In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India Selections from the Polsky Collections and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Asia Society
The Realm of Kings The Temple and Sacred Text Krishna Rama Devi Shiva Saints and Sadhus The Realm of Gods
Ravana converses with a demon by the sea
Devi on the lotus
Illustration from the Tantric Devi series
Basohli or Nurpur, Punjab Hills; ca. 1660-70
Opaque watercolor, gold, silver, and beetle-wing cases on paper
Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection (2050-IP)



Rama and Lakshmana on Mount Prasravana
Kali advances on Shumbha's army
Illustration to the Devi Mahatmya, Book 8
Guler, Punjab Hills, ca. 1780
Brush drawing with some color on paper; abraded and obscured devanagari inscriptions
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky (MMA-1997.390)


Devi (or the Great Goddess) is one of the three principal Hindu deities whose cults have become the most widespread in India over the past two millennia (the others are Shiva and Vishnu). The Great Goddess possesses strongly contrasting characteristics. She is at once the alluring maiden and the fierce hag, the loving mother and the bringer of disease and death. She is the mild consort Parvati, the warrior Durga, the horrific destroyer Kali, the smallpox goddess Shitala, and she has many other forms. Particularly popular in northern India, Devi is depicted in narrative form in the Devi Mahatmya and also appears as single devotional images.