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Chinnamasta, one of the three most popular deities of Tantrism, other two being Kali and Tara, seems to have developed out of Vajrayogini cult of Tibetan Buddhism. Vajrayogini, an early Tantrika deity of the Tibetan Buddhism, has a form exactly identical to Chinnamasta. Chinnamasta is a creation of shocking imagery – gruesome decapitation of her own being representing life's cessation for feeding further life, copulating couple under her feet perceived as feeding the goddess with life's energy, blood-consuming nude females and cremation ground all around. In her form she combines life, sex and death, and all in a dramatic and stunning manner manifesting the ages-old idea that they – life, sex and death, are inseparably entwined and are parts of a unified system. Chinnamasta manifests the truth that it is in destruction of life that the life is nourished, that life necessitates death, and that sex is the ultimate instrument of perpetuating more life; and further, that this life would decay and pave the way for death, and then again from death to life. Chinnamasta is thus the symbol of the process of recycle from life to death and back and all in unceasing continuity.
Various Tantrika hymns invoke Chinnamasta as Digambari – nude, symbolically the one with no coverings of illusion, and as full-breasted, suggestive of the motherhood being ceaseless in her and of her role as the eternal preserver. She wears a garland of severed human heads symbolising wisdom and power and sometimes a pair of shears or a sword. Texts have prescribed for her blood red complexion with which she symbolises life in its incessant flow. In her usual iconography she holds her severed head in her left hand. One of the three jets of blood that spurt from her neck streams back into the mouth of her own severed head, and other two, into those of the yoginis – Dakini and Varnini, all suggesting that death nourishes life and thus the process of recycle continues. The copulating couple under the feet of the goddess is usually Kamadeva, the personified sexual desire, and his wife Rati. Chinnamasta, standing on their backs draws from the couple, as also from the lotus on which the couple lies, life's energy and channels it for perpetuating more life.
Amongst all Devi forms, even Durga and Kali who sustain and promote life from the sacrifice offered to them by their devotees, Chinnamasta destroys her own life to sustain and promote it beyond her in forms other than her. More than Annapurna or Shatakshi who only gives, Chinnamasta is one who receives life from the copulating couple and with far greater vigour passes it on to others and is thus a greater giver and more accomplished model of cosmic unity – the life that the lovemaking couple represents, the death which reveals in decapitating herself and the nourishment which manifests in feeding the flanking yoginis.
This Painting was created in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan.