. In her left hand she holds a jar full of liquor mixed with meat.

contemporary painting. .Fig. 10. Kali.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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. including both physical and subtle bodies. By means of the body. W i t h the help of a guru. to use his or her own body and knowledge of that body to bring the fractured world of name and . the sadhaka undertakes to gain his or her goal by conquest.

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

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

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

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

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

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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

the bachelor Bhairava (Siva). Jackals are also often shown. Kali's maternal instincts come to the fore. religiously powerful symbol. I have come across a particularly intriguing story about the two. 3 2 In both cases. is similarly located next to a cremation ground. I have also been told that the particular form of Bhairava Siva associated with Tara is Batuk-bhairava. Indeed. and their temples are often established in or near them. Kalighat. For example. That is. 31 This myth is reminiscent of the one in which Siva stops the rampaging K a l i by becoming an infant. K a l i and Tara are consistendy associated with such sites. and he recovers. Tara resembles Kali. she is called Smasana-bhairavi (terrible one of the cremation ground). however. Despite the variations in sequence found among lists of the Mahavidyas. and temples to other deities may be established in or near them. and Taraplth temple. 3 3 In this respect also. Although cremation grounds are generally believed to be sacred places in Hinduism. 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. She suckles him. in both her kvaca (a type of invocation that literally means "armor") and her thousand-name hymn. but has fallen unconscious under its powerful effect. and she becomes quiet and nurses the infant Siva. Tara's epithets also sometimes associate her with the cremation ground. thus saving the world from destruction. Tara in Hinduism is also strongly associated with the cremation ground. Seeing the child. They both haunt cremation grounds. Siva has drunk the poison that was created from the churning of the ocean. Kali's most famous temple. cremation fires are visible in the background. It is common for worship manuals to specify that Tara should be worshiped in the cremation ground. the personified expression of this awesome. There is little doubt that this signifies their preeminent position in the group. particularly insofar as they are described in very similar terms. probably the most famous of Tara's temples. it seems that Tara's position as second only . the milk from her breasts counteracting the poison. Tara appears and takes Siva on her lap. who is an adolescent.102 TARA that connect her with Siva. K a l i and Tara are almost invariably named as first and second. 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. Siva assumes the position of an infant vis-a-vis the goddess. In some depictions of Tara. respectively. The myth begins with the churning of the ocean. In the oral tradition. Tara is sometimes said to be the fire of the cremation pyre itself. is adjacent to one of the largest cremation grounds in Calcutta. That is. usually in the dead of night.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

contemporary lithograph. student. 18. In learning the significance of the mantra. 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. the student first comes to appreciate that the mantra (or yantra) is a full expression of the goddess- .-• TRIPURA-SUNDARl - Fig. Tripura-sundari with the Sri yantra.

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

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

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

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

She has the disk of the moon on her brow and has a smiling face. She is very peaceful and amiable. disc. scissors. appeared in the heavens.Bhuvanesvari She Whose Body Is the World Her complexion is vermillion in color. garland. club. It says that in the beginning the sun. She has a smiling face.1 She is the color of lightning and is seated on a red lotus. In this form she became known as Bhuvanesvari. In this way one should meditate upon the supreme mother goddess. and makes the boon-conferring gesture and the assurance gesture. She has three eyes and is naked. bow. Her breasts are high and firm. Her right foot rests on a jeweled jar. The sun then created the three worlds (lokas or bhuvanas).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. Rsis (sages) offered soma (a sacred plant) so that the world might be created. She has three eyes and wears a crown resplendent with jewels. She has twenty arms in which she holds a sword. the goddess assumed an appropriate form and pervaded and directed the triple world. arrows. or having empowered the sun to do so. or s'akti. conch. "mistress of the world." The author also says that Bhuvanesvari . Having created the worlds. mace. She is adorned with pearls of many colors. spear. In her two hands she holds a red lotus and a bowl filled with jewels. Surya. At that time Sodasi (Tripura-sundari) was the main power. trident. through whom Surya created them.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This symbolizes that Bhuvanesvarl is the inner essence of the created world. Bhuvanesvarl also wears the crescent moon on her forehead. 3 6 She is the world but also transcends it. 21. Himachal Pradesh. sits on a lotus and represents the creation as well as the cause of creation. Benares Hindu University. late eighteenth century. for example. but she is also called. as its source and as its container at dissolution. Bhuvanesvarl. and yet transcends mat world. Tripura-sundari. Varanasi. by Molaram. . which. This suggests a commanding position and also the seat from which creation sometimes takes place. according to an informant in Varanasi. It is a symbol of authority.i42 BHUVANESVARI Fig. in the same hymn. and spiritual masters. Bhuvanesvarl sits on a lotus. 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. Garwahl. and transcendence. represents the power of replenishment. sits on a lotus growing from Visnu's navel. She W h o Wanders in the V o i d . Like many deities. similarly. Bharat Kala Bhavan. and from this powerful and dynamic seat he creates the world. Bhuvanesvarl is called She W h o Wanders in the Physical W o r l d . purity. Brahma. which empowers it to continue to reproduce itself endlessly with renewed vitality.

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

She is possessed by tamas guna and enjoys the world in its state of dissolution. who is white in color.Chinnamasta The Self-Decapitated Goddess Victory to the light of the world. 2 She stands in an aggressive manner with her leg put forward. giver of a good ending to the universe. One should meditate on this goddess who bestows blessings on her devotees. who has the complexion of a red hibiscus flower. who is possessed by rajas guna. her hair is dishevelled and she is drinking the stream of blood gushing out from her own neck. She has three eyes and is adorned with a blue lotus at her heart. who also drinks blood flowing from Chinnamasta's headless body. She is holding her own severed head in one hand and a sword in the other.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 . One should meditate on Chinnamasta. She is naked and happily drinks the blood that gushes from her headless body. She is seated on Rati and Kamadeva who are engaged in sexual dalliance. She happily drinks the blood gushing from the devi's severed neck. To her right is Varninl. On her left is Dakini. who are joined in sexual intercourse. and who holds a sword and a skull cup. and she is rejoicing with her friends Dakini and Varnini. to her whose forehead is lovely with charming locks. with loose hair. She stands on Kama and Rati.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.


and of such disgusting appearance that Visnu has to turn his head away from her lest he become incensed by her. not the cremation ground (although both are places of death). and although in her thousand-name hymn she is associated with the battlefield. Chinnamasta's character is fierce.63. H e r character is usually malevolent. 6 Sometimes she is an opponent of Visnu. disheveled. Although the Chinnamasta image includes an emphasis on sexual activity. the headlessness of the nude figures simply focuses attention on their generative physiology and creativity. naked. If the headlessness of the figures suggests death or self-destruction. or violent. wild goddess Kotavi. Like Tara. she seems quite different in character from Chinnamasta. bloodthirsty. have been suggested as her prototypes because of some peculiarity they share with her. may indicate that Chinnamasta had an ancient prototype in India.32-33) and Bhdgavata-purdna (10.20) describe her as naked. T h e combination of nudity and headlessness. These figures. bloodthirsty. such as being headless. life. usually depicted in stone bas-relief. where she is known as Vajra-yogini (discussed below). some very ancient. Although descriptions of Kotavi emphasize her nudity and wild appearance. however. 4 Several examples have been discovered in India of nude goddesses squatting or with their thighs spread to display their sexual organs. 5 T h e arresting iconographic feature of these images is their sexual organs. it has been suggested. In this myth she tries to protect the demon Banasura. and she seems to be a fierce demoness whose primary role is to terrify or distract enemies during battle. but not necessarily malevolent. who is her son in the Bhdgavata-purdna account. and nourishment (discussed below). Kotavi is usually associated with battlefields and is sometimes included among the lists of Matrkas. H e r typical haunt is the battlefield. certain goddesses. Their headless condition is not the result of subsequent damage but an intentional part of the image. it lacks the force of the C h i n namasta icon. and the Visnupurdna (5. which are openly displayed. she also appears in tantric Buddhism. or images of female beings. One of these is the fierce. often have their arms raised above their bodies and are headless or faceless. Other nude goddess figures have been suggested as possible prototypes of Chinnamasta. and wild. A South Indian hunting goddess called Korravai is similar in name and character to Kotavi. She is fierce. She receives .146 CHINNAMASTA to her appearance as one of the Mahavidyas. the central iconographic characteristic of the goddess is her shocking self-decapitation. 7 she is rarely shown there in her iconography. Although we are unable to find early references to C h i n namasta or evidence of an early cult associated with her. M o r e likely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unhampered by social limits and constraints. 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 usually shown lying on a lotus. They belong somewhere else.-'4 She represents yogic control and repression of sexual energy. T h e chopped-off head also may represent liberation. This interpretation is particularly likely in the Buddhist context. They are "out of bounds. namely. sexual energy. she is called YoginI (female yogi) and Yoganirata (she who practices yoga). she is called Yogamargapradayin! (she who bestows the yogic path. She symbolizes self-control." which is where tantric sddhakas want to get. with a body. 27 . 25 T h e same hymn also calls her Madanatura (she who cannot be overcome by Kama).CHINNAMASTA severed heads also may represent "the forbidden. the other as a symbol of the goddess's embodiment of sexual energy." They are "out of place. In her hymn of one-thousand names. name 751). as is symbolized by her standing on Kama and Rati. name 747). the same position Kali assumes with Siva. There. a particular state of expanded. There are two quite different interpretations of this aspect of Chinnamasta iconography. In her hundred-name hymn in the Sakta-pramoda. sexual force. but sometimes on a cremation pyre. Certainly the most common interpretation of Chinnamasta's standing (or sometimes sitting) on Kama and Rati is that she is defeating what they represent. 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. name 7 5 0 ) . awakened consciousness. 2 6 suggesting her control of sexual desire. One interpretation understands it as a symbol of control of sexual desire." sddhakas can transform themselves. 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." liminal objects. sexual desire. which we will discuss below. "out of bounds. and Yoganandapradayini (she who gives bliss through yoga. which must be achieved before undertaking successful yogic practice. Yogamayl (she who embodies yoga. Yogagamaya (follower of yoga. name 745).

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

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

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

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

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

and x$ j suit of the retained blood is dramatically evident: a new being is io^ . If menstrual blood ^ equivalent of male semen for a woman. the thousand-petaled lotus. her own and those of her two flanking companions. Wh ^ woman becomes pregnant. the kundalini hus been aroused. T h e three jets of downward-flowing blood going into the three mouths. Normally. 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. represents the opened and flowing susumnd nadi achieved by means of spiritual techniques. She is roused by tantric yogjc e x _ ercises. menstrual blood ceases to flow. The power of the upward-flowing kundalini. it transforms all conventional. represent the flow of nectar that drenches the sddhaka after the union of kundalini and Siva in the topmost cakra.160 CHINNAMASTA Like Kama and Rati. in this interpretation represents transcendent consciousness (see also the Buddhist interpretation below).' In some Indian traditions. while Dakini represents the idd nS$ an^ Varninl thepirigald nadi. hits the topmost cakra. and enlightened awareness. ^ e I ^ strual blood is seen as the corresponding sexual fluid of women 0$ 41 release as an expression of sexual power. spi^1 powers. the central figure. limited mental structures. similar to the release of sc^^. Dakini and Varninl. the flow of menstrual blood is believed nify that a woman is fertile and desirous of sex. 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. 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. she^ee^ curled up there in the form of a serpent. T h e retained semen becomes spiritually pote^ e n ^ ergy. and puja. with such force that it blows her head right off. that is. by means of which a male gains expanded consciousness. such asjapa mantra. in the subtle spiritual body. which she holds in her left hand. 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. Chinnamasta. the susumnd nadi.40 But what might be the female equivalent of this? In some cases. the nddis. nydsa. then the retention of mer» s blood might also result in spiritual awakening and power. H e r severed head. habitual. is that they represent the three principal channels. the power of the rising spiritual consciousness. Another related interpretation of Chinnamasta and her two flanking figures.

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

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

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

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

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

. 5 3 T h e only other goddess to be so worshiped is Bhairavl. 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. in making fire offerings to Chinnamasta. Chinnamasta is to be worshiped by the left-handed path alone. 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. one should offer her meat and wine at night.55 T h e Sdkta-pramoda also says that. 5 6 In conclusion. according to both the Mantra-mahodadhih-* and the Sdkta-pramoda. Left-handed worship of Chinnamasta involves sexual intercourse with a woman who is not one's wife. The others are to be worshiped by the right-handed path or by both paths.166 CHINNAMASTA T h e Saktisamgama-tantra stipulates which path is appropriate for worshiping each of the Mahavidyas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

he said. 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." 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. parica tattva ritual. would result in death. and shelter. He also said that Dhumavati is partial to unmarried people and to those who have been widowed. For a married person to do this. These comments are suggestive. he said. 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. It is i m portant to remember. Dhumavati may be understood as a dramatic symbol of all that is socially rejected. He insisted that only unmarried people could withstand her great power and successfully spend a night alone in her temple. 5 8 she forces her worshipers to acknowledge the inherent miseries of existence and thus encourages an indifference to or distaste for the world. who in the form of smoke is ever moving. with minimal food. T h e world renouncer seeks to achieve a frame of mind that does not covet the comforts and joys of the worldly life.184 DHUMAVATI a feeling of wanting to be alone and a distaste for worldly things. According to this priest. that is experienced outside marriage. In most respects these women are living the life of the traditional Hindu world renouncer. with whom she is sometimes identified. a frame of mind in which he or she is content with what comes to hand. according to which it is spiritually transformative to confront what is forbidden. the traditional sannyasi wanders the world. Like Kali. In the logic of the. Whether this solitariness implies and affirms independence is not clear. 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. though. her worship is appropriate for world renouncers. Dhumavati attracts and probably encourages and reinforces a certain kind of independence. Indeed. clothing. never remaining in one place for more than a few days. or solitariness. never still. after the aspirant has left home and family. one text says that Dhumavati wears a "dress like a mendicant's. that the highest stages of the spiritual quest in many traditional H i n d u texts can only be undertaken alone. . Like Dhumavati herself. In this vein.

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

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

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

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


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

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



(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-

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

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

and indeed in the case of almost every Hindu deity. one finds the assumption that worldly benefits. Benares Hindu University. and control other people. for example. rewards can be expected from correct and sincere worship. For uccdtana (upsetting or ruining a person) one should burn the feathers of a crow and a vulture. Varanasi. Similarly. outwit. and special powers may be . of a she-buffalo.200 BAGALAMUKHI Fig. and so on for the other siddhis. in the ancient meditative tradition of Hinduism. by Molaram. he claims. late eighteenth century. Himachal Pradesh. rewards. 33. He explains that every living creature gives off subtle waves that pervade its whole body and permeate the environment it occupies. Bagalamukhi. Bharat Kala Bhavan. and can be detected by dogs and crows. going all the way back to the earliest texts on yoga. These waves linger for awhile after the departure of the creature who made them. 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. 29 30 In the case of each of the Mahavidyas. and with them her devotees can overcome. They seem to have either more-acute senses or extrasensory perception. Bagalamukhi bestows such heightened sensory abilities on her devotees. Garwahl.

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

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

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

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

present. or the spirit of the corpse. 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- . 47 48 49 The "enemy" that Bagalamukhi beats sometimes has animal characteristics. who is so consistently associated with granting magical powers. 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. he [the sadhaka) can go anywhere and see the past. it seems that the sadhaka is interested in gaining access to such a spirit. he tells how he was instructed to deal with the eventuality of the corpse becoming enlivened. 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. A description of sava sadhana by a contemporary adept often mentions the possibility of the corpse reviving or becoming aggressive." He was also warned that the corpse often begins to growl and scream at the sadhaka who is seeking to control it. and future. or through the power of. getting her power. This is the possible connection between Bagalamukhi. controlling. It is in cooperation with. Both in sava sadhana and in the propitiation of Karna-pisacI. the corpse's spirit. this spirit that the adept comes to possess magical powers for overcoming. The Tantrasdra mentions another possibility: a goddess named KarnapisacI. This deity has clear shamanistic overtones. or a preta or bhuta (ghost) associated with the corpse. "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. This particular sadhaka stresses the importance of remaining fearless in such circumstances and facing and overcoming the corpse. She favors the successful sadhaka by coming invisibly to him and whispering in his ear the correct answer to any question. or defeating his enemies. who lives in the heart of a corpse. A central theme in shamanism is the acquisition of a spirit who gives the shaman special or mystical knowledge from the spirit world. Describing his own experience with this ritual. which may involve biting off its protruding tongue before the ghost can devour the adept. which may suggest its ghost or spirit nature.BAGALAMUKHI 205 ual It might be the deity whose mantra he is reciting. 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. The text says: "Ascending her. In Tibetan Buddhist tantric corpse sadhana {chod rites) the adept is warned that if the corpse comes to life it must be subdued. and sava sadhana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this case. he will control women. 12.222 MATANGI tractive to people. and goat meat. although the burning of the crow on the cremation fire might be thought of as a fire offering to Matarigi. and will themselves become like deities. Anyone to whom the ashes are given will become the worshiper's servant. the sadhaka should offer fish. No homa accompanies this recipe. cooked rice. In the Purascarydrnava. meat. If the mantra is recited an additional one hundred times and sandal paste put on the worshiper's forehead. in a cremation ground or at a crossroads. We are told elsewhere that those who recite Matarigi's mantra one hundred thousand times. In this case there is no homa offering. and worship her yantra will get great wealth. he or she will become attractive to the whole world. Meditate on the ashes of the burned crow while invoking Matarigi's mantra one thousand times. milk. 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. and then burn it on a cremation fire. Finally. If salt mixed with honey is offered up in the fire and the mantra is recited 108 times at night. cat meat. wrap the crow in blue thread. 10. We are also told in the same text that to achieve the highest knowledge of the scriptures. 11. to insure the success of their sadhana. Matarigi should be offered uccista. If the sadhaka makes rice powder and with this makes bread and then eats it while reciting the Matarigi mantra. the sadhaka will acquire the power to attract others. and incense to Matarigi to acquire poetic talent and victory over enemies and to become a second Brhaspati (the gods' priest-guru). will be able to control an angry king and his children. worshipers are cautioned to refrain at all times from criticizing women and to treat them like goddesses. offer ten thousand flowers in the sacrificial fire. 26 In the Tantrasara we are told that at night. 27 29 29 . 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. will be immune to the troubles caused by evil spirits.

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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which is identical with the yoni. The Sarvolldsa-tantra of Sarvananda. is the best of all methods of worship. while repeating mantras. or the wife of another. for example. and her face with his face. In this 45 6 47 48 49 50 51 i2 .* 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. 43 44 The Yogini-tantra says that yoni pujd. discusses the downwardpointing triangle. while Matarigi resides in the folds of skin below the navel. and vagina by repeating one hundred mantras of his chosen deity. heart. The Guptasddhand-tantra. her vagina with his penis. the text says. and Siva on its three sides. by washing her feet with water. to worship his wife while she is drunk and lying on a bed. He is to view her as a goddess and. as containing Brahma. In this ritual. breasts. similarly. thus symbolizing the uniting of Siva and Sakti. worship of the vulva. throat. The same text. the triangle is the Great Goddess herself. At the root of the hair of the yoni dwells Mahakall. the abode of all deities. Kali is said to dwell on all three sides of the triangle. should touch her heart with his heart. Some tantric texts also mention ritual worship of a woman preceding sexual intercourse outside the context of the panca tattva ritual. and also most of the Mahavidyas.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. face. navel. 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. In short. The Kubjikd-tantra. Bhuvanesvari and Tripura-sundari are inside it. citing the Vrhad-yoni-tantra. Covering the whole area are Kamala and Kamakhya. directs the adept to worship his wife. Chinnamasta abides inside the hole in the triangle. instructs the sadhaka. Visnu. Another common ritual in which females are revered is kmnaripujd. outside the context of the panca tattva ritual. The text also says that worship of the yoni earns one the merit ordinarily obtained by making arduous pilgrimages to holy places." or holy places). also equates the yoni with sacred tirthas ("crossings. then worshiping her forehead. who emerges from there (perhaps with menstrual flow). Tara is above it. Bhairavl is at its root. The Kdmdkhyd-tantra instructs the sadhaka to worship the goddess in the genitals of his sakti. because the yoni itself contains all their sacred power. the sadhaka is to offer his semen to Siva and imagine the sakti as his chosen deity. specifically certain holy rivers and ponds. and at the end (perhaps deep within) dwells Dhumavatl. prepubescent or virgin girls are offered pujd and fed. citing the Vrhad-yoni-tantra. the symbol of the yoni. At the time of ejaculation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dhumavatl. Tara is Rama. eight—siddhis. vol. 2 2. Biroba encounters seven female deities. Sundari is Parasurama. When the Buddha is included as an avatdra.9 5 . 1986). a regional deity of western India. 3 1 . Madhya-khanda 6 . As follows: Kali is Krsna. 9 2 . Bhairavl.132. the purpose of his incarnation is to delude wicked people so that they will get their just deserts. 91ft". Madhya-khanda 6. Bhuvanesvari is Varaha. Bhuvanesvari to her right (west). supernatural. Tripura-sundari to the northeast. 1 2 4 .78. Madhya-khanda 6 . 4 5 . . Bhairavl to the southwest. Anne Feldhaus (New York: Oxford University Press. Madhya-khanda 6.9 1 .2 6 . Tara is Rama. 30. Madhya-khanda 8 . 26. SodasI to the southeast. 6 . Dhumavatl to the south. 6 6 . Saktisamgama-tantra.6 7 . 8 9 . Madhya-khanda 6 . Bhuvanesvari to the west. Taponista. from whom he acquires magical powers. 1 2 8 . 36. Dhumavatl is Matsya.133. Another example of a group of goddesses personifying magical powers is found in the tale of Biroba. In his wanderings.132. 2 . 28. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8. 34. in the southeast is SodasI. vol. in the northeast. "But in a broader sense.3 4 ) are somewhat different: Tara is to the east. 37. B. 35. Bagala. 1991). no. Bagalamukhi is Kurma. who serve the one who wins them by his asceticism or in some other way. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 38.7i. 24. 1989). Chinnamasta is Narasirhha. The Sdkta Pithas. Bagalamukhi to the north. Chinnamasta. Bagala is Kurma. William Sax. Chinnamasta to the northwest. Brhaddharma-purdna. 29. 1 3 9 . pp. Chinnamasta is Parasurama. 4 1 . As follows: Tara is to her left (east). Laksmi Narayana Sarma. p. the seven—or rather. 2. P37- 25. Madhya-khanda 6. Sundari. Kali is said to be present in all the directions. ed. 31. 7 9 ." Candi 6. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. Tantra Vidyd (Delhi: World Book Co.NOTES TO PAGES 20-29 255 21. Kali is Krsna. Ibid. 8 2 . trans." Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer. and Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8 . DhumavarTs spreading of disease might be understood on the analogy of the Buddha as an avatdra of Visnu. Govinda Sastri. 7 ( 1 9 4 6 ) : 231.4 0 . the seven goddesses are also the personified. Pastoral Deities in Western India. and SodasI is Kalki. "Karunamayi Tara. in the northwest. 33. 9 . Kamala is Matsya. pp. Matarigi is the Buddha. Bhuvanesvari is Vamana. 32. Tripura-sundari is Nrsirhha. See Sircar. Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Himalayan Pilgrimage (New York: Oxford University Press. 390. and Matarigi above. 27. 23.. in the north. and in the south. and Laksmi is the Buddha. in the southwest. T h e accounts are found in Brhaddharma-purdna.9 . 1978).3 1 . as he is in some late Vaisnava texts. Dhumavatl is Vamana. Bhairavl is Hall (a personified and deified constellation). 7 3 133. 39. T h e locations and names of the Mahavidyas in the Mahdbhdgavata-purdna account ( 7 7 . Brhaddharma-purdna. 40. 6. feminine powers.

56.47. 195. 7. 8 . Vibhuti Narayana Dvivedi and Harisankara Upadhyay. p. 36. for example. Taponista. Essays and Addresses (Madras: Ganesh & Co. see Douglas Brooks. 63. 58. 360. 73.5 2 .NOTES TO PAGES 29-42 4 2 . pp. Pranab Bandyopadhyay. vol. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. Goudriaan and Gupta. 322.9 2 . Dlksit. v.28. pp. and several upa purdnas. 1987). Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. 1990). Sakti and Sdkta. 50. Dlksit. p.2 2 . 1988). Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta.5 1 . See Thomas B. 4 3 . 1982).. 1990). 4 7 . The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the DeviBhdgavata Parana (Albany: State University of New York Press. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sdkta Tantrism in South India (Albany: State University of New York Press. p." by which the author means that the number and identity of the group vary.6 9 . pp. p. 4 9 .2 3 ) . N. 37. 5 9 . p. 1988).J. 1 9 9 2 ) . Sir John Woodroffe. p. Banaras.1-30. 6 1 . Private communication from Hillary Rodrigues. The same grouping of the Mahavidyas is given in Sarbeswar Satpathy. City of Light. pp5 -576 . 3 . 6 8 8 . 3 3 . pp. 4 4 . See "The Mahavidyas as Forms of the Mahadevi" in Part I.7-8. 2 6 8 . Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Braj Printers. trans. 2 vols. see C. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 4 6 . 1 4 .9 0 and Vardha-purdna 1 7 . Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. SriTard-sadhand (Vindhyacal: Sri Tara Mandir. Siva-purdna 5. A recent scholarly work refers to them as "an unstable set of Durga manifestations. along with other siddhis. T h e magical power that enables one to become small is called anima siddhi and is sometimes represented as a goddess. 4 9 .3 7 . This characteristic of the Matrkas is found in other purdnic accounts of them. Ibid. 4 5 .1-48. 1. 1 4 2 . 1 . 361. 2 4 . Sahasrandma stotra from the Rudraydmala. 5 1 . 4 8 . 1982). The Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. 268. For a discussion of the Devi-hhagavata-purdna. p. Vdmana-purdna 29. Dlksit. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 60. City of Light (Princeton. Encountering the Goddess: A Translation of the DeviMdhdtmya and a Study of Its Interpretation (Albany: State University of New York Press.: Princeton University Press. Tantra Vidyd. see Diana Eck. 6 5 .2 4 . 5 5 . 5 4 . 6 4 . 6 2 . Coburn. 1992). 53. Sarma. v.J. Matsya-purdna 1 7 9 . N. including at times Annapurna and Mahisamardinl. Mary Shepherd Slusser. p. 1 9 2 1 . pp. The Goddess of Tantra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. (Princeton.50. For the nine Durgas. T h e classic statement of Vaisnava avatdra theology is in Bhagavad-gitd 4. Devi-hhagavata-purdna 7. 57. 4 5 . p. 52. p. Rajes Dlksit. Swami Vijnanananda (Allahabad: Sudhindra Nath Vasu. 1991). a form of Durga herself.. Skanda-purana 7 .: Princeton University Press. 4 7 . 1 9 . p. 4 6 . Banaras.73. 1992). T h e Mahavidyas are closely associated with Durga in Nepal. Mackenzie Brown. Eck.

270. In neither the Mundamdld-tantra nor Kumar. Bhattacharyya. and Satpathy. Bhattacharyya. Taponista. History of the Tantric Religion. Ibid. 68. Development and Influence (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. p. Chinnamasta. The Mother Goddess Kdmdkhyd (Gauhati. Pushpendra Kumar. and pasu (the lowest. TtrthaArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. Kall-khanda 3. 70. 140ft. Auspicious Wisdom. p. Bamakhepa.5 3 . 1977). and perhaps appropriate types of goddesses. In the Mundamdld-tatitra. vira (said to be the appropriate type of spirituality for engaging in left-handed tantric rites and sometimes associated with the rajas guna). Kalydna. See Kamalakar Mishra. Significance of the Tantric Tradition (Varanasi: Arddhanarisvara Publications. 82. This is exactly the interpretation proposed by K. 81.4 2 . 83.9 7 . p. See also Sarbeswar Satpathy. Bhairavl. Brooks. each of whom reflects a different bhava (mentality): divya (said to be superior and associated with the sattva guna). 1 5 1 . pp. although I have not yet found clear examples of the Mahavidyas being related to the three bhavas. 31. N. 7 4 . p. Bani Kanta Kakati. pp. See Banerjee. 67. 2. vol. p. and Kamala are called Siddhi-vidyas. 7 6 .86. Sdkta-pramoda. Histoiy of the Tantric Religion. 1989). 4 7 1 .3 7 . pp.3 3 . pp. See Sures Chandra Banerji. vii. 7 2 . Tara-khanda 1. 348. 7 9 . SodasI. pp. also identifies the Mahavidyas with these categories but does not cite any textual reference. p. Banerjee. 7 6 .112. Banerjee. pp. in the Dasamabdvidyd-stotra. p. Significance of the Tantric Tradition. 7 5 . see the treatment of the individual Mahavidyas in Part II.84-90. 1981). 1 5 5 . 6 9 6 . Tantra in Bengal: A Study of Its Origin. Kdlika-purdna 6 0 . 343. there is an implied hierarchy. There are appropriate paths for each type of aspirant. 38. 1 4 1 . The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. where she discusses the famous Bengali sdkta saint. 1 3 2 . Kdlika-purdna 78. Matarigi. and Bagalamukhi. 5 1 . There are often said to be three types of aspirants. p. Mishra. Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall. For examples. 7 8 .. see the works by Pushpendra Kumar listed in the Bibliography. N. pp." type of person or spirituality). 31. and Dhumavatl are called Vidyas. p. 1991). 155. 136. 73. N.7 7 .2 5 . "beastly. Mahdnirvana-tantra 13. Saktisamgama-tantra. is there any comment on the meaning of these three designations or the distinctions they . History of the Tantric Religion. Bhuvanesvari. Kali and Tara are called Mahavidyas. p. Sakti Cult in Hinduism. For a detailed interpretation of Kali and the other Mahavidyas according to this approach. 3 6 .5 6 . A Brief History of Tantric Literature. however. pp.32. pp. 1 9 5 7 ) . 1 1 ./! Brief History of Tantric Literature. 3 2 2 . Bhattacharyya. 7 1 . 4 7 0 . chap. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 1948). 84.NOTES TO PAGES 42-48 6 6 . 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. 6 9 . pp.4. 77. Mahdnirvana-tantra 10. 5 5 f t .5 2 . 28. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. Kakati. 80. See June McDaniel.

p. Madhya-khanda 6. pp. T. Significance of the Tantric Tradition. Chap. 1958). p. 155. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. "The Indian Mantra. p. 1988). 16. ed. 104. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Pracya Prakashan. Brill. p. 9 5 .z 8 5 NOTES TO PAGES 51-59 denote. Sidelights on Tantra (Pondicherry. 16 (1963). a form of the Mahavidya Matarigi. p. pp. It is likely that Kali and Tara as Mahavidyas are understood to be superior in some sense to the other Mahavidyas. V. 7 2 . 190. 285. See Harold G. n o . p. Ibid. ed. 108.1 3 . 18. pp.5 0 . p. 1 9 7 6 ) . 252. p. 106." Oriens. T h e importance of purification in tantric worship is discussed by K. 9 1 . 101. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (New York: Pantheon Books. 90. 1 2 1 . Mishra. 1 1 7 . 1 4 8 . Brhaddharma-purdna. 332. 1 9 5 1 ) . pp. 98. for offerings. p. for a discussion of the Sphota school and the creative role of sound generally in Hinduism. p. 82. 89. Sdkta-prdmoda. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. but this is not made explicit. Auspicious Wisdom. 1 9 7 4 ) . Sakti Cult in Ancient India (Banaras: Bharatiya Publishing House. Swami Harshananda. p. For the achievement of siddhis and other powers as distractions from the spiritual quest in yoga. Ibid.J. 3. and Mircea Eliade. i n . 102. 2-8. 1972). R. Significance of the Tantric Tradition. Acarya Pandita Sri Sivadattamisra Sastri. Ddmdra-tantra. may be related to such goddesses insofar as she is often described as fierce and is said to prefer leftovers.. Jan Gonda.. pp. 81. Ibid. Sdkta-pramoda. Kapali Sastry. p. Uccista-matarigl. Brooks. 109.. Selected Studies IV(Leiden: E. Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math.9 0 . see Alain Danielou. 1 1 . Science. Brill. 105. p. 1985). pp. vol. 1 9 5 5 ) . pp. 1 9 7 7 ) . B. Auspicious Wisdom. p. 107.133. Yoga: The Method of Re-integration (New York: University Book Publishers. 87. pp. Gonda. pp. 9 4 . 88. 100. chaps. 1 4 2 . 1 7 3 . reprinted in J. 15. See pujd vidhi (rules on worship) for Matarigi in Sdkta-pramoda. 92. 226. 6off. 1 1 6 . Bagaldmukhi-rahasyam (Varanasi: Thakur Prasad Pustak Bharadar. 107. 1 9 3 . Brill. and trans. cited in Brooks. Goudriaan and Gupta. Coward. 1 1 9 . Ibid. Van Kooij. Goudriaan and Gupta. The Tantric Way: Art.7 4 . 1 9 7 5 ) . 103. See Goudriaan and Gupta. Hemendra Nath Chakravarty and Mark Dyczkowski. 9 9 . 96. 85. tantric worship is also described in Kauldvali. 9 3 . and passim. 8 5 . 97. 1988). Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House.9 0 .J. 86. Mishra.2 2 . p. 1 1 8 . Mishra. 5 1 .9 4 . Bhartrhari (Boston: Twayne. Auspicious Wisdom. . 122..J. Sdmanya pujd to the goddess is described in K. uccista. V. See K. p. Pushpendra Kumar. cited in Brooks. ReligiousBeliefsand PracticesojNorth India (Leiden: E. Worship of the Goddess according to the Kdlikdpurdna (Leiden: E. 1 9 7 1 ) .

7 8 . Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Taponista. . Nagaswamy. Cheever MacKenzie Brown. 5. pp. 28.. Kali Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. 1 1 6 . Diana Eck. 4 1 9 .9. 17. 109. no. The Yellow Scarf (London: J. 1 1 7 . 2. For example.: Claude Stark & Co.1-21. 1 9 4 . 26. Krsnajanma-khanda 4 1 . For the Thugs. 3.6 8 .60. 1 2 6 . 387-88. 2. p. 9. 5 . Ibid. p.7. Ananthakrishna Sastry (Madras: Theosophical Publishing House. 14. pp. p.20. Vt. 4. 1 6 5 . 1. Dhydna mantra of Smasana-kall. Garuda-purdna 38. 1982). God as Mother: A Feminine Theology in India (Hartford. 4 6 1 . trans. 1 1 .289. 1978). Vibhuti Narayana Dvivedi and Harisankara Upadhyay.2 0 . Sakti and Sdkta. p. Hindu Goddesses. Essays and Addresses (Madras: Ganesh & Co. 1987). 19. 1 1 9 . 2 1 6 . This is a term used by Eck. 2 and 8. Liriga-purdna 1. Kali 1. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. Dhydna mantra of Daksina-kall from the Kdli-tantra: Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 26. 12. 1 9 7 4 ) . Skanda-purdna 5. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. p.8 9 . p. R. 20. 2 59 Banerjee. 2 1 9 . 1 9 8 1 ) .48-53. Dent & Sons. 1 3 6 . 1988).82. Vdmana-purdna 25-29. Sri Tdrd-sddhand (Vindhyacal: Sri Tara Mandir. Ganesa-khanda 4 5 . 361. B. 1 1 8 . 120. 323.. See Kinsley. 3 8 4 . see Francis Tuker. Ibid. 5 7 . 6. 6 6 . 1 6 . p. 1 3 6 . chaps. 10. Dhydna mantra of Guhya-kall. 7 . Agni-purdna 133. 114. Tantric Cult of South India (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. 86. ibid.12-20. Lalitd-sahasrandma with Bhdskarardya's Commentary. Tantrasara. 115. 14.8 . 1.. 11. p. Bhdgavata-purdna 5. 201. 2 8. Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. 1 4 . Ibid. 1 6 7 . A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Mdnasdra-s'ilpa-s'dstra 9. 7 2 . 4 . 15. p. Saktisamgama-tantra. 4 . 3 . 1 5 . Ibid. 134. 1 9 6 1 ) . 1 9 5 1 ) . 16.97. 303. 7. 1 2 1 . vol. Devi-mdhdtmya 1. 13. 1 3 0 . 1984). Rajes Dlksit. Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. M. 1 9 8 7 ) . pp." History of Religions 20. p. 9 . 1 2 1 .106. 1 1 . 4 . Tantrasara. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. p. R. Sir John Woodroffe.NOTES TO PAGES 59-73 112. 113.. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 8. 4 (May 1981): 3 2 3 . ed. 27. 8. vol. p.. 1 . "India's Tirthas: 'Crossings' in Sacred Geography. 18. 4 0 6 .4 4 .

Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 23. KdliTantra Sdstra. Agehananda Bharati. Mahdnirvdna-tantra 5.." History of Religions 34." Savithri Shanker de Tourreil.2 2 . Hymn to Kali. R. Montreal. 8 5 . and the Bengal Jaiminibhdrata Rdmdyana.8 6 . p. cited in Kripal. pp. 5 . Nataraja in Art. pp. The Tantric Tradition (London: Rider. Kripal. 3 0 . 1 3 6 .2 1 . Marglin. pp. History of the Sdkta Religion. Skanda-purdna 5 .MirceaEliade. 10. Concordia University. 1 9 7 7 ) . Ibid. 2 28-78. 2 (November 1 9 9 4 ) : 1 5 2 .6 . an actress. 1 6 8 . 36.138. Kripal. For the panca tattva ritual. 1985). 1 . "Nayars in a South Indian Matrix: A Study Based on Female-Centered Ritual" (Ph. Srisriramakrsna Paramahamsadeverjivanavrttdta. 4 4 . This story is told in the Adbhuta Rdmdyana. 37. History of the Sdkta Religion (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. . Sarbeswar Satpathy.1 5 . 35. 2 1 4 . 1 6 7 . 1 9 6 5 ) .3 1 . and trans. Arthur Avalon (Madras: Ganesh & Co. that is. Bbavabhuti's Mdlatimddhava with the Commentary of Jagaddhara. and Heinrich Zimmer. 4 0 . pp. p. p. 4 1 . Frederique A. N. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (New York: Pantheon Books. 1 6 .. 4 . p. Arthur Avalon (Madras: Ganesh & Co. 2 5 4 . p. 1 2 0 . 2. pp. (Calcutta: Yogadyana. n. 1 9 9 1 ) . 19. 34. in Kerala.140-41. Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya. ed. 38. Dlksit.4 8 . see ibid. N. Ibid. pp.102. 32. ed. 4 3 .3 4 . i 9 6 0 ) . "Till recently. 4 2 . diss. 2 2. History of the Sdkta Religion. p. older women would disapprove of young females leaving their hair loose when they were in a public place. 1 9 5 8 ) . For example. Wives of the God-King: The Rituals of the Devadasis ofPuri (New York: Oxford University Press. Ibid. M. 26. ed. Bhattacharyya. Thought and Literature (New Delhi: National Museum.i6o NOTES TO PAGES 73-84 21. "Kali's Tongue and Ramakrishna: 'Biting the Tongue' of the Tantric Tradition. and trans. 1 1 9 . 1 1 7 . 34.2 4 .. 30. p. 24. Jeffrey J. Philosophies of India (Cleveland: World Publishing Co. pp. G. 39. 1 9 6 7 ) . 3 1 . Bhattacharyya. Development and Influence (Calcutta: Naya Prokash.D. Sivaramamurti.8 9 . A woman with loose hair was often equated in literature and common parlance with a loose woman. P1 2 9 . 1 9 8 9 ) . 6. 1 9 6 5 ) . Hymn to Kali (Karpurddi-stotra). Dyczkowski. 27. Tantra in Bengal: A Study of Its Origin. p. 1 9 9 5 ) . 28. 1 9 7 4 ) . pp. 1 9 5 6 ) . 84. no. 1 3 6 . pp.6 2 .8 0 . 1 9 7 4 ) . Ibid. "Hindu women are normally expected to keep their hair tied up. a woman out to seduce. See C. a professional dancer. pp. See Sures Chandra Banerji. The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 327-28. 25. Kale (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Mark S.. p. Sarala-dasa's Oriyan Rdmdyana. 5th ed. Ram Chandra Datta. 33. 1 9 3 5 ) . 5 7 2 .68-76. 8 2 . 86.. Principles of Tantra: The Tantratattva of Sriyukta Siva Candra Vidydrnava Bhattdcdrya Mahodaya. pp. 149. 29.

Swami Annapurnananda. Erndl. 5 3 . 6 6 . 1 6 5 . pp. 5 9 . Kali Tantra Sdstra. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Gautam. "Draupadl's Hair. Ibid. 2. 4 7 . Dlksit.8 3 . 6 5 . p. Ibid. History of Dharmas'astra. 5 1 . In a commentary to the Karpurddi-stotra.8 7 . who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Beck. during Kali Puja—said that Kali's standing on Siva. 1989). 1 2 1 . 62. Hershman. pp. 5 5 . and the Kdmadhenu-tantra. Swami Annapurnananda. citing an interview with a contemporary devotee. Sex and Dirt. Dlksit. Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Ritual. Alf Hiltebeitel. p. 1 9 7 4 ) . 3-7. Caman LalGautam. 4 9 . 87. and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press. 68. Guy L. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas. Dlksit. 5 6 . 63. pp. Swami Annapurnananda. Satpathy. 60. 5 4 . KaliSiddhi (Bareli. in a conversation with me in Calcutta in October 1992—appropriately. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas. 52. Such sexual union between the two is often actually shown and is sometimes part of the dhydna mantras of other forms of Kali. .2 1 . as in the Daksina-kall image. U. 4 6 . 8 0 2 .: Sarhskrti Sarhsthan. See P." Purusdrtha 5 (1981): 1 8 6 ." Kathleen M.. Kali Tantra Sdstra. "Hair. 2. p. For rules concerning menstruation in Hinduism. the Niruttara-tantra. June McDaniel. Swami Annapurnananda. 125. Gautam. Swami Annapurnananda. 9 1 . 1993). 58. Kali Tantra Sdstra. N. See Satpathy. Dlksit. Dlksit. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.5 . 67. 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. 6 1 . 1 4 5 . p. Kali Tantra Sdstra. 4 8 . Gautam. 57. 1 1 8 . 130. 1 9 8 4 ) . pt. Bhattacharyya. p. 1 9 9 3 ) . 2 (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. N. n. This is a strikingly different interpretation of Kali's lolling tongue from that of Kripal cited above. symbolizes her being above him during intercourse.' Keeping the hair loose is a sign of impurity.1 1 7 . Swami Annapurnananda." Man 9 ( 1 9 7 4 ) : 2 8 2 . and other sources. Dlksit. as after the death of a close relative or during menstruation. 4 5 .P. Dlksit. 4 4 .NOTES TO PAGES 84-89 261 'under control. Swami Annapurnananda. 50. see Pandurang Vaman Kane. Dlksit. pp. 6 9 . p. 3. Kali Tantra Sdstra. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. Ibid. Gautam. vol. 6 4 .

Boddhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Boulder. 1 3 4 . 7 1 . 1968). Indian Buddhist Iconography. 5 3 4 . Bhattacharyya.5 2 . p. For a description of the "eight terrors" from which Tara is said to save. unpredictable. dangerous ways. Pandey. 71(a). 1 9 5 6 ) . 18. p. 15. pp.262 NOTES TO PAGES 89-97 70.4 6 .. Philosophies of India (Cleveland: World Publishing Co. 53. Ibid.7 1 .. tanka 4 4 . N. see Giuseppe Tucci. 12. 1949). p. p.. Abhinavagupta: An Historical and Philosophical Study. 8 . Tantras: Studies on Their Religion and Literature (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. 1973). pp. 19. 2d ed. Ibid.. 6. The Indian Buddhist Iconography: Mainly Based on the Sddbanamdld and the Cognate Tantric Texts of Rituals (Calcutta: Firma K. C.8 8 . John Blofeld. Tibetan Painted Scrolls. Colo. 13. p. 2. 206. p.. r2. 2 1 2 . p.4 . Beyer. Bhadra Bahadur. 72. 1 2 4 . 5 9 . Ibid. pp. Tara 1. 403ff. See the Tantrasara on Guhya-kali. see ibid. K. facing p. 190. pp. 9 0 . 3. p. Indian Buddhist Iconography. pp. p. 5 1 3 . 2 vols. Bhattacharyya. 303. discussed in vol. shows quite clearly that Kurukulla was originally an Indian tribal deity. 1 9 6 3 ) . Beyer. pp. 4. L. Mukhopadhyaya. 302. 292. (Rome: Libraria dello Stato. This myth is found in the first and second chapters of the Brahmaydmala . p. 8. 10. B. The Doctrine of Vibration. see also Nalini Kanta Bhattasali. 7. 2 3 3 . pp.1 0 . Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum (Dacca: Rai S. Stephan Beyer. 1992). pp. and Blofeld. Beyer. Ibid. Ibid.: Shambala Publications.. see also Benoytosh Bhattacharyya.2 5 . see Beyer. Beyer. 20. The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet (Berkeley: University of California Press. Ibid. Beyer. 1 3 . 2 2. 306. 1 4 . Pushpendra Kumar. She gets drunk on fresh blood and behaves in wild. pp. p. Dyczkowski. 11. 17. Drinking blood results in intoxication in many myths featuring Kali and other goddesses. 72. 3 8 6 . where Tara blesses a young couple with a child after rescuing them from calamity. Heinrich Zimmer. 5. Tara: The Supreme Goddess (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. p. Beyer. see also Chintaharan Chakravarti.9 1 .. p. pi. 21. 4. 1963). 78.4 0 . 1 6 .2 1 . pp. 1 4 7 . pi.. For example. 9. 1 0 3 . 302. 386. 5 5 . (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.1 3 . See Blofeld. pp. 1929). 4 6 9 . p. pp. 1978). p. For references on the history of Tara in Tibet. B.

1989). "Mahavidya Tara ki Sadhana. 50. 4 1 . 1 1 5 . See also June McDaniel. E.: Brotherhood of Life. p. Svoboda. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. She changes her form to Tara. p. Kalydna. 38. pp. 28. 4 6 . p. 4 5 .3 3 . pp. pp. 7 ( 1 9 4 6 ) : 216-20." and as having a "smiling face. the good of all. Dlksit. 4 1 5 . Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. passim. In McDaniePs account. Alan Morinis. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ibid. Liriga-purdna 1.1 6 . 128. 1 1 7 . 4 3 . 1 2 8 . which is based on an interview with a devotee. p. vol. 79. 224. Dlksit.. Mahidhara. 2 1 .8 0 . 4 9 . 32. see Rama Prasada's Devotional Songs: The Cult of Shakti. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. the role of the Buddha is to delude sinners with his false teachings so that they will receive their appropriate karmic rewards. Kumar. Sakti Arik. no.106. 131. 4 2 . 1 7 9 . 1 1 8 . For his use of "Tara" to suggest the benign aspect of the goddess. 130. 48. Sakti Arik. Dlksit." from the Brhannila-tantra. Dlksit. p. grantor of safety.. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra." 29.M. p. Kalydna. Dlksit." . Ibid. 6. Mantra Mahodadhih. 1.. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. "Tara Astakam. p. For the poetry of Ramprasad and his use of the epithets Kali and Tara. 167. 80. Ibid. 4 4 . 1934). "Tara-rahasya. 37.1 9 . Dlksit. ed. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. Rajes Dlksit. Tara Tantra Sdstra. 4 7 . 1 2 8 ." p. Swami Annapurnananda. 24. 1 9 6 6 ) . Robert E. Swami Annapurnananda. she says.1 8 . pp. Tara Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan. p. 1 6 6 . Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. This elaborated version of the story is from Rasmohan Cakravarti. 1984). pp. Dlksit. p. 23. Tdrd Tantra Sdstra. 35.3 4 . Tdrd. Ibid. p. 225. Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: A Case Study of West Bengal (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 1986). 33." Candi 6. it is Kali who comes to Siva's rescue. I have edited the translation. 1992). 34. pp. 26. 39. 1984). Kalydna. See the discussion of this myth below. 40. trans. Ibid.2 3 . Nila-tantra 3 1 . see song 221. where he refers to Tara as the "doer of good. pp. 10. 27. p.6 7 . 36. Note that the Buddha is included in some late lists of the avatdras of Visnu. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 132.NOTES TO PAGES 97-108 263 and the tenth chapter of the Rudraydmala. 1 2 . 89. 4 0 4 . 31. N. Tara Tantra Sdstra. and trans. pp. Aghora: At the Left Hand of God (Albuquerque. 25. 30. because "I canl o t nurse my own husband. In such cases. p. Ibid. 1987). 108. 101. Jadunath Sinha (Calcutta: Sinha Publishing House.

Interview with Swami Annapurnananda. 55. 1984).. 19. 1 5 3 . Ibid. 53. 6. 7 2 .3 1 . Lalitd-sahasrandfiia. n.8 0 . I. Ibid.5 2 . p. name 5 2. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. December 1 9 9 2 . 1 8 4 .. 1 3 9 . Robert I. Douglas Renfrew Brooks. Svoboda. Ibid. 11. 3 5 6 . Diksit. Sakti Auk.5 8 .. 1 9 7 9 ) . Biswas. 16. p. K. 10. Kalydna. particularly her place in South India. 5 6 ..d. Kalydna. 3. The following discussion of Tripura-sundari. 54. SodasI Tantra Sdstra. Ibid. Rajes Dlksit. Ibid. Ibid. . Conversation with T. John Woodroffe (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 8. p. See "The One Hundred and Eight Names of Sodasi" from the Brahmaydmala and the Sahasrandma fromvthe Vdmakesvara-tantra. 1 9 9 2 ) . 4. Diksit.. Joint Director.2 4 . This was described in Part I. 68-69. 137. 7 . says that the stone image is actually ill defined and that the devotee must use considerable imagination to detect Tara nursing Siva. ibid. 1 9 9 1 ) . Prapancasdra-tantra. 6 4 . Tripura-Sundari 1. In this description. 9. . Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1 7 8 . Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. 230. 177. pp. See David Kinsley. p. pp. Levy. 2 3 . 7.. Morinis. 137-49- 20. 358. p. p. p.8 5 . p. 1 3 6 .56. 2 2 9 . 12.264 NOTES TO PAGES 108-118 51. 6 7 0 . 7 1 .). Varanasi. Morinis. Dlksit. Ibid. 2 0 5 . Tripura-sundari is described as a female version of Siva. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. pp.1 0 . 15. 1992). 17.. 5. pp. The Divine Player: A Study of Krsna Lila (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 182.. From Lalitopdkhydna 30. 1 7 1 . pp. p. Bharat Kala Bhavan. 5 6 . 404. 13. p. summarized in Brooks.. ed. 18. p. Auspicious Wisdom. Sodas! Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Sumit Prakashan.7 9 . p. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividyd Sdkta Tantrism in South India (Albany: State University of New York Press. p. pp. pp. following the Tripurd-rabasya of the Mahatmya-khanda of the Brahmdnda-purdna. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. translated by Woodroffe in his introduction to the text. p. p. Ibid. Sodast Tantra Sdstra. follows the excellent work done on her cult by Brooks in Auspicious Wisdom. pp. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 28. 1 9 3 4 ) . pp. 2. 58. 57. 7 7 . 52. 14. 1992). p. 9 .

p. 25. p.100. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. Yogini-tantra 1. Auspicious Wisdom. 140. 37. 1 9 9 3 . 29. 4 5 . 23. Das. there is no disparate existence of signifying sound and the signified object. pp. Ibid. Brooks. 9 0 . 4 6 . p. Basham. Brooks. 2 0 8 . Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall. Sastry.. 1 3 9 . pp. p. Brooks. Bani Kanta Kakati. 4 3 . Douglas Renfrew Brooks. Dlksit.NOTES TO PAGES 118-126 265 21. 1948). Upendra Kumar Das. Auspicious Wisdom. 27. Dlksit. p. Tripurd-rahasya 10.163. Auspicious Wisdom. 26. p. Kakati. 77. cited in Brooks. 30.17.4 8 .6. Nityasodas'ikdrnava 1. p. 107. pp...1 0 1 . Swami Annapurnananda. Auspicious Wisdom. Sastry. Prdnatosini5. Auspicious Wisdom. cited in Brooks.4 6 . p. 7 7 . 9 3 . 1986). Sri-Cakra: Its Yantra.. Banerjee.9 4 . Commentary on the Lalitd-sahasrandma. Auspicious Wisdom.6. p. A. V. Auspicious Wisdom. 38.12. 7 9 . 109. "In §ri-Vidya ideology.5 1 . Auspicious Wisdom. 254. 1990).. . 22. 1 4 3 . 137. Conversation with a tantric scholar in Varanasi. 4 7 . 60.. pp. 9 3 . Visvabharati.. Ibid. p. Brooks. Auspicious Wisdom. p. and the consonants 35) of the alphabet correspond to the 36 principles (tattvas) that underlie the constitution and function of the universe. 24. T h e 36 letters (15 vowels taken as one. where she is called Kali. 5 1 . p. 35. Kakati. 1 6 2 . 48. . Auspicious Wisdom. 1 4 7 . 4 5 . A Brief Histoiy of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. pp. Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. 9 9 . The Mother Goddess Kamakhya (Gauhati. pp.14. 1959). 254. Sastry. 5 2 5 .2 6 . L. 4 4 . private conversations in Varanasi. and Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. 38. Das. see the Kdmakaldvilasa. 7 7 . p. 1 9 7 1 ) . 137. For a description and interpretation of the Sri cakra. p. The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Sdkta Tantrism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. two scholars of Tantra. T. p.9 1 . 31. 33. p. 34. 4 9 . 50. is nothing other than the expressive sounds that constitute the alphabet. Brooks. Brooks.. Brooks. p. p. 1982). and Kalaratri. Ramachandra Rao. The universe of experience . 1. 118. Varivasyd-rahasya 2." S. 32. Kdlikd-purdna 78. Ibid. pp. summarized in S. 4 1 . Ibid. 4 2 . Sodasi Tantra Sdstra. p. Kalika. and the expressing consciousness and the expressed energy are fundamentally one. vol. 5 0 . Ibid.1 2 . 39. 28. cited in Brooks. 5 2 5 . p. 1 9 6 7 ) . . pp. 4 0 . citing Sastry. pp. cited in Brooks. . 50. The Wonder That Was India (New York: Grove Press. 36. C. Auspicious Wisdom. 7 6 . January 1 9 9 3 . 5 2 6 . 525. 2 vols. Ibid. 108. Mantra and Tantra (Bangalore: Kalpatharu Research Academy. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. p. Mark Dyczkowski and Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. Sidelights on Tantra (Pondicherry. K.

d. the interpretation follows that of Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. Bhuvanesvari-stotra from the Rudraydmala. p. 1980). 4 7 2 . 15. 4 7 2 .5 2 .2 3 ) . 18. p. 2. pp. 89. n. 24.: Sarhskrti Samsthan.5 1 . From her thousand-name 1904)1 P. hymn. 10. 3. p. 4 6 8 . pp. 26. Ibid.). p. 12. ibid. Auspicious Wisdom. pp. chap. In the English translation. The Sri Mad Devi Bhagavatam. Dhyana mantra from Mantramaharnava (Bombay: Khemraj Srikrsnadas Publishers. Swami Vijnanananda (Allahabad: Sudhindra Nath Vasu. 2 9 . 7. 6. 4 6 8 . 5 9 . the hymn is found in 1 1 . ibid. 4 . 21. 4 7 . Dlksit. 4 9 9 . Woodroffe numbers the verses of the hymn beginning with 1. 1 2 8 . 1 4 . 27. pp.6 2 . Bhuvanesvari 1.6 8 and is translated by Woodroffe in his introduction. Mantramaharnava. T h e following description is found in the Tantrasdra. 2 vols. pp. (Bareli. Ibid. and Mantramaharnava. Ibid. Vedamurti Taponista..d. 1 7 3 . 2 6 . Hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala. 4 5 . ed. 2. 1 9 2 1 . Science. 19. and Introduction. 1 9 .4.8 . p. Ibid. See Tantrasdra.3 7 . Brooks. pp.2 8 . John Woodroffe (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 17.. From the Rudraydmala-tantra. pp. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. Ritual (Boston: New York Graphic Society. Ibid.5. Mundamdld-tantra (Calcutta: Nava Bharat. pp. p. 52. 204-5.. 4 5 . Prapancasdra-tantra. 4 9 . 1 4 0 . 1 9 .4 7 6 6. Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 6 . 20. Mantramaharnava. 4 7 . Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta Tantra Sdstra (Agra: Braj Printers. p. 319. 16.266 NOTES TO PAGES 127-136 The Tantric Way: Art.5 2 . Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan.. n. p. 5. 23. 1 . p. 1992). 5 . 12. 4 7 2 . 11. U. Prupancasdra-tantra. 4 7 1 . which corresponds to verse 49 in the text. Tantra-mahdvijndna. see also Krsnananda Agamavagisa.5. 4 7 0 . trans. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 25. p. 1971). p. 3. pp. p. 8. Mantramaharnava. 13. Bhuvanesvari evam Chinnamasta. 4. Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. 21. 17.7 5 . 1988). 1 7 6 (blue form). 1981). Rajes Dlksit.4 1 .6 9 (golden form) and 4 7 1 (vermillion form). 3. Mantramaharnava. 22. a scholar of Tantrism .P. Ibid.). 9.2 9 . p. p. pp. 1990). p. Dlksit.

" (Ph. She W h o Is the Battle Cry (name 7 6 7 ) . p. 4.7 3 . pp. pp. pp. Ibid. 1 5 2 . 3 4 . Prdnatosini-tantra. Tantrasara. p. she is called Killer of the Demons Canda and Munda (name 7). 4 7 1 . p. p.2 9 and Vdmana-purdna 30. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. vol. 3 1 7 . Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. Mahidhara. . 378. pp. Tantra Asana: A Way to Self-Realization (Basel: Ravi Kumar. 2 8 . 5. 1992). 4 6 8 . diss. 1 9 7 1 ) . "Studies in Goddess Cults in Northern India. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan.d.NOTES TO PAGES 1 3 9 . translated by Benard. p. Taponista. See also Devi-bhdgavata-purdna 5 .D. 2 6 1 . Australian National University. 1978). in Sri Swami Ji Maharaja Datiya. 2. From a hymn addressed to Chinnamasta.D. an eighteenth-century Bhuvanesvari yantra from Rajasthan. T h e following names and their numbers are from Elisabeth Anne Benard. and trans. 18. Dhydna mantra of Chinnamasta.). p. Columbia University. 33. 28. Sdkta-pramoda. 10. "Chinnamasta: T h e Awful Buddhist and Hindu Tantric Goddess" (Ph. p. p. for example. Chinnamasta 1. 5 . Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. with Reference to the First Seven Centuries A .5 . n.1 5 . Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. See also Ajit Mookerjee. ed. 6.. p. translated by Benard. This version is also told. She W h o Is the Battlefield (name 768). 3 5 . 11. Sdkta-pramoda. Sri Chinnamasta Nitydrcana (Prayag: Kalyan Mandir Prakasan. ed.. Ibid. 8. 205. Ibid. 3 1 3 . 30. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. 35. s'aktis. 2 5 6 . 32. 1 9 4 . T h e yantra itself is also pictured in the Sdkta-pramoda.3 7 . B. 9. and guardians are actually written out. 3 1 2 . p. diss. 1992). Here the names of the deities. private conversation. 1928). and in her thousand-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda she is called Killer of the Demon Kesi (name 90). 207. p. ed. 38. Mantra Mahodadhih. p. Diksit. Prdnatosini-tantra(Calcutta: Basumati SahityaMandir. 378. 2 0 4 . 221.1 4 9 267 in Varanasi. 3. Mahidhara. vol. and trans. 3 3 4 . 2 3 4 . Saktisamgama-tantra. 1978). 5. 6 7 . p. vol. pp. p. 29. and several other epithets that associate her with demon slaying. 1981). Ibid. Bhuvanesvarievam Chinnamasta. Hundred-name hymn from the Rudraydmala. 1 9 9 2 ) . New York. In Chinnamasta's 108-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda. p. Mantra Mahodadhih.4 7 . Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. D . 1. 1. Jagdish Narain Tiwari. 7. 3 6 . pi. 1990). Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. Tiwari. 3 1 . 12.3 6 . p. 36. with slight modifications.

37.7 1 . 172. 7. translated by Benard. Vedamurti Taponista. Tantra-mahdvijnana. Translated by Benard. N. Sdkta-pramoda. Assam: Lawyer's Book Stall. 4 7 9 . 1965). 32.7 7 . p. 374. 6 1 . 2 7 6 . 22. pp. The Kdpdlikas and Kdlamukhas: Two Lost Saivite Sects (Berkeley: University of California Press. 173. p. 33. Tantrasara. pp. 34. 1981). Sbilappadikaram. p.80). Sdkta-pramoda. 14. 15. pp. pp. (Bareli. Swami Harshananda. for details of why Siva carries a skull after killing Brahma by chopping off his head. p. 1965). Vogel. 1 4 5 . and Wendy O'Flaherty. p. American Oriental Society 4 (1934): 5 9 . 351. trans. and U. "Chinnamasta Tattva." Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies (London) 6: 5 3 9 . 19. 1 9 7 1 ) . pp.4 3 . 1982). 35.P: Sarhskrti Sarhsthan. See J. Brhat Tantrasara (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. Sdkta-pramoda. translated by Benard. 1984). Alain Danielou (New York: New Directions Book. 28. p. 1 7 6 . Ghosal. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. Benard. Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: A Case Study of West Bengal (Delhi: Oxford University Press. 21. 3 3 5 . 222. 108. p. Alan Morinis. p. Ibid. p. 2 vols.NOTES TO PAGES 150-160 13. 1972). See David N. pp. R. Nagaswamy. 187. 371. "The Head-Offering to the Goddess in Pallava Sculpture.6 1 . 1 7 1 . 17." trans. Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 1 9 7 9 . 235. 31. p. Hindu Religion and Iconology (Los Angeles: Vichitra Press. . p. 38.6 4 . Several examples of human sacrifice to goddesses are mentioned in Bani Kanta Kakati. 26. For examples. Ghosal." Sanmarg—TantravisesAnk (Varanasi). 20. p. p.3 6 . Prince Ilango Adigal. 170. 2 4 3 . 1988). 172. 30. 1984). see "Jambhaladatta's Version of the Vetalapaficavimsati. 234. 23. P. 6 9 . Lorenzen. 36. July 26. 24. Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology (Berkeley: University of California Press. Datiya.4 3 . for the story of Renuka's beheading. The Mother Goddess Kdmdkhyd (Gauhati. 143. U. 82. p. Studies in Indian History and Culture (Bombay: Orient Longman. 333-4°- 18. From her thousand-name hymn from the Sdkta-pramoda. P. Ramendra Nath Nandi.4 6 . 27. Emeaneau. p. Pal. Ibid. 1973). Ibid. E.8 0 .6 3 (this story of transposed heads is originally from Kathdsaritsdgara 6. pp. 16. 371. pp. 26.. Tantrasara. M. Acarya Ananda Jha. 5 3 9 . 25. Religious Institutions and Cults of the Deccan (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 39. Head symbolism is discussed by Benard. 29. Tantric Cult of South India (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. 1976). Ibid. pp. Sdkta-pramoda. p. translated by Benard. B. 1948).

. 1984).4 4 . 249. Ibid.P. Translated by Benard. 288. pp. 8. p. 61. p. 1 4 8 . 1984). 355. 4 5 . 308." The worship of Cintpurni today is nontantric. 4. 4 0 . p. where she is said to exist in a circle of fire. 1993). pp. 87.5 8 . Sdkta-pramoda. 1981). Dhyana mantra of Bhairavl. 50. 4 9 . 228. 4 4 ..31. Ibid. p. 5 8. 147. 61.. Kathleen M. p. concludes that Chinnamasta appeared in Buddhist sources at least a century before she did in Hindu materials. p. Erndl.E.8 9 . Dip Publica- 6. p. p. 1 3 3 . Sdradd-tilaka 1 2 . Dhyana mantra of Rudra-bhairavi. Rajes Dlksit. 140. Bhdrat Tilth Darsan (Varanasi: Bhola Yantralaya.3 5 . Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 1 7 4 . Tantra-mahdvijndna (Bareli. pp. p. S. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. 1992). Laksmlrikara. and according to one of the priests at the temple. p. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp.6 7 . pp.9 4 . The name Chinnamasta is written on the gateway to the temple. p. 8. Bcnard. 51. Ibid. p. 9 3 . 4 3 . 3 5 . 1 9 7 7 ) . 4 8 . Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl Tantra Sdstra (Agra: n. Saktisamgama-tantra 6. Dlksit.. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. 5 7 . quoted by Benard. 52. to be a circle of fire.. Sexual Metaphors and Animal Symbols in Indian Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 534—37. 1988).4 9 . Tibetan Tantric Tradition (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann. p. ed. 6 4 . 3. 1. 4 6 . p. 4 8 6 . 2. p. Mahidhara. v. Krsnananda Agamavagisa.NOTES TO PAGES 160-171 269 40. 8 1 . p. 2 1 1 . Bhairavl 1. 5. 2 6 6 . see also her thousand-name hymn in the Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan. 51.79-82. Buddhist devotee. 1982). Rao. 4 2 . 7. Chinnamasta "is the original name of Cintpurni. Ibid. K. 53. On the basis of Chinnamasta's appearance in the teachings of a ninthcentury C. 105. Ibid.7 2 . exoteric. Cintpurni is described as benign and similar to Durga in appearance. Ibid.: Sarhskrti Samsthan. Chinnamasta stotra. 178. and to be destructive fire. Benard. translated by Benard. Sdradd-tilaka 12. 56. 1 6 7 . pp. Ritual. pp. 54. Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth. 4 3 . 525. 4 4 . and completely ordinary (sadhdran) or vegetarian (Vaisnava). T h e story is told in Benard.. Jagannath Prasad Sharma. Sdkta-pramoda. 2 6 9 . Vedamurti Taponista. There is some evidence that the Cintpurni temple in Himachal Pradhesh was once a Chinnamasta temple. pp 1 9 7 1 ) .9 5 . pp. and Symbol (New York: Oxford University Press. 4 7 . Benard. U. 92. pp.4 1 . 57. 4 1 . 55. . See Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty.

1988). Bhairavl evam DhumdvatlTantra Sdstra (Agra: Dip Publication. Rajes Dlksit.7 8 . 6 1 .5 6 . 2 2 . see also Sdradd-tilaka 10.i:xi. 17. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl.4. 6 4 . "The History of the Worship of Sri in North India to cir. 1 9 6 7 ) . Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.7. 393.D. Ibid. 6 4 . 1 9 7 1 ) . University of London.D. 14." in Julia Leslie. Atharva-veda 5. 4.C. 19. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. 1 9 . 6. pp. p. 190. 1980).9. 1 1 5 . 265. 1 4 1 . Ibid. 2 6 6 . p. 2. 3. pp. 2d ed. Sdkta-pramoda. 152.9. 1 7 8 .6. T. vol. p. 8. p. pt. Dhyana mantra of Dhumavatl. 1988).1. Conversation with Hemendra Nath Chakravarty. p. N. Ibid. Dlksit. Dlksit..3 1 . 16. 11.NOTES TO PAGES 1 7 1 . 1 1 4 . Srivastava.E. Library. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan.83-87. A. Gopinatha Rao. 17. Sdkta-pramoda. p. Upendra Kumar Das. 9 4 .3 1 5 . Bharatiya Saktisddhand.6. Nepal Mandala.: Princeton University Press. 7.S. 2 vols. Mother Goddess in Indian Art. She is mentioned in the Baudbayana-gflryasutra. 1 9 1 4 . p. Mary Shepherd Slusser. 13. 15. 315. 5 5 0 " (Ph. 2 parts (Thanjavur: T. ir. Elemoits of Hindu Iconography.. Ibid. 297. 10. "Sri and Jyestha: Ambivalent Role Models for Women. vol.. Upendra Nath Dhal.3 5 .. p. pp. p. pp. Prapancasdrasdra-samgraha. diss. (Princeton. Swami Harshananda. C.1 9 . Ibid. Goddess LaksmI: Origin and Development (New Delhi: Oriental Publishers. pp. 9. . p. 6 2 .1 6 ) .J. 1. M. 2. pp. 2 9 5 . 1 1 3 . 1982). ed. Liriga-purdna 2. see Bandana Sarasvati. History of Dharmasastra. Leslie. 60. 60. p. 12. 13.2. pt. 5. Taittlriya-brdhmana 1. Dhumavatl 1. 15. 1 7 7 . 328. 1 7 9 . pp. ed. 1 5 0 . P. Tantrasdra.. 5 6 ..110. For the text and translation of the Srl-sukta. 236. 3 1 5 . 2. 2 3 4 . Ibid. 18. 2 vols. which can be dated between 600 and 300 B. Kane. 1992). Girvanendra SarasvatI. 268. Tantrasdra. pp. 1 9 7 9 ) .3.. p.4 2 . 18. Bhairavl evam Dhumavatl. Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. Dlksit. Archaeology and Literature (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. 9. Visvabharati. 58. p.1 7 9 9. p. 14. cited in Julia Leslie.S. 2 vols. 1 6 . pp. Tantrasdra. 1..3. (New York: Paragon Books. Satapatha-brdhmana 5.M. 5 3 5 .2. 10. 20.A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu ' Valley. Leslie. 1978). 2.1. p. A. 2 6 6 . 12.

37. 234. Science. 1 2 5 . p. 70. 2 vols. Krsnananda Agamavagisa.6 4 . 4 4 . Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. p. Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. Harshananda. 5 4 2 . 122. "Bahati Ganga (The Flowing Ganges). 236. 159. Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. Bagalamukhi 1. Bhairavl nam Dhumavatl. 38. 1 6 7 ." trans. 40. Paul R.6 7 . 27. Saktisamgama-tantra. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas (Calcutta: Pun- thi Pustak. 1 6 6 . 33. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan.pp. 87 and 92. 9 5 . Prapancasarasara-samgraha.2 5 . 108. There are also small Dhumavatl temples at Ranchi in Bihar and near the Kamakhya-devI temple near Gauhati in Assam. p. N. 4 1 . 26. p. p. Dhumavatl stotra. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 29. 1 9 6 7 ) . Prdnatosini-tantra 5. 36. 1 6 6 . 24. Vv. The Tantric Way: Art. 1 6 0 . This myth was also told to me by the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi.4 8 . pp. (Princeton. 1 6 9 . p. 4 2 . Conversation with Kamalakar Mishra. 1984). 21. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley.J. 30. Vv. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. Varanasi. 2 vols. 2 3. 234.NOTES TO PAGES 180-193 20.8 4 . Shiv Prasad Mishra Kahikey. 234. Diksit. vol. v. 1 6 2 . pp. 1 9 1 . 1 9 9 1 ) . 333—34. 28. Thousand-name hymn. October 1 9 9 2 . pp. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. Brhat Tintrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publications. vol. Sarbeswar Satpathy. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. The Principle of Sakti (Delhi: Eastern Book Linkers. ed.: Princeton University Press. Diksit.6. 1 9 9 2 ) . 2 8 3 . Diksit. p. Diksit. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan.9 7 : Dlksit. 2 6 4 . Diksit. n. 31. p. p. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. 25. 1982).d. pp. 1992). 4 5 . According to the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi. p. 1986). Visvabharati. 1 4 7 . According to the priest at the Dhumavatl temple in Varanasi. 32. Dlksit. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. pp. Upendra Kumar Das. Dhydna mantra of Bagalamukhi. 34. 35. 1 9 7 7 ) . Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati.). p. 32. T h e priest at the Dhumavatl temple said that she is the same as Smasana-kall." 39. 1934). Golding and Virendra Singh (MS. p. Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati. 4 3 .6 7 . 4 6 . 234. p. "Kali who lives in the cremation ground. p. i.2 6 . Kalydna. Vv. 6 . p. 152. 22.^. SaktiArik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. Bhairavievam Dhumdvati. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. B. Prapancasarasara-samgraha. 1978). 2 4 . Pushpendra Kumar. pp. Mary Shepherd Slusser. 6 9 . . T h e painting of Dhumavatl by Batuk Ramprasad is discussed later (see figure 31). Sarbeswar Satpathy. 4 6 3 . Bhairavi evam Dhumdvati.

19. p. The false yogi is not actually meditating. 6. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. Tantrasdra. N. and Upendra Kumar Das. Sakti Arik (Gorakhpur: Gita Press. M. trans. facing p. 2. 20. 11. p. 108. 1989). (Agra: Sumit . 1951). vol.. Histoty of the Tantric Religion: A Historical. 15. Sastri. ed. "Nayars in a South Indian Matrix: A Study Based on Female-Centered Ritual" (Ph.. p. Sastri. p. 13. diss.NOTES TO PAGES 193-199 2. Sastri. p. 7. p. 25. 1 8 7 . p. 23. Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam (Varanasi: Thakur Prasad Pustak Bharadar. Vedamurti Taponista. n. 198. Hindu Gods and Goddesses (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 12. in fact. 4 6 6 . vol. A. 15. 12. 16. 14. 4 9 2 . 1982). pi. 88. 179. U . for her yantra. 320. Sri Bankhandesvara. p. p. Kalydna. A. p. while in fact its entire attention is directed toward capturing and devouring fish. For example. 23. Vv. 81. p. 1934). Sastri. Visvabharati. and 204. A. Concordia University..P.3 0 . 4 9 4 . Hymnes a la de'esse (Paris: Le Soleil Noir. 5 . A. Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam. Mahdbhdrata 3 . p. 2 vols. like a yogi.). 1988). and Alain Danielou. Sastri. 4 6 5 . For a discussion of magical powers in Hinduism. 8. Tantra-mahdvijriana (Bareli. Dlksit. he is pretending to meditate while conniving to cheat or seduce unwitting people. Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. p. pp. Mitchener. 4: Chinnamasta Khanda. see N. p. 6 . Taponista. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. 1995). 1980). pp. see also Tantrasdra. Bhattacharyya and Vrajavallabha Dvivedi (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda. 21. 6 4 .D. Bhuvanesvari. Mahavidya Catustayam: Tara. T h e crane appears to be rapt in meditation. B. 3 1 . p. 83. Savithri Shanker de Tourreil. see also pp. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam. Hindu Polytheism (New York: Bollingen Foundation. Dhumavatl. pp. Bharatiya Saktisddhand. 1 . 18.9 5 . 1 7 6 . Usha P. (Santiniketan: Ranjit Rai Prakasan. 4 6 5 . A. 84. see also Acarya Pandita Sri Sivadattamisra Sastri. 5444. 1 9 7 1 ) . 4 6 6 . 1 9 6 7 ) . Dlksit. 3.d. See Tantrasdra. Matarigi(Dattiya. Conventionally. Swami Harshananda. p. 24. ibid. Montreal.1 0 . The tradition of acquiring magical powers is ancient in India and pervades tantric literature in particular. 82. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. Rajes Dlksit. 73. 1982). Pitambari-upanisad. 283. pp. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi Tantra Sdstra Prakashan. 10. Saktisamgama-tantra. 68. also says the name of the goddess was originally Valgamukhl. 5. cranes are taken as symbols of false yogis or holy men in Hindu culture.3 9 . a tantric informant in Varanasi. 103. p. 22. P : Sarhskrti Samsthan. 149-51. Swamiji. Shastri and Nicole Menant. n.: Pitambara Pith. 1978). 1 9 6 4 ) .6 .. Bhattacharyya. John E. 17. p. Bagalamnkhi-rahasyam. Traditions of the Seven Rsis (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Ibid. 1 1 . p. p. 9. 57. n.

concerning gaining power from a corpse by means of cremation-ground rites. p. 28. p. 6 3 . Yoga and Yantra: Their Interrelation and Their Significance for InArchaeology (The Hague: Martinus NijhofF. Kulsekar Sri Mahes Candra Garg. Diksit. 31.5 2 . 19. Bhattacharyya. 38. See N.NOTES TO PAGES 199-208 26. 4 1 . 1 9 6 6 ) . 1-2. 8 8 . 1981). P H .Y. chap. 78. 43. pp. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. p. Kauldvali. 27. 15. 50. Fields." as it were. 32. pp. pp. Ibid. pp. ed. 1 9 8 6 ) .2 1 . 4 3 8 . to bring about desired goals." p.M. Swami Annapurnananda. Aghora. 30. the different kinds of spirits that are present there. See also June McDaniel.4 1 . describes gaining power from a corpse by reviving it. The particular power (siddhi) mentioned in this case is the ability to see through solid objects and substances. see also Kauldvali. 4 2 . p. p. p. 36. p. This is also specifically mentioned in the Kauldvali description of the ritual.2 1 . Banerjee. N. Dlksit. summarized in S.At the Left Hand of God (Albuquerque.: Cornell University :ss. Robert E. 2 5 1 .3 9 . 15. Kalydna. nd Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca. 34. Hindu Tantric and Sdkta Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Ibid. 13. 40. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. Tantrasara. pp. N. p. Turner. Attempts to converse with and control spirits in the cremation ground. 8 0 . 7 3 . pp. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. Sakti Arik. p. 108. 1 8 7 . At many points in this ritual it appears that the sadhaka is seeking to revive or control the spirit of the corpse." Candi-j. Sakti Arik. 76. Tantrasara. 29. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. See her hundred names from the Rudraydmala. 16. p. 4 9 . 4 5 . 89.4 4 . Kalyana. 48. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. C. 84. 1985). p. which will then be used as a "power instrument. Ibid. V. 1 9 7 4 ) . Teun Goudriaan and Sanjukta Gupta. "Sri Bagalamukhi Upasana. 1 2 0 . p. . Harshananda.8 9 . 195. 5 0 6 . Diksit. Bagaldmukhi-rahasyam. pp. 4 6 . 4 4 . 35. pp. Dramas. p. 89. 1 3 7 . 1989). Dlksit.8 1 . 88. "Puja wamiji aur Sri Pitambara Pith Datiya. 407. 4 6 8 . chap. 1986). no. pp. A Brief History of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. 4 3 8 . Pott. 4. Svoboda. 33. 37. Ibid. Goudriaan and Gupta. pp. and the dangers inherent in such practices are described in Svoboda.: Brotherhood of Life. 51. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 47. chap. 39. 4 9 . 40 (October 1981): 1 7 . A. Sastri. T h e idea of liminality is developed in Victor W. History of the Tantric Religion. Tantrasara. and Nila-tantra. 81. Ibid.2 0 9 .

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

17. 128. Sdkta-pramoda (Bombay: Khemraja Srikrsnadasa Prakasan.: Published by the author. 316-17. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna. who would be regarded as marginal and polluted by high-caste Hindu society. Dhyana mantra of Kamala. Ibid. Tantrasdra. . p. 105. p. who travels into the mountains of South India in search of Savari. Madhya-khanda 2. pp. T h e spiritually transformative role of female hunters.Y. 26. 1 4 7 . p. 9 8 . 22. Ridding (London: Royal Asiatic Society. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. but later he learns that they are advanced spiritual teachers. 263. Mahdkdla-samhitd (Allahabad: Ganganath Jha Research Institute. 7 vols. 27. 157. 106. 1896). p.128. she dances wildly.3 0 7 . p. trans. N.NOTES TO PAGES 218-223 represents the goddess. Miranda Shaw. 1915). vol. 21. 25. 1992). spits on spectators. p. Dlksit. 15. The Kddambari of Bana. pp.69-72. see also Edgar Thurston. 1909). M. Dlksit. drinks intoxicants. 4 4 6 . wear bark and leaves as clothing. 14. T h e leader of the Sabaras (Savaras) in Bana's Kddambariis named Matariga. Maitripa finds Savari in the company of two female hunters. It is from them that Maitripa eventually gains illumination. a tribal people). matted hair. p.J. 29.8 5 . 50. Tantrasdra. Robert I. N. Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. (Madras: Madras Government Press. She seems to take special delight in abusing members of the high castes. p. and pushes people about with her backside. 24. 1992). Dlksit. 8 4 . Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton. Castes and Tribes of Southern India. 353. 4 . who have long. 28. and have freshly killed game at their feet. Ibid. uses obscene language. 23. 104. Exactly what the connection might be between these low-caste women and the goddess Matarigi is not clear. 28. Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.. a well-known tantric teacher (whose name associates him with the Savaras. p. 16. carry hunting gear. pp. 1 9 7 4 ) . r8. 2 9 5 . Bagalamukhi evam Matarigi. pp. Das. p. Possessed by the goddess. Dravidian Gods in Modern Hinduism: A Study of the Local and Village Deities of Southern India (Hamilton. Levy. 1 9 9 4 ) . 4 4 9 . Kamala 1. is emphasized in the story of the Buddhist tantric yogi Maitripa. 4 4 8 . Sdradd-tilaka 12. 0 . 1 9 . p... T h e matarigi personifies social topsy-turvy. 3 T .: Princeton University Press. 5 4 8 . Ibid. At first Maitripa is repulsed by the women. Ibid. 1 4 9 . See Wilber Theodore Elmore. C. During this festival an inversion of the usual social codes and rules takes place. p. 20.

p. 1972). University of London. 1. The Golden Germ (The Hague: Mouton. K. 5. 2 2 .). Dhal. D. see F. 1 6 4 . 1 9 6 9 ) . vol. Foreigners in Ancient India. 1 5 0 . 1970).6 1 . pp. 1982). 6 8 . pp.6 9 . 18. Brill. 420.9 3 . see Bandana Saraswati. See particularly the myths of the demons Bali and Prahlada in Saraswati. 5 5 0 " (Ph. For a discussion of these images. 4 2 4 . Dhydna mantra of MahalaksmI. 2 2 4 . 1 4 . 19. a Pancaratra Text. and Vasudha Narayanan.5 3 . K. The Theology of Rdmdnuja (New Haven. 1 7 6 . pp. (New York: Pantheon Books.d. pp. Bosch.6 1 . e d . pp. Concept and Iconography of the Goddess of Abundance and Fortune in Three Religions of India (Burdwan. 4. and Dhal. 8. p. 22. Calif. 1 9 1 6 ) . Dhal. trans. West Bengal: University of Burdwan. pp. 6 8 . pp. 17. C. Dhydna mantra of Kamala.8 . pp. "Laksmi in Orissan Literature and Art. pp. 1 9 6 9 ) . 2d ed. Chicago. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. 242. 8 1 . .3 7 . pp. pp. 13. p. Human Bondage and Divine Grace: T h e Terikalai Sri Vaisnava Position" (DePaul University. M. pp. eds. P. p. referred to as Gaja-laksmis. diss. 1 9 7 9 ) . 1. 7 . pp. "Gajalaksmi on Seals. 9 1 . pp. See Laksmi Tantra. see Niranjan Ghosh. Ananda Coomaraswamy.6 9 . 1 3 8 . Yaksas. C.276 NOTES TO PAGES 223-229 2. 7. 189.4 4 . Saraswati. pt. 20. 15. Srivastava." in D. For the symbolism of the lotus. Upendra Nath Dhal. 6 5 . Dhal.3 5 . S. The Divine Consort: Rddhd and the Goddesses of India (Berkeley. 420. For the text and translation of this hymn.D. 9. 3. pp. ed. Jan Gonda. 16. "The History of the Worship of Sri in North India to cir. "Karma and Krpa. Vasudha Narayanan." in John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff.: Yale University Press. Heinrich Zimmer. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1982). 21. pp. pp. J. Saraswati. 1 1 2 . 2 3 8 . 101. 1 9 7 1 ) . Mother Goddess in Indian Art. "The Goddess Sri: T h e Blossoming Lotus and Breast Jewel of Visnu. 11. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. 1 9 7 9 ) . Jan Gonda. Sdradd Tilaka Tantram. Conn. 1 6 0 . pp. i 9 6 0 ) .6 7 . pp. pp. 1 7 3 . 1978). Otto Schrader.J. e d . D . Saraswati. pp. 4 3 2 . 2 parts (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.3 1 . 3 4 . Foreigners in Ancient India and Laksmi and Sarasvati in Art and Literature (Calcutta: University of Calcutta. A . p.4 7 .4 7 . Saraswati.2 5 . Archaeology and Literature (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan.8 2 . 32ff. The Art of Indian Asia. see John Carman. Ancient Indian Kingship from the Religious Point of View (Leiden: E. 1 9 7 1 ) . 2 vols.6 6 . 1 5 9 . Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Sambitd (Madras: Adyar Library.8 7 . 1 3 8 . For Sri-LaksmI in Sri Vaisnavism." in Sircar. Brill. 1 9 5 5 ) .: Berkeley Religious Studies Series. Sanjukta Gupta (Leiden: E. 1 9 7 4 ) . 6. 12.7 7 . 7 5 . Sircar. 10. n. p. and Kiran Thaplyal. Behera. See Saraswati. Goddess Laksmi: Origin and Development (New Delhi: Oriental Publishers. Aspects of Early Vtsnuism. F.

Waugh. see also Robert E." in Frank E. N.. 333.7 5 . 1 5 . 5. Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth i Rebirth (New York: Harper & Row. Mahdbhdgavata-purdna 3 . pp. p. 1981). 1 6 . pp. 3 6 9 .. 1 9 9 2 ) . Dyczkowski. pp.M. 4 3 8 . Religious Encounters with Death: Insights from the History and Anthropology of Religions (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. eds. 2 1 4 .7 . 378. 3 1 . u.7 0 . Ibid. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 1 9 6 6 ) .. pp. 1 9 7 7 ) . TbeCa?ionoftheSaivdgamaandtbeKubjikdTantras of the Western Kaula Tradition (Albany: State University of New York Press. 1989). 77. Ram Kumar Rai (Varanasi: Prachya Prakashan. See Victor Turner. Mantra Mahodadhih. p. 1988). 4.2 1 0 . 1 9 8 4 ) . 1958). 1982). 1. 379. 6. Ibid. 3 7 0 .: Penguin.3 8 .. 3 7 3 .. S\oboda.. 1 4 5 . p. See David Kinsley. Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. Brhaddharma-purdna 2 . See Mircea Eliade. pp. vol. Banerjee. p. Sexual Metaphors and Animal Symbols in Indian Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.NOTES TO PAGES 230-238 2 77 23. 1 4 . 379. 3 7 5 . 150. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure (Harmondsworth. 1 4 6 . pp. 1 9 6 9 ) .: Brotherhood of Life. N. 1 3 .^4 Brief History of Tantric Literature (Calcutta: Naya Prokash. see also p. 3 7 3 . 3. For a vivid description of the cremation ground as the locale of a host of spirits. 9 7 . 3 6 9 . Ibid. S. 27.4 4 . pp. G. C.. for a definition and discussion of the "liminal" as central to many sets of rituals. 1 9 8 . 98. and trans. p. ed. vol.3 6 . Uddis'a-tantra. O'Flaherty. " 'The Death That Conquers Death': Dying to the World in Medieval Hinduism. Brhat Tantrasdra (Calcutta: Navabharat Publishers. 9.9 7 . 325.J. for a discussion of making contact with spirits in the cremation ground. The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. chap. pp. Reynolds and Earle H.. 4 9 6 . P. C o n c l u d i n g Reflections 1. Ibid. p. Cited in June McDaniel. Ibid. p. 3 7 5 . 10. 25. 28. 4 3 4 . . 9. Krsnananda Agamavagisa. Ibid.1 0 8 .7 4 . U. 1 8 7 . Ibid. p. (Princeton. 1986). Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Katbmandu Valley. MarkS. 6 . Ibid. 24. 2 vols.K. pp. 26. pp.: Princeton University Press. 8. 377. 2. 1. 1986). Mahidhara. Sakta-pramoda. H. p. Banerjee. Sexual Metaphors. 374. 7. see Mary Shepherd Slusser.Aghora:At the LeftHandof God (Albuquerque. 15. 16.7 6 . Yoga and Yantra: Their Interrelation and Their Significance for Indian Archaeology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 12. Pott has used the term in reference to rituals in cremation grounds by tantric Buddhists in Nepal. 9 9 .

6 9 4 . 22. pi. 1989). The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.5 0 3 . which are superior powers or "perfections" achieved by means of yoga. p. 23. the buffalo demon whom Durga slays in the Devi-mdhdtmya. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna. 6 9 2 . Banerjee. 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. 30. 19. pi. . and Kahkdlamdlini-tantra. 1 9 9 4 ) . In one rendition of Kali and Siva. 21. McDaniel. " 'The Death that Conquers Death. See the discussion of chopped-off heads in the chapter on Chinnamasta. Kauldvali-tantra.6 7 . Miranda Shaw. 3. Arthur Avalon (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. p. The Tantric Way: Art. pp. is Mahisasura. pp. 222. Banerjee. Kuldrnava-tantra 1 0 8 . Uddisa-tantra. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. For example. Tantrasara.J.8 3 . The Yonitantra. including changing into animal form. 1 1 1 . 3. p. 4 1 . 1 7 1 . 25. 32. For example. 6 8 2 . is a meditative technique whereby illumination is achieved (pp. p. p. 40. A. Mahidhara. 160. 1985). Mookerjee and Khanna. Tantrasara. fig. 325. Schoterman (New Delhi: Manohar. p. 245. he is lying beneath her feet on a cremation pyre that is surrounded by bones. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. McDaniel. 20. Jani (Baroda: University of Baroda. Kinsley. Mahidhara. 1980). Mahidhara. that only low-caste or 33. 31. . 1 9 7 9 ) . 10. however. It is not fair to conclude from this text. 38. pp. Philip Rawson. He is naked and has an erection. chap.28 7 NOTES TO PAGES 238-247 17. N.: Princeton University Press. see Banerjee. 1 8 6 ./} Brief History of Tantric Literature. 7 . 83. Banerjee. 181. and jackals. June McDaniel. Oriental Erotic Art (New York: A and W Publishers. 3. 1 9 7 7 ) .7 0 2 . Science. 147.8 8 ) . 16. 12. A. 24.9 . ed. See Mookerjee and Khanna. 2 1 4 . 217. chap. Ritual (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. p. p. 1 6 6 . A well-known example of the ability to change form at will. 39. chaps. p. 16. 37. 253. she argues.14. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 4 9 9 . Ibid. 4. include some of these abilities and are ancient in the Hindu tradition. 1 1 2 . 10. p. 1981). J." Sexual union. which is identified as Kali but is actually Tara. pp. Tantrasara. Chap.' " 23. 29. ed. 702. Kauldvali. 1 4 5 . 253.9 . p. chap. crows. ed. 58. p. p. 1 8 5 . 34. 27. p. 28. for a brief discussion of women in tantric literature. s e e a s o 11. pp. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton. ' Parasurdma-kalpasutra. 18. 181. 36. 26. The asta siddhis. p. Tantrasara. N. 35. Ibid.

McDaniel. Guptasddhand-tantra. Sarvolldsa-tantra 50. p. p. chap.. pp. The Canon of the Saivdgama. 1928).37. 45. 174 and passim. 184. 193-210. loyalty to her husband is mentioned first. p. Gandharva-tantra. 4. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 184-85. r8. 42. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Yoni-tantra 6. See Shaw. 251. chap. 65. 43. 202.3032. 5t. chap. Kdmdkhyd-tantra 36. Mark Dyczkowski. 50. 96." pp. among her commendable qualities. 48. p. 53." pp. and Lynn eskey Denton. where this rite is described as being undertaken on a corpse. Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. Bhattacharyya. whether she is a widow (and. Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 2. 54. pp. 64. although they are clearly in the minority. 11. T h e conditions under which a female may function as a guru depend on whether her husband is a guru. Dyczkowski. p. 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). 49. see anjukta Gupta. p. 992)- . 55. "Women in the §aiva/§akta Ethos.2. N. passim. Similarly. 50. 20) specifies that yoni pujd should be undertaken during menstruation.40-42. both injua Leslie. Ibid. It is also clear in this passage that the discussion is very much from a male point of view. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. See also N. chap. chap. whether she has a son).. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. 15. pp. 23-24. Prdnatosint-tantra (Calcutta: Basumati Sahitya Mandir. 52. p." 57. Yogini-tantra. 223. Mdyd-tantra 6. 225-27. esp. p. 122. 15. 16. For a discussion of tantric female spirituality in the Hindu tradition. if so. A Brief History of Tantric Literature. Shaw. P347- chap. Ibid. McDaniel. 1982). 1953). Banerjee. Banerjee. History of the Tantric Religion: A Historical. "Varieties of Hindu Female Asceticism. Sarvolldsa-tantra (Calcutta: Harambacandra Bhattacharya. 56.5 {The Yonitantra. Kdmdkhydtantra.NOTES TO PAGES 247-250 socially marginal women took part in tantric sadhana. Banerjee. 46. See Kauldvali-tantra. 7. Banerjee. and Nila-tantru. 47. p. 44. Kubjikd-tantra. the author of several books on Hindu Tantrism. 58. and so on. 50. Tantrasdra. p. 121: "In the Tantric religious system a woman has the right of initiating persons into the secrets of the cult and acting as guru. p. chap. 123. chap. 7. ed. p. see also The Yonitantra. 35-68. Kubjikd-tantra. 701. Banerjee. has told me that both Hindu and Buddhist tantric lineages mention female teachers. p.

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


the creator T h e absolute." one of the Mahavidyas South.282 bindu Brahma brahman Brahman cakra Candalas GLOSSARY Seed. ignorant) T h e Himalayan mountains personified as a god Ruler of the city of the gods A physical sense. ultimate reality.E. the festival of nine nights An image of LaksmI flanked by elephants Celestial beings An elephant-headed deity grba "Womb room. a component of yantras One of the gods of the male trimurti. See also nirguna brahman. dot. pure). 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." an epithet' of Parvati Qualities or constituents that constitute all matter: sattva (spiritual. right." 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 . powerful). or essence. probably written around the sixth century C. sensory perception "World nurse. Cosmic and moral order "She who abides in smoke. 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." one of the Mahavidyas Meditation mantra A meditation mantra. clockwise. and tamos (lustful. also known as Navaratra." "she who nurses the world. rajas (energetic. which often describes the physical appearance of a deity A demon-slaying goddess A festival in honor of Durga." the inner shrine of a temple "The golden one.

for which Calcutta is named A festival in honor of Kali T h e present cosmic era." one of the Mahavidyas Kali's most famous temple. an overarching. also an epithet of Siva "The black one." a goddess. the last of the four yugas Sexual desire T h e god of love "She whose eyes are filled with desire. also known as Sri or Laksmi A goddess center in Assam "One who bears a skull." a type of protective invocation Also known as Sri or Kamala. transcendent female reality T h e chief priest at a temple "Great knowledge. also the place where she is worshiped in Assam "She of the lotus. in which morality has declined." a deity A deity associated with wealth "Family." "she who is lovely." a famous goddess hymn "Great goddess"." "great mantra. knowledge "She who is black." one of the Mahavidyas. one of the Mahavidyas "The thousand names of Lalita.GLOSSARY Jaya 283 One of two females flanking the goddess Chinnamasta Life force Liberating wisdom." 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 Tripura-sundari." the name of a type of religious ascetic." an epithet of a goddess A group of ten tantric goddesses "Slayer of Mahi§a." 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. one of the Mahavidyas "Soft and delicate.

" an epithet of Bagalamukhi A seat. or sacred center. usually associated with a goddess Parvatl pati pis'dcas Pltambara pitha vratd . Siva's spouse A wife devoted to her husband Flesh-eating demons "She who is dressed in yellow. where the kundalini sleeps An image A vein or artery Hymns consisting of names or epithets Without or beyond qualities." a goddess. shrine. self-infatuation. 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 genre of Bengali literature A sacred verbal formula. freedom from rebirth i 1 -M The lowest cakra. 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.284 mandala marigal mantra GLOSSARY A graphic and symbolic representation of the cosmos kdvyas "Auspicious poems. 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.

" a goddess Pertaining to sakti.la s'dkta pithas Sdkta-pramoda ti Icti Saktisamgama-tantru "amsdra . partial to sakti "Seats of Sakti. depicted as a thousand-petaled lotus located just above the crown of the head "She who bears vegetables. and bliss." wife of Kama. and ritual instructions "Queen of kings." places sacred to goddesses A tantric digest or manual Energy.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. consciousness." a common definition of brahman A religious adept Religious endeavor. ethics. one of the three gunas The hero of the Rdmdyana A famous Bengali devotee of Kali A Hindu epic "Sexual intercourse. this world rajas Rama Ramakrishna 1836-86 Rdmdyana Rati sabda sacciddnanda sadhaka sadhana sahasrandma stotru sahasrdra cakra akambhari '." a common epithet of Tripurasundari Energy. power The embodied form of sakti as a goddess A tantric digest The realm of rebirth. the god of love brahman T h e underlying essence of reality as manifest in sound "Being. legend. spiritual exercise Thousand-name hymn T h e topmost cakra.

286 GLOSSARY A famous Hindu philosopher A tantric digest Goddess of wisdom and learning Wife of Siva. and cosmic destruction sadhana Spiritual practices appropriate to cremation grounds "She who is sixteen." magical powers A goddess. another name for Kamala. "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. one of the Mahavidyas An ancient hymn to the goddess Sri T h e form of the goddess tfripura-sundari as mantra. one of the Mahavidyas "Auspicious". also. source of the Mahavidyas in some accounts Purity. an epithet of Tripurasundari. yoga." "she who has sixteen (good) qualities". a school of Tantrism T h e power to immobilize or paralyze a person T h e physical. asceticism. heroine of the Rdmdyana. 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 . wife of Rama A deity associated with the Mahavidyas. anthropomorphic. 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." "the sixteenth.

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. the Hindu triad of Brahma. 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. usually briefer and more recent than principal purdnas Vehicle of a deity. the power of superior speech The left-handed path in Tantrism Knowledge. 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 . a type of religious practitioner qualified to undertake certain left-handed tantric practices One of the three great male deities of Hinduism." one of the Mahavidyas The power to make one's enemy sick by willing it. usually an animal Pertaining to Visnu." sacred centers T h e thirty days of the waxing and waning moon "Having three forms". mantra "Hero". the creator. the destroyer "She who is lovely in the three worlds. the power to eradicate Leftover food purdnas Lesser or "younger" purdnas. Visnu. the maintainer. in tantric contexts.

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Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Himalayan Pilgrimage. 1972. and Nicole Menant. Kapali.296 BIBLIOGRAPHY Saradd THaka Tantrum. Paris: Le Soleil Noir. 5 vols. Dasa Mahavidya and Tantra Sastra. M. Sircar. Norman Brown. Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. diss. Sastri. 1991. Sarbeswar. Bagalamukhi-rahasyam.: Princeton University Press. See Krsnananda Agamavagisa. Sarvolldsa-tantra. Bandana. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Princeton.D. 1992. Calcutta: Harambacandra Bhattacharya. C. Shaw. Varanasi: Bhola Yantralaya. 2 vols. Taponista. 1986. Pastoral Deities in Western India. 1973. Tantra of the Great Liberation (Mahanirvana-tantra). First published in Calcutta. Mass.: Harvard University Press. C. Bhdrat Tirth Darsan. Schrader. 1951. 1971. Sax. Foreigners in Ancient India and Laksmi and Sarasvati in Art and Literature. Acarya Pandita Sri Sivadattamisra. Hymnes a la de'esse. Sontheimer. T. Satapatha-brdhmana. "Karunamayi Tara. 1953.: Brotherhood of Life. Translated by Arthur Avalon. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley 2 vols. The Saundaryalahari or Flood of Beauty. Miranda. Slusser. New York: Dover Publications. Jagannath Prasad. New Delhi: National Museum. Princeton. 1979. t99i. U.. Mother Goddess in Indian Art. Usha P. New York: Oxford University Press. 1971. 5 vols. Thought and Literature. 7 (1946). Sidelights on Tantra. Shastri. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. "The History of die Worship of Sri in North India to cir. Calcutta: Mansukharaja Mora. N. Edited and translated by W. William. 1916. 1971. 1959-62. Albuquerque. Tantrasdra.: Princeton University Press. A. University of London. 1938.At ihe Left Hand of God. C. Skanda-purdna. Robert E. Saraswati. Sastry. Nataraja in Art. Archaeology and Literature. P.R: Sarhskrti Sarhsthan. Poona: Anandasrama Sanskrit Series. ed. . Svoboda. Sharma. Madras: Adyar Library. Delhi: World Book Co. Gunther-Dietz.. Srivastava. N. 1934. Tantra Vidyd. ^ 8 9 . Varanasi: Thakur Prasad Pustak Bharadar. r970. 1933. Govinda. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Aghora.J. Pondicherry." Ph. . 1974. 550. Calcutta: University of Calcutta. 1984. Taittirya-hrdbmana. Otto. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sarma. D.J. The Sdkta Pithas. 2 vols. Cambridge. 1982. LaksmI Narayana. Sastri. V.M. 1958. 1980. 1986. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. Sivaramamurti. Introduction to the Paricardtra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd. 1966. Khavaja Kutub and Bareli. F. . N. Mary Shepherd. 1994.D.. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. Vedamurti [Sriram Sarma Acarya]. 1982. Translated by Anne Feldhaus." Condi 6. Satpathy. New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Arthur Avalon. Translated by Julius Eggeling. Tantra-mabdvijnana. no. trans. Sakti Iconography in Tantric Mahavidyas.

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

281 Amavasya. 95. 243. 6-7. defined. 60. 115 Aksobhya. 137 Arjuna.Index Note: Page numbers of illustrations are italicized. 32 Aiyai. 256n5i. 245. 1-2. 98. -madana-devi. of Bhuvanesvari. 40 Annapurnesvari-bhairavi. -madana. defined. 90 Agni. 6. 52-57. 118-19. 47. See also Animal sacrifices. 238-40. defined. 93 Atman. 227. 204 Anariga-kusuma. 93 . 112 adi pitha. 122-23. See also inauspiciousness Avalokitesvara. 253n4 Annapurna-bhairavl. 93 avaranas.159.' 137 Amitabha. in Mahavidyas. 138 Annapurna (Annapurna-devT). 138 dsana(s). 172. 281. 17 / Advaita Vedanta. 230. 236 Atisa. Abhinavagupta. 121 atman. 278 asuras. Lalita as. 143. of Bagalamukhi. -kusumatura. 97. 48 Ananda. 197.138 Agni-purdna.174 anthropomorphic images. 121. -rupa-devi. 86-87. 45 ambika sakti. 84. 169. defined. 141. 67. 5 Atmavidya. 167 adepts. 228. 68. 281 adi Mahavidya. 50. 137 djnd cakra. 138 arikus'a. 126. 123-28. 90-91. defined 281 'hata cakra. 20. 246 sadhaka(s) adharma. of Tripura-sundari. 150. 70 Aindri. 281. 251-52 Aparajita. 89.100 AlaksmI. 14. 151 AjitS. 210-12 Ananda-bhairava. 140 . 48 Akhilandesvari. 76-79. 3-4. 217 artba. vedana-devi. -mekala -devi. 149. -vedya. 60 auspiciousness. defined. 96. 135. 225. See also cosmic serpent antimodels. 126. of Tripura-sundari. 75. 88. 201 Arya. -madanatura. 153. 281 Astamatrkas.138. 174. 93 Amoghasiddhi. 178-81. 110. 183. 151.126 Ananta. 115-16 asta siddhis. of Kamala.


Ka- mala and. Dhumavatl and. 118 Bali. 169-71. order in Mahavidyas. defined. of Tripura-sundari. yoga and.3o. 169. 255n25 avidyd. 118. 1 9 6 99. 281 Bhuvana.8 .i5. 21. 197. 146 battlefields. defined. Kali and. 198200. r j . 207. 201. Visnu and. defined. 220. 149. 198-99. zjony Bhadra-kali. Kama and. lirigams and. 174. 172. 117 Bhaskararaya. 281. Siva and. 206. 168. forms of. order in Mahavidyas. 37. 207-8. Brahma and. cosmic functions and. 169. 193-208. 172. 208. 11. n 6 . 47. 208. 34-35. 9. 201. 42. 16. cosmic order and. See also blood offerings Bamakhepa (Vamakhepa). 172. vdhanas of. 238. 172. n.1 7 bharana. 101.236-37. 171. 18. 281 Bbairava-tantra. 202. 203. 200. 253n4. 170-72. 201-2. severed heads and. 47. 229-30. of Visnu. 174. 118 Bhima. defined. 253m.15. 165 Bagala. 208. i n . 47. Sarasvati and. 167. 281. 100. lotuses and. cremation grounds and. 169. dhyana mantras of. 281. meditation on. 116-17. 167. yantras of. as demon slayer. 155. 14. 174. 186. 198. 164 Bhayavidhvamsini-bhairavi. 172 Bherunda. 255nn22. 167-75. worship of. 281 Bhavabhuti. 83. 29. 15. 197. 30. 16. 240. 133. 35. 202. 23.9. 37-38. 230 Bhumi. 228. 5 7 7 5 i defined. 46. 193. 169. 208. 201. illustrations. 197. Chinnamasta as. 172. 2 5 n 4 . 42-43. 38. 257n84. 61. 14. 169. skulls and. yoni. 194-95.7 5 . 62. n. 281 2 n bdna nydsa. frightening nature of. 172. n. 195-96. 198. consciousness and. color of. hymns to. 174. control and. shrine to. yantra of. worship of. 247 BhagamalinI. See Bagalamukhi Bagalamukhi. 70. 167. 207. defined. 248 Bhanda. 97. 201. 254nn8. 169-70. cremation grounds and. 199. 207. 125-26 Bagaldmukhi-Tubasya. 7> ' o 6 . Brahma and. 174 bhuta(s) (element). i n . I0 2 0 1 2 171. 201. 174. 50. 227. 16. demons and. 198-99. 104.INDEX avatdras. 164. 16775. 193. Siva and. as Hall.23. -vega-devi. 195-96. 29. 231 Bhagamala.173. 58. kundalini md. as demon slayer. 281. 14 Bala-tripura-sundari. 172 Banasura. 221. 43. 205.i2. shrines to. 238. sexual intercourse and. 207. mantra mantras of. 57 Bajresvari-devT. 2. hair of. 201 x 255nn29. 199. frightening nature of. 281 Bhutabhairavaseviti. 207. 171. 146 Bhairava. See ahn elements of creation bhuta(s) (ghost). consciousness and. -pala. destruction and. 233. 102 Baudhayana-grhyasutra. 44-45. 138 . 202. 169. 167. 11. gunas and. 117. 175 Bharati.7 1 . 207. 169. magical powers and. 193. 21. 81. 208. 207.121-23. dhyana 193. 39-40. corpses and. 131. 44. corpses and. in Nepal. Tantrasdra and. defined. yoni. gunas and. 198-99. 171. 3 origin myths of. defined. 196 Bala. 199. 197. 74 Bhayarupa. 27. 195. lotuses and. 146-47. blood offerings to.n. 2551^129. 193-96. 247. Visnu and. an- Bhairavi. 32. 75. 1 6 9 . 281. in Nepal. Parvati and. 179 bali. 199-201. 257n84. 172. iconography of. in Tibet. 164 bbutasuddhi. sexual desire and. 9 of. 1 7 4 . mantras of. 102. 170. fire and. blood and. 203 bhava(s). 171. 44. 18. 46. 207. 247 Bhdgavata-purdna. 207. Tantrasdra and.30. 195. Sri and. hymns to. illustrations. 167. 172. boons and. 169. defined. 166. 11. 50. thropomorphic images of. 20-22. 199. 193. 29. 37. 195-96. 1 6 9 71. 14. yoni pujd and. 167. 108. 201. . offerings to. as Kurma. 169-70. 152 baka. defined. 206. 2 5 5 ^ 3 . Tripura-sundari and. 231. gods and. 220-21. 172-74. 2541^8. defined. 281 Batuk-bhairava. 34-35. 195. 131. Chinnamasta and. 59. 6. 205-6. 90. -palikadevi. 57. temples to. 44.

151. 2 n blood. 136.iri. 220-21. 151 Buddha. 176. Kali and. 186. 50. 158. crows Biroba. Tripura-sundari and. 158. 86. Chinnamasta and. 23. 82. 117. 134. to Kali. 16. dhydna mantra of. to goddesses. 50. 136-40. defined. Dhumavati and. 59-60. 78. See also boons avatdra of Visnu. 89. Bhuvanesvari and. 32. 136. 5. 129-43. ' 8 6 . 281. Bhuvanesvari and. sadhani and. 109. 93. 76. 6. 282. 47-48. in yantras. 125. 50. 209-12. 132-36. 147. auspicious- ness of. Kamala and. 147.9. 171. 159. 174. 151. 92-93. See also Brahmastra. 115. 139-40. See also bali . to Chinnamasta.i2. 40. n. yoni pujd and. 28 bija(s). 21. 281. beauty of. Tara and. 7. lotuses and. 121. 5. 141. gunas and. hymns to. Lalita and. 100. 134. 126-27. 238-40. Bhairavi and. 6. 141-42. de- and. 207. 54.prakrti and. 161-63. 57. cosmic order and. See also seed syllables bija mantras. 41. yoni. 254nn8. lotus. cakras and. 183 Bhuvanesi. Tara and. 73. 1 3 9 - fined. 282 bird symbolism. defined. See also Sri cakra calcitras. boons. 144. 48. 281. Tripura-sundari and. 2 7 8 ^ 9 . 9. 205. 129. 180. 238-40. cults. 96. 2 5 5 ^ 2 huddhi. 134. bija mantra of. 55. 142. 250. See also cranes. 222 Brhatkalhamanjari. rjo. 60 Buddhirupa. 105. 47-48. 197. 185-86. 7. 96 Brhaddharma-purdna. 11. 60 Buddhism. 21. 126. 129 Bodhisattva. 151. 141-42. 132. 54. 32 brahmarandhra. 131. 132-36. 237. 51. Brhasp. 2 7 5 ^ 2 . 73-74. 142. See also reality. 140-41. Bhairavi and. worldly. 131. 282 brahman. I I . as defined. Kali and. Lalita and. 141. Kali and. Laksmi and. 132. 153. 141. Set also blessings Brahma. 53. 47-49. 5. 131. 54. to Dhumavati. 160. 57. 92-100. 63. 225. 134. 139. 131 Bhuvanesvari. 149. 21. s'abda brahman Brahmani. Sarasvaa and. 96-97. illustrations. 242. as demon slayer. 7. 223. Matarigi in. ' Matarigi and. boons and. 37. 18. 32. 88. 133. 255n23. 250. Visnu and. 29. 235. lotuses and. 167. 213-14. 136. 220. 133-34. 134. Tara and. 7 9 ) order in Mahavidyas. 35. See also menstrual blood blood offerings. 138. 248 Brabma-vaivarta-purana. 172 Bbuvanesvari-stotra. as Varaha. 56 seed mantras bindus. 167. 147. 13033. 171. yoni pujd and. defined. defined. in yantras. 248 Bhuvanesvari-bhairavi. 120-21. 134. 134. 105. 80-81. Bagalamukhi and. 50. 149. 138. 221. 70-71. cosmic functions and. Tara in. 60. to Tara. 225. 5. 2 5 5 ^ 9 blessings. 24-25. 134. Chinnamasta and. 60 Brahmaydmala. 146. 106. 187-88. 76. 70-71. nirguna. 199. 142. worship of. 106. 75. 217. 126. 87. 134. 253n4. 225 boksis. 100. 249. to Bagalamukhi. lotuses in. Visnu myths of. 151. 62.bbuvanas. in Hinduism. 172 cakra(s). at Tarapith. 143. 257n84. as physical world. 32. 211-12. Sodasi and. 5. 131. Siva and. 141. 2 5 5112 5. as Vamana. Tara and. 67. frightening nature of. 137-38. 12. 199 Brahmavidya. 41. Dhumavati and. 21. Tripura-sundari and. Bhuvanesvari and. 53-54. 209-12. 90.155. sakti. 42. 22. 157-58. 60 Brahman(s). 50. 244. 131. 131 282. Brahma and. n o . 108. 241 Caitanya-bhairavi.n. 9. origin 112-13. 255^129. 2 5 5 ^ 2 .194. 7 9 5 5 ! Chinnamasta in. Caitanya. 1 6 1 62. Siva and. Laksmi as. 100-101. 3. yantra of. 238-40. 108-9 159.i5. 120. 46. Kali and. 44-45. 129-31. 255n23. Tantrasara and. Durga and. 136. worldly. 143.30. tantric. 135—37. 131. Bhairavi and. Lalita and. 11. 58. Chinnamunda and. 141. Tantrasara and. 172. 129. 141. 159-60. defined 282. 33 240. 198. 134. Matarigi as. Laksmi and. defined. 169. 86.

Kali and. 157. 202. n. spiritual. reality and. 202. 11. 150-51. 146. 164. 267117 Candalas. as demon slayer. 150. Bhairavl and. 174-75. Kali and. 21. 87-90. 234 color: Bagalamukhl's yellow. in Buddhism. 171. 240. 180.30. blood offerings to. iconography of. 227. 206. (see also mdyd). 246. 20. 244. 154-55. Tripura-sundari and. Rati and. 1 7 2 . 47. reality and. 79. 117. 244. 144. sexu- ality of. 75 Cdmundd-tantra. 154. 102-3. 144. 160. 156. blood and. . yoni pujd and. 50. 1 5 7 58. 7. 164. 87. 221. 147. cakmsand. cosmic order and. Chinnamasta and. 149-50. 6 2 illustrations. 88. 144-47. sexual intercourse and. See also s'ava sddhand cosmic functions. kundalini and. Tara and. 196-99. 163. 82. 9. 165. 112. stages of. 14. 78. 202. 9. Parvati and. 147-49. 159-62. 167. atTarapIth. 62. 163 Chinnamasta. 14 Canda. u . 238. 70. 169-71. 71. Bhairavl and. 93 Cina-tara. 206. 2 5 5 ^ 3 . 217-18. 157-58. 243-44. 164. 2$i. 163. Kali's black. 121. 35. 144. 233. 104. 153.sddband 149. 157. sddhakas and. 60 Cheating Death. 144. 156-57. worship of. 170. 97 Cintpurni. 180. 63. 218 defined. 41-42. 87. 198-99. temples to. 202. 229. 186. 63 control: Bagalamukhi and. I I . 60.. 43. 60. 146-55. Tripura-sundari and. 233-38. hymns to. 117. 6. 202. 164 Candi. 240-41. 63. 149. states of. 21. 70. 141. 166. 5. 4 7 . lotuses and. 230. 209. 233. 206. 248 Chinnamunda. 47. 1 4 9 50. 9 202. 12. 21. 155. Kamala and. 241-44. fertility and. 282. 157. 241. 62. 220. mantras and. 240. 16. Kama and. 47. 23. 154-55. 144. 46-49. 5. 41-42. 144. 159-60. I I . 233. 164. 117. 182. 204 Caral-devT-raati. sadhana and. 154-57. 245. 32. 1 5 4 57. 257n84. 233. See also Ananta .161-63. 11. 147. 208. 160. 112. 246. 206. hair of. 163. 26 n7. Siva and. 46. 159. severed heads and. 201-2. cremation grounds and. Bagalamukhi and. cremation fires and. 159. Bhuvanesvari and. 28. 148-49. order in Mahavidyas. skulls Bhuvanesvari and. 9. 41. 251. 164-65. 25. 255^129. See also dharma cosmic roles. frightening nature of. 32. 96. 158. 148 Candesvari. Bagalamukhi and. history of.INDEX Camunda (Camunda-devi). 159-60. 15-16 cetand. Mahavidyas and. 247. 146. Mahavidyas as. 148-49. mantras and. 5 4 5 n n 8 . 144. yugas. 157. 44-45. 154-57. Matarigi and.120 cosmic order. Bagalamukhi and. 240. 122. 54. 154-55. 119. 134. 147-50. 202. as avatdras. 162.7 0 . 29. I 5 7 . 75. 151. Tripura-sundari and. 211-13. 253m. 171 and. defined. Matarigi and. corpses and. 164-65. death and. 160. mantra of. 50. 248 cosmic serpent. 195. 44. 83. 20-21. 161. 62. Kali and. Tripura-sundari and. Tantrasdra and. 157. 112 Consort(s): goddesses as. 2 6 9 ^ 0 citdsddhand. yantra of. 42. 164 Candanayika. 28. 11. severed heads and. 87-88. Kali as. Kamala and. Dhumavatl and. 57. 206. 245. 8 < > io 1 I 0 and. 147. Durga and. 100. 14. 159-60. false. 144-66. 131. 47. sddhakas and. 51. 149. 35. 133-35. Camunda-kaii. 163-66. 63. 145. 144. 55. 38. 233. 2. 147. Tara as. prototypes of. as Narasimha. 30. shrines to. 146. 163. 12. 146-48. n. 34-35. 63. 171 Candika.15. 11. Tara and. 206. 232. 16. 108. 98. Bhairavl and. 80. 161-62 chwasas. Mahadevi and. 32. 232. 243. 233-34. dhydna mantras 7 of. origin myths of. 67. 206. 39. Bhairavl and. 246. self-decapitation of. as Parasurama. 146. 146. 84. 198 consciousness. 238. Kamala as. 202. 233. 57. 233. gunas and. 24. 202. 244. 149-50. 193. Chinnamasta and. 202. I I . 1 6 9 . 244. 117. 163. 238. 157. 241. 79. 37. awakened. 144. 212 Candamati. 139. 148. 155. 220-21 corpses. 253n4. 282 Canddlikd (Tagore). 244. meditation on. 2 5 5 ^ 2 .

140. 190. 30. 38. Tripura-sundari as. 179-82. Chinnamasta as > ^9-5°^ 55> ° 7 7 i Dhumavati as. 39-40. 73. 182. 176. 186. 109-10 Dhanapati. Kali's. cult. 244. 114. defined. Kali and. 192. 251. 100. 100. frightening nature of. 222. yantras and. 93. 233. 148-49. 87 Daksinacara. cremation fires and. Bagalamukhi and. 158. 176. destruction and. 116-17. 88. 244. Chinnamasta and. sava 149. 141. Sri-Laksml and. 194-95. 102. 2. 11. 201. 15. 21. 60. 186. 21. n. 233. Laiita as. 197. 18. 82-84. 22-27. 235. death. 190. 62. Sec also specific names sadhana and. 32. 34. 187-88. 30. dhydna mantras of. 243 devi.i76. 282 I l a ee c o s m crows. n. Daksa. no. 176. defined. m. 273n46. 67-68. 89. 2 2 2. 206. r 53 destruction: Bhairavi and. defined. 5. 71. Dasamahavidyas. Tara and. 62.187. 84. 186. 86. 187. 206-8. 182. 138 Darmadra. 142. sadhakas and. Bagalamukhi and. Laksmi and. 252.182. 5. 27. symbolic. 282. 131. Chinnamasta and. Jyestha and. 190. 179. 139. 62. 108. atTarapith. Bhairavi and. Tara and. 35. 80. n. Kali as. 60. gunas and. 44. 182. 164. 233. 208. 134 Devi-mdhdtmya. 8> IC| I I O 240-41. 86-87. 195-96. 48 Daksina-kali. 188. 186. 137-39. cremation grounds and. 144. 56. 86-88. Tripura-sundari's. 236 134. 180. 42. 55. Daldni. 249. 179-80. 102-4. 244. 234. 180. Nirrti and. Durga and. 56 danda. 20. 119. 233. 225. Bagalamukhi and. 29-30. hair of. 89-90. 157. Nirrti and. Bagalamukhi and. S "h" i c functions Devi. 233. 49. 240. 233. Bhuvanesvari's. 43-44. 278n2i. 73 daksina. 187. 170 Damara-tantra. 94. 27. 9. 206. Dhumavati's.176-92. Dhumavati and. at Tarapith. 49. 234. 202. 2I r 2 n > 244 cremation grounds. 244. 176. 79. 70. 74. 87-88. See also maraud demon slayer(s). 282. 157-58. Chinnamasta and. Dattdtreya-tantra. 183. 120. 196-97. 30. 125-26. as demon slayer.122 Devi-bhdgavata-purdna. 151. 7. Durga as. 6-7. sexual imagery and. 103-5. 110. 182. 138 Dhara. 202. 30. 257n84. Dhumavati and. 6. 53. 230. . 234. lotuses as. 176. Kali and. Tara's. 176. 63. 60. 178. 83. 282 devotional poems. Tara as. 230. 220. 90. 97> J 202. 197. 100. 147-48. 202. i n . yantras and. 197. 52. 48. defined. 134. 178 cults. 278n2i. Tara and. 97. 160 ddkinis. 94 dorian. 202. 202. 81-82. Matarigi and. 5 . Kamala's. 244. 119 Dharma. 226. in Tantrism. 179. 178. 282 Daruka. 62. 259m Daksinamurti. 235. 131. 208. 34. defined. 88. 207-8 creation. 230 demons. 27. 176. 49. 90. 202. 228. 51. crows and. 227. 56 goddesses and. 135. 105. Visnu and. 41. 251. 103. 21. 62. 75. 16-17 208. 70-71. 49. 176. 29. 49. Bhuvanesvari as. Tara and. 55. corpses and. 227. 38. 197. 253m. 149. 176. 115. n. 202. Bhairavi as. 199. blood offerings to. 38. 213. 5 4 cranes. 209. Matarigi and. 38. 245. 1 8 .182. 100. Sri cakra and. Kali and. 221-22. 157-58. 206. 119. 7 8 79. Bagalamukhi as. 282 Daksina-bhairava.cosmology. meditation on. 35-36. 190. Kamala as. . Kali and. Visnu as. 88. 84. 78.125-26 cosmos. 146. 71. 230-31.190. Dhumavati and. 116. 33-35. 73 dasamahavidya. 244-46. 81. defined. 186. 207. 127. Tara and. 138 Dhumavatl. 234-35. 230. 214. 226 dharma. 11. 180. 58-59 blood and. See also cosmic functions cremation fires. Kali and. n o . Chinnamasta and. 20. Alaksmi and. 14. 37. boons and. Dhumavati and. 205. 68. I I . 38. 32-35. 170-7'2. 171. 14-15. See also cosmic order Dhrti. mantras and. 233-38. 86. 208.

See also specific names goddesses. 282 Gariga. Kamala and. 34. 1. 105. 2$ynj2 Divydvaddna. 138 Durgd-cdlisd. 186-87. 187. order in Mahavidyas. 134. 164 Ghora-tara. 178. 94. 198 Eck. 133. LaksmI and. 2 56n5i. illustrations. bird sym bolism and. Sati and.30. 282. 144. vdhana of. 179 Dvapara Yuga. 129. Bhairavl's. 209 Gagana. 88. Bhuvanesvari's. in Nepal. 79. hymns to. 187. 14-15. 230. 81. 5. 55. 176. 81-82. 164 Durga.n. 84 Drstisamharakarinl. 73. 30. Sri and. 228-29. 67-68. defined. 18. 118. 229 fasting. 185-87. 57. 14. inauspiciousness of. 174. defined. 230. Sri and. 197. 228-29. Matarigi's. 135-36 Ghora. 255n22. 31. 18. 9. 189. Tripura-sundari and. 191. . sexuality of. hymns to. See women fertility. 228 divya. See also Parvati Gayatri. 187-90. 52. 253n . 23. sadhand and. 117. 33-35. 100. 83 Durgama. defined. 201. 190-91. 187.i2. 187-92. 126. 192. 192. 84 Dussaha. 180-85.i5. 195. 60. Tara's. 62. 166. 30-35. 164 Ghorasattva. 164 Ghorarava. siddhis and. 98. 137 Gagana-rekha. 16. 15. 190-92. 62. 21. 197. 15. defined. as symbols of fertility. temples to. 219. Parvati and. Ka mala and. 4 myths of Mahavidyas and. 169. 182. 20. 225-26. 183-84. 253n4. 186 dhyana. 70. 164 goddess festivals. 89. 229 Matarigi and. 185-86. 36. Dhumavati's. 5-6. 60-61 garbha grha. yoni. Chinnamasta's. 16. 187.panca tattva ritual and. lions and. sexual intercourse and. 16. 137. 216 females. dharma and. 187. r j . 181-82. iff. 249. 18. 164 Ghoramantrayuta. 254nn8. 171 Ghorattattvamayi-devi. 39. as Vamana. 229. yoni pujd and. vdhanas of. 62. yantra of. 147. 5. 221-22 gada. in yantras. 167. 218. 79. origin Gauri. prototypes of. 236. 108. 209. Bhuvanesvari and. 181-82. 138. 184. mantra. 50. 188. Chinnamasta and. 197. 184. 62. 282. 183. 41. 198 in Nepal. 82. 282. 2551^129. 5. Kali's. 81. knowledge and. 223. 176. 185. 53! Bagalamukhl's. 151. 183. 223. worship of. 191. 72. 252. no. Tripura-sundari and. 15. 1 7 . 193. 154. 36. lions and. 180. 14. illustrations. 187. Diana. 208. Dogdhri. 62. defined. 231. Puja. 15. tempi to. as demon slayer. 180. 180-82. 190-92. as Matsya. n o . 149. 38.INDEX Dhumavatl (continued) 188. Chinnamasta and. 15 Durga Saptasati temple. portraits of. 169-71 fire offerings. 62. 46. 2 30. 180. elephants: Kamala and. 183. 186-87. 18.9. and Nine Durgas. in Mahavidyas. Kama and. 29. offerings to. 14. 229. 179. 248 Dhurvasa. 207 Garuda-purdna. 137. role of. 18. skulls and. sexual intercourse in. defined. 1 7 7 . 11617. 126 131. 230 Ghoraghurghurnadini. 188-90. 149. Visnu and. elephants as symbols of. Kali and. lotuses and. 61 elements of creation. 5. 138 Gaja-laksmi. 112-13 Dhyanu. 71. 10. 176— 81. 35 Duryodhana. Kali and. 185. 18. Rati and. 236. 5. 282 Ganesa. tongue of. 188. blood offerings to. 207. 191. 188. 22. 241. 71-73. defined. 115. 282 gandharvas. 152 Dlvall (Dipavali). 188. 282 Garuda. Kamala's. 282. Tripurasundari's. 230. 164. 255n23. 5. 208. 164. 118-19 fire: Bhairavl and. LaksmI and. defined. 34. Mahavidyas and. 138 Siva and. 147. 89. 137 Draupadi. 62. 39. 188. 225-26. 40. See also meditation dhyana mantras. 172. knowledge and. origin myths of. 278n2i. 180-82.

blood offerings in. 160. 36. 227. 41. 54. 101. 144. 114. 131. 42-43. origin myths of Mahavidyas and. 119 Hakini. 249. 15. 63. 144. 11. 39. 169. 76. to Tara. subordinate to Mahavidyas. 88. 246. 24. 102. 148. 146-48. 126. 34. 104. sacred places and. 146. 234. defined. 161. 83-84. Jyestha's. 102. 75. Tripurasundari and. 195. I I . to Durga. 282. ' 5 7 ' Gonda. in Nepal. 112. 236. 190-92. 158. 78. 75 Hamsesvari-devi. relationship with worshiper. Kamaksi's. 7. 229. 5. 187. 169. defined. 58 granthis. knowledge and. 37-40. 140. 32 . meditation and. 100-101. n o . 89. 103. 83. 5. to Laksmi. 89. 192. See also specific names gods. as sisters. mythology and. 93. 93. 48 Hali. 225. 179. Bhairavi and. 178. Bagalamukhi's. 5. 226. See also fire offerings Homages to the Twenty-One Taras. 229. See also mudras Hanuman. 117-19. in yantras. 15. Tara in. 179. 3. 60. to Kali. 54. 9. 137 iccba s'akti. 63. 81-82. 238 Hiltebeitel. 35. mantras and. 48. 2 55n2 3 Hamsa-kall. 98. 32-34. 19091. knowledge and. to Kamala. 5. 9. 30. 2 5 7 ^ 2 . 240. 125-26. 15. 20. 3. to Matarigi. Tara as. 20 gunas. 169. 144. 138 Indrani. 180-85. Alaksmi's. 83. to Bhuvanesvari. 153. 116 homa. worship of. independence of. 225. 126. 221-22. 158. 154—55. 282. 151 Guptasddhana-tantra. 62. 75. 176. 40. Kali's. 67. 5. siddhis and. Chinnamasta's. Sri-LaksmI and. Kali's. 63. 37-38. 282 Hinduism. 245. 132-36 76. 230. 116. 74. Sri-LaksmI and. 150-51. 243. 59. cosmos and. 94. 97. 96-103 Hiranyakasipu. 126. 96. as consorts.139 Gyan Babu. stotras iccha. Jan. Alf. to Dhumavati. 117. 141-42. See also specific names. 128. 238-4°. 200-201. to Kamakhya. 62-63. 153. 238 hymns. to Gariga. J 229. 123. 134. as Hara-vallabha.151. 32. 151-54. 79' 9 > 22 of women. 80. 230-31. 6 2 - and. Dhumavati's. 21. See also auspiciousness independence: of goddesses. 115 hand gestures. 5 8 59. to Bhairavi. 61. 246. yantras and. 50. 15-18. 229. 105. 80-81. 55. 190. 39. Chinnamasta prototypes. 204. 77. I I . 7. 42. 164. 81. yoni as. tantric. 250. to Bagalamukhi. 68. 126. 231. 94 hrim. cosmic functions and. 178. 246. 151. 101 63. of Mahavidyas. 36. 3-5. 188. to Sri. 114. 73. 164. 137 Gundadabbe. 83. superiority over gods. 84 Himalaya. 5. Chinnamasta's. Tripurasundari's. 8$. 109-10 hair. 87. 184. 230. 22. 40. 252. 257n72. 60. See also specific names human sacrifices. 229. 32. Tripura-sundari's. 236. 42-43. 167-75. 6. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 179. 30. 21. 133.n . 108. 37-40. 178. 98. 6. Jyestha's. 153. 181-82. 154-55.panca tattva ritual Kali's. 57~^ ' I 1 gurus. women as. 2 5 9 ^ Guhyatiguhya-tantra. death imagery and. 48. nude. 26. 4. 213. 100. 201. 5-6. 80. forms of. defined. 83-84. 78. rajas. 100. 149. 61. 180. Tripura-sundari and. 87. 93 Guhya-kalls. lotuses and. skulls and. sattva. 113. 34 Hara-patni. 41. 199. 3. 53. 4 2 43. 230 159. Sri-Laksml's. to Tripura-sundari. 58. Chinnamunda's. 228-29. in yantras. 3-5. SodasI and. Sati's. Dhumavati's. 185. 115. 121. 112—13 idd nidi. 182. tamos. 159-60 Great Goddess. 83. reality of. 23840. See also Mahadevi Green Tara. Tara's. Tara's. 35. to Nirrti. 226. 115. 197. 56. 32. 34. 160 inauspiciousness. 243. 79 Indra. 53. 146-47. 151. 87. 219. 101 head offerings. of Mahavidyas. at Taraplth. to Chinnamasta. 20-21. 146-47. Kamala's. 15. 248. tantric. 248-49 iconography: Bagalamukhi's.

67-68. 73. 79. 232. 15. defined. as Krsna. hymns to. 113. 79. 282 initiation rites. 76 Kdmadhenu-tantra. lingams and. defined. 49. mantras of. 80. 7 indriyas. 20. 70. 88. 76. defined. 81-82. sadhana and. cremation grounds and. 188. 25. 51. meditation on. in Nepal. 105 JambhinI.137 77. 140. 164. Parvati and. 84. 243. and. 76. hair of. 42-43 . 44-45. as sakti.115. 117 Jagaddhatri. 202. 159-60. Brahma and. 151 90. origin knowledge Jnanada. 89. consciousness and. 80-81. 80. 238. 78. 78-79. Sati and. severed heads and. 152 Jyestha. 82-84.9 1 . 79-82. 282. 86. 68. 233. 112. Bagalamukhi and. 86. demons and. 36. 54.2 0 . 61.198. 81. 68. 116. 22. 80. 35. 158. 102. pollution and. 48. 253n4. 201. 283 jnana. Jaganmata. 89.100. yoni puja and. 2 55n2 2 Kama (Kama-deva). 112. knowledge and. 79. 21. 70-75. 87-90. 24. 52. 214. 62. 149. 70. 80. 153. 283 jiva. 74. 88. 9. Bhuvanesvari and. Tripura-sundari and. history of. 283. 82. sexual intercourse and.306 INDEX and. 84. 70. 88. 87. 103.55. 151. 119 magical powers and. 79-80. Mahadevi and. 30. 2 Kakini. 60 fndndgni. 86-88. 67. 21. 138. corpses and. 80. 108. 48 Kala-bhairava. 70-71. 1 7 1 . 47. 90. 56-57. order in Mahavidyas. 230 Kdlarudra-tantra. 100. 75-76. 67. 76. i i. 87. 248 149. 119. 87-88. 119-21. 80-81. 283. 73. 1-2. 56 Kali. 91. 73-74. illustrations. 89. 8$. 255^129. ship of. 70-71. de- fined. 283 m 234. 223. 1 6 . 18. 79. 102. 70. 56 Kdlikd-purdna. blood offerings to.134. 75. 7. 67. 9. 35 japa(s). Jaya. 78. See also 78-79.23. 84. defined. 23. 15 Kalighat. 89-90. 38. 87-90. 67. 283 Kallti. 75-79. 121. 18. 80. Tara and. 42. 137 myths of. 244. 8 6 - Jvalamukhl 0valamukhi-devl). 6-7. 121. 9. kula. 9. 247. 81. as demon slayer. 50. blood and. 83-84. 42-43. 117. 100. 241. mantra. Tantrism and. 89. cosmos Kali Yuga. 80-81. 81. Kamala and. 43. 41. 11. iconography of. 78-79. Chinnamasta and. Puja. 233. 16. 154. 88. 159. cults. as consort. 11. 88-89. 78. 1 4 . boons and. 9. gunas and. Jalesvari. inauspiciousness of. 230 kaivalya. 27. 61. n o . 1 1 9 . 220. 51-53. 100. 38. 198. 82. 80.i5. 70. Visnu and. Siva and. 90.175. 137. defined. 88 jnana sakti. 21. 138 Isvara. 108.119. 9. 178-81 jyesthd s'akti. 172. 87. Kamakhya and. 75. 43. 175 Jalandhara. 63. 134. 68. 147. 75.141. 74.9. 105. 253m. 73. 80. 160. 73-76. 72. Dhumavatl and. tongue of. Durga Kdmadd-tantra. 8 1 I 10 83. 232. Bagalamukhi and. 74. yantras. 77. 3 jatd. 87. yoni. Kaitabha. 137 90. 61. 238. Chinnamasta and. 90. 257n84. color of. 283. 235 I sana. 133. 92. defined. Kali-bari. 1 4 9 . 79. 5 i temples to. 5. 1 0 0 . 42 243-44. 12. 79. 78. 233. 67-68. defined. Tara and. 81-82. Matarigi and. 158. 154-57. frightening nature of. 282 83-84. 120 Katingattuparani. 70-71. 151.n. 73-74. 243-44. 21. 67. 79. 153. 49. 6 7 . 171. Camunda-devT and. 35.1 0 3 . 75. 191. 78. 170 Kalaratri. as prakrti. 245nn8. 5.134. 29-30. yantra of. 9 . cremation fires and. 78. 46.30. 4^> skulls and.i2. sadhana. 118. 118. 62. 39. 86. 86. 239. 283 Kalika. Dhumavatl and. 73. dhyana mantras of. 32. 70. defined. 105. 184. S 3 . 80. 67-68. 71. 144. 137. 100 Kdlikd-marigal-kdvya. 100-101. Sita and. 37. 16. defined. 71-73. 151. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 201. 83-90. 243-44. 76. reality and. 67-68. 7 0 71. 60. 39. wor- in Astamatrkas. 73. 56. brahman and. 206. 9. 244. death and. 71. 255n22. 243 kdma. defined.

2 54m 5. 25. Tantrism and. 229-30. 283. 17. 137 kriya s'akti. 137. 232. magical powers and. 97 Kuldrnava-tantra. dhydna mantras of. 54. 24. 39. 247. 257n84. 248 Kdmdkhyd-cdlisd. 229. 41. 56 Krodha Bhairava. 2. 165. 193. Visnu and. Dhumavati and. 2 54m 5 Kariisa. 17. 244 Kumari. 225. Dhumavatl and. 5. 169. 146-47 Kotaraksi. 2 5 7 . 34 Kanakhala. Chinnamasta and. 248. 73 KesI. 138. Jeffrey. 32 Kauri-bai. 205 Karpurddi-stotra. Kali as. 76. 164 Krodhini. illustrations. 49. goddesses and. 48. defined. fertility and. 18. 44-46. 47. 47. 283. 230-31. 244. » > i v a a n d 47-48. 207. 46. hymns to. 229. 237 Krta Yuga. skulls and. See also Siva Karalika. 103. yoni pujd and. Sri Kdmaratna. order in Mahavidyas. 223. Kali and. defined. 248 Kartik. 42. yoga. yoni pujd and. 32 Kashmir Saivism. Kali and. 283 Kubjikd-tantra. 57. 49. 23. 230. 174. knowledge. 232. 159-62. 236 klim. 223. 283. boons and. 138 kinnaras. offerings to. Durga and. 283 kula marga. Sita and. 75 Kamakald-vildsa. 61. 21. defined. 231. 35. 232. 121. 131. 217 Kausiki. 243-44.159. 78-79 Kamakautukakarini. in Mahavidyas. 117 kumaripujd. 20-21. defined. 136. 121. 14. 16. See also Tripura-sundari Kamesvari-bhairavi. 267n7 khadga. temples to. 138 karma. 115. Kali. defined. 153. 15 Kdmdkhyd-tantra. 222 Karna-pisacI. 14. 157.23 Krsnacarya. 4 4 45. 229. 137 11. 231. 202 krsna paksa. 246 Kamaksa. 14. 232. 214. 228-29. 121. s'akti. 29. 47. 62. 2 5 4 ^ 8 .185. 62. Bhairavl and. 148. 231. 253n4. See also jridna. 123. 283 Kamesvara. Tara and.12. 157 auspiciousness of. 198 Ksemendra. 48-49 Kauldvali-tantra. Sari and. iconography of. 164 Korravai. 47. Mataiigi and. 62. 89. 157. 151 Kubera. 172 Kami-devi. 248-49 kundalini. 161 Krsnananda Agamavagisa. 137 Karalini. 62. 171 Kotavi. 63. 48.15. 37. 47-48. 230. 228-32. cosmic functions and. 15. 232. 230. Kali and. Sodasi and. 2 5 5 ^ 2 . Kaumari. defined. lotuses and. hymns to. 35 Kamaksi. 172. gunas and. Great Goddess and. 223. 59-60. 230. 38. elephants and. worship of. 90. 9 . 229-30. 238 Kaulacara. 62. 228-29. 60. yoni. 159 . 138 Kapali. as demon slayer. 242 Kathdsaritsdgaru. 223-32. sadhana. 41. vidya Komaldsana. 161 Kanti. 165. 16. defined. 112. defined. 228. 248 kula(s). as Matsya. 164 Krsna. 223. 115 Kamala. Siva and. 136. 104. as consort. 204. 157 Kamakhya (Kamakhya-devi). 255nn22. consciousness and. 108. 113 Kamesvari. 234 Kopatura.Kamakala-kall. 121 Kamarupa. 232. 96-97. 146 Kripal. 180 Kartikeya. 34. 160. 241. 39. 230 Kapalika. 223. temple to. 283. See also Laksmi. 9. 230. 118. Sri. 121 Karna-matahgi. 108. 81-82 kriyd. Bhairavi and. frightening nature of. 226. 49. cults. 60. role in Mahavidyas. 232. 60. 138 Kamini. 148 Krodharupa.157. 17. 183. 42. 232. 14-15. 5. 87-90. 283.

154-55. 49. 14. 131. Durga in. 18687. . Bhairavl and. See also Kamala. 60 Mahacanda. Kamala and. 48. 245. temples to. Durga and. 201. 204 Mahavidyadhari. 169. 227 70. 51. 78. 253m lions. creation and. Kali and. 244. 220-22. 164 Mahabhima. 43. 129. Bhuvanesvari and. Sodasi and.197. defined. 126-27. 230 Mahamaya-vijayavahinl-tara. 37-38. 283. 89-90. 43 Lokapalas. 164 mahdbhutas. Kamala and. 41-42. 29-30. See also Great Goddess Mahakala. Durga and. 6. 187. 48. 3. 211-12 Mahavidyas: as antimodels. !57. 14. 27.247. 157 magical powers. 255n2 3. 178 Mahabuddhi. 230-31. 112. 47. 206. 98. See Tara Kurukulla kvaca. 103 Urigams. 213-17. 14. Mahabhayarikari-devl. 15. 231. See also paths in tantric worship leftover offerings. 134 mahavidya. 164 lotus(es). 21-22. 38. cakras and. 18. cosmic functions and. 134. 246. 55-57. 225. Mahavidyas as forms of.10. 213. of Tara. 5. 60. 167 LaksmI. 62. 7. 251. 141-42. of Dhumavatl. 131. cakra and. as cosmos. 148. Bagalamukhi and. 57. 138. 37-38. §ri Laksmi-tantra. 34. 55-57. 78. 229. 205. Bagalamukhi and. 73. 36-37. 119. 185 Mahasakti. 247. 11. 36. 283. 57-60. Mahadevi and. women as. defined. fertility and. 34 left-handed tantric worship. 257n72. 5. 95-98 Mahadev. 20-21. 115 Linga-purdna. in yantras. 4°> 43> 4 ^ 2 2 2 . See also Tripura-sundari Lalitd-sahasrandma. 38. 24. 67. 166. 254ni4 Mahabhairava. 41-42. 197. 171. Kali and. 258n87. 194-95. 55. 80. 246. 283 Mahaplthas. 199-201. 3*9. 224. 43. 30. 100. 46. lotuses and. hymns to. 106. 159 lunar phases. 202 Madanatura. 187. of Bhairavl. 82 Mahadevi. See titbis Madan. Tripura-sundari and. of Chinnamasta. 60. 76. 41-42 mahdsukha. 116. 57. 237-38. 225. 144. 223. 230. defined. 148. 42. 54-55. 43.235. 100. 2 7 6 ^ Mahamaya. 61. 166. 117-19. 40-41. 25. 225. 185 Mahdkdla-samhitd. 97. 230 Madonmattasvarupini. Tara and. in Buddhism. 22-26. 229. 217 Lalita. 129 Mahakall. 108. 134. Matarigi and. as consorts. 43. 208. 43. 116. 255nn22. Bagalamukhi and. defined. See also bhuta(s) 121. 75. 230 Mahasarasvati. 209. 207. Bhuvanesvari and. as Buddha. in Tantrism. reality and. 248 Mahalaksmi. 207. sexual imagery and. 253n4.3 o8 INDEX lotus cakra. i n . 102. 235. 61. 154. Siva and. worship of. 46. lions and. 95 Mahdnirvdna-tantru. 62-63. 234. 47 Mabdtantra. 17-18. Jyestha and. 244. Tara and. 179. 283 Brahma and. skulls and. sddhakas and. 134. 193. 60-61. corpses and. 115. 41. Mahavidyas and. iconography of. 18-22. frightening nature of. defined. 41-42. Kali and. Kali and. 89. Mahadevi and. Dhumavatl and. Dhumavatl and. 142. 43. 137 Mahapralaya. 197. 242. 24. 208. 228. 41. 101.23 Kurukulla. Tripura-sundari and. Alaksmi and. See also siddhis Mahabhdgavata-purdna. 112. 112. 63. iconography and. Sri and. 76 Lomamansaprapujita. 140. 225. 283 Lanka. 15. 138 lokas. 140. 137-38. 283. 9-63. 35-36. 201. 115. as a group. 60-61. 283 Laksmana Desikendra. vdhanas of. n. Chinnamasta and. 68. Matarigi and. 140. mahant. 54. 101 Mahabharata. 142. in Astamatrkas. in yantras. 154 Madhu. 84. 58. defined. 230. 283. 4. 188. See also uccista liminality. 178. defined. 15-18. 109-10. 164 Mahacina-tara. 220-21. 122. 233-34. 220. defined. Kurma. Tripura-sundari and. 60. 226. 35. 112. 228-29.

137 Maihar-devi. i 5 . consciousness and. 201. 16. defined. defined. 75-76. 98. on Kali. 4 > 3 > 253114. 10. Srividya. defined. 31. sound and. 253m. 25. defined. 217-18. 213-15. 284. 216 Milarepa. 220-22. defined. 2 5 5 ^ 9 . 16-18. 152 mait(s). 108. 284 . 248 Marigala. 2 5 6 ^ 1 . frightening nature of. 88. maithuna. as Buddha. 213-14. skulls and. 5. gurus and. 56. 55-57. 238. 135. 63. 211. 213. cremation grounds and. 217. 247-48. 221. 29. 79> 9 5 interre22 Mantra-mahodadhih. 7 8 . 48 Mantbdna-bhairava-tantra. 2 7 5 ^ 2 makdra. 13236. 215-16. 209. 209. 187 ^ moksa. sadhana and. 80-81. 210. 14-15.9. 209. defined. 9-14. 283. 284. Tripurasundari's. 253n4. See also dhydna mantras Minaksi. 157. 153 234. 114. 172. 163. 76. worship of. 219. 163. 146. shrines to. 6. cosmos and. 116. sadhana. temples to. 216. independence of. 209. 135. yantras of. 284. i 2 .1 5 . defined. 284 mdrana. See gods male-female tensions. corpses and. 33 Mahisamardini. 25. See also death Matariga. sexual intercourse and. 18. 136. J 2 2 233-34. 220-21. low castes and. 209-12. siddha. 196. lationships among. 63. 218. 220 Matarigi. Kali and. 46. 78-79. 2 5 4 n n 8 . Chinnamasta's. 134. 5 5 9 > 3 ° . 220- Mahisasura. illustra- Mahesvari. denned. 163. yantra of. siddhis and.7 . 257n84. 88. 200-201. 284 mdtrkds. 108. 62-63. 214. dhydna mantras of. 212-14. 207. 35. defined. 197. 38-49. 58-59. 138 Matrkas. yoni. Kamala and. 255^2. Bagalamukhi's. 120. Mekhala. 209. 21. 56. 42. 136-40.15. defined. 163. hymns to. 32. 242. 51-53. 6. 247. 23. vdhanas of. 33. worship 2 n n 2 control and. Siva and. gunas and. literary contexts of. 122-28. 231. 218.12. 103. 135-36. 216. 35 Molaram. n . 222. 172. 234. 248 Medha. Bhuvanesvari's. 238. on Bhairavi. 170. order of. 149. 140. See also sexual intercourse Maitripa. 13. 56. 37. origin myths of. on death. 3 8 . 49-55. model for. 56. 220-22. 18-22. 39. 278n2i Mahoccusma. in sava sadhana. mantra of. 214. Laksmi and. 35. 172. 22022. 74 origin myths of. 88. pollution 2 I _ I and. Kali's. 70. 2541^8. 217-20. 2 2 209-22. magical powers and. MatariginI. 243. 228.12. See also specific names and. 245. 246. 7. 203-5. 50. magical powers and. 252. demons and. 135. 122-28. Mahadevi as form of. 14. moods of. 219. 139. 283 tions. elephants of. 243 Mdldtimddhava. 25. 22-38. 215. 11. Matarigi's. 8 0 81. 14. 15. 209-12. 220. 186. corpses and. See also consciousness: false Mayd-tantra. 26-27 22. 284 manipura-cakra. 60. 165. 123. 61. 24. defined. 43. 21. 218. Satl and. 195. 160-61. 71. 114 MohinI. Kamakhya in. 202. 221-22. 119 Mahisa. number of. on Chinnamasta. 141. 79. 33. 2 5 4m 5 Mati. 218. 210. 214. 1 4 . 13. 258 n87. Parvatl and. 63. yoni pujd and.INDEX illustrations. 162-63 Tara's. 214-18. Visnu and. 163. 220-22. 138 meditation. 202 Manasara-s'ilpa-s'dstra. 198. 116. 233. 46. 220. 32. 166. 161 menstrual blood. 284. boons and. 36 Mahl. 213-15. 6 . Tantrasara male deities. 284 and. Mahavidyas and. 37-38. 70 manaalas. 221-22. 105-6. See also dhydna 160. 58-60. 63. 95-96. order in Mahlvidyas. 199. 7. 51. BhairavTs. Matsya. 213. 255n22. 16-17. 9. 249 mantra(s). reality and. 139. 217-18. 14. 57. 60. 3. 3. 63. 241. in Buddhism. Tripura-sundari and. 51-54. 220-22. 1 4 . 137 marigal kdvyas.23 mdyd. offerings to. 4 5 . \25-26Japa. 1 2 5 26. 17. 76. 2. 18. 44.

20. of Tarapidi. 39. 207. defined. in nirvana. 220-22. 217-18. 249. 284 mulddbdra cakra. 95. 76 Padmanidhi. 174 pardvidyd. 62.23 Parasurdma-kalpasutra. defined. 172. 137 Nityalinna. 218. 284 Nirvana-sakti. 164 Nararaktapriyasada. head offerings. 160. 160. 30. 212-14. 178-81. 184. Kali's. 87. 251. to Dhumavatl. Dhumavatl and. 159. 284 Niruttara-tantra. 54. Chinnamasta and. Bhuvanesvari's. 241. 108 Nila-sarasvatl.243-44. defined. See also Durga Puja Navavaranakirthis (Muttusvami). 4 7 . 150 Palaladipriyanitya. P. 247 Parabrahmasvarupiru. Dhumavatl in. 68. 79. 15 ndma stotras.101. fire offerings. Chinnamasti's. 36. 14. 134. 255^122. 249 pasu. Matarigi's. 187. See Paramesvari. 136. 48 Nirvdna-tantra. 78. Kali and. 2 6 7 ^ Mundamdla-tantra. 193-96. 218. Bagalamukhi and. 198-200. 187-90. 204. 284. 74. 253n4. Naina-devi. 43 mudrds. 181-82. Kali in. Durga in. See panca tattva ritual Pancamukha-siva. 195-96. 213-15. defined. See also specific types ndgas. 153 2 miirti. 247. 48. 38. 244. 192. 202. 34-35. 108. to Ka- Munda. 22. 106. 163. defined. defined. 2 2 5 ^ 3 Narasimhl. 73. 98 Nila-tantra. defined. 172. 2 5 5 ^ 2 nydsa. Dhumavati's. 230 Nitya. to Tara. 71. 284. Tripura-sundari in. 185. 14. 50. 227. 100. 284 nourishment.106. 164 Narasiriiha.4 9 . 116. 174 panca preta. 71 Pancaratra. 63. "5 Nigama-kalpataru. bdna. 138 Nisumbha. 138. 40 nirguna. 183. 53. 257n72 . 27-29. 147-49. 135 • Nine Durgas. 241. 284 Durga's. 207 Pal. 78. 174 Narayani. 161 Padmavati. 119 Ndrada-pancardtra. 60 also brahman Nirrti. defined. 54. 170-71 Nrsirhha. 73-74. 243. 51. 236 mala. leftover offerings origin myths: Bagalamukhl's. 178. 150. 284 mukti. 248. 118 Pascimamnaya Kaula. defined. defined. 2 5 6 ^ 1 . 52-54. 115. iconography in. 46. defined. gurus and. 187. 246 241. 54. 54-55. 147 Naramansapriyanitya. 20. 196 pdsa. 241. 147-50. Matarigi and. 169 Navaratra. 22-38. Nilakantha. 93. 175 Parama. in sava sadhana. 139. women and. 219 padma. 15. 164 panca mahdbhuta. Bhairavl in. 2 53n4 Paksa-raja. 171. Siva and. 87. 185-86. 138 Padmasambhava. 93. 32. 76 Parvati. 87. 30-35. 149. 71. 26-27 Nandydvarta-tantra. 76. 76 origin myths of Mahavidyas. 22. 180.. 108-9 2 I _ I Nanda-devi. 79. 48. 88 panca makdra ritual. 6. 129-31. 158. 138 Narada. Bagalamukhi in. 75. Dhumavatl and. 175 paramdtman.INDEX moods: of Mahavidyas. 7 8 . defined. 181. to Matarigi. 112. 175 Parasurama. 230 panca tattva ritual. to Nirrti. 284 Muttusvami. 209. See also blood offerings. 284. 15. 60. 172. 284 nirguna brahman. 190.230 Narayana. 105. 57n84 munddsanas. 79. to Bagalamukhi. 3. 196. of Mahavidyas. 284 offerings. 114 mystics. Tara's. defined. 114 Nepal. 46. 90.101-2. sexual intercourse and. 240-41 nddis. 32. 78. 18. 167. 284.

kumari. 48 Raksa-kall. Batuk. 75. Lalita as. 243. 202. 139.INDEX Pasupati. 157 Ratiragavivrddhini. 126. 198 puranas. women and. 248-49. 71. 73. 103. 204 praparica. 133. guna. 82-83. 213. 285 Pranasakti. 154-57. 199 reality. 102. 10. 285 Prapancasdra-tantra. 236. defined. 134. defined. 115. 220 n Phetkarini. 76 Pirigald nddl. 172. 285 285. 285 ptija. 133. 137 etasana. 134 Raktapanaparayana. 96 Prajnatmika. defined. See also specific titles puras'carna. 230 Prdnatosini-tantra. 214-18. 131. See alsn Tripura-sundari rajas. 35. 21. 284 Pitambara (Pitambara-devi). 196. 131. Tara and. 144. 116. 198. Bhuvanesvari and. 147-48. 48-49. 56 Pbetkdrini-tantra. 284. defined. 137. Ramprasad. 42. sddhaka(s) Pradhana. 116. sexual intercourse and. 7. Rati. 198. 32. 51. defined. See also sdkta pitbas purification. 87. defined. 2 7 4 ^ Raja-matariginI. 175. 229 rahasya. Kali Puja. 144. 247. 119. 71. 201 Raja-matarigl. worship pujd paddhati. 219. 185. 216. 175 Ramayana. 117. 148 practitioner. 83-84. 118. 185. 133-34 prasdda. in yantras. defined. 131. 217 prakrti. 229 50. 17. 155 rasa. 51. 213. defined. 84 Pore. 154. 7. 190-91 Ramprasad Sen. 42. 139. 119. 55. 235. 194. 115. 236 Rakta. 140. 164 etasananivasini. 21. 52-53. 251. 138-39. defined. 15. 243 rati. defined. 20. 285 prdnaydma. n. yoni. 5. 103-4.2 3 Ramakrishna. 43-44 raudrd s'akti. 285 prdnas. 137 purnimd. Matarigi and. 221. 284 phala stotras. 285.112. 216 Pratyarigiras. 285 ramana. 133 Prahlada. 174 paths in tantric worship. 204 Pracandacandika. 243-44. 181-83. 105. 164 Rama. 205-6. 243 Purnagiri. 138 Radha. . 248. 18. 89 rdksasas. 45 purusa. 285. 6-7. defined. 243-44. 26on22. defined. 247. 109. 186. 236-37. 218 possession. defined. 3. 61. 249. 2 5 n 2 7 7 RakinI. 285. no. 133-35. 172. 4. 121. 160 rurascaryarnava. 222 . 285. Tara as. 164 Prthivl. 284. 79. 137 Raktablja. pis'dcas. Kali and. 15 pollution. See also Bagalamukhi pitbas. 182. Tara and. 166. 60 Prakrti. 34. 285 Prapancesvari. 285. 34. 5 pralaya. defined. adi. 138. 118. 116 Prajnaparamita. defined. 160. 211-12. 116 rddhis. Chinnamasta and. 30. 56 Picchild-tantra. Kali as. Dhumavati and. 87. 121. 187. 46. defined. 220 tas. 55> 118. 88 Puspayudhadhara. 159-60. defined. defined. 73. 104 defined. 230 Ravana. 249. 17. See also left-handed tantric worship pati vratd. 214 Rajarajesvari. See also Durga Puja. 80-81. 157 raudra. 155 Ranastha. 191. 6. 255nn2 2. sixteen-part. 48. 14 prayog vidhi. 100 Ranajaitri. 193. See adepts. 105. 155 Ranotkantha. 88. 133 Prapancasarasara-samgraha. Raudri. 157 Pusri. 285.

78. 267n7. 234. See also brahman Sakti. 285. 233-34. 141.japa. 75. 134. defined. 121. 35. 250. 148. 97. worship and. 42. 35. 285 Salya-tantra. 285. 234. I I . consciousness and. 39. 35. 170. 36. 127 Sammoha-tantra. 75. defined. 112. 26. 202. 86. 249 Sdkta-pramoda. in yantras. 78. defined. 178 rituals. 105 sankalpa. 24748. sakti and. 135. See also specific types Saitri. mantras and. 5^. defined. 159 Sahasradalavarttinl. 109. S . 157. 164. 285 sdkta purdnas. 30. 48 sdkta. 138 Saivacara. 285 Samsaratarini. Sri cakra and. 5. 141. 16 202-4. in yantras. 138 Sdnkhyayana-tantra. 117 sddhaka(s). 245.INDEX reality (continued) Chinnamasta and. 246. 172 Sakambhari. 68. 17. 97. 154. 76. yantra. 125. 206. 285. 138 Rudra-bhairavi.150. 285.163. 114. 118. 58. 112. 47-63. Kali and. 2 2 Rukmini. 139.148. 108. Matarigi and. Tripura-sundari and. defined. 104-5. 46. 80. 76-78. 21-22. 229 Sabaras. 75-76. 153-54. 3. 97. 285 Sakini. 253m 128. skulls in. 165-66. sexual desire and. Kali as. s'ava sadhana and. 1 Sdktisamgama-tantra. See also kundalini sakti s'akti(s) (female associates of the goddess): Chinnamasta and. 20-21.117. 159 sabasrandmastotras. defined. 78-79. 2-3. mantras and. 22. See also s'ava sadhana Sddhanamdld. 125-26. 53. 243. 235 Rg-veda. 139. 202. 88. 204 and. 62. Laliti as. defined. 123-24. defined. 76-79. 235. 36. sexual intercourse and. IOI Sankhanidhi. 59. 86. 206.141. of goddesses. 127-28. mythology. Sahasradalamadhyastha. 245. 234-25. 138-39 sakti bhavan. defined. 201. 127. 121. 75. 243. 230. 199 . 48. 58. 251. 286 Sankara-vallabha. 3^> 45S Tripura-sundari 2 2 and. 285 sabasrdra cakra. 47. 237. 120. 36. 116. 117. 141. 240-41.panca tattva ritual and. 60. Tripura-sundari as. cakra. 244 sdmanya pujd. 78. Tripura-sundari and. 247-48. 237. 220-22. 84. 128. 171-72. 134. tantric. defined. See Savaras sabda brahman. 60 samddhi. 83-90. 148. 56 Samadhi. 104. 220-22. 41-42 s'dkta upa purdnas. ni.122. 48. 245-46. Mahadevi and.166. 137. 129. 86. reality and. 227. 75. 285 Rudra. 233-34. 59. 43-44. i n . iSy. yantras. Vasistha as. defined. 242. 22. 218. 63. 126-27. 86-90. 3. 135. 135. 141. 285. 250. 199'. citd.102. Tantrism and. corpses and. 240. 35-36. Tara and. 245. 172 samsdra. 3. 285 sexual imagery and. 125. 86. 4^J skulls 2 and. magical powers and. 95. 106. literature. 29. 20. 106. theology. 51-54 Samhdrakrama. 14 sdkta trimurti. sakti (energy. 42. 242. cremation grounds and. 242-44. sound and. 26. 247. 120. Visnu and. 39. 285 sacred places. Matarigi and. 140 m sacciddnanda. Tara and. See also adepts sadhana. 139. 136. 48 Sakalasiddhi-bhairavl. Sri cakra and. 163. 137 Sadasiva. 2 6 9 ^ Rudraydmala. 244. 48. 137. 61. 248. Mahavidyas as.Tara Sampatprada-bhairavl. 109. 32. Tripurasundari and. Tripura-sundari and. 41. 238. 57. 242-43. 219. 61. power). 166. 30. Dhumavatl and. sakti and. 51 rebirth. corpses and. Siva and. 16. 61-62 sdkta pithas. 243. 16. 243-45. 126. defined. 234. 235. 39. 22. 96. 32. 152-53. 213. 76. consciousness and. 131. 88. 115. 242.121. i n . Sodasi and. 134. 28-29. 234. 136. 160. smas'dna. 141. Bhuvanesvari and. Kill and. sddhakas and. Chinnamasta and. 82. corpses and. 55. defined. I I . defined. left-handed. yantras and. 131. daksina and. 103. 134. 95-96 Sankara. 246.

90. 78. 89. 2 243-44. guna. 201.153. 125. Tara and. Visnu and. Dhumavati and.sannyasi. Chinnamasta and. 126. 80. 48. Kali and. Tara' and. 42. 162 5 7 l 6 2 2 3 8 > semen. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 149. 243. 238. Bhairavi and. 108. 131 Sarvolldsa-tantra. 60. 87-88. 68. 89 siddha mantra. 241. sadhakas and. 201-6. 219 Savasana. Matarigi and. 42. 56. 136. 190-92 shamanism. 151. defined. defined. 98. vdk siddhi Siddhi-vidyas. 118. 48 Sati. 286. 87. 241. See also magical powers. 68. 118 sexual fluids. Siva and. 236. skulls and. 23. 197. 144. 154-57. 241. 96. skulls sexual desires: Bagalamukhi and. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 219 Savari. defined. 96-97. 167. 243-45. Dhumavati's. 68. defined. in yantras.158. 46. 207. 278. . 7. vdbanas of. 9. defined. 241-44. 144. 218. 4 8 . 11. Mahavidyas'. 44. 191. 105 Sarvesi. 154. denned. 113. Kali and. 79> 196. 166. 56 sattva. Chinnamunda's. 171. 28. 160. 63. 146. 29. mantras and. 186-87. 243. 23. in dhydna mantras. 134. defined. See also maithuna sattvic. 207. 241. . 57. 240-41 Shaw. 68. 241. Bhuvanesvari and. 219. 39. 19. Tripura-sundari and. 18.170.3 . 246. 34 Sdradd-tilaka-tantra. 248. 234. 238. 25. 2 7n 2 5 7 serpents. 16. 75. 229 Saptasati. 238Chinnamunda and. 286 sava. 48 siddhas. 146-55. 23. 154. 11.248 229. asta. Bagala6 I2 2 n mukhi and. 154-55 sexuality. 35-36 tatapatha-brabmana. 286 saubhagya. 56. 183. 138 Sardulakarna. 199-201. 148. 56 Saptamatrkas. 21. 169. Tara and. 243-44. 245. 71. 42-43. goddesses and. 79-80. Kamakhya's. 161. 275ni6 Savaresvari. 218. 225 Sat-cakra-krama-vasini. 56. 169-70. 205 shamans. 157. 18. 51. See also self-decapitation. 172. hair of. 2 5 7 n 8 4 . 78. 16. Kamala and. See also bija mantras seed syllables. 172. 9. Rati and. yoni. 233 Savitri. 180-82. 6. 204. Kali and. Tarapith and. temples to. 118. Bhairavi and. 6. 286 siddhis. 153. 61. 165 Siddha-kall. Chinnamasta's. 74. 286 Satya Yuga. tongue of.139. See also menstrual blood. 53. 121. 161-62 self-sacrifice. 63. 154. 117-18. semen sexual imagery. 221 Siddhantacara. 96. 286. 171. 197. 16. defined. 112. 230. 155. 131 Sarvavamayi. 56. 164-65. 88. 60 seed mantras. 238-41. Chinnamasta's. 106. 137 santi. severed heads and. 241-46 sexual intercourse. 67-68. See also corpses Savaras. 7. 22. 7> 55 39> 25(^153. 184 s'antd s'akti. 67. Dhumavati and. See also cosmic serpent. defined. 16-17 Satkarmadipika. 100. 240. Dhumavatl and. defined. 100. 238. 98.62-63. 73. 286 Sarasvati. 286. 167. 54. Bhairavi and. sadhana. \y2. Miranda. 68. 24. 150. 56 sat-karmdni. 82. 219. asana. 148-49. self-decapitation. Tara and. 245. panca tattva ritual and. Chinnamasta and. 55-57. 193 severed heads. 43-44 Saundaryalahari. 138 San ananda. 56. 63. 36. 286. 39.153-54. 112. Tripura-sundari and. 109.sadhakas and. 169. i . 7. 22-27. See also auspiciousness saumya. 244. 2S6. 250 shrines: Bagalamukhi's. 100. 159. Matarigi and. n. 151-52. 118. 118. See also bija(s) self-control. Chinnamasta's. i n . 211-12 Sarva-sisira-devi. 160-61. Sati and. Sodasi and. 101. Matarigi and. 138 Sataksi. consciousness and. 218. pitbas and. 47-48. 248 Sasti-rekha. 244. Kali and. 248 Sarvarupa. snakes Sesa. Bhairavl's.

mantras and. 117. 112-15. 126. 44-45. 230 Sivaduti". 238. 246 Sri-siikta. 202. 47. 238. 253H4. 257n84. yoni. Kamala and. Matarigi 2 Srl-Laksmi. 17.119-20. 238. 16. 195-96. 153. 120 sound seeds. 63. 229. 46. 129 as Kapalika. 104. 213-15. 135. 180-82. 150. 17^. 126-27. 11. 30. defined.12. 73. Siva and. kula. 246. defined. 286 stotras. 186. 46. Karpurddi-stotra. 100-103. Sri cakra and. 286. 232. 153. 286 sthula. 2 5 9 ^ . 102 Smasana-kall. 80. 199. sddhakas and. LaksmI sri. 286 Sri Vaisnavism. 247. 245. 243. Brahma Sundara. 37. 93 sound. 140. 62. 242-44. 11. and. 62. 9. 141. and. See also Tripura-sundari srstikrama. 56. 227-29 Srividya. order in Mahavidyas. 196. iconography and. Indra and. defined. 286 221. 89. 134. reality and. 245.186-87. 207-8. Kamala and. 195. 248 Siva (feminine form). 112. 122-28. 38~4i. n o . 76. 135. 176. 151 Siti: defined. 1 1 . Parvati and. Brahma and. 14. 21. n. 201. 180. 79-79. 79. defined. Tripura-sundari and. 75. 9. 96. sound and. 32. as Kalki. 248. Tripura-sundari and. 246. 17-18. 48. 174. 176. cakra. 123. 4 7 48. 174. 286. 243. Visnu and. 78. 56 Sundari. 104. 38. 179. 286. 4^i Kamala and. mantra. Bhairavl and. 2 7 1 ^ 8 Smasanalaya-vasinI. Chinnamunda and. 171 smasana sadhana. 230 Smasana-vasinI. 238. 209. 134. cult. 121. i n . 6 Siva. 34-35. 12. 39-41. 179. lotuses and. See also Kamala. 21. insddhand. 236. 124. 11. 42. 63. yoga and. Sakti and. 175 Sniti. 4 0 .INDEX Sila-devi. Kali and. 136. 96. 206 Sri. 2. 232. See Tripura-sundari Surya. yoni io 286. 225. Bhuvanesvari and. 114-15. Tara and. 171 Smrti. 185. 78. 127 Srstisarhharakarini. 153-54. 286. 11. 7 5 76. 62. 229. 238. 1 1 . 226 pujd and. 135. 100. 62. 217-18. SS. 86-88. 169. 113. See also hymns. 154. cakra. 235. Songsten gampo. 62. 119. lirigams. 230. 57. 197. 156-57. 135-36. 203. 117. gunas and. 104. Bhairavl and. See also severed heads Smasana-bhairavi. 57.phala. 164. 153. 138 stambhana. Sati and. Rudra and. 153-54. 58. lotuses and. in origin myths of Mahavidyas. 112. 2551122. 86. 286. 35 Sivananda.4 1 . 73. 125. 98. 11. 159. 225. 195. 137. 17-18. ^> 108. 238. 138. 225. 141. 114. 238. ii. 254nn8. 58 Sraddha. 62. 196. 138 srdddha. 226 soma. 286 . defined. Kali and. 243-44. illustrations.115. Bhairavl and. 153. 22-38. in yantras. 71. See also Tripura-sundari Soma. 11. i n . 148. 88. 229-30. Sodasi and. 153. sahasrandma stotras Subandhu. frightening nature of. 244. 5. 121. 67-68. 246. 104. Bagalamukhi and. 14849. defined. 21. 2 1551^129. defined. 24. 11. 169-70. 48. 161. 226-28. defined. 159-60. 88-89.11. 153. 159-60. as model for women. Dhumavatl and. Kamakhya and. 230. 119. 119-22. 35> 2 Matarigi and. 68. 138 snakes. 96. 73-76. 152-53. 56. 74. 180 sukla paksa.15. Chinnamasta and. Siva and. 101. 62. See bijas. Dhumavatl and. 153. 122-28. 25. 92 s'ukla ekddas'i. 79-82. Annapurna and. 23. 38. seed syllables Sphota. See also serpents Sodasi. 154. worship of. 207. 117-18. Tripura-sundari and. Kali and. defined. 149. 17. 112-21. hymns to. 249. 121 skulls. yantra of. 119. Tara and. 149. 138 Sumbha. 138. 126. skulls and. 9.100. 186. Sri and. 232. kundalini and. sexual intercourse and.30. sexual intercourse and. 38. ndma stotras. defined. 225-26. 29. 129 susumnd nddi. 121 s'ula.yoginis and. 134. 48. 16 Silappadihdram.

139-40. 105. boons and. 61. 241. 16. 220. 18. 233. 54-55. See also lefthanded tantric worship. 78. 245. 96. 153. 103. 42-43. Durga Saptasati's. 164. 37. 287. 207-8. 21. sexual intercourse and. 16. 244. 185-87. 141. 20. 230 mantras. Naina-devi's. 3. 113. 50. Sati and. 62. Buddhist. 2 tantric worship. 15-18. 14-15. 102. 106.I I . 199. in Buddhism. 237. 16. 140. 92-100. defined. 100. 139. rituals in. defined. gunas and. 98. 174. 100. Kali and. 243-44. 41. blood offerings and. 61. 137. Camunda's. 100. Chinnamasta's. 61. 76. 108-11 Tdra-:antm. 76. 98. ^> io 108-9. 182 tdndava dance. n o . texts. 287. 76. Rati and. 106. 98. 287 temple pujd. Siva and. 29. Bagalamukhi's. no. 141. 74-75. > 244. n o . 147. Kamakhya's. 108-11. 16. 287 tattvas. 93. spirituality and. 236. 206. 249. 50. 12. 98. 257n84. Durga's. 44. 34 Taraplth.102-4. 104. 59. 234. Kamala's. 164. Bhuvanesvari and. 238. 96. I J I > 43> 246. 50. 286 Tantrasara. 255nn29. 108. 36. 100. 105. no. 202. 93. I I I . 98. 61. Green. consciousness and. 245. 97. 243. n. 164. 228. 197.INDEX Susumnasvarabhasini. 230 tdmasic. 75 Tantras. 106. defined. 114 98. 245. Kurukulla. as Great Goddess. 96. 214. Dasamahavidyas'. Bagalamukhi and. Rabindranath. defined. 152. 100-101. 15. 100. 254nn8. 96-103.i2. offerings to. IOJ. 9. 41. lotusea in. severed heads and. I 0 : 253n4. Chinnamasta and. death and. symbolic significance of. 100. 9. 100. .' 8> I0 I I O > 202. 28. 51. 235. 243-44. 35. 46. 248 Taraka. 94. 153. 103. 21. yoga and. defined. cremation fires and. serpents and. 95. 102. 127. 286 Tagore. 83. 287 Tantrism. 234. 49. Kali and. as consort. 251. '< dhydna IIO Dhumavati's. 96. Tibet and. reality in. 212 tamas. 245. 92. 122. 250. 144. Caraidevi-mata's. 9. sava sadhana and. 93. 106.panca tattva ritual and. goddesses in. 16. 50. 104. 101. 98. as demon slayer. 48 svarupa. 55. 109. 100. 95-96. 238. 39. 105-6.I I . 2. 108-9. hymns to. in Hinduism. 15. defined. creation and. I I O 245. 100. 165. I Q 8. and. Visnu and. 126. paths in. as Rama. 247. 97. 102. mantras. skulls and. 25. 56. 152. 28. 250. destruction and. 9. 97. 164-65. 63. 15. 56. 80. 11. 93. 105. 286 Svatantra-tantra. blood offerings to. 163. 103-5. n o . Sila-devi's. 253m. 186. defined. 286 Tantraloka. order in Mahavidyas. 47. 92-111. tongue of. 18. I I O . 76. 101-2. ioi. I I O . 96. defined. 242. Kali's. 114. 172. Tripura-sundari and. 101-2. 148. 25511^2. worship tdntrika(s). maternal aspects of. lotuses and. 16. 47. 70-71. 17. cakras temples. 50. 42. Kall-bari's. yoni pujd and. blood and. 159 svadhisthdna cakra. 61. defined. temples to. 98. 16. 15. 97. 54. 5 Kama and. 99. 94. 90. 53-54 Tara. 94. 95. 46. 58. 54. 83. 240. 63. 233. cults. 100. yantra of. 86. cults in. 104-5. White. 23. Sati and. 102. 105. Laksmi's. 49. 100-101. 100 Tarini. illustrations. 106. 16-17. 16. 153. 70. 49.guna. 202-5 30. 151. frightening nature of. 100. Brahma and. 106. hair of. corpses and. no. 136. 98. origin myths of. 38. 49. Tara's. 250. Maihar-devl's. 102-3. Mataiigi and. 93. 2 7 8 ^ 9 . 21. Bhairavi and. 108. 61. 90. worship of. 105-6. 96. 98. cremation grounds and. 76-78. 170. 50. defined. 11. 2. 20. defined. 15-16. Kamala and. 207. 97. 100. 37. iconography in.n. 14. iconography of. knowledge and. 286. 103-4. sadhana and. 108-9. 100-103. pollution and. 108. 93. 9.9. 42-43. 188. 98. Tamasi. 153. 126. 9. 182.i5. 96-97. 76. 30. 49-55. 100. pujd. Bajresvaridevi's. 98. 97. 7. 108. 14. 80. 92-100. 242. 243-44. 23. rituals and. 95. Mahavidyas and. 48. 75. 240. 96. 34. Jvalamukhl's. 15. 15. 100-103. 102. 126. 231 tattva. 102. 230 Tantra. 49-50. 287. 75-79.

138 28. 131. 105. 120 Tripura-bala. 114. 188. 4. worship of. cults. defined. 56. 115. defined. mythology of. 120.122-28. 7> 9> ! 5 ' i88. 206 uccdtana. 120. 2 5 8 ^ 7 Uccista-matarigini. 287 uccista. 38. yantra of. 117-19. 87 Vdmakesvara-tantra. 170. names of. Vamacara. 35. 37. 119. 2 5 5 ^ 3 . in Nepal. 274m Udddmara-tantra. 254 nn9. 254n . 116-17. lirigams. 56. 108-9 tilaka. 193-94. 115. 119. 118. 35 turmeric. cakras and. Laksml's. 197. 20 Turner. mantras of. 113. 32.142. ° i anthropomorphic images of. 125. 123-24. 115. 8 8 8 n o .116. cosmic functions and. 208. 117. tongue of. 121. Brahma and. 112. 287. See also specific names Tibet. 62. 233. 117. Sarasvati and. 217 Uccista-matarigl. See also left-handed tantric worship Vama-kall. See also leftover offerings Uccista-candalinI. 112. 211-12 Tulaja-devI. sexual desires and. Tripura-sundari's 119 Treti Yuga. 115. 112-14. 120-22. sakti and. 114.i2 Tripurd-rahasya. Victor. 118. 120. 196-97 Valgamukhi. 161 Vajra-yogini. 246. Tantrism and. Bagalamukhl's. Bagalamukhi in. frightening nature of. 246. 117. Indra and. 122. 112. iconography of. 116-17. 221 temples {continued) 61. triadic nature of. §odasI Trisariku. 2. auspiciousness 2 2 I 2 of. 27. 175 . hair of. 106. 117-19 Vamakhepa. 196-97 vdmd. 124. 98. 48. 112. Bhuvanesvari and.122- Uddiyana. 68 updsand paddhati. 129. 118-19. 118 Tripura-sundari. 2 5 5 ^ 2 . 1 1 2 21. Tripura-sundari's. 197. 81. 112. 9. 213. 92-100. 100 Ugra-tara. 193. gods and. hymns to. 114-20. 180 tirtbas. 95. n. yoni pujd and. 117. 178. defined. 15. 287 Vaisnavacara. 119-21. 120. 20. 29. 112-13. 114. skulls and. 32. 112-13. LaksmI and. roles of. 98. 116. 287. 23. defined. 112-29. 138. 118. 222. 112. ^ . 117.Tara's. Visnu and. 113-14. 287 Tripura. 114. 248. yoni. cosmic order and. lotuses and. 120. defined. order in Mahavidyas. 56 Uddis'a-tantra. 45. 137 Ugra-kall. 14. avatdras of. Rajarajesvari. 287 Todala-tantra. 194. 161 vdk siddhi. 100. 197. Sarasvatl's. 115. Kali and. 9 Vajra-varahi. as demon slayer. 287 Upa-vidyas. 198 U?as. sadhana and. 115. 49. m. 43. illustrations. 14. Siva and. as Nrsirhha. defined. 196-97. 137 112. 120.3 i6 INDEX temples to. 32. 120. 120. 118. 108. 187. 41. 120-21. 134. 248. 71. 287. See also Lalita. 57. 117. 117. 116. 287. 43 Tripura-bhairavi. 238. 119. 253n4. 230. 115. Durga's. 100. 116. defined. 4 3 44. 41. 12021. corpses and.121. 207. 39. 229. 14. Rudra and. Tara in. 117. 287 valga. See Bamakhepa vamana. 117. 134 vdhanas. 229-30 vajra. 112. 102. 122-23. 116. 136. 119. 138 upa purdnas. Kali's. 198 Trikdyavajra-yogini. 197. Durga and. 171. 162 trimurti. defined. consciousness and. sakti. 112-13. 146. 138 Vagesvari. fertility and. 287 Tirumantiram (Tirumular). 245 tongue(s): Dhumavati's. 198-99. 46. 122. dhyana mantras. as Parasurama. defined. 174.125. 214. 67. 114. 43. 125. sound and. 122. 200. 114 titbis. 125. 182. 62. 35. 216. 118-19. Dhumavati's. defined. Bagala- mukhi and. 218. 114. 143. 81-83. 213. 54. 119. defined.113. 114. 39-40. 241. 25. 48 Vaisnavi. 48. no Uma. 197 Vaisnava. 205. 188. Matarigi and. Matarigi's. 112-21. reality and. 202.

89. 242. 96. 204 Vrhad-yoni-tantra. 229-30. sadhana. 62. 138. lotuses in. yoni pujd and. 246. 39. 48 Varaha. 229-30 Varnini. 1 2 1 . 146. pujd. 140. 78. 140. 238. 247. 139. defined. 169. 92 Vasikarana. defined. reality and. 248 Visnu-purdna. 287. 96-97. 97. 255^122 Varahi. 235. independence of. offerings from. 41. Bagalamukhi and. 163. 139. Mahavidyas'. 58. 190. 117 vasya. reality and. 83-84. 187. gods in. 37-38. of SodasI. 11. 103. 88 purdnic. 46. 60 Vikaralini. cakras in. 213. 247-50 Woodroffe. 138 VilasinI. 3. period. 58. of Bagalamukhi. 46. 137 viparita rati. defined. 136-40. 232. 73 visuddha cakra. 46. 25. of Kamala. 138. 56 vidvesana. 146 vistardsana. 169 Vedic: literature. 287. 226. 1 1 7 . of Tara. 32. 190. 229-30. 21. 180. 257n72. ipi-2. sadhakas and. 3. 90. 189. 42-43 worship. defined. 81. 140. 166. 287. 248 Vrksamadhyani-vasini. 147-48. 5. Rati in. pollution and. 14. 1 5 1 Vijnana-bhana-rupini. roles of. 142. 287 yantra(s). 96-97. Dhumavatl and. Brahma and. 227. 79. hair of. Bhairavi and. 246. 21. 150. of Mahavidyas. of Laksmi. 198-99. 255n25.15. 46. 138. 3. 44-45. Vedic. 170. 178. 108-9 Vasudha. 287. 22. stereotypes of. Ananta and. 134. of Bhairavi. 108. 136. 148 Visnu. 68. 255^122. in yantras. 228. 138. 198-99. 174. 116. Matarigi and. defined. 179. 144. 11. 187. worship of. John. 51. of Tripurasundari. panca tattva ritual and. 106. 287 Viraratri. 183-86. 204. 76.INDEX Vamana. 138. Kotavl and. 56 Dhumavati as. 105 Vrta. 106. 97. Kill's. 108. 76. 136-40. 138. 39. 108. 187. 163-66. 3-5. 140. 46. 112-21. defined. Durga in. dharma and. 138 Vasall. 2 2 6 2 tantric worship. 57. 57. 34 White Tari. 97. 103. 220-22. creation and. 108. Laksmi in. 83. 105 Vasuki. 200. n. 227-28. 108. of Kali. mantras. 84. tantric worship yaksas. 171-72. See also knowledge vidya (mantra). 118. 51-54. 46. 108. Indra in. 6-7. of Matarigi. 6. 187. of Dhumavatl. 2 7 9 n 5 6 . 195. 175 voodoo. 56 Visvarupa. avatdras of. patterns of. as demon slayer. of goddesses. 202. Kali and. rites. as Mahadevi. 46. 131 Visvasdra-tantru. 21. 27. of Bhuvanesvari. 174. 34-35. 247 Vdsavadattd (Subandhu). Bhairavfs. Tara and. 1 4 7 . 236 vidvesa. 180. 18384. 139. 46. See also left-handed vfm. 176. 243. 93 widow(s). 59-60. 86. 29-30. 46. 138. 249. 57. 57. 180. defined. of women. 49-55. Bagalamukhi's. 81. 136. Kamala and. 1 3 7 . SodasI and. 14 Vasanta. 172. 151 vetdlas. 138. 151. 247-50. Dussaha and. Dhumavati's. of Chinnamasta. 46. 179. 2 5 7 ^ 4 Vijaya. 287 Yama. 60 vidya (knowledge). 56 Vidya. 230.> " 7 . 160 Varuna. 243. 227. 215-16. 3. Sita as model for. 137-39. 20-22. 32. 16. 9> 3 . 139. 24-25. 252 I 9 2 ) 195. Vasistha. Matarigi's. 234 sadhana. 46. 62. Rudra in. gurus and. 77! Kama in. 40-41. cosmos and. Brahma in. 12 5. 204. 207. 138. 241- . 227.138 Vedacara. 242. ms'ava 193. Tripurasundari and. 114. Sati and. 48 Vedas. 1 3 6 . 221-22. 138. 143. 46. Bhuvanesvari and. Sri-LaksmI and. 94. 108-11. 86. Bhuvanesvari's. 75. rewards from.23 Vamana-purdna. 243. 195. 182women: as gurus. life cycles of. See also mantras Vidyas. Chinnamasta's. sexual imagery in. 139. Vayu. 108. 174. 246-50.

yonis and. 120. 49. Sarasvati in. kundalini. 71. Matarigi and. Siva and. Dhumavati's. 36. 243 Yoni-tantra. 188. Bhairavl and. 200. Tripurasundari and. Sari's. 115. 17. 221. Bhuvanesvari and. 80. 154 Yoganirata. 137. 197 Yogini. 57. Sakti in. 198. 101. 124. 84 Yugas. 172. 137. 137. 248. 243 Yudhisthira. 56. 157. 159. Bagalamukhi and. 138. 118. defined. Matarigi and. tantric. 139.3 i8 INDEX yogini(s) (female practitioners). 154 yoni(s). Kamala and. 17-18. 154 Yoganandapradayini. 16-17. 11214. 169. 249. 154. 13-9. Visnu in. 287 Yogini-tantra. s'aktis in. 201. 121. 154 yogi(s). 197. 139. 88. Tripura-sundari's. Tara and. 140. 287. defined. defined. 55-56. 138-39. 247-48. Sri's. 243. 122-28. Tara's. 118. 140. 204. 141. 138. 140. See also Krta Yuga . Great Goddess as. 236. 47. 17. 154 Yogamayl. 243 yoga. 137. 154 Yogamaya. 136. 97 Yogamargapradayini. 235. Siva in. Bhairavl and. 248. 287 yoginis (female beings with magical powers).puja. Kali and. 248 yantra(s) (continued) 43. 158. yantras and. 160. 244. 76. 140. 243.

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

a n d M a h a d e v l . 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 . whcthei s h o r e " ol spiritual l u l l i l h n e n t . S u a . It surveys the role of play a m o n g the G o d s . c u l t deit) with a c o h e r e n t ol h e i o w n . cultic activity m a y n o t be r e d i u ed to play. 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 .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. < 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 . 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 . 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. g o d d e s s e s associated with geographic al features. 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 .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 . 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 . l ) u r g a . and the Matrkas. i n s r e l i g i o u s activity in d e v o t i o n to Krsna.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 . 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. 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 . 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 . S a r a s w a t i . ii is u l t i m a t e l y Ki sua r e d e m p t i v e . transported m e n to the "othei d e m o n s t r a t e s thai. 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 . K a l i . P a r v a t I . K r s n a a n d K a l i . Rsidhsi. .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 . I he< >logy a n d i n s o m e c a s e s . 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 .

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