Durga

Ambika Mata temple, Jagat

Other images of Durga from this temple:
1 (with bell; Mahisha in bull form)
2 (with bow; pulling out Mahisha)
3 (with snake; Mahisha, with club, in human form)

Durga, a popular manifestation of the Goddess, is shown here as she slays the powerful buffalo demon, Mahisha. In order to accomplish this feat, she has borrowed the weapons of all the gods - Shiva's trident, Vishnu's discus, Indra's thunderbolt - and thereby achieved the combined power of all the gods together.

During the combat, her opponent Mahisha fought much like Proteus in the Greek myth, taking on numerous forms until Durga defeated him by spearing and decapitating him, first in his buffalo and then finally in his human form. According to Elgood (p. 71), this may reflect ancient folk elements of buffalo worship and spirit possession, as practiced by indigenous peoples of India.

In the present sculpture, Durga plunges her trident into the body of the decapitated buffalo, as Mahisha issues from the buffalo's neck in human form. At the lower left of the photo, her lion mount attacks the buffalo's rump. Since Durga carries numerous weapons, she is always represented with multiple arms. Three pairs of arms are included in this sculpture, holding the following (clockwise from her lower right arm): vajra, trident, sword, a raised hand holding a (missing) snake, a chopper, and finally the lower half of a bow.