Durgā, the almighty goddess, from India to Indonesia: fighting and conquering the enemy

Annual Rijksmuseum / IIAS lecture by Dr Claudine Bautze-Picron

Since around 2000 years, Durgā is at the centre of a festival, the Durgāpujā, which takes place at the bright lunar fortnight of autumn and is a major component of the religious life in Bengal up to these days. The goddess always stands at the frontline of combat against those demons who threatens the equilibrium of the universe and sets thus the most perfect example for the rulers who have to defend their kingdoms; at a different level, she embodies the Brahmanical struggle to fully (re)conquer the religious space where other religious or spiritual ways had emerged in the course of time.

Durgā's depiction as the 'Killer of the Buffalo-Demon', Mahiṣāsuramardinī, is based on a single model found all through the Indian world. However, from the seventh century up to the twelfth century, the goddess displays in Bihar (Eastern India) other aspects of her personality: as mother or as peaceful and victorious 'great goddess', aspects which could migrate up to East Bengal and further Java.

Dr Claudine Bautze-Picron studied at the Universities of Brussels (MA), Lille, Jawaharlal Nehru in New Delhi (M.Phil. in Indian History) and Aix-en-Provence (“Thèse d’État” = Ph.D.). She is a research fellow at the National Centre of Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) in Paris, UMR 7528 (“Mondes Iranien et Indien”) and was a lecturer at the Free University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Research and publications: Her research has focused for a long period on the art of Eastern India (Bihar/West Bengal/Bangladesh) from the 8th to the 12th c. and on various issues related to Buddhist iconography in India. This work culminated also in the publication of the catalogue of the collection of eastern Indian sculpture in the Museum of Asian Art, Berlin (Eastern Indian Sculpture in the Museum of Indian Art, Berlin, Berlin, 1998) and of two books concerned with the image of the bejewelled or crowned Buddha in India and Burma (The Bejewelled Buddha from India to Burma, New Considerations, New Delhi, 2010) and with the Buddhist site of Kurkihar in Bihar (The forgotten Place, Stone Sculpture at Kurkihar, New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 2014).

Since nearly 15 years, she has also been working on the murals of Pagan (Burma) from the 10th to the 13th c. (The Buddhist Murals of Pagan, Timeless vistas of the cosmos, Bangkok, 2003).


14.30 - 15.00  Reception with coffee & tea in the foyer at the Auditorium
15.00 - 15.10  Welcome & Introduction

15.10 - 16.00  Lecture by Dr Claudine Bautze-Picron
16.00 - 16.30  Q&A

Registration (required)

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