The Creation of the Saptamātṛka and the Slaying of Raktabīja

From the Devi Mahātmya

Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija, Folio from a Devimahatmya Manuscript, Nepal, early 18th century; LACMA

For the destruction of Śumbha and Niśumbha and other wicked daityas, Ambikā then appeared from the body of Gaurī, the benefactor of the gods, for the protection of the three worlds.

Therein begins the episode of the slaying of Raktabhīja and the creation of the Saptamātṛkā in The Devi Mahātmya:

Whatever that god’s form was, whatever his adornments and his mount, in that very form his śakti went forth to combat the asuras.

Goddess Ambika preparing the eight mother goddesses (Aṣṭamātṛkā-s) for battle against the demon Raktabija; Kangra or Garhwal, circa 1830
Devi Mahatmya Folio, depicting Devi Ambika with her shaktis, who ultimately vanquishes the powerful demon Raktabhija and triumphs over dark forces. circa 1770, Mandi
Durga and Kāli battle the demon Raktabija. Durga rides a tiger as she attacks the purple-skinned demon with the weapons of all the principal deities: a spear, trident, a sabre, bow and arrows, a noose and an elephant goad. In the foreground, Kali, holds a sword and trident as she drinks the blood pouring from Raktabija’s body. Two red-mouthed jackals follow in the bottom left. Punjab Hills, early 19th century. Royal Collection Trust
Durga Slaying Raktabija, while Kali laps up the Demon’s Blood, Page from a Markandeya Purana. Chamba, Punjab Hills, 1800–1825. Brooklyn Museum of Art
The Goddess Ambika Leads the Mother Goddesses in Battle; Folio from a Devimahatmya (Glory of the Goddess) — Nepal, early 18th century; LACMA
  1. In Praise of the Goddess: The Devīmāhātmya and Its Meaning by Devadatta Kālī



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