This tantrika deity, in the form of a Shaivite Devi figure, manifests the unity of the cosmic male and female principles, which is the core of not only Tantra but also of India’s cosmological vision. Using elaborate symbolism and repeated manifestations of the principle, the artist has conveyed his idea of the creative process. The blank undefined blood stained opaque background is suggestive of lifeless vacuum, the void, emerging after the deluge. It has, in the form of phallus, the male principle, which the Indian mythology identifies as Lord Shiva. Male principle is inert, though not lifeless. The female principle rides over it and charges it into kinetic energy. In India’s mythology this female principle has been perceived as Mahadevi, the Omni-present and Omni-potent female principle, and the kinetic energy as Kundalini symbolised here in the painting by the snake coiling around the phallus. The snake has, as has the Kundalini, an upward rise and in the process unites the male and female principles. Significantly, the point, where the snake transgresses into the figure of the female deity, is the sphere of Muladhara-chakra of Kundalini, the basic region wherefrom the kinetic energy takes off. The snake rises up to the womb, where the creative process conceives and the genital principle begins to operate.
Now the lifeless void is charged with genital energy and there emerges life on it. The human faces appended to the legs of the deity and the pair of eyes in between her legs and around the phallus define that the void has now life emerging on it. The eyes are so modeled that they also resemble fish, that is, the creatures of water, the crescent to also resemble horns of a bull, that is, the animals on the earth, and the yoni, or the vulva, with its bird-like patch of hair, to also resemble a bird of the sky. This defines the great void into its three regions, the ocean, the earth and the sky. The female figure is possessed of four hands, two with phallus and the other two with vulva, that is, two symbolising male and the other two female principles. Both sets of hands are appended to one body, that is, the cosmic anatomy is a single unified whole combined of male and female principles. The left breast of the figure is symbolical of the universe, while the right one, containing a hexagonal star, which comprises of twelve angles, the receding and projecting, symbolises time, which the Indian tradition divides into twelve parts. Thus, the time and space are contained within the genital organs of the female principle, by which the creation is fed. Again there rise two snakes, both red, from under her breasts. They symbolise energy manifest and agility, countering the initial inertness, pervading the entire creation.
The blood-red forehead of the deity depicts fire, and is symbolical of sun and crescent over it is symbolical of moon, and the both conjointly symbolise the principle of cosmic light, which is cool as well as hot. They also stand for the hot and cold regions of the earth. Interestingly, the figure has a posture of dance, a mode of Kathakali, and her hair flout as in Tandava, the dance of destruction. Thus, the creative principle is also coupled with the principle of destruction, which suggests that all that is created is prey to dissolution and destruction, and, thus, the cycle of creative process, which ends with dissolution and decomposition, is completed. This painting is a unique manifestation of this process.

This tantrika deity, in the form of a Shaivite Devi figure, manifests the unity of the cosmic male and female principles, which is the core of not only Tantra but also of India’s cosmological vision. Using elaborate symbolism and repeated manifestations of the principle, the artist has conveyed his idea of the creative process. The blank undefined blood stained opaque background is suggestive of lifeless vacuum, the void, emerging after the deluge. It has, in the form of phallus, the male principle, which the Indian mythology identifies as Lord Shiva. Male principle is inert, though not lifeless. The female principle rides over it and charges it into kinetic energy. In India’s mythology this female principle has been perceived as Mahadevi, the Omni-present and Omni-potent female principle, and the kinetic energy as Kundalini symbolised here in the painting by the snake coiling around the phallus. The snake has, as has the Kundalini, an upward rise and in the process unites the male and female principles. Significantly, the point, where the snake transgresses into the figure of the female deity, is the sphere of Muladhara-chakra of Kundalini, the basic region wherefrom the kinetic energy takes off. The snake rises up to the womb, where the creative process conceives and the genital principle begins to operate.

Now the lifeless void is charged with genital energy and there emerges life on it. The human faces appended to the legs of the deity and the pair of eyes in between her legs and around the phallus define that the void has now life emerging on it. The eyes are so modeled that they also resemble fish, that is, the creatures of water, the crescent to also resemble horns of a bull, that is, the animals on the earth, and the yoni, or the vulva, with its bird-like patch of hair, to also resemble a bird of the sky. This defines the great void into its three regions, the ocean, the earth and the sky. The female figure is possessed of four hands, two with phallus and the other two with vulva, that is, two symbolising male and the other two female principles. Both sets of hands are appended to one body, that is, the cosmic anatomy is a single unified whole combined of male and female principles. The left breast of the figure is symbolical of the universe, while the right one, containing a hexagonal star, which comprises of twelve angles, the receding and projecting, symbolises time, which the Indian tradition divides into twelve parts. Thus, the time and space are contained within the genital organs of the female principle, by which the creation is fed. Again there rise two snakes, both red, from under her breasts. They symbolise energy manifest and agility, countering the initial inertness, pervading the entire creation.

The blood-red forehead of the deity depicts fire, and is symbolical of sun and crescent over it is symbolical of moon, and the both conjointly symbolise the principle of cosmic light, which is cool as well as hot. They also stand for the hot and cold regions of the earth. Interestingly, the figure has a posture of dance, a mode of Kathakali, and her hair flout as in Tandava, the dance of destruction. Thus, the creative principle is also coupled with the principle of destruction, which suggests that all that is created is prey to dissolution and destruction, and, thus, the cycle of creative process, which ends with dissolution and decomposition, is completed. This painting is a unique manifestation of this process.

Tags: Devi