Devi: The Goddess
This is a picture of Shiva and Parvati as the divine couple, embracing each other. Married goddesses such as Parvati are auspicious, but are usually seen as subordinate to their husbands (thus reflecting on the divine plane the hierarchy that is prescribed as ideal on the human plane).
|This image shows a close embrace between
Vishnu and Lakshmi (based on the high crown on Vishnu's head).
Although these divine couples may sometimes spar with each other, in the end
they are seen not only as loving, but as inseparable (one well-known saying
is "Where Lakshmi is, there also is Narayana."|
The image was sculpted in Khajuraho during the Chandella Dynasty (11th century). This photo was taken in the National Museum of India in September 1990.
||Durga in Indian Poster Art, attended by Hanuman on the bottom left, and Bhairava on the bottom right.|
||This image of Kali comes from the Punjab Hills school of Indian painting, circa 1800. You can see the shining Goddess on the left, Kali's horrific form in the middle, and the demon army on the right (about to be destroyed). Unlike many later depictions, there's no sweetness here. This picture was taken from Philip Rawson's The Art of Tantra.|
||Here's a folk painting of Kali from 19th c. Orissa. Although she looks younger here, you can still see her horrific aspects. Here she is shown striding on Shiva, and giving him life and energy (seen through his arousal). This reflects the notion that the Goddess's energy is essential to all life, and that without her nothing would come into being. This picture was taken from Philip Rawson's The Art of Tantra.|
||Kali in Indian Poster Art. Here you can see how she is portrayed as a fairly young women, despite all her horrific aspects. She is shown treading on Shiva's chest, and according to the story Shiva did this as the only way to calm Kali's battle fury (after she stepped on his chest, she was embarrassed, and became calm).|
|Here the Goddess (center) appears as part of a grouping in
a small roadside shrine in Hardwar, along with Hanuman (orange and silver),
Shiva (black linga and trident) and Ganesh (dark red). Such "clusterings"
are fairly common in small temples, although one deity (in this case, Shiva)
is seen as having the central position.
Note that the temple platform is raised two steps above ground level, setting up a transition between ordinary and "sacred" space even in a very small area. In a Hindu context, this also serves to create a zone of purity--shoes would be left on the ground.
This photo was taken in summer 2002 in Hardwar.
|Here's a small temple to Shitala, a fierce and "hot"
goddess who is associated with smallpox and illnesses involving high fevers.
The onset of the disease/fever was taken as a sign of possession by the
deity, who would then be worshipped in the hope she could be placated and
would leave the person unharmed.
The figures painted on each side of the door are pictures of Bhairava, a wrathful form of Shiva (seen carrying the severed head of Brahma and the skull bowl) who is often associated with these "hot" goddesses as her consort.
This picture was taken in Pushkar in January 2003.
||Santoshi Ma, a godess whose meteoric rise in modern India has been linked to her role in helping her devotees cut through the problems and uncertainties of everyday life. This is modern Indian poster art.|
These pages are in progress.
Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 12 January 2006