Religions of South Asia, Vol 9, No 1 (2015)

Peace, Conflict and Identity in Religious Representations of India: Mother Goddess of the Nation and her Beloved Daughter

K. Unni Krishnan
Issued Date: 31 Dec 2015


This article explores the history of a semi-religious local figure established through visuals, in relation to local, national and global society, culture and politics. The topic is the mother goddess Thayee Bhuvaneshwari, represented as the embodiment of the state of Karnataka and beloved daughter of Mother India or Bharat Mata. Representations of the goddess are discussed against the backdrop of political developments during the twentieth century: the politics of linguistic communities, agitations by minorities over language, the dispute over the Kaveri river waters, and questions of territoriality. While there has been much work on Indian poster art and its relation to popular visuals, little of it is on south India. The article deals with iconography, the politics of poster art, and the relationship between such art and popular visuals. From a socio-religious perspective, it explores how this icon has contributed in developing the identity of the state of Karnataka in close parallel to the role played by the concept of Bharat Mata at the national level. secondly, it illustrates the religious influence of the mother representation and the role the goddess played during the movement for the formation of the state of Karnataka after Independence. Finally it delineates the peace-keeping role of the goddess as a patron of all religious communities of Karnataka.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v9i1.29443



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