June 14, 2015



Goa was an important center of the Shakti cult in the medieval times and the Goddess was worshiped in the form of the Bhagavati or Mahishasura-Mardini. The cult still has a large number of followers who believe that the Goddess is the Supreme Power unlike popular Hindu belief that it is the Trimurti consisting of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector and Shiva the Destroyer which controls the cosmos. In this form, the Devi is seen slaying the fierce demon - Mahishasura or the Buffalo Demon with her trishul.

The most beautiful of the three Mahishasura Mardini sculptures displayed in the Gooa State Museum is the one from Surla-Tar in Bicholim belonging to the 14 th century. The four armed Goddess carved out of Compact Soap Stone is standing with the demon in the form of a buffalo below Her left feet. A well embellished 'prabhavali' has a 'kirti mukha' (Victory Face) at the centre is carved behind her. The Devi is grabbing the demon with Her left hand whereas Her right arm is broken; She holds a trishul in Her upper right hand and a 'Shank' (Conch) in the upper left hand. A lion - the vahana of the Goddess is seen attacking the demon from behind. A look at this image and you realize that certainly the contemporary Goan sculptors were masters of their trade.

Mahishasura Mardini - 14th century AD
The 14th century Talc Chlorite Schist sculpture of the Goddess found at Torxem in Pernem taluka is in fact a 'true' Mahishasura Mardini image for the fact that here, She is seen goring the buffalo with the trishul in Her right hand. Like the revious image, she is seen holding the demon's tongue with Her left hand; she holds a sword in Her upper right hand and a shield in the upper left hand like a medieval warrior. A well-decorated 'prabhavali' in the back ground lacks a 'kirti mukha'. Now that is strange and so is the absence of the lion!

Mahishasura Mardini - 14th century AD
The much older Talcose Chlorite Schist stone sculpture of the Devi was found at Assoledem in Quepem taluka of Goa and belongs to the 12th century AD. The four armed Goddess holds a broken sword in Her upper left hand and a shield in the upper right hand. She is seen crushing the demon Mahishasura with Her right hand and simultaneously thrusting her trishul into him. Unlike the previous two idols, the demon is shown here in a human form, sitting upon a buffalo. He is holding a sword and a shield in his hand. The idol has a beautiful 'prabhavali' and a 'kirti mukha' on the top. A lion and a 'chauri' (fly whisk) bearer are seen on the bottom left and right of the image respectively.

Mahishasura Mardini - 12th century AD

More from the series: GOA STATE MUSEUM

(1) An Introduction (Link)

(2) The Hero Stones (Link)

(3) The Sati Stones (Link)

(4) The Gajalaxmi Stones (Link)

(5) The Cult of Mahishasura Mardini (Link)

Reference: Catalogue of the Remarkable Sculptures in the Goa State Museum