(Last Updated on : 30/08/2012)
Goddess Uma is one of the commonest form of images associated with female deity worship among the people belonging to the Shaiva cult. Early texts like the Mrichhakatika are the ones which talk in detail about the worship of the goddess. The most common image which is associated with this female deity is that of her sitting on the lap Mahapadmanavana.
The Matsya Purana
contains a detailed description of the images of goddess Uma. But the images of the deity which have been discovered conform to another Puranic tradition rather than the tenets of Matsya Purana. The other Puranic tradition says that the upper right hand of the god holds the nagapasa or khatavanga and the other right hand sportively touches the chin of the Goddess. While the upper left hand of the god holds the trident and the lower left hand is placed on the bosom of the goddess. Some of the images show Lord Shiva
as sitting on a lotus with the pendant right leg resting on the back of the Bull placed below. While Uma his consort sits on his thigh. Her right hand hangs out and is simply placed on her vahana or vehicle, that is, the lion.
In other iconographies it has been represented that the god that is Lord Shiva has four hands. He holds the mirror in upper right hand and touches the chin of the goddess with the lower right hand. Along with the images god and goddesses the figures of Ganesha and Kartikeya are also shown on either side of the lotus pedestal upon which the image of Uma-Mahasvera is placed.
There are also some unusual images of the goddess Uma. In the unusual iconographies, Maheshwara is shown in 'yab-yum' (father-mother) attitude with his Shakti. The four armed deity wears a Jatamukta with a circular halo behind and holds a damaru with the upper left hand and a trident has been placed on the upper right hand. On the other hand the lower right hand of the deity touches the shoulder of the goddess and the lower left hand is placed on the breast of the female deity. In this iconography, Lord Ganesha
is shown represented in front against the back of the goddess and Lord Kartikeya
is represented seated to the left side of the god with folded hands. This particular iconography of goddess Uma is most common and has been preserved with great care.
It has been found out that this particular image of the god and the goddess have been derived from the Buddhist pantheon and had developed during the later phase of Tantrik Buddhism
. Hence the most common iconography of the goddess dates back to the 12th century A.D.