Chamunda : The Great Esoteric Goddess
Chamunda : The Most Terrifying Esoteric Goddess:
Etymology of the Name Chamunda
This time I am going to describe one of the esoteric goddess , Chamunda, commonly referred to as the seventh goddess of the Saptamatrika panels. The goddess Chamunda has been portrayed as the most terrifying type of Maa Durga in Markandeya Purana. She is supposed to be conceived out of the third eye of Maa Durga while fighting against the demons ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’ and that led to the nomenclature of goddess as ‘Chamunda’ . ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’ were two allies of ‘Mahishasura’.
image: Srikant Singh
Origin & Iconography of Saptamatrika
For a better understanding, Let me give a brief account regarding ‘ Saptamatrika ‘ .
Mahabharat was presumably the earliest text having a definite specification in regards to Saptamatrika. Regarding the killing of the demon ‘Andhakasura’ by Siva, it has been mentioned that each of the supreme divine beings ( Maheshwar, Vishnu, Brahma, Kumar, Indra, Baraha and Yama ) generated different individual Matrika out of His energy . The different Matrikas individually known as Maheshwari, Vaishnavi, Brahmani, Kaumari, Indrani, Barahi and Chamunda respectively . So they are female partners of these extraordinary divine beings. The markandeya purana has a striking portrayal in regards to how the goddess Ambika ( Maa Durga) took the assistance of Saptamatrika to kill the demon Raktabirjya.Each Matrika is armed with the same weapon,wear the same ornaments and rides the same carrier ( bahan) as the corresponding male God does. For example Brahmani should be sculpted like Brahma, Indrani like Indra, Vaishnavi like Vishnu etc.All the Matrikas are normally found having four hands. Two of their hands are found in Abhaya and Varada mudras ( assuring safety and blessing poses) and the other two carry weapons.Thus the Saptamatrika is composed of two Vaishnav Shaktis( Vaishnavi and Barahi), two Saiva Shaktis ( Maheshwari and Kaumari), one Brahmi Shakti ( Brahmani) alongwith Indrani and Chamunda.
Manifestations of Chamunda
There lies enough scope for study of Shakti cult in Odisha in almost all manifestations developed in sculptural craftsmanship starting from about 6th century AD till 13th century AD. The earliest Chamunda ( 6th century AD) belonging to the Sailodbhava period was discovered from the remnants of a Siva temple complex at Bankada in Banapur locale .
The goddess Chamunda is constantly portrayed as the seventh mother goddess in practically all the Saptamatrika panels tracked down in various parts of India. The earliest Saptamatrika panel of Odisha was found in the Jagamohan of the Parshurameshwar Temple at Bhubaneswar ( photo attached). Here all the images have been carved in one place in a single monolithic slab and all are seated in yoga mudra flanked by Ganesha and Birabhadra .
As time moved on the dexterity of the sculptors turned out to be more refined and unpretentious in carving. Earlier the matrikas were being treated as war goddesses . But later they became the mother goddesses in Indian workmanship and iconography . Most of the matrika groups except that one found in the Parshurameshwar and Vaital temple at Bhubaneswar are having children sitting on their left laps. But the most peculiar feature is child sitting on the lap of Chamunda sculptures has never been found . The reason behind is still in darkness.Some of the Matrikas are also enshrined individually in several temples particularly in Jajpur and Prachi river valley. You can read the following article for further information in this regard .
Iconography of Chamunda
The goddess Chamunda is normally seen having jutting teeth , swelling eyes , very much prominent looking veins , hairdo shooting upwards like a flame of fire, indented mid-region, ribs and bones plainly portraying the skeleton of the goddess . The Northern India Chamunda sculptures are by and large addressed as skinny figures with ghastly articulation , sharp looking canine teeth , sagging breasts, indented gut with a scorpion blemish on it . They are found wearing skull garland and snakes as ornaments and seated on a corpse . Normally they are found holding Trishul ( trident)and kapala ( skull as a cup) . The Agni Purana has a detailed description of Chamunda’s look.
I hope the above article will be of some help in understanding the mysterious Goddess Chamunda. Please never forget to give your sincere comments, suggestions, feelings etc. to better understand the subject under study.
Dr. Manoj Mishra, firstname.lastname@example.org
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