Large Size Ashta Bhuja Dhari Durga
36 inch X 33 inch X 13 inch
This most accomplished sublime image, a brass-cast but surpassing goldin its richness and lustre, represents the Ashta-bhuja-dhari Durga,the goddess in her eight-armed manifestation. She is not engaged ineliminating any demons or in any related act as she is usuallyrepresented. More or less it is her portrayal in a still state. The‘Adi-shakti’ – primordial power preceding all gods and every manifestand unmanifest entity, whatever the various myths in regard to herorigin, the goddess was all gods’ accumulative power irrespective ofwhether the gods bestowed theirs upon her when they invoked her foraccomplishing their errand, or she shared hers with them when afterthe great deluge even Vishnu, the first among gods, a mere ignorantchild in abyssal darness, awaited her to reveal on him his identityand role, and Shiva, a lifeless mass, to infuse into his being thelife and the power to create which she accomplishes by dancing uponhis lifelessness and engaging him into copulation, an act of flesh butwith the divine instinct to create.Thus, whatever the contentious claims in regard to her sectarianidentity dragging her into this fold or that, the goddess is bestperceived in her trans-sectarian identity which most appropriatelyreflects in the attributes that her images are often cast with, thisstatue being its appropriate example. This image of the goddesscarries in its right side hands disc, sword and mace, and the fourthis held in ‘abhaya’, while in those on the left, it is carrying a bowlwith flames of fire in it, conch, bow and trident. Among them, disc,mace and conch are essentially the attributes of Vishnu representingone sectarian line, trident and the fire, of Shiva, representinganother, as also bow, his attribute as Ishan and also of the love godKamadeva, ‘abhaya’, the divine attribute of all divinity, and so, theother.Shiva’s energy that created and destroyed and Vishnu’s power to knowand act are the inherent attributes of the Adi-shakti revealing bestin her all pervading timeless presence, in an act of her body :elimination of an enemy or evil, which is essentially timed and boundto a geography, revealing just an element of her, not her totality asreveals her presence. In scriptural tradition she has been invariablyinvoked as destroyer of one evil force or other; in visual traditionsthere also appears her non-operative image registering her presencealso beyond an act. All myths relating to her origin dually aim at,one, creating in her form the undefeatable divine power thateliminated a specific evil – a demon, or a set of them, and the other,the model of supreme beauty and the most accomplished form ofwomanhood. Her undefeatable aspect was at one and the same timeferocious as well as valorous having thus two sets of manifestations,though visually the images that emerged did not mark this distinction.They were divisible broadly under two classes of them, one, her‘lalita-rupa’ – a form abounding in supreme beauty, and the other, herform as wrathful destroyer, an invincible warrior with unparalleledvalour. This brass-statue in review here comes obviously under theformer : the goddess in her ‘lalita-rupa’.This effulgent brass-cast, representing the goddess as seated on hermount, the majestic lion, with her left leg lying down, while theright, placed horizontally on the left, known in iconographicconvention as ‘lalitasana’ – the posture revealing beauty, the statueis essentially a deity image for sanctum or some kind of sacred space.The figure of the goddess has been conceived as the model of supremebeauty and the most accomplished womanhood, the other aspect of thegoddess of battlefield. Metal is a tough medium and metal-casting adifficult art not permitting re-doing; hence, creating such minutedetails as are arrived at in this statue : portraying not merely thegoddess’s material form but also her spiritual being, her divinity,sublimity, self-contentment, and quiescence on the face, is simplyamazing. The statue wondrously delineate the details of her costume,the sari so draped that every fold surges like waves of water and issewn garment type fitted to size, and a blouse revealing utmost grace.As finely are conceived her iconographic features, various ornaments,tresses, lifelike picture of her mount, especially the details of itsmane, bearing of its face and its feeling of total contentment. Theunique style of polishing has transformed the effect of brass intothat of gold.This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.