Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Durga as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura)

Mahishasuramardini - A narrative relief depicting Durga slaying Mahishasura mounted on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Mahishasuramardini – A narrative sculptural relief depicting Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura

Durga as Mahishasuramardini
This narrative sculpture depicts Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura, a shape shifting evil demon who took the form of a buffalo. Because of this feat, she is given the title Mahishasuramardini, a concatenation of three Sanskrit words: mahisha (buffalo), asura (demon), and mardini (slayer). The slaying of Mahishasura is all about the triumph of good over evil and is based on an episode narrated in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of Markandeya Purana. Created by Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma, and the other gods by combining their energies, Durga is a Hindu goddess of war who symbolizes Shakti (roughly translates as power and strength).

As you can see from this sculpture, Goddess Durga is standing triumphantly over Mahishasura, i.e., the buffalo that appears to have fallen on the ground, and the real Mahishasura is seen emerging from the body of the buffalo. Standing to the left of Durga is her vehicle, a lion (partly broken). Goddess Durga has ten arms, some of which are missing or broken.

This sculpture is mounted on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple, located in Karnataka, India.

Engraved in the Helgannada (Old Kannada) script below the sculpture is the signature of Mallithamma, a prolific sculptor of his era, whose beautifully carved sculptures adorn many temples in this region.

Related Images
Durga as Mahishasuramardini on the outer wall of the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, Karnataka, India
Durga as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura) installed in a devakoshta of the Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka, India
Statue of Durga as Mahishasuramardini standing in the Shiva Temple at Prambanan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Related Pages
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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