Chhinnamasta (Sanskrit: छिन्नमस्ता, Chinnamastā, "She whose head is severed"), often spelled Chinnamasta and also called Chhinnamastika and Prachanda Chandika, is one of the Mahavidyas, ten Tantric goddesses and a ferocious aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother. Chhinnamasta can be easily identified by her fearsome iconography. The self-decapitated goddess holds her own severed head in one hand, a scimitar in another. Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck and are drunk by her severed head and two attendants. Chhinnamasta is usually depicted standing on a copulating couple.
Chhinnamasta is associated with the concept of self-sacrifice as well as the awakening of the kundalini – spiritual energy. She is considered both as a symbol of self-control on sexual desire as well as an embodiment of sexual energy, depending upon interpretation. She symbolizes both aspects of Devi: a life-giver and a life-taker. Her legends emphasize her sacrifice – sometimes with a maternal element, her sexual dominance and her self-destructive fury. Though she enjoys patronage as part of the Mahavidyas, her individual temples – mostly found in Northern India and Nepal – and individual public worship is rare, due to her ferocious nature and her reputation of being dangerous to approach and worship. Her individual worship is restricted to heroic, Tantric worship by Tantrikas, yogis and world renouncers.
Chhinnamasta is recognized by both Hindus and Buddhists. She is closely related to Chinnamunda – the severed-headed form of the Tibetan Buddhist goddess Vajrayogini.
Chhinnamasta is described as being as red as the hibiscus flower or as bright as a million suns. She is depicted mostly nude and with dishevelled hair. She is described to be a sixteen-year-old girl with full breasts, having a blue lotus near her heart. Chhinnamasta is depicted wearing a serpent as a sacred thread and a garland of skulls/severed heads and bones, along with other ornaments around her neck. She carries her own severed head – sometimes in a platter or a skull-bowl – in her left hand and holding a khatri, a scimitar or knife or scissor-like object, in her right hand, by which she decapitated herself. A crown on the severed head and bangles, waist-belt ornaments may be also depicted. Three streams of blood string from her neck, one enters her own mouth, while the others are drunk by her female yogini companions, who flank her. Both the attendants – Dakini to her left and Varnini to her right – are depicted nude, with matted or dishevelled hair, three-eyed, full-breasted, wearing the serpentine sacred thread and carrying the skull-bowl in the left hand and the knife in the right. While Dakini is fair and represents the tamas guna, Varnini is red-complexioned and conveys the rajas guna. With her right leg stretched and left leg bent a little, Chhinnamasta stands in a fighting posture on the love-deity couple of Kamadeva (Kama) – a symbol of sexual lust – and his wife Rati, who are engrossed in copulation with the latter usually on the top (viparita-rati sex position). Below the couple is a lotus and in the background is a cremation ground. This popular iconographic form is described in the Tantrasara and the Trishakti Tantra.
Sometimes, the attendants also hold severed heads (not their own). Sometimes, Kamadeva-Rati is replaced by the divine couple of Krishna and Radha. The lotus beneath the couple is sometimes replaced by a cremation pyre. The coupling couple is sometimes omitted completely. Sometimes, Shiva – the goddess's consort – is depicted lying beneath Chhinnamasta, who is seated squatting on him and copulating with him.
Chhinnamasta's popular iconography is similar to the yellow coloured severed-head form of the Buddhist goddess Vajrayogini, except the copulating couple – which is exclusive to the former's iconography – and Chhinnamasta's red skin tone.
Chhinnamasta Tantra describes the goddess sitting on Kamadeva, rather than standing on him. Additionally, she is described as three-eyed, with a jewel on her forehead, which is tied to a snake and her breasts adorned with lotuses. Another form of the goddess in the Tantrasara describes her seated in her own navel, formless and invisible. This form is said to be only realised via a trance.
Sometimes, Chhinnamasta is depicted as four-armed, and without the copulating couple. She is depicted on a grass patch, holding the sword with dripping blood in her upper right hand, a breaded head – identified with Brahma – in the lower one. Her upper left hand carries her own severed head, spilling blood in a skull-cup in her lower hand. Her two attendants depicted as skeletons drinking the dripping blood, while two jackals drinking the blood dripping from the head of the goddess and Brahma.
The scholar van Kooij notes that the iconography of Chhinnamasta have the elements of heroism (vira rasa) and terror (bhayanaka rasa) as well as eroticism (sringara rasa) in terms of the copulating couple, with the main motifs being the offering of her own severed head, the spilling and drinking of blood and the trampling of the couple.
Chhinnamasta signifies that life, death and sex are interdependent. Chhinnamasta's image conveys the eternal truth that "life feeds on death, is nourished by death, necessitates death, and that the ultimate destiny of sex is to perpetuate more life, which in turn will decay and die in order to feed more life". While the lotus and the lovemaking couple symbolize life and the urge to create life, in a way gives life-force to the beheaded goddess, the blood flowing from goddess conveys death and loss of the life-force, which flows into the mouths of her devotee yoginis, nourishing them. The scholar P. Pal equates Chhinnamasta with the concept of sacrifice and renewal of creation. Chhinnamasta self-sacrifices herself and her blood – drunk by her attendants – nourishes the universe. An invocation to her calls her the sacrifice, the sacrificer and the recipient of the sacrifice, with the severed head treated as an offering.
While other fierce Hindu goddesses like Kali are depicting severing the heads of demons and are associated with ritual self-decapitation, Chhinnamasta's motif also reverses ritual head-offering, in which she offers her own head to the devotees (attendants) to feed them. In this way, she symbolizes the aspect of the Goddess as a giver. At the same time, she subdues and takes the life-force of the copulating divine couple, signifying the aspect of the life-taker like Kali.
Chhinnamasta standing on a copulating couple of Kamadeva (literally "sexual desire") and Rati ("sexual intercourse") is interpreted by some as a symbol of self-control of sexual desire, while others interpret it as the goddess, being an embodiment of sexual energy. Her names like Yogini and Madanatura ("one who has control on Kama") convey her yogic control and restraint on sexual energy. Images in which Chhinnamasta is depicted sitting on Kamadeva-Rati in a non-suppressive fashion, the couple giving sexual energy to the goddess, and where Shiva is depicted in coitus with Chhinnamasta are associated with the other interpretation. Chhinnamasta's names like Kameshwari ("goddess of desire") and Ratiragavivriddhini ("one who is engrossed in the realm of Rati – [copulation or sexual desire]") and the appearance of klim – the common seed syllable of Kamadeva and Krishna – in her mantra support this interpretation.
Acarya Ananda Jha, the author of the Chinnamasta Tattva, prescribes her worship by soldiers as she embodies self-control of lust, heroic self-sacrifice for the benefit of others and fearlessness of death. Her nudity and headlessness symbolise her integrity and "heedlessness". Her names like Ranjaitri ("victorious in war") celebrate her as the slayer of various demons and her prowess in battle.
The Chhinnamasta icon is also understood as a representation of the awakening of the kundalini – spiritual energy. The copulating couple represent the awakening in the Muladhara chakra, which corresponds to the last bone in the spinal cord. The kundalini flows through the central passage in the body – the Sushumna nadi and hitting the topmost chakra, the Sahasrara at the top of head – with such force that it blows her head out. The blood spilling from the throat applies the upward-flowing kundalini, breaking all knots (granthis) – which make a person sad, ignorant and weak – of the chakras. The severed head is "transcendent consciousness". The three blood streams is the flow of nectar when the kundalini unites with Shiva, who resides in the Sahasrara. Another interpretation associates Daknini, Varnini and Chhinnamasta with the three main subtle channels (nadis): Ida, Pingala and Sushumna flowing free. Sushumna connects the Muladhara and Sahasrara and is cognate with the spinal cord. Ida courses from the right testicle to the left nostril and is linked to the cooling lunar energy and the right hand side of the brain. Pingala courses from the left testicle to the right nostril and is associated with the hot solar energy and the left hand side of the brain.
The self-decapitation also represents removal of false notions, ignorance and egoism. The ability to remain alive despite the beheading is associated to supernatural powers and awakening of the kundalini. The triad of the goddess and the two yoginis is also philosophically cognate to the triad of patterns, "which creative energy is felt to adopt".
While she is easily identified by most Hindus and often worshipped and depicted as part of the Mahavidya group in goddess temples, Chhinnamasta is not so popular as an individual goddess. Her individual temples as well as her public worship are rare. Her individual worship is restricted to heroic, Tantric worship by Tantrikas (a type of Tantric practitioners), yogis and world renouncers. The lack of her worship is attributed by Kinsley to her ferocious nature and her reputation of being dangerous to approach and worship. Her hundred-name hymn and thousand-name hymn describe her fierce nature and wrath. The names describe her as served by ghosts and as gulping blood. She is pleased by human blood, human flesh and meat, and worshipped by body hair, flesh and fierce mantras.
Tantric practitioners worship Chhinnamasta for acquiring siddhis or supernatural powers. Chhinnamasta's mantra Srim hrim klim aim Vajravairocaniye hum hum phat svaha is to be invoked to attract and subjugate women. Another goal of her worship is to cast spells and cause harm to someone. Other goals common to worship of all mahavidyas are: poetic speech, well-being, control of one's foes, removal of obstacles, ability to sway kings, ability to attract others, conquest over other kings and finally, moksha (salvation).
The Tantric texts Tantrasara, Shakta-pramoda and Mantra-mahodadhih (1589 CE) give details about the worship of Chhinnamasta and other Mahavidyas, including her yantra, mantra and her meditative/iconographic forms (dhyanas). Tantric texts tells the worshipper to imagine a red sun orb – signifying a yoni triangle – in his own navel. In the orb, the popular form of Chhinnamasta is imagined to reside. Tantrasara cautions a householder-man to invoke the goddess only in "abstract terms". It further tells that if woman invokes Chhinnamasta by her mantra, the woman will become a dakini and lose her husband and son, thereby becoming a perfect yogini. Shaktisamgama-tantra prescribes her worship only by the left-handed path (Vamamarga). Mantra-mahodadhih declares that such worship involves having sexual intercourse with a woman, who is not one's wife. Shakta-pramoda tells the same, adding fire offerings, wine and meat offerings at night. Some hymns narrate that she likes blood and as such, is offered blood sacrifices at some shrines. Shaktisamgama-tantra says that only brave souls (viras) should follow Vamamarga worship to the goddess. Shakta-pramoda warns that improper worship would have severe consequences: Chhinnamasta would severe the head of such a person and drink his blood. It further categorizes worship for Chhinnamasta to followed by householders and renouncers.
The Chintapurni, Himachal Pradesh temple to Chhinnamasta claims to be one of the Shakti Peeths and where the goddess Sati's forehead (mastaka) fell. Here, Chhinnamasta is interpreted as the severed-headed one as well as the foreheaded-one. A shrine dedicated to Chhinnamasta exists in Ramnagar, near Varanasi, where tantrikas worship her using corpses. There are Chhinnamasta shrines in Jharkhand (formerly Bihar) on the hill Nandan Parvat near Deoghar (Vaidyanath) and in Ranchi, along with other Mahavidyas. Her shrine is situated in the Kamakhya Temple complex, Assam, along with other Mahavidyas. A temple to Chhinnamasta is present in Vishnupur (Bishnupur), West Bengal. Chhinnamasta's shrines are also found in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, notably near the Changu Narayan temple. The earliest of these temples is dated by Benard to the late 17th century.
From: Wiki (there's a few more sections there with info)One day Parvati went to bathe in the Mandakini River with her two attendants, Jaya and Vijaya. After bathing, the great goddess's color became black because she was sexually aroused. After some time, her two attendants asked her, "Give us some food. We are hungry." She replied, "I shall give you food but please wait." After awhile, again they asked her. She replied, "Please wait, I am thinking about some matters." Waiting awhile, they implored her, "You are the mother of the universe. A child asks everything from her mother. The mother gives her children not only food but also coverings for the body. So that is why we are praying to you for food. You are known for your mercy; please give us food." Hearing this, the consort of Shiva told them that she would give anything when they reached home. But again her two attendants begged her, "We are overpowered with hunger, O Mother of the Universe. Give us food so we may be satisfied, O Merciful One, Bestower of Boons and Fulfiller of Desires."
Hearing this true statement, the merciful goddess smiled and severed her own head. As soon as she severed her head, it fell on the palm of her left hand. Three bloodstreams emerged from her throat; the left and right fell respectively into the mouths of her flanking attendants and the center one fell into her mouth.
After performing this, all were satisfied and later returned home. (From this act) Parvati became known as Chinnamasta.
In visual imagery, Chinnamasta is shown standing on the copulating couple of Kamadeva and Rati, with Rati on the top. They are shown lying on a lotus.
There are two different interpretations of this aspect of Chinnamasta's iconography. One understands it as a symbol of control of sexual desire, the other as a symbol of the goddess's embodiment of sexual energy.
The most common interpretation is one where she is believed to be defeating what Kamadeva and Rati represent, namely sexual desire and energy. In this school of thought she signifies self-control, believed to be the hallmark of a successful yogi.
The other, quite different interpretation states that the presence of the copulating couple is a symbol of the goddess being charged by their sexual energy. Just as a lotus seat is believed to confer upon the deity seated atop it's qualities of auspiciousness and purity, Kamadeva and Rati impart to the Goddess standing over them the power and energy generated by their lovemaking. Gushing up through her body, this energy spouts out of her headless torso to feed her devotees and also replenish herself. Significantly here the mating couple is not opposed to the goddess, but an integral part of the rhythmic flow of energy making up the Chinnamasta icon.
The image of Chinnamasta is a composite one, conveying reality as an amalgamation of sex, death, creation, destruction and regeneration. It is stunning representation of the fact that life, sex, and death are an intrinsic part of the grand unified scheme that makes up the manifested universe. The stark contrasts in this iconographic scenario-the gruesome decapitation, the copulating couple, the drinking of fresh blood, all arranged in a delicate, harmonious pattern - jolt the viewer into an awareness of the truths that life feeds on death, is nourished by death, and necessitates death and that the ultimate destiny of sex is to perpetuate more life, which in turn will decay and die in order to feed more life. As arranged in most renditions of the icon, the lotus and the pairing couple appear to channel a powerful life force into the goddess. The couple enjoying sex convey an insistent, vital urge to the goddess; they seem to pump her with energy. And at the top, like an overflowing fountain, her blood spurts from her severed neck, the life force leaving her, but streaming into the mouths of her devotees (and into her own mouth as well) to nourish and sustain them. The cycle is starkly portrayed: life (the couple making love), death (the decapitated goddess), and nourishment (the flanking yoginis drinking her blood).
From: hereSkt., cinnamasta: Headless One
"She of the Cut Neck" or the "Headless One" is a goddess concerned with life, death and the idea of blood as a life-force. She represents the Shakti in her destructive and creative aspects, signifying apparent dissolution and return to what is called "the first cause".
In paintings she is most often presented as a woman with a severed head, two streams of blood flowing from her neck, bestowing her own life-force unto Varnani and Dakini, the two female figures beside her. It is she who distributes "vital essence" or "life energy" to all beings. The whole scene described here is set inside a huge lotus which arises from the union of a male & female pair; Rati and Kama, the god of love & desire.
Sometimes Chinnamasta is identified with, or seen as, an aspect of either Durga or Kali, and there are clear connections as well to the Buddhist Vajrayogini.
Chinnamasta is also known as Viraratri.
From: here"Guptadurge Mahabhage Guptapaapapranashini
Saptajanmaarjitat Paapaat Traahi Maam Saranagatam"
Chhinnamasta, "She who severs her own head", is also called Chhinnamastika or Prachanda Chandika. This tantric goddesses is a ferocious aspect of the Devi and can be identified by her fearsome iconography.
This self-decapitated goddess holds her own severed head in one hand and a scimitar in the other. Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck, which is drunk by her own severed head and two attendants standing by each side of her. Chhinnamasta is also usually portrayed as standing on a copulating couple.
As the figure of Chhinnamasta suggests, this particular Mahavidya is associated with the concept of self-sacrifice as well as the awakening of the kundalini - the spiritual energy lying dormant within the Sookshma Sharira (subtle body). Chhinnamasta is a mixture of contradictions. She is regarded both as a symbol of self-control on sexual desire as well as an embodiment of sexual energy, depending upon the interpretation of the devotee.
As Chhinnamasta is considered a dark and dangerous deity, she has few temples, mostly found in North India and Nepal. Her individual worship is restricted to Tantric worship by Tantrikas and yogis.
Interestingly, Chhinnamasta is recognized by Hindus as well as Buddhists. She is closely related to Chinnamunda - the severed-headed form of the Tibetan Buddhist goddess Vajrayogini.
Chhinnamasta is shown as being red like the hibiscus flower and as bright as a million suns. Portrayed mostly nude, with dishevelled hair, she is considered to be a sixteen-year-old girl with full breasts, having a blue lotus near her heart. Chhinnamasta is also depicted donning a serpent as a sacred thread and a garland of skulls/severed heads, bones and other ornaments around her neck.
She carries her own severed head in her left hand and holds a khatri or scimitar-like object in her right hand, by which she decapitated herself. Three streams of blood string from her neck, one of which enters her own mouth. The others are drunk by her female companions.
Both the attendants are depicted nude as well, with three-eyes, wearing the serpentine sacred thread and carrying the skull-bowl in the left hand and the knife in the right. While Dakini is light-skinned and represents the tamas guna, Varnini is red-complexioned and embodies the rajas guna.
Chhinnamasta is often shown standing on Kamadeva (the god of Love) and his wife Rati, who are engrossed in copulation with the latter, usually on top. Below the couple lies a lotus and in the background is a cremation ground. The copulating couple is sometimes different and sometimes, completely absent.
Legend of Chhinnamasta's birth
According to one legend from the Pranotasani Tantra, Parvati, while once having a bath in the Mandakini river, becomes sexually excited, making her skin turn black. At this time, her two female attendants Dakini and Varnini also become extremely hungry and beg for food. Though Parvati initially promises to give them food once they get back home, she decides to behead herself by means of using her nails and gives them her blood to satiate their hunger.
The other story is narrated by Shiva. His consort Chandika (also an aspect of Parvati) was engrossed in coitus with him in reverse posture, but became angry at his seminal emission. Her attendants Dakini and Varnini rose from her body. The rest of the story is similar to the earlier version.
There is yet another legend that relates how the goddess Prachanda-Chandika helped the gods slay all the evil demons. The enraged goddess then cut off her own head too and drinks her own blood.
Her name also appears in the Samudra Manthan episode (Churning of Ocean), where Chhinnamasta drinks up the demons' share of the Devamruta (divine elixir of youth) and then beheads herself to prevent the demons from acquiring the same.
Relevance and symbolism of Chhinnamasta
Chhinnamasta signifies that life, death and sex are interdependent. Her image embodies the eternal truth that life feeds on death and that the ultimate destiny of sex is to perpetuate more life, which in turn will decay and die in order to feed more life. The lotus and the copulating couple symbolize life and the urge to procreate. The blood flowing from goddess' neck conveys death, which flows into the mouths of her devotees, nourishing them. This symbolizes the aspect of the Goddess as a giver.
In a spiritual context, the image of Chhinnamasta is a representation of the awakening of the kundalini. The lovemaking couple actually represents the awakening in the Muladhara chakra. The kundalini flows through the central passage in the body. The blood spilling from the throat depicts the upward-flowing kundalini, breaking all obstacles and finally resulting in enlightenment.
The severed head shows the transcendent consciousness. Daknini, Varnini and Chhinnamasta can be related to the three main subtle nadis or channels, namely, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. The self-decapitation also represents removal of ignorance and ego.
From: hereMahavidya (great knowledge goddess)
Mahabhima (great fierce one)
Mahodari (great bellied one)
Candesvari (fierce goddess)
Candamata (mother of fierce beings or the fierce mother)
Candamundaprabhanjini (killer of demons Canda and Munda)
Mahacanda (great fierce one)
Candarupa (fierce form)
Candika (fierce one)
Candakhandini (destroyer of Canda)
Krodhini (wrathful one)
Krodhajanani (creator of wrathful beings)
Krodharupa (wrathful form)
Kuhuh (new moon day)
Kala (skillful one)
Kopatura (afflicted with rage)
Kopayuta (filled with rage)
Kopasamharakarini (destroyer of rage)
Vajravairocani (adamantine one)
Vajrakalpa (competent with a vajra)
Dakinikarmanirata (involved with the work of dakinis)
Dakinikarmapujita (worshipped as the work of dakinis)
Dakinisanganirata (delighted in the company of dakinis)
Dakinipremapurita (filled with love of dakinis)
Khatavangadharini (holder of a khatvanga)
Kharva (mutilated one)
Khadgakharparadharini (holder of a scimitar and a skullcup)
Pretasana (feeder of pretas [hungry ghosts])
Pretayuta (united with pretas)
Pretasangaviharini (plays or dwells in the company of pretas)
Chinnamundadhara (holds a severed head)
Chinnacandavidya (fierce mantra of the one with the severed body)
Citrini (having variegated forms)
Ghorarupa (terrific form)
Ghoradrsta (terrific to behold)
Ghorarava (having a terrific roar)
Ghanodari (firm abdomen)
Yogini (practices yoga)
Yoganirata (practitioner of yoga)
Japayajnaparayana (absorbed in sacrifice and recitation)
Yonicakramayi (possessing yonicakra)
Yonih (embodying the yoni)
Yonicakrapravarttini (arising from the yonicakra)
Yonimudra (has the yonimudra)
Yonigamya (accessible to the yoni)
Yoniyantranivasini (abides in the yoniyantra)
Yantrarupa (has the yantra form)
Yantramayi (possesses the yantra)
Yantresi (goddess of the yantra)
Yantrapujita (worshipped with a yantra)
Kirtya (renowned one)
Kapardini (has matted hair)
Kalavikarini (constantly transforming)
Arakta (being slightly red)
Raktanayana (having red eyes)
Raktapanaparayana (quaffing blood continuously)
Bhutida (gives prosperity)
Bhutidatri (bestows prosperity)
Bhairavi (formidable one)
Bhairavacaranirata (engaged in the practice of bhairavas)
Bhutabhairavasevita (served by fierce beings)
Bhima (formidable one)
Bhimesvaridevi (goddess who is lord of the formidable one)
Bhimanadaparayana (having continuous formidable sounds)
Bhavaradhya (praised by Sankara)
Bhavanuta (worshipped by all)
Bhavasagaratarini (crosses over the ocean of existence)
Bhadrakali (a form of Kali)
Bhadratanuh (having a beautiful body)
Bhadrarupa (beautiful form)
Bhadrarupa (embodies goodness)
Subhadra (wonderful goodness)
Bhadrapalini (protectoress of goodness)
Subhavya (exceedingly beautiful)
Bhavyavadana (having beautiful face)
Sumukhi (good face or mouth)
Siddhasevita (served by siddhis)
Siddhida (gives siddhis)
Siddhanivaha (has the collection of siddhis)
Siddha (accomplished one)
Siddhanisevita (honoured by siddhas)
Subhada (gives auspiciousness)
Suddhasattva (has pure sattva)
Subhavaha (bearer of auspiciousness)
Drstamayi (embodies the right view)
Drstisamharakarini (capable of destroying by her gaze)
Sarvani (Siva’s wife)
Sarvamangalakarini (creator of all auspiciousness)
Santirupa (embodiment of peacefulness)
Madanatura (indomitable by Kamadeva)
From: hereMantra: Om Shrim Hreem Hreem Aim Vajra Vairochaniye Shrim Hreem Hreem Phat Svaha.Chinnamasta, the ‘severed headed’ yogini, who traditionally appears as the third of the ten mahavidyas or ‘great knowledge-holding’ goddesses in the Hindu shakta-tantra traditions. Collectively the ten mahavidyas represent the various manifestation of the great goddess Devi or Durga, who assumed these powerful and often terrifying aspects in order to pacify, subjugate or destroy some of the most potent and malevolent forces in the universe.
Chinnamasta and her two attendants appear amidst a blazing mass of wisdom fire as they dance above the copulating forms of white Shiva and red Parvati, who lie together upon the patterned golden sun disc of a multicoloured lotus. In reversed sexual posture Parvati lies on top of Shiva, her naked body adorned with gold and bone ornaments, her hair loosened, her three eyes gazing passionately at his face, and her hand pressing upon his hip. Shiva’s legs are spread wide as he fondles Parvati’s breast, his tiger-skin loincloth loosened, and his body adorned with rudraksha beads and the great naga-serpent Vasuki, who coils around his neck. Shiva has three eyes, his forehead is marked with a tripundra, and his long matted hair-locks are crowned with a crescent moon and the cascading waters of the river-goddess Ganga.
Chinnamasta is deep red in colour, youthful, beautiful, passionate, and radiant like a million suns as she ecstatically dances in pratyalidha posture, with her right leg bent and her left leg extended. With her right hand she wields aloft the bloodstained curved knife with which she has just severed her own head, her index finger raised in the threatening tarjani gesture. And with her outstretched left hand she holds aloft a skull-cup that contains her own freshly severed and blood-dripping head, its three eyes gazing upward, its mouth wide open as her long tongue receives the stream of blood that cascades from the severed central vein of her neck. Her severed head is adorned by a golden crown with five jewel-topped skulls, and encircled by a blazing halo of yellow fire. Her naked body is adorned with ornaments of gold and filigree bone. Around her neck she wears a golden choker, a pearl necklace, a chained golden pendant, and a garland of fifty white skulls. And around her waist is a bone apron of small bone beads, with sixty-four intricate loops that bear the carved bone ornaments of little skulls, crossed-vajras, pendants, and hanging bells. The soles of her feet are marked with henna patterns of wheels, tridents and lotuses, whilst fire radiates from the dancing feet of both Chinnamasta and her attendants.
Her two attendants, red Varini and blue-black Dakini, lean outward at Chinnamasta’s right and left sides, each with their own fiery aura and blazing halo. These two naked goddesses are similar in appearance to Chinnamasta, with disheveled hair, gold and bone ornaments, blood-smeared cheeks and breasts, and they both hold a curved knife and a skull-cup of blood in their right and left hands. With protruding tongues they drink the streams of blood that squirt from the severed right and left veins of Chinnamasta’s neck. Symbolically, these three blood-spurting veins represent the unobstructed psychic energies of the subtle-body’s median nerve or central channel, with its two subsidiary solar and lunar channels, which are respectively personified in the forms of Chinnamasta, Varini, and Dakini.
Above Chinnamasta’s neck is her yantra or ‘diagram’, which appears as a pink eight-petal lotus disc with a green seed-head, upon which are two interlocking gold and red triangles, and an upward-pointing inner golden triangle that is embossed with her bija-mantra or seed-syllable, KRIM. Her yantra’s outer square or bhupura, with its four directional gateways, is also embossed with scrolling golden patterns. Her inner aura is decorated with an assembly of mythical creatures and beings, which include: a makara, asura warriors, a dancing skeleton and khyak spirit to her right; and an elephant, a naga-queen, a wealth god, and a garuda wrestling with two naga-serpents to her left. Her outer aura is decorated with a ring of golden skulls and scrolling motifs.
Above Chinnamasta’s yantra is the golden lotus and sun disc of Dakshina Kali, who squats upon the quiescent white ‘corpse’ of Shiva as she passionately copulates with him. Kali is wrathful, intoxicated, blue-black in colour, with four arms, and three piercing eyes. Her disheveled locks of matted hair billow outward behind her back, her cheeks and breasts are smeared with blood, and her long bloodstained tongue hangs from her gaping mouth. She wears ornaments of gold and bone, a severed head garland, an apron of thirteen severed forearms, and a white crescent moon adorns her brow. With her two right hands she makes the boon-granting varada-mudra and the abhaya-mudra of protection, and with her two left hands she holds the severed head of an enemy and a sword. Above Kali’s head is her yantra, which appears as a nine-fold downward-pointing triangle at the centre of an eight-petal lotus, with an outer black bhupura. Another large and fiery yantra appears behind her back, with its blazing central dais forming the circle of her aura, and its fiery bhupura merging with the mass of twisting flames and billowing smoke that fills the sky.
The lower landscape illustrates the environment of Pashupatinath Temple, which is the most important Shaivite Temple in Nepal, and a famous pilgrimage site for all Hindus in general. The temple is dedicated to Shiva in his aspect as the ‘Lord (nath), who is the supreme lord (pati) of all cattle (pashu) or creatures’. Pashupati stands upon the eastern bank of the Bagmati River, which flows towards India as a tributary of the River Ganges, and is thus also the most sacred Hindu cremation ground in Nepal.
Samundra has depicted Pashupatinath as it may have appeared during the nineteenth century, with its four circular cremation platforms or burning-ghats separated by the steps that lead down to the Bagmati River. At this time the western bank of the river was believed to be haunted by ghosts and spirits, so upon this bank appear the small figures of a male khyak spirit and a dancing yakshini, both of whom are depicted with protruding tongues. The two-tiered temple of Pashupatinath appears amidst the trees to the right, with its lion guardians, gilded roof and doorway, and several small white Shaivite temples in front of it. In the foreground are a group of sixteen male mourners who tearfully attend the cremation of an elderly man, while his widow performs sati by ritually offering herself to the flames of her husband’s funeral pyre.
From: here (also see the painting it's talking about)
- Her Yantra
- 5 part article
- Google Book preview: Chinnamasta: The Aweful Buddhist and Hindu Tantric By Elisabeth Anne Benard
- Google Book preview: Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas By David R. Kinsley
- 108 Names
- Another article
- One Thousand Names of Chinnamasta: