DECEMBER  2001
about us             contact us                              data bank              past issues             the craft shop                                          the print gallery



DECEMBER 2001 Contents


 Joseph Allen Stein
 A tribute by Ram Rahman

A Spiritual Activist
 Rozalia Radhika Priya


 Ghulam Ali

 Prem Joshua
 (Listen to the track
 'Lahore Connection')

 (Listen to the track
 'Moria Badnawa')


 Telecoms & Software
 - Trends in south Asia

 Value/Wealth Creators

 Narayana Murthy - Infosys

 Sam Pitroda - C-DOT

 Aziz Premji - Wipro

 Sunil Mittal - Bharti Mittal

 Ambanis - Reliance

 Safi Qureshi

 Hassan Ahmed - Sonus

 Atiq Raza - Raza Foundries



 'It was five past midnight
 in Bhopal' - Lapierre

Performing Arts

 Simplifying Ramayana
 - Bharatiya Kala Kendra


 Islam's middle-path


 Sakti - Mother Goddess


 Nandita Das


 Wharton India Economic
 Forum Conference

 Editor's Note


the craft shop

the print gallery


Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh



Page  2  of  2


Sakti - the Mother Goddess



Dr. Manoshi Bhattacharya


Mother Goddess - in the form of Durga


An identifiable Sakti, distinct from the earlier fertility images, is therefore over 4000 years old. Between 800 BC – 700 BC she appears to represent a symbolic unification between the Aryans and the indigenous population. She is as respected as any in the male pantheon but has not superceded any of them. 500 BC, in India, sees the beginning of Buddhism and Jainism, a surge in their popularity and a struggling Brahmanism. 200BC onwards the first Indian sculptures and evidence of image worship appears. Was this an attempt at establishing some kind of permanence? Perhaps the lay man needed a constant reminder of his heritage to prevent him from straying. From this time onwards we see a change the world over. The patriarchal gods seem to be relaxing their stern disciplinarian and demanding roles and taking on a loving & forgiving image. Vaisnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism make a beginning as being sects of Brahmanism. They vie with each other to influence rulers and invading tribes offering them a place within the Hindu fold, creating for them a mythical Indian origin and thus justifying their presence in the land. 300 AD onwards the powerful Brahmanical rulers the Guptas give the ancient brahmanical faith a boost and we find an increase in Hindu temple art and architecture where earlier it was mainly Buddhist and Jain. We see a revival of Shaktism now with a surge in the, perhaps already existing, practise of Tantra. Human mind cannot resist the power of the mysterious and Sakti throughTantra influenced Buddhism, Jainism and even travelled abroad. By the 10th – 11th century AD she is established as an independent deity in India.

Sakti  in other lands:

  • Harappa seal No.279 : Human figure with a foot on a buffalo’s nose, grasping a horn with one hand and thrusting a spear into its back.

  • Dordogne, France nude female holding a buffalo horn in her upraised hand.

  • Nubia: Temple of Nagar – Goddess slaughtering a demon, with her raised sword, a lion in the background, a snake symbol over her head and winged angels above.

  • Japan: Juneiti Kannon or cundi and Juntei Butsubo – the mother of millions of Buddhas – Sapta koti buddha matri.

  • Jains accepted Ganesh, Saraswati & Laxmi.

  • Buddhists accepted Tara, Laxmi, Ganesh and Mahisasura Mardini in the form of Vajra Varahi in Tibet and Markula in Lahaul.

  • Tara - Pre-Vedic Savior Goddess, known from India to Ireland

  • In Tibetan, she is called Dolma or Do'ma, When her cult developed exactly is unknown.  The Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang who visited the north Indian region between 633 and 645 reports describing, a Tolo image in a temple near Nalanda Buddhist University to which the general population was particularly devoted. 

  • In China cosmic union, Sacred Marriage, is represented by the square in circle MANDALA, shown in YAB-YUM statues of continuous union

  • Durga/Kali (death) among whose followers were the Thugs - as Sara-Kali she was worshipped by gypsies in France as the Black Virgin or Virgin Mary. The Roman goddess MENS (Bright Moment/Mind) is associated with Shakti and menstruation.

  • Shekina   is the feminine aspect of God and is the Jewish Cabalist version of the Hindu Shakti, who when joined to Her male counterpart forms the perpetual cosmic union the star of David which is the Tantric mandala of Shiva (the upward pointing triangle) and Shakti (the downward pointing triangle). The concept of Shekina appears in the medieval ages associated with the celebration of the Shabat.



Sakti in Indian Mythology 
  • Brahma, at first, created only man and asked them to go ahead and populate the earth. When they failed Siva appeared in the form of the Ardhnareswar (half-woman) prompting Brahma to create woman.


  • Uma, the daughter of Daksha, the king of the Himalayas, married Shiva much against her parents wishes. A tiger skin clad son in law smeared in ashes was a great embarrassment to the King who refused to invite him to a religious ceremony. Humiliated, Uma  commited suicide. A grief stricken Shiva wandered with the body of his wife ignoring his duties as the destroyer. An overburdened earth lamented to Vishnu who then cut up the body with his chakra bringing Siva back to his senses. Sakti Piths or energy centres arose where ever parts of Uma’s body fell. Uma, reincarnated as Parvati, married Siva once again and made amends with her now repentant parents whom she visits every autumn. This is also the 'Akal-Bodhan' or a worship in an unconventional time because Ram invoked her at this time to help him defeat Ravan. There are ten days of celebration with a customary invocation with a hundred lotuses of the Mahisasura mardini form of Durga.The goddess appears before her devotee coinciding with the killing of Ravan in the 'Sandhikshan’ the crossover period between Ashtami (the eighth day) and Navami (the ninth day).  The cremation occurs the Dashami or the tenth day with the goddess returning back to her husband, the parents giving her the traditional ceremonial send off reserved for every new bride.


  • As Kali She saved the world from the demon Raktabija (blood + seed). Every drop of his blood would turn into another demon. Kali drank up all the blood before it could fall on to the ground. Drunk on Raktabija's blood, Kali ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross her path. She adorned herself with the heads, limbs and entrails of her victim. To pacify her, Shiva threw himself under her feet. This stopped the goddess. She calmed down, embraced her husband, shed her ferocious form to become Gauri, the radiant mother.



The most popular form of Sakti is that of Mahisasura Mardini. She is represented usually standing with the right foot on her lion’s back and the left on the Mahisasura’s shoulder. She has 3 eyes and the number of arms range from 2 to 20. Today the 10 armed form is the most prevalent among the devotees from Bengal. She has slender, well developed body, skin the colour of gold, black curly hair and she is armed with the weapons of the entire pantheon. Her garments are of red silk and her ornaments are of gold and papyrus.The buffalo with its severed head lies at her feet. Mahisasura, having emerged from the buffalo body, brandishes a sword and  shield. The goddess drives her trident into his chest. She is accompanied by Saraswati, Laxmi, Ganesh and Kartik. An Iconic representation of Siva is made denoting his omniscience.

The goddess may have a fearsome expression or one of benevolence.

The weapons she carries, are symbolic of the power granted to her by the pantheon of Gods.

Siva                                         Trident

Vishnu                                   Discus

Brahma                                 Earthen water pot              

Varuna                                   Conch & a noose

Agni                                        Spear

Marut                                      Bow and arrow

Indra                                       Thunder bolt and a bell

Yama                                      Rod of fate

Prajapati                                 Necklace

Sun                                          Rays on her skin

Destiny                                  Sword and shield

Ocean                                    Garments, pearls & garland

Visvakarma                           Ornaments and axe

Himavat                                  Lion

Kuber                                      Wine cup

Sesha                                     Serpent Noose





Copyright © 2000 - 2001 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.