Chinnamasta is the sixth avatar of the Dasha Mahavidyas, also known as the ten great pearls of wisdom in hinduism. Tantric practitioners primarily worship this goddess, because they believe that whoever harnesses these powers of dasa mahavidyas can live a life beyond the comfortable standards and can possess certain supernatural abilities.
The Iconography Of Goddess Chinnamasta
Therefore, Goddess Chinnamasta plays an important role in many esoteric practices of tantrism as she is considered the most fearsome and violent form of Devi Shakti. The word “Chinnamasta” literally means – one whose head has been severed, and the reason gets clear when you look at her.
The 16-Year Old Goddess With Self-Decapitated Head
Chinnamasta is portrayed as a 16-year-old girl with the complexion of a red hibiscus flower. She is adorned with a garland of severed heads and necklaces made of human bones.
She also wears a serpent as a sacred thread on her upper torso, and her entire body is exposed except for her breasts, which are covered by garland of lotus flowers.
All of the preceding descriptions of Chinnamasta, however, pale in comparison to her severed head. It’s a terrifying scene in which she’s shown holding her own head in her left hand, which she has cut off with a sword.
The Two Of Her Female Attendants – Dakini & Varini
Two of her female attendants and her own decapitated head drink the three streams of blood that spurt from her chopped neck. She is also known as Prachanda Chandika and Vajrayogini due to her fearsome demeanor.
Dakini and Varini, two of her female attendants, are shown naked with matted hair. In comparison to Goddess Chinnamasta, their skin tones are much fairer. They also appear to be her age, with full breasts but not covered. They both hold a skull-bowl in their left hand and a knife in the right.
Standing Over A Divine Copulating Couple
One of the strange aspects of Goddess Chinnamasta is that she stands over a divine copulating couple. The couple sometimes appeared as Kama Deva (the god of love) and his wife Goddess Rati (the goddess of lust, passion, and sexual pleasure), while other times they appeared as Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati.
The depiction of her standing over the couple represents a person’s control over sexual desire, while others believe it symbolizes the true essence of sexual energy.
Symbolic Representation Of Goddess Chinnamasta
In a single frame, the entire iconography of Goddess Chinnamasta shows a stunning representation of the opposing aspects of life and death. As a result, she is also known as the “goddess of contradictions”.
The act of her sacrificed head demonstrates motherly attributes of Devi Shakti while also conveying the message that death and creation are inseparably linked.
The Yogic Metaphor For Total Immersion
Eventually, her headlessness can be interpreted as a yogic metaphor for total immersion, in which one transcends consciousness, sensory stimuli, and the thought-landen mind to become completely immersed in spirituality.
She represents the joy of transcending the body for a greater good, rather than the fear of losing it. This demonstrates how death is required for new creation to flourish, as well as for us to be free of the constraints of our own imagination.
The Origin Story Of Chinnamasta
There are many origin stories that can be found in various hindu texts, but two are the most well known.
The Legend Found In Pranatoshini Tantra
According to the legend found in the Pranatoshini Tantra, written in the 18th century, it tells the story of Chinnamasta’s birth. Dakini & Varini, Devi Parvati’s two female attendants, became extremely hungry and begged for food while taking a bath in the Mandakini river.
Goddess Parvati had initially promised to feed them when they returned home. However, after repeated requests, she ultimately beheaded herself with her sword in order to satisfy their hunger with the streams of her blood. It was at this point that she was transformed into Chinnamasta.
The Legend Found In Shakti Sangama Tantra
The other version, from the 16th-century Shakti Sangama Tantra, tells how Lord Shiva’s consort Chandika was immersed in copulation with him, but became outraged at his seminal emission. The rest of the story follows a similar pattern to the first, in which she went to take a bath with her attendants and transformed herself into Chinnamasta.
Importance Of Chinnamasta In Hinduism (Tantric Vidyas)
Chinnamasta is not as widely worshiped as other popular goddesses in Hinduism, such as Kali and Durga, to name a few. If you ask any tantric sadhak about this fearsome goddess, you will hear a lot of praise for her being a goddess who is both difficult to please and violent if she is not worshiped properly.
I’ve noticed that most hindus are scared of Chinnamasta and other tantric goddesses of The Dasha Mahavidyas. They don’t want any images of the goddess in their home.
Tantric practitioners, on the other hand, worship her in order to acquire siddhis and supernatural abilities. There aren’t many temples in her name, but northern India, particularly Himachal Pradesh, has some temples dedicated to Chinnamasta.