Bhavani killing army of demon Mahisha

56.38 - F 18

Bhavani killing army of demon Mahisha

56.38 - F 18


The reverse of the folio 18 from an illustrated manuscript of Devi Mahatmya

The Devi Mahatmya of Markandeya Purana is probably the most popular text copied and illustrated in all parts of India for religious merit as well as for reading and recitation. It contains the myth of the destruction of the all-powerful demon Mahisha and his retinue, by goddess Durga, the embodiment of the energies of all the gods. The goddess takes various forms from fearsome to benign to kill the demons.

The wooden covers of this manuscript record the names of some of the family members of Atmaram Bhukanvala, an old affluent family of Surat. It is likely that the manuscript once belonged to the family.

The text describes the victory of the powerful goddess over the retinue of the demon Mahisha, the scene on the battlefield, and the use of different types of weapons by the goddess. It also elaborates on the condition of the demons that have lost their lives in this fight. Many of the demons kept fighting even after the beheading of their heads and the battlefield was filled with the dead bodies of elephants, horses, and demons killed by the powerful goddess.

The folio depicts the great goddess riding on a green spotted stylized elephant. In her sixteen arms, she is holding different types of weapons like sword, maze, trident, and disc. She is using all of them at the same time to attack the retinue of the demon Mahisha. The army of demons is charging toward her only to be destroyed by the all-powerful Devi.


Indian Miniature Paintings

Object Type



Water colour on paper


Western India




dated samvat 1776=1719 CE




folio 29.5 x 17.2 cms