- Chamunda is a fearsome goddess who accepts human sacrifices and blood offerings. She is now usually assimilated to KALI, and Chamunda is an epithet for Kali. The first known historical mention of Chamunda is in the Sanskrit poet BHAVABHUTI’s drama Malatimadhava (eighth cen-tury C.E.), in which the heroine Malati is captured by a female devotee of Chamunda to be sacrificed to that goddess. Chamunda’s temple is depicted as near a cremation ground. That story has the god-dess dancing so wildly that the world shakes; she has a gaping mouth and a garland of skulls and is covered with snakes; flames shoot from her eyes that could destroy the world, and she is encircled by goblins.Another, South Indian description of Cha-munda has her holding a skull-head mace, a snake, and a wine cup. She has a third eye, a jackal chews on a corpse below her, and her eyes show she has been drinking liquor. Another image of Chamunda, at Jaipur in Orissa, depicts her as emaciated; she holds a chopper and a pronged weapon, a skull begging bowl, and a severed head in her hands.Chamunda is sometimes listed among the matrikas or “Mother Goddesses.” The Markandeya PURANA has Chamunda emerge from the forehead of Amba or DURGA to kill two fierce demons, Chanda and Munda, and her name is explained by combining the names of these two demons.Further reading: David R. Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988); ———, The Sword and the Flute: Kali and Krsna, Dark Visions of the Terrible and Sublime in Hindu Mythology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); June McDaniel, Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Wor-ship in West Bengal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.