Severed Heads and the Cycle of Life – Chhinnamasta

Severed Heads and the Cycle of Life – Chhinnamasta

Exploring yantras today I happened upon this:

Chhinnamasta is one of the Mahavidyas, ten Tantric goddesses and a ferocious aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother. Chhinnamasta can be easily identified by her fearsome iconography. The self-decapitated goddess holds her own severed head in one hand, a scimitar in another. Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck and are drunk by her severed head and two attendants. Chhinnamasta is usually depicted standing on a copulating couple.

Chhinnamasta is associated with the concept of self-sacrifice as well as the awakening of the kundalini – spiritual energy.

She is considered both as a symbol of self-control on sexual desire as well as an embodiment of sexual energy, depending upon interpretation. She symbolizes both aspects of Devi: a life-giver and a life-taker. Her legends emphasize her sacrifice – sometimes with a maternal element, her sexual dominance and her self-destructive fury. Though she enjoys patronage as part of the Mahavidyas, individual public worship is rare – due to her ferocious nature – and is restricted to heroic, Tantric worship by Tantrikas, yogis and world renouncers.

Chhinnamasta signifies that life, death and sex are interdependent.

The Goddess as Chinnamasta, 1939

Chhinnamasta’s image conveys the eternal truth that “life feeds on death, is nourished by death, necessitates death, and that the ultimate destiny of sex is to perpetuate more life, which in turn will decay and die in order to feed more life”. While the lotus and the lovemaking couple symbolize life and the urge to create life, in a way gives life-force to the beheaded goddess, the blood flowing from goddess conveys death and loss of the life-force, which flows into the mouths of her devotee yoginis, nourishing them. The scholar P. Pal equates Chhinnamasta with the concept of sacrifice and renewal of creation. Chhinnamasta self-sacrifices herself and her blood – drunk by her attendants – nourishes the universe. An invocation to her calls her the sacrifice, the sacrificer and the recipient of the sacrifice, with the severed head treated as an offering.

The sacrifice, the sacrificer and the recipient of the sacrifice.

And with that as inspiration, it is time to head into another night in the studio…

(information sourced from Wikepedia, read more here.)

1 Comment

  1. Cool!

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