Size: 19.8 x 14.8 in (50.3 x 37.6 cm)
Date of printing: early 1880s
According to the Devi Mahatmya text, that is an important part of the Markandeya Purana – the oldest in Hindu literature, Durga is the supreme goddess and creator of the universe. This chromolithograph shows Durga slaying Demons. She killed Mahishasura (Demon with a buffalo head) under the name of Mahishasuramardini and under the name of Chamunda, she slayed the two asura’s Chanda and Munda.
While endeavoring to take as little risks as possible against the British censorship, their first masterpieces, and major commercial successes, were thus designed to support anti-British Marathi nationalism. Thus, for the Maratha freedom fighters closely following the Chitrashala Press, this image and its many subsequent copies could convey a double-entendre hidden meaning: Bharat Mata (Devi) slaying two English men (Chanda and Munda) after having killed a cow (Mahishasura).
The name Ashtabhuja comes from the fact that the goddess had eight hands or Bhuja. She was the daughter of Yashoda – the foster mother of Lord Krishna. There is a temple dedicated to her at Vindhyachal where devotees flock every year to celebrate her greatness. The temple is situated atop the Vindhya mountain range. It is believed, that she came here, after relieving herself from the grip of the demon Kansa, who wanted to kill her, just after her birth to Vasudeva and Devaki.