The Ten Mahavidyas

The Ten Mahavidyas are an important group of female Hindu deities who are manifestations of the Supreme Goddess. They are not consistently described, and some of the goddesses, such as Kali and Tara are individually important and have several manifestations themselves. The following descriptions are typical of the way in which each of the forms is described.
Kali Statue
Kali Statue

Kali has a fierce countenance, is naked and dwells in the cremation grounds. She holds a severed head and a bloodied cleaver, has dishevelled hair, wears a garland of decapitated heads and a girdle of severed arms.

Green Tara Statue
Green Tara Statue

Tara is nearly identical with Kali. She is dark, rests her foot on a corpse, wears a tigerskin and a necklace of severed heads. She laughs terribly, stands on a funeral pyre and is pregnant. She has four hands holding a dish, a cleaver, scissors and a lotus.

Chinnamasta stands in a cremation ground on the bodies of Kama and Rati. She has decapitated herself with a sword, which she holds in one hard. In the other hand she holds a platter with her head on it. Three jets of blood spurt from her neck and stream into the mouths of two female attendants and her severed head.

Bhuvaneshwari is said to nourish the three worlds. She has four hands with two holding a goad and a noose. She has a bright and light complexion and smiles pleasantly. Her large breasts ooze milk.

Bagala is sometimes shown as having the head of a crane, is seated on a jewel throne and is yellow skinned. In one hand she holds a club with which she beats the enemy and with the other she pulls out his tongue.

Dhumavati has a pale complexion and is tall, with a stern unsmiling expression. Dressed as a widow she wears dirty clothes, her hair is dishevelled, she has no teeth and her breasts are long and pendulous. She is afflicted with thirst and hunger, has a large crooked nose, a quarrelsome nature and rides a crow.

Kamala is described as a beautiful, golden complexioned woman surrounded by elephants pouring pitchers of water over her. She is seated on a lotus with two of the same flowers in her hands. She has affinity to Lakshmi.

Matangi is coloured black. Her eyes roll in intoxication and she reels about like an impassioned elephant.

Sodasi is a girl of sixteen with a red complexion. She is shown astride the prone body of Shiva. They are on a pedestal supported by the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Indra.

Bhairavi has a reddish complexion and wears a garland of severed heads. She holds a rosary and a book in two of her four hands, with the other two in a charitable and protective pose. Her breasts are smeared with blood.

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