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Heroic ShāktismThe Cult of Durgā in Ancient Indian Kingship$
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Bihani Sarkar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266106

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266106.001.0001

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Caṇḍikā, Pārvatī’s Unwanted Self (c. 5th to 7th Century)

Caṇḍikā, Pārvatī’s Unwanted Self (c. 5th to 7th Century)

(p.70) Chapter 2 Caṇḍikā, Pārvatī’s Unwanted Self (c. 5th to 7th Century)
Heroic Shāktism

Bihani Sarkar

British Academy

By assessing early Śaiva and literary sources, this chapter demonstrates how Kālarātri-Nidrā-Kālī, Durgā's early form, was assimilated and transformed by Śaivism from the 5th century onwards, in which Durgā eventually acquired co-identity with Pārvatī, the consort and inalienable other half of the great god Śiva. Her dark complexion, a genetic feature of the Vaiṣṇava Nidrā, the sister of dark-hued Kṛṣṇa, is explained within this tradition as Pārvatī's rejected black skin, a symbol of mystery and danger, that she removes from her body to acquire a fairer complexion. The emergent goddess is the antonym of Pārvatī, a warrior virgin who, though a protector of Dharma, nevertheless remains potentially dangerous, as her earliest form Nidrā-Kālī. In this way, the Śaiva tradition views attributes of antinomianism, potentially within Pārvatī, to be transferred to Durgā, now known as Caṇḍikā, the Fiery Lady, Pārvatī's unwanted self, thereby enlarging the conception of the latter to a binary deity, who like Śiva, incorporates a gentle as well as a fierce or bhairava aspect. The chapter also argues that the goddess's capital-creating aspect was heightened in Śaivism. Navamī, initially a day when the goddess was said to be born, became crucial as one of the occasions when capital could be most profitably accessed from the goddess. What we find being developed from the earlier conception of the Vaiṣṇava Durgā and acquiring greater sophistication within Śaiva mythological and ritual domains is the ability of her spiritual repertoire to function as a religion for managing times of state crises and for granting largesse and power.

Keywords:   Caṇḍikā, old Skandapurāṇa, Pārvatī, Sacute;aivism, Gaurī, Kālī

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