Mahasakthi or Kali

All that we can be sure of this Vigraha is, it is a folk depiction of a Goddess and it is of Saivite origin. Four-armed, she is holding Trishuls in her rear hands. The front hands are holding a sword and a cup. The front hands are resting on two severed heads. She is sitting in Lalitasana with her bent right leg resting on another severed head.

Despite the severed heads, she presents a picture of peace and benevolence. Such contradictions are not uncommon, especially when it comes to Mother Goddesses like Durga, Mahishasuramardhini and Kali.

Her holding two Trishuls is uncommon. There is another example, Mahasakthi, on these blog pages.

Another interesting aspect is the three severed heads. Sharing below three Vigrahas, from my collection, showing severed heads. If we are to identify the Goddesses based on the attributes and their Vahanas they represent different deities. When I published them I had identified them as Durga, Bhairavi and Kali, respectively.

To make it interesting there is one more example, showing three severed heads, with me. That will be published in due time (Hopefully I get to do some more research). There are probably several ‘local’ stories about the three severed heads. One such interpretation is below. We will never know enough to know.

Found one example of an in-situ sculpture that is very close to the subject of this bolg. Page 65 and plate 68 from the book Sculpture at Vijayanagara Iconography and Style 1998 by Anna L Dallapiccola and Anila Verghese. The authors identify two of the spherical objects in front of the central figure (Kali) as severed heads of Chanda and Munda. The central object, a pot, is said to symbolise the collection of Raktabija’s blood. Glad to have found this reference. Photo of the plate 68 below.

Going by the lower garment (see the back view) and the facial features, this Goddess may be from the Telugu speaking part of Noth Deccan. The Vigraha is about 13 cm high. Based on the wear, especially in the face, this Vigraha may be dated to the nineteenth century or earlier.

8 Nov 2021: Thanks to Aditya Rangan and Arghya Dipta for pointing the similarity with Samayapuram Mariamman, especially the three severed heads. The photo below is from that temple’s website.

Sharing my passion

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