Thus, whatever the contentious claims in regard to her sectarian identity dragging her into this fold or that, the goddess is best perceived in her trans-sectarian identity which most appropriately reflects in the attributes that her images are often cast with, this statue being its appropriate example. This image of the goddess carries in its right side hands disc, sword and mace, and the fourth is held in ‘abhaya’, while in those on the left, it is carrying a bowl with flames of fire in it, conch, bow and trident. Among them, disc, mace and conch are essentially the attributes of Vishnu representing one sectarian line, trident and the fire, of Shiva, representing another, as also bow, his attribute as Ishan and also of the love god Kamadeva, ‘abhaya’, the divine attribute of all divinity, and so, the other.
Shiva’s energy that created and destroyed and Vishnu’s power to know and act are the inherent attributes of the Adi-shakti revealing best in her all pervading timeless presence, in an act of her body : elimination of an enemy or evil, which is essentially timed and bound to a geography, revealing just an element of her, not her totality as reveals her presence. In scriptural tradition she has been invariably invoked as destroyer of one evil force or other; in visual traditions there also appears her non-operative image registering her presence also beyond an act. All myths relating to her origin dually aim at, one, creating in her form the undefeatable divine power that eliminated a specific evil – a demon, or a set of them, and the other, the model of supreme beauty and the most accomplished form of womanhood. Her undefeatable aspect was at one and the same time ferocious 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, her form as wrathful destroyer, an invincible warrior with unparalleled valour. This brass-statue in review here comes obviously under the former : the goddess in her ‘lalita-rupa’.
This effulgent brass-cast, representing the goddess as seated on her mount, the majestic lion, with her left leg lying down, while the right, placed horizontally on the left, known in iconographic convention as ‘lalitasana’ – the posture revealing beauty, the statue is essentially a deity image for sanctum or some kind of sacred space. The figure of the goddess has been conceived as the model of supreme beauty and the most accomplished womanhood, the other aspect of the goddess of battlefield. Metal is a tough medium and metal-casting a difficult art not permitting re-doing; hence, creating such minute details as are arrived at in this statue : portraying not merely the goddess’s material form but also her spiritual being, her divinity, sublimity, self-contentment, and quiescence on the face, is simply amazing. The statue wondrously delineate the details of her costume, the sari so draped that every fold surges like waves of water and is sewn 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 its mane, bearing of its face and its feeling of total contentment. The unique style of polishing has transformed the effect of brass into that 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.