Goddess killing demon Raktabeej-Folio from an illustrated manuscript of Devi Mahatmya

56.38 - Folio 35 Obverse

Goddess killing demon Raktabeej-Folio from an illustrated manuscript of Devi Mahatmya

56.38 - Folio 35 Obverse

Description

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 destruction of the demon Raktabeeja. According to the legend, demon Raktabeeja had received a boon that whenever someone will try to kill him more demons will arise from every drop of his blood. Goddess Chandika requested goddess Kali (her fearsome form) to open her mouth even more and quickly drink the blood drops of every demon killed by her. When Chandika killed Raktabeeja, Kali drank every drop of blood from his body. Raktabeeja thus died instantly.

The folio depicts a four-armed Devi riding on an elephant. She has cut the head of Raktabeeja. Four-armed goddess Kali has extended her vast tongue outside her mouth to lick away all the blood of the demon Raktabeeja before it falls to the ground.

Collection

Indian Paintings

Object Type

Manuscript

Material

Watercolour on paper

Schools/Culture/Period

Western India

Technique

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Date

Dated samvat 1776=1719 CE

Location

Surat

Dimension

folio 29.5 x 17.2 cms