Friday, November 06, 2009

[Creature Feature] Chamunda

One of the great obstacles for humanity within Hindu belief is duality structuring our thinking: good-evil, man-woman, beauty-ugliness, chaos-order, etc. So much of traditional Hindu philosophy encourages an understanding of both sides of one's being. Very similar to Carl Jung's Anima-Animus concepts in a way.

Which brings us to this fearful aspect of Devi, the incarnation of female energy. Chamunda, who is typically shown as a figure with a shrunken stomach, a skeletal face with horrifying bulging eyes,drooping breasts, bad teeth, long nails also usually has a scorpion on her belly. Her name comes from two monsters she killed, Chanda and Munda who were generals of demon kings Shumbha and Nishumbha. Her eyes are said to burn worlds, and she travels with an entourage of underworld creatures. Naturally, many of them like to drink blood.

Chamunda will have between four to twelve arms, and holds, among many possible objects, a drum, trident, thunderbolt, sword, snake, a skull-mace, a severed head, a cup and/or a skull-cup filled with blood while she's standing on a man or seated on a beaten demon. She also wears a sacred thread of skulls (normally worn by male priests). The headdress is usually tied with snakes and skulls, and occasionally decorated with a crescent moon.

And sometimes she rides an owl.

Overall, I'd say, don't mess with her.

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