Goddess Mahakali-Folio from an illustrated manuscript of Devi Mahatmya
56.38- Folio 49 Obverse
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 mentions verses from Pradhanik Rahasyam (appendix of Devi Mahatmya text) which describe various forms, names, and respective functions of Devi. This highly philosophical text states that Goddess Mahalakshmi is the primordial goddess and is the original cause of all beings.
According to the verses given here, after creating Mahakali and Mahasaraswati, the supreme goddess Mahalakshmi asked both to create consort for themselves according to their qualities. Having said this, she first created for herself a pair of men and women.
The folio depicts a painting of a multi-armed and multi-headed Mahakali riding on an elephant. She is holding various weapons.
Indian Miniature Paintings
Water colour on paper
Dated samvat 1776=1719 CE
folio 29.5 x 17.2 cms