Indian Museum, Kolkata : Virtual Exhibitions Saktirupena : An Exposition On Mother Goddess In Indian Art

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An Exposition On Mother Goddess In Indian Art

The worship of the female principle representing motherhood, fertility, creation as well as destruction is an age-old system in the religious life of the people of India. She is the embodiment of the bounty of the Earth as well. The proto-historic Harappan Civilization yielded the earliest positive evidence of the existence of the worship of the female principle in the form of numerous clay female figurines and representation of the same on several seals. The early Vedic literature, although speaks of the dominance of male gods but does not altogether discard existence of their female counterparts. Goddesses like Usha , Ila, Sarasvati, Aditi, Prithvi, Raka, among others though were conceived as the wives, daughters or the beloved of the male gods, but collectively they personify such abstract attributes as abundance and nourishment. It is well known that the Durgastrotra of the Mahabharata and the Aryastava outline the various constituent underlying the principal cult picture of the developed nature of the Mother cult later on came to be known as Saktism. References to the tribes like the Savaras, Barbaras and Pulindas of worshipping the female principle is found in the Aryastava. Here she is described as Aparna (not covered with even a leaf garment), Naga Savari (naked Savara woman) and Parna Savari (Leaf clad Savara woman) and as the great saviouress from terrors like captivity, wilderness, drowning , harassment from the robbers as also great forests. All these references prove that prior to the emergence of the developed Sakti cult where predominance of the female deity is found , India had witnesses prevalent of worship of the natural phenomenon in female form.