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Durga Bhakt.jpg

Devoted to Devotion 

Subject: Durga Bhakt 

Place: Hampi, Karnataka

Year: 2023

Camera: Yashica Mat 124 G

Film: Ilford HP5 Plus

Of the many splendid Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, Durga is particularly revered. She is the divine aspect of Shakti – the female organizing principle of the universe - and is one of the few deities accorded equal place in both the Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions, the predominant modes of apprehending the divine with its distinctive rituals of worship in northern and southern India. The cult of Shaktism, which revolves around her, even claims her to be more powerful than the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. Being the creative force of the universe, they originate from her. Hence, she is their creator, mentor and annihilator.

Durga, also known variously as Mahishamardini (slayer of the demon Mahishasura), Vindhyavasini (She who resides in the Vindhya mountains) and more, is a much-loved goddess worshipped by many Hindu communities on auspicious days of the year, particularly during the festivals of Durga puja, Vijayadashami, Deepavali and Navratri when she is specifically propitiated.

The mendicant in the photo is a Durga Bhakt – a devotee of Durga – not commonly seen in the historic temple town of Hampi that is host to holy men of all stripes from around the region, even the country. He is one of those who are in divine thrall to this enchanting goddess, remover of ignorance and destroyer of evil.  Adrift and cut loose from the bonds of family and society, that keeps the rest of us moored to meaning and purpose, he is content to spend his days seated in contemplating her divine form and attributes without regret or fear. In her alone he puts his faith. All else is illusion he knows.

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