Devi: The Great Goddess

Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
HomepageAspects of Devi
Cosmic Force
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Devi Slaying the Buffalo. Photo by Neil Greentree.
Durga, the great Warrior Goddess, represents the lethal energy of divine anger when turned against evil. It is Durga's story which is told in the three great legends in Devi Mahatmya. The world was under attack by Mahisha, the most evil demon in the world, who took many different forms, including that of a buffalo. The male gods, fearing total annihilation endowed Durga with their powers. Riding a lion into battle, Durga slew the buffalo by cutting off its head and then she destroyed the spirit of the demon as it emerged from the buffalo's severed neck. It is through this act that order was established in the world.
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At the Hub of Things. Lent by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution.
Durga's victory and power are celebrated every fall throughout India in the Durga Puja. Durga is among the most widely represented visual forms of Devi across the Indian subcontinent. She is seen in stone, bronze, wood, clay, and paint; her image is reintegrated in the contemporary world in oil on canvas and with powdered pigment in fiberglass.

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The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
All presented material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 1999 except where otherwise noted.