Koṭivarṣa, a sacred place and an administrative unit that is mentioned in early medieval Indian religious and epigraphic sources from 700 to 1200 ce, is the area of focus of this essay. As an administrative unit, it was almost coterminous with the old Dinajpur district of Bengal, which is now divided into the present Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh. At one point in time, its headquarters came to be known as Devīkoṭa, underscoring its rise as a prime place for Devī, the Mother goddess. Sculptural arrays of the Mother goddess from this place point to the domineering presence of her fearsome principles; they parallel textual descriptions about the sacred importance of a wrathful form of the Mother, normally referred to as Cāmuṇḍā. The religious texts, however, do not speak of the ascetics who might have performed the rituals to propitiate the Mother. We do not yet know if any new dimension was added to the corpus of rituals, and the Śiva-Śakti power equation after the Saiddhāntika Śaiva preceptors affiliated with Golagī great monastery of Durvāsas lineage entered Devīkoṭa at the end of the tenth century. This essay searches for answers in the visual elements on the lower registers of stone steles, such as the devotees/donors, other individuals in the service of the Mother Goddess, potfuls of offerings, and the environment of cremation grounds in which worship took place. The main deity and associated figures occupying the larger space in the middle of the steles have tantric content. Icons of Śaiva ascetics from West Bengal, including the three newly discovered examples, are important subjects for this essay, which concludes with the transformation of Devīkoṭa to Bangarh, where Śiva emerged as the chief god par excellence. The Devī had lost her koṭa, her bastion, forever.

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