The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes Characteristics of an image of the Goddess which is chapter 50 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 50 - Characteristics of an image of the Goddess

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The Lord said:

1-5. (The image of) Caṇḍī may have twenty hands and may hold the spear, sword, dart, disc, noose, club, ḍamaru (a small drum) and spike in the left hands and also (show) protective posture (and) the snake as the noose, club, axe, goad, bow, bell, banner, mace, mirror, and iron mace in the (right) hands.. Or (the figure of) Caṇḍī is made to have ten hands, with the buffalo placed below with its head fully severed and the demon as issuing forth from (its) neck with rage and brandishing his weapon, holding spike in the hand, vomitting blood, his hairs. (stained) with blood and blood dripping out from the eyes. (forming) a garland (on the chest), being devoured by the lion and well-bound by the noose in the neck. (The goddess is represented as) resting her right foot on the lion and the left foot on. the demon underneath.

6-12. This form of Caṇḍikā, the destroyer of enemies. (is made as) having three eyes and endowed with weapons. (This) Durgā is to be worshipped with the nine elements in order in a diagram of nine lotuses from her own form at the beginning, centre and the eastern and other (directions). (The image should be made as) possessing eighteen arms (carrying) a human head, club, mirror, tarjanī (a kind of weapon), bow, banner and. a little drum in the right hand and the noose, spear, mace, trident, thunderbolt, sword, goad and dart in the left hand. The others (Rudracaṇḍā and other goddesses) should be endowed with the same weapons in their sixteen hands except the little drum and tarjanī (a kind of weapon).

The nine (goddesses) commencing with Rudracaṇḍā are Rudracaṇḍā, Pracaṇḍā, Caṇḍogrā, Caṇḍanāyikā, Caṇḍā, Caṇḍavatī, Caṇḍarūpā, Aticaṇḍikā and Ugracaṇḍā stationed at the centre. (They are made to be) coloured as the rocanā. (yellow pigment), red, black, blue, white, purple, yellow and white and as riding the lion. Then the buffalo as a human (form) should be held by the hair by the nine (forms) of Durgā holding weapons.

13. They are in the ālīḍha[1] posture. They have to be -established for the increase of progeny; as also (the forms) Gaurī, Caṇḍikā and others (as well as the forms) Kuṇḍi, Akṣararadā (and) Agnidhṛk.

14-15. She is the same as Rambhā. (She is) accomplished and devoid of fire. (She is) also Lalitā. (She) holds the severed head along with the neck in the left (hand) and a mirror in the second hand.

(The image of) Saubhāgyā (is made) as holding fruits in the folded palms on the right side. (The image of) Lakṣmī holds the lotus in the right hand and the śrīphala (bilva fruit) in the left.

16. (The image of) Sarasvatī (should be made as holding) a book, rosary and lute in the hands. (The image of) Jahnavī (the river Ganges) (is represented) as holding a pot and flower in the hand (and standing) on the crocodile and of white complexion.

17. (The image of the river) Yamunā is worshipped as mounted on the tortoise and as holding a pot in the hand and of dark complexion. (The image of) Tumburu is represented as white (in colour), holding a lute and trident and riding a bull.

18-19. The four-faced Brāhmī (the female-energy of Brahmā) (is represented) as of fair complexion, riding a swan and as -carrying a rosary, different vessels such as surā and kuṇḍa in the left hand. Śāṅkarī is represented as white, (seated) on a bull holding the bow and arrow in the right hand and the disc and the bow in the left hand. Kaumārī (is represented) as red in colour, riding the peacock and having two arms, holding the spears.

20. (The form of) Lakṣmī should hold the disc, and conch in the right (hand) (and) the mace and lotus in the left (hand). (The form of) Vārāhī should be mounted on the buffalo and hold the stick, conch, sword and goad.

21-25. (The image of) Aindrī conferring success should be represented as having thousand eyes and holding the thunderbolt in the left hand.

Cāmuṇḍā may have three eyes deeply sunken, a skeleton form devoid of flesh, erectly standing hair, emaciated belly, clad in tigerskin and holding a skull and spear in the left hand and a trident and scissor in the right standing on the dead body of a man and wearing a garland of bones. (The image of) Vināyaka should have a human body, big belly, elephant face, big trunk and sacred thread. The mouth measuring 7 kalās in breadth while the trunk should measure 36 finger-breadths in length. The neck should be 12 kalās in girth and 10 kalās in height. The throat-region should be 36 finger (in length). The space about the region of anus should have the breadth of half a finger.

26. (The region of) the navel and thigh should be of twelve (fingers) as also the leg from the ankle to the knee and the feet. He should be represented as holding his own tusk made into an axe in the right hand and the laḍḍuka (a ball of sweet) and lotus flower in the left.

27. (The image of) Skanda, the lord (of the universe) also known as Śākha and Viśākha, (is represented) as a boy possessing two arms and riding a peacock (with the images of) Sumukhī and Viḍālākṣī[2].

28-29. The god may be represented as having a single face or six faces, six hands or twelve hands carrying the spear and a cock in the right hand. In the village or the forest (it should have) two arms. (He should bear) the spear, arrow, noose, nistriṃśa (sword), goad and tarjanī (a kind of weapon) in the six right hands and the spear in the left hand.

30-31. (The image of) Rudracarcikā (the manifestation of) the goddess may have a bow adorned by the plume of peacock, club, banner, protective posture, cock, skull, scissors, trident and noose in the right and left hands. (She should also be) clad in the elephant hide, with her leg raised up and the little drum placed on the head.

32. Hence she (is known as) Rudracāmuṇḍā, the goddess of dancing and one who is dancing. This (goddess herself), having four faces and in the sitting posture (is known as) Mahālakṣmī.

33-34. (The goddess) having ten hands and three eyes (holding) (different) weapons, sword and ḍamaru (little drum) in the right hand and the bell, club, staff with a skull at one end and trident in the left (hand) and eating men, horses, buffaloes and elephants held in the hand is called Siddhacāmuṇḍā.

35. That goddess accomplishes everything and is (known (as) Siddhayogeśvarī. She is also represented in another form endowed with the noose and goad and red (in complexion).

36. (The goddess) Bhairavī who has an embodiment of beauty is endowed with twelve arms. These are (all) (spoken as) fierce (forms) arising from the cremation ground. The above are remembered as the eight forms of the goddess.

37. (The goddess) Kṣamā (Forbearance) (should be) surrounded by jackals, old, having two arms, and widely opened mouth. (The goddess) Kṣemaṅkarī (Benevolent) may have protruding teeth and be resting her knees on the ground.

38. The wives of semi-gods should be made to have long and motionless eyes. The Śākinīs (female attendants on Goddess Durgā) should be made to have oblique vision. The Mahāramyas should have yellow eyes. The (images of) nymphs should always be made beautiful.

39. (The form of) Nandīśa the bull, the door-keeper (of the goddess), should carry a rosary and a trident. (The image of) Mahākāla (a form of Śiva as the destroyer) may have a sword, human skull, trident and club.

40. (The form of) Bhṛṅgin (an attendant of Śiva) should have an emaciated body. Kuṣmāṇḍa (another attendant of Śiva) should have a stout and dwarf form dancing. Vīrabhadra and other attendants (of Śiva) should have ears and faces of elephants, cows, etc.

41. Ghaṇṭākarṇa (an attendant of Śiva) form should have eighteen hands crushing the accrued sin, (holding weapons) thunderbolt, sword, club, disc, arrow, mace, goad and hammer in the right hand and tarjanī (a weapon), club, dart, human skull, noose, bow, bell and axe on the left and a trident in the (remaining) two hands and wearing a garland of bells and crushing the eruptive diseases.

Footnotes and references:


The posture in shooting, in which the right knee is advanced and the left leg is held back.


The consorts of Skanda. The two names mean good-faced and cat-eyed respectively.

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