Some Observations on Vārāhī in Bihar and Bengal


  • Claudine Bautze-Picron Chargée de recherche honoraire GREI— Groupe de recherches en études indiennes, Paris, Sorbonne Nouvelle



Vārāhī, Cāmuṇḍā, Mātṛkas, Bihar, Bengal, Gaya, Bodhgaya


The sheer intensity of the encounter between the Buddhist and Hindu pantheons in ‘Eastern India’ (comprising the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and present Bangladesh) from the 7th to the 12th century, was unmatched in any other region.1 It left, above all, a visual and textual trail in the Buddhist iconography, as attested by the presence of two Mātṛkas (Mothers) among the members of Māra’s army attacking the Buddha on the night of his Awakening, Brahmanical deities being incorporated into the Buddhist world: Vārāhī appears in the Jagdishpur sculpture, and Cāmuṇḍā in a large fragment from a sculpture which must have been as large as the Jagdishpur image and used to stand in Lakhisarai, more fragments of it being preserved in the Indian Museum (Fig. 1).2 Further, the key component of Vārāhī iconography,3 the hog head, became an integral part of the images of Buddhist deities like Mārīcī and Vajravārāhī. The cultural background within which the images of the goddess were incorporated helps to understand this twofold phenomenon, the representation of her being transferred to a Buddhist context and some of her specific features being embedded in the iconography of Buddhist deities.


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How to Cite

Bautze-Picron, Claudine. 2022. “Some Observations on Vārāhī in Bihar and Bengal”. Cracow Indological Studies 24 (2):117-48.