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|Kaumari, the ever-youthful deity, represents the ever-present force of aspiration of the evolving soul. She is Guru Guha (Guru Guha being one of the names of Kumara or Skanda whose energy she is) the guru (guide, teacher) in the 'guha' (the cave of the heart, the intellect)."|
According to the Matsya Purana1 the Kaumari image should have peacock as the vahana; she should be clad in the red cloth and must have sakti and sula as her weapons.
Kaumari mayuravaravahana |
raktavastradhara tad vacchulasaktidhara mata2 ||
The Devi Purana3 describes Kaumari thus:
Kumararupadhari ca Kumara-janani tatha |
Kumararipuhantri ca Kaumari tena sa smrta ||
In the well-known Taittiriya Aranyaka (10th Book) passage Durga is addressed as Kanya Kumari.4 She was regarded as a member of the family of 'seven Mothers' all of whom were looked upon as the different aspects of the goddess Sakti or Durga, the spouse of Mahadeva. In course of time this goddess (Kaumari) was made Karttikeya's wife and came also to be known as Kumari or Karttikeyani.5
The name Kumari instinctively reminds us of the term 'Kanya Kumari' applied to Durga in the well-known Taittiriya Aranyaka passage, referred to above. There is reason to believe that Kumari is a shorter form of the term 'Kanyakumari' which is both the name of a place (the southernmost point of the Indian peninsula) and that of a goddess.
The Matsya Purana6 describes her as the daughter of Lalita and mentions Mayipuri as a place sacred to her, Mayapuryam Kumari tu santane Lalita tatha; she is also mentioned in the Brahmanda, IV.26-73-117 where her military skill has been eulogised. According to this account the goddess Kumari killed all the sons of the demon Bhanda.
Reference to the worship of the goddess Kaumari or Kumari at Cape Comorin is found in the famous Periplus7, written by an unknown Greek sailor in the second half of the 1st century A.D.
The earliest Kaumari sculpture goes back to the Gupta period. Her image along with those of other 'Mothers' is found near Eran.8 Her icon is also to be noticed in the Elephanta Cave (as has been noted above), where she is distinctly called Karttikeyani. The goddess here has two arms and she is seen seated upon the peacock. A four-armed Kaumari image (Fig. 29) was found at Bheraghat (Jabalpur, M.P.). It was assigned to the Kusana period by R.D. Banerji9 ; the writer in J.A.S.B. (Letters), Vol. XXII. pp. 237 ff., however, places this image in the second half of the 7th century A.D.10 The image is headless with all the hands broken. Another 7th-century Kaumari sculpture is found in the Gwalior museum; the image is two-armed and has sakti and lotus as the attributes.11 A number of 8th-century sculptures of the 'seven Mothers' including that of Kaumari were recovered from the river Vaitarani "where they were tossed by the Mughuls on their shrines being destroyed"12. Plate 1, fig. 4 of the M.A S.L, No. 44 is a huge four-armed image of the goddess Kaumari (Fig. 30) with a pot-bellied child seated on the left knee. The deity has an unaffected smile on her lips. The goddess is very boldly executed with peacock, carved on the base; much prominence has been given to the two breasts. Plate IX, fig. 1 (ibid) is another Kaumari image found from Puri (Fig. 31); this image is more sophisticated than the Jajpur icon and is perhaps of somewhat later date.
Joined: 29 September 2012
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