Category Archives: hinduism

Terracotta art of Bengal : some Durga images

     The art of Bengal is synonymous with Terracotta . The powerful Durga worshipped as Mahisasuramardini during the Durga Puja every year has been rendered in this medium across the temples of Bengal. She is a most revered Goddess who protects her devotees from evil forces, both internal and external.

      Durga is an important deity from the Hindu pantheon. She is revered as a destroyer of evil. She is  a Goddess or a devi. The word devi in Sanskrit means divine or heavenly and a shining presence. The concept of devi first appeared in the Vedas in 200 B.C. but gained focus in Puranic literature with texts like the Devi Mahatmya. Goddess Durga reigns supreme and is the divine feminine as Devi in Hinduism and a divine mother as Mata. The legend of Durga appears as an avatar of Parvati, who is angry, ferocious and has eight to ten arms, holding weapons and skulls, riding a lion or tiger. She is a warrior goddess  who kills Mahisasura whom the male Gods were unable to control. Durga is a unified form of all Gods.She is one who saves a devotee from durgati or misfortune. Her mythology is described in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana, from the 4th to 6th century.

   The images of Goddess Durga in terracotta are seen in the Bishweshwar temple at Sribati in Katwa, Bardhaman, Girigovardhan temple, Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna Bardhaman, Pratapeshwar temple also at Kalna in Bardhaman, Brindaban Chandra Math, Kalna, Ramachandra Temple at Guptipara, Hooghly, Rajarajeshwar temple at Kotulpur, Hooghly, Radhagovindjiu temple at Antpur, Hooghly, among others. Some terracotta images from the temples of Bengal are showcased for illustration.

    The Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna was constructed in 1751-55 AD.  It is a magnificent brick panchabimsati-ratna temple with an elongated chala type verandah in front having three arches as the entrances. The temple has beautiful terracotta plaques.  Goddess Durga is depicted at the temple flanked by her children.

Krishnachandraji Temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5732938

Terracota Panel in Krishnachandra temple WLM2016 DSC 5371.jpg

Krishnachandraji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981

      The construction of the Radhagovindjiu Temple at Antpur was completed in 1786 AD. It has exquisite terracotta carvings with Puranic stories. The 100 feet temple was built by Krishna Ram Mitra, the diwan of the Bardhaman Raj. Besides the Radha-Krishna images which are predominant,  the temple has the sculpture of Goddess Durga flanked by her children is noteworthy.

Radhagovindjiu Temple, Antpur, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3343649

Radha-govindjiu temple, Antpur,  Hooghly. 

By Piyal Kundu – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3347037

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Inner Panel - 4.jpg

Goddess Durga, Terracottta panel, Lalji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51949876

 

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Goddess Durga, Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951996

Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini, idol at Durga Puja, 21st century.

By AKS.9955 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

 

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Terracotta temples of Bengal : grandeur revisited at Kalna

     The area of Bardhaman in Bengal has been named after the 24th Jain tirthankara Mahavira Vardhamana. The area was called Bardhamanbhukti around 700 B.C, a part of Rarh.  One of the 16 janapadas of ancient India, the Magadhan dynasty, the Mauryas, the Kushanas, the Guptas have ruled it. The Gauda, the Pala, the Senas have ruled  before the Khilji powers.  Bardhaman was a paragana during Mughal period. Emperor Jahangir took the wife of Sher Afghan as his consort, the jagirdar of Bardhaman who was killed  near Bardhaman in 1606;  Meher-un-nissa, who later became Nur Jahan.  In  seventeeth century Raja Krishnaram Rai was made the zamindar of Bardhaman by Emperor Aurangzeb. The Rai family was the governing family of the area. Kirti Chandra Rai expanded his region and defeated the Raja of Bishnupur. Chitrasen followed and was given the title of Raja by the Mughals in 1740. He was succeeded by Tilakchand Rai when the British acquired Bardhaman and many other areas of Bengal.

  Against the backdrop of many a political  scene and happening, the town of Ambika Kalna or Kalna there have been lot temple building activity and construction of monuments like the Rajbari. Kalna is on the western bank of the Bhagirathi river.

  Kalna is home to many temples.  The Naba-Kailasha temple , Bijoy Vaidyanath Temple, Giri Gobardhan Temple,Gopalji Temple,Jaleswar Temple, Krishna Chandraji Temple Lalji Temple, Pancharatna Temple, Pratapeswar Siva Temple in Rajbari complex, Rameswar Temple, Ratneswar Temple and Rupeswar Temple.  A few temples are highlighted with the structures and carvings in terracotta reflecting the refined art technique of the time.

 

 

File:Kalna Temple Complex by Piyal Kundu.jpg

Rajbari complex,Ambika Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  The Naba Kailash temple was built by Maharaja Teja Chandra Bahadur in 1809 ad these atchala brick Temples are made out of auspicious numerical combination in two concentric Circles and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The outer circumference contains 74 temples and inner circumference has 34 temples. The temples represent beads in a rosary symbolically. the outer  circle’s shrines have the linga made of black stone, and the inner circle’s shrines have the linga made from white marble. All the lingas can be seen from the centre of the temple complex.

 

Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51920155

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Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Manojit Pati – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28070367

Inner Circle Entrance - Naba Kailash - Kalna 2016-09-25 6468.jpg

Inner Circle Entrance, Naba Kailash, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By BengaliHindu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51952698

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     The Krishna Chandra Mandir was built in 1752 by Maharani Laxmi Kumari Devi. It has 25 spires. Epics are depicted on the walls of this beautiful temple.

Krishna Chandra Temple WLM2016-5327.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51810228

WLM@WB-Krishna Chandraji Temple in Kalna 02.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51953945

Krishnachandratemple DSC 5372.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951562

Terracota Panel in Krishnachandra temple WLM2016 DSC 5371.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981

The Lalji temple has 25 spires and is a Panchavimshati-Ratna. It was built by Braja Kishori Devi, the wife of Maharaja Jagat Ram in 1739. Built of bricks, and the walls are covered with terracotta figures.

Lalji temple,Kalna,Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702479

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Inner Panel - 11.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950563

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Outer Panel - 2.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950707

Lalji Temple depicting terracotta sculpture, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702521

Rameswar Temple WLM2016 5174.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51805016

Terrakotta Panel-Rameswar Temple WLM2016-5178.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51806016

Rupeswar Temple. Kalna. Burdwan.jpg

Rupeshwar temple,Kalna,West Bengal.

By Ajit Kumar Majhi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51566183

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

Sheshasayi in art : images of Lord Vishnu

  Lord Vishnu is known as Sheshasayi or Anantasayana when he is recumbent on the the king of nagas (serpents), Anantashesha. He is also called anantasayana in this recumbent posture.

      Lord Vishnu is part of the Hindu trinity of gods along with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. He is a lovable deity, considerate towards his devotees. He is depicted with his wife Goddess Lakshmi at his feet, recumbent on the coils of serpent Shesha. He is dark, blue skinned. A lotus stem shoots up from his navel on which Brahma is seated. His vahana or vehicle  is Garuda, the man-bird. Lord Vishnu has a thousand names,  sahasranama. His abode is Vaikuntha with lotus filled pools. His devotees are called Vaishnavas. He is worshipped in his different avatars; Matsya,Kurma,Varaha,Narasimha,Vamana,Parasurama,Rama,Krishna and Buddha as believed in Hinduism. It is believed that he will be reborn as Kalki, his last avatar according to the Vishnu Purana,.when the world will probably be destroyed and rebuilt.

  Lord Vishnu  is seen in different contexts and moods when he is reclining on Anantasesha.He is called yogasayana when he is meditative and the sages Bhrigu and Markandeya are with him. Brahma is seen emerging from his navel. He is Bhogasayana when he has four arms and is bejewelled. His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi are seen along with sages Bhrigu and Markandeya. He is Virasayana when he is holding a sankha or conch, a chakra or discus in two of his four hands. The demons Madu and Kaitabha are depicted at his feet.In Abhicharikasayana, he is depicted in a weak and emaciated form with no attendants. The Padmanabhaswamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram is an important shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Kerala. Lord Vishnu as Ranganatha is also a recumbent Vishnu but does not depict Brahma rising on a lotus from his navel.

        The recumbent Lord Vishnu has been depicted both in sculpture and painting as seen in the magnificent images from different centuries.

File:Narain 2.JPG

Sheshasayi, rock-cut sculpture,5th century,Udayagiri, Madhya Pradesh.

By Zippymarmalade (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sheshasayi, Mahishasuramardini Cave,7th cenutury, Mahabalipuram,Tamil Nadu.

By Jenith (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
File:Ku Phra Kona-021.jpg

Sheshasayi,Ku Phra Kona temple,11th century,Roi Et,Thailand

By Ddalbiez (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sheshasayi,sculpture,13th century,South India, LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,LACMA,USA.

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Sheshasayi,painting, Kashmir, 1800.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Sheshasayi,painting,18th century, India.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Sheshsayi Vishnu and Lakshmi enjoying festivity, National Museum, New Delhi.jpg

Sheshsayi enjoying festivities,painting, Chamba,1810, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Yann (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Sheshasayi,painting, late 18th century,Mehrangarh Museum Trust,

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,attributed to the Durga Master.

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Sheshasayi,painiting,1941.

M. V. Dhurandhar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Sheshasayi,sculpture, 5th century,Dasavatara Temple, Deogarh,Uttar Pradesh.

By Bob King [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • hindupedia.com

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Agni in art : God of fire

      Agni is the God of fire. He is an important vedic deity in Hinduism. He is revered as dwelling in evry house. He is considered a mediator between Godas and humans, so he is present at every important 0ccasion. He is mentioned as a son of Brahma. He is also said to be the child of Dyaus and Prithvi. He is also thought to be the son of Sage Kashyap and Aditi. Many hymns have  been dedicated to him. Fire is an important part of Hindu ceremonies like weddings; the saptapadi and part of Diwali as the diya or lamp. Agni is part of all pujas as aarti.

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Rangoli with lamps, Diwali, 21st century,Hyderabad.

By JimReeves on Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/joezach/285169752/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1552750

    Agni is found in south-east corners of Hindu temples. Agni as fire has been one of the five inert impermanent constituents Dhatus, along with space Akasa, water Ap, air, Vayu and earth,Prithvi. Agni is thought to exist on earth as fire, in atmosphere as lightning and in the sky as sun. This presence connects him as the messenger between Gods and humans in  Vedic thought.  Agni in his three forms, namely fire, lightning and the sun is symbolised by giving his icon three heads or three legs. He  is shown wearing a garland of fruits or flowers, symbolic of the offerings made into the fire.

     Agni is depicted as red skinned, riding a ram with a halo of flames emerging form his crown. he is sometimes shown bearded. He has a rosary in one hand and  an axe, torch, fan in others. Agni is also called saptajihva; one having seven tongues, one who consumes sacrifical butter rapidly. He emits seven rays of light from his body;the number seven also represents the colours of the rainbow in his form as the sun.

     The term Agni is part of Buddhist texts but not like that of  vedic God but in a metaphorical sense of inner heat; and appears as Agni-kumara in the theory of rebirth in Jainism. Agni is one of the fifty one Buddhist deities found in Tibetan Buddhism mandala for the Medicine Buddha.

     Goddess Swaha is Agni’s wife. Her name is pronounced with offerings such as butter and seeds poured into the fire during ceremonies.  Swaha is the daughter  of Daksha. She loves Agni  and marries him by impersonating the wives of the sapatarishis whom Agni is besotted to. She is one of the many divine mothers of Kartikeya or Skanda.

File:Karttikeya and Agni - Circa 1st Century CE - Katra Keshav Dev - ACCN 40-2883 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-23 5717.JPG

Kartikeya and Agni, 1st Century, Government Museum, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Madhya pradesh, agni, dio del fuoco, x sec.JPG

Agni, sandstone sculpture, 10th century,Madhya Pradesh,Musée Guimet,Paris.

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Agni, wood carving, Wellcome images, U.K.

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:9th century Agni god sculpture LACMA collection.jpg

Agni,copper alloy sculpture,9th century, West Bengal, LACMA, USA.

By LACMA permission reads, “The Los Angeles County Museum of Public Art has released some 20,000 PD images of their collection” [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Picture: Agni 18th century miniature.jpg

Agni , miniature painting, 18th century.

By Unknown – http://www.atributetohinduism.com/Hindu_Scriptures.htm – accessible 9. January 2013 as: http://web.archive.org/web/20060213050420/http://www.atributetohinduism.com/Hindu_Scriptures.htm , containing the picture at: http://web.archive.org/web/20060213050420im_/http://www.atributetohinduism.com/images/agni_god_of_fire.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=619526

File:Agni and consort.jpg

Agni with his consort Swaha, miniature painting,1800, British Museum, U.K.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Agni,1830,painting,Tamil Nadu, British Museum, U.K.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Agni, engraving by Charles Etienne Pierre, 19th century.

By Bardel, Louis Thomas (1804-p.1841) (after) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Below is shown an interesting depiction , a gouache painting on paper. Agni is on his ram mount and accompanied by two attendants. Agni is depicted with seven arms, two heads and three legs. He has seven fiery tongues with which he licks sacrificial butter. The attributes held in his hands included an axe and prayer beads.
File:Agni Poona painting.jpg

Agni with two attendants, painting, early 19th century.

By unknown Poona artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Agni as medicine Buddha,15th-century, Tibetan Buddhist art.

By Unknown – 5AF8TlDRx8MKDQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21908260

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Parvati in art : depictions from sculpture

 

Goddess Parvati from Hinduism represents love, devotion and fertility. She is the mother goddess and is  nurturing and gentle. But she has other aspects which are depicted in her 108 names.

Her name is derived from the word parvata which means mountain in Sanskrit. She is the daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. She was Sati reborn (who was Lord Shiva’s earlier wife and had perished due to a feud between her father Daksha and Lord Shiva). Parvati had to practice severe austerities before she could marry him. Their children are Ganesha and Kartikeya.

Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and Goddess Parvati together  make up Tridevi.

Along with Lord Shiva she is central to Shaivism ( a sect of Hinduism; followers of Lord Shiva) and is depicted in literature, art and sculpture all over Asia.

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Parvati, terracotta, Gupta period, National Museum, New Delhi,India.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30794990

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Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 12th century,India

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/WLA_lacma_Hindu_Goddess_Parvati_Orissa.jpg?1481481361661

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Goddess Parvati, Odisha, 11th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/The_Hindu_Goddess_Parvati_LACMA_M.72.1.14_%281_of_2%29.jpg

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Goddess Parvati, standing on Nandi, the bull with her children on her side, Java, Indonesia,14th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Javanese_Queen_as_Parvati.jpgBy shibainu (originally posted to Flickr as MET : Asian Wing) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess Parvati has many other names. Haimavathi again means , daughter of Himavan. She is also called Aparna; one who took nothing to sustain herself. She is also called Shailaja, daughter of the mountains.

She is Uma and Ambika, Shakti,Gauri,Kali,Shyama,Maheshwari, Durga, Bhairavi, Bhavani,Kamakshi,Annapurna and many others. She is Lalita in the Lalita sahsranama, where she has a thousand names.

Goddess Parvati is referred to as a beautiful maiden.She is a Goddess in many different roles and moods. She is calm and placid,or  fierce and an enemy of evil. She is fair and golden as well as dark complexioned in her many forms.

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Goddess Parvati, Chola bronze,13th century.

By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Parvati is first mentioned in the.Kena upanishad as the embodiment of knowledge and the mother of the world. She reveals the supreme knowledge or Brahman to Agni, Vayu and Indra. She finds mention in the Hamsa upanishad. In the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata she is mentioned and also in the Puranas. Coins were issued depicting Uma during King Harsha’s time in ancient India.

The Shiva-Parvati theme is represented in art and sculpture in many parts of India and South Asia. Many temples are dedicated to her; with her unique name and legend associated with them. Festivals like Teej and Gauri tritiya are held during the year.

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Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Chola, 13th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Parvati%2C_India%2C_Chola_dynasty%2C_13th_century%2C_bronze%2C_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts.JPGBy Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lord Shiva and Parvati with Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa,Ellora cave No.29, Maharashtra, India.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Ellora_cave29_Shiva-Parvati-Ravana.jpg By No machine-readable author provided. QuartierLatin1968 assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL

 

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The marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati, ivory, 18th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/WLA_vanda_The_Marriage_of_Shiva_and_Parvati.jpgBy Wikipedia Loves Art participant “the_arty_facts” [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Goddess Parvati, 11th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/1_Parvati%2C_Hindu_deity_-_11th_Century_-_Indian_Art_-_Asian_Art_Museum_of_San_Francisco.jpg

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Lord Shiva and Parvati on Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle,11th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Nswag%2C_india%2C_shiva_e_parvati_sul_toro_nandi_%28vrishabhavahana%29%2C_XI_sec..JPGI, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     Goddess Parvati is the ideal wife and mother. In the concept of Ardhanarishwara an ideal visualisation of a couple is depicted as half man and half woman. Each is complementing the other; one being Shiva and the other Parvati.

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Ardhnarishwara, red mottled sandstone, Mathura, 2nd-3rd century.

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/The_Androgynous_Form_of_Shiva_and_Parvati_%28Ardhanarishvara%29_LACMA_M.85.213.2.jpgSee page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References

 

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporewala and Sons.

 

  • wikipedia.org

 

 

 

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Soma Ghosh

 

© author

 

 

 

Kalpavriksha or tree of life : depictions from Asia

 

 The concept of the tree of life, wish fulfilling tree  exists in many cultures. In India the word used is kalpataru or kalpavrikhsha.  Also known as Kalpadruma, it  is a divine tree in Hinduism. It has been mentioned in Sanskrit  literature like Manasara, part of Shilpashastra  and Jain cosmology.  Some depictions in art are mentioned  herein from Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in India and Java in Indonesia.

    The birth of the kalpavriksha happened during the samudramanthan or churning of the ocean as per Hindu mythology. Along with the tree, the wish fulfilling cow kamadhenu was also born. Lord Indra is supposed to have taken them to heaven, devaloka, along with him and planted it there.  As per mythology  there are five kalpavrikshas; mandana, parijata, santana, kalpavrikhsa and harichandana. All these are believed to grant different wishes to the  devas or gods and out of jealousy the asuras or demons waged wars with them. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati gave away their daughter Aranyani to a Kalpavriskha for safekeeping when the demon Andhakasura waged war, with a request to bring her up as Vanadevi, or protector of forests. Another daughter Ashokasundari was created from a Kalpavriksha to be a companion to Parvati during period of loneliness.

     The banyan tree or nyagrodha is called kalpataru; the coconut tree whose every part is utilised by human beings for various purposes,the ashwatha (fig) tree, believed to be sacred, mahua tree, shami tree or jaant  of Rajasthan which stays green always and checks soil erosion is also referred to as kalapataru. A variety of palm is considered as kalpataru in Tamil Nadu in India. The Baobab or Parijata  tree is called kalpavriksh in Uttar Pradesh, believed to have been brought by Arjuna, one of the main Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata.    

      The Great Stupa at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, India has many depictions of the bodhi tree which is shown as being worshipped for its association with Lord Buddha. The bodhi tree is an akshaya vata, eternal, life giving tree. Originally commissioned by King Ashoka in 3rd century B.C many structures were added to the stupa complex by other dynasties. Scenes from Lord  Buddha’s life are sculpted on the toranas (gateways) and other structures in and around the stupa.

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Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Photographed at the Sanchi Hill, Raisen district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia

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Sculpture at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

By Nandanupadhyay (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

      A Hindu temple at Java in Indonesia Candi Prambanan from the 9th century is dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The temple has pointed architecture with a large complex of many individual shrines. The epics Ramayana and Bhagavata-purana are depicted along the inner balustrade walls of the main shrines. The kalpataru is depicted on the lower outer wall niches.

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Kalpataru guarded by Kinnara and Kinnari, mythical beings at Candi Prambanan, Java, Indonesia.

By Gunawan Kartapranata (Own work originally uploaded in english wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (043 Kalpataru and Kinnara, Siva Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Kalpataru and peacocks, Vishnu Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (124 Kalpataru and Peacocks, Visnu Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Kalpataru and lions, Nandi Temple, Candi Prambanan, Java,Indonesia.

Photograph from Prambanan temple compound near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia taken by Anandajoti.
By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (129 Kalpataru and Lions, Nandi Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Kalpataru and monkeys, Brahma Temple,Candi Prambanan , Java, Indonesia.

By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (085 Kaplataru and Monkeys, Brahma Temple) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     In Jainism too the kalpavrikshas are wish fulfilling trees. There are ten such trees who grant different wishes. The madyanga trees provides delicious drinks, the Bhojananga provides great food, yotiranga gives light, dopanga gives indoor light  The others  include pananga, turiyanga, bhusananga, vatthanga, alayanga, diviyanga who provide music, ornaments, mansions, utensils etc.

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Kalpataru, wall painting, Jain Basadi, Moodbidri, Karnataka,India

By Vaikoovery (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Ranakpur temple - Kalpavriksha leaf carving

Kalapavriksha  carving in marble, Jain temple at Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pbarry ( Photo taken by Patrick Barry)

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

Lamps in India : beauty and devotion

               Lamps are an important part of Indian culture and tradition and is a revered object at homes and temples. It is called deepam in the south and diya in the north. It is a part of ritualistic worship at temples and homes.Lamps across India are found made of clay,terracotta,porcelain,brass,bronze,silver etc.The earthen lamp is the commonest lamp made on the potter’s wheel from clay. The potter introduced variety in lamp-making and thus we have dome shaped lamp holders and bunch of five diyas. Diyas on top of a elephant figure or a horse figure  or as a hanging lamp are also available.Sometimes dances in India are centred around lamps.

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The earthen diya.

By Sreekumar K. S. (originally posted to Flickr as Picture 011) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Earthen diya with five wicks.

By Ramesh NG (originally posted to Flickr as The Diwali Diya) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

          Metal lamps are found at Hindu temples. Brass, bronze and silver are common. South India and Gujarat have their own array of lamps. Many temples have niches in the walls where lamps are placed. A lamp pillar or deepasthambham has plates at equal intervals and holds the oil and wicks. The plates get smaller and the top of the pillar is decorated with a lion or peacock on top. Lamp  used at the time of prayer is called aarti deepa which comes with a handle. The lamp is a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi and is known as deepalakshmi.

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Lamp as deepalakshmi, South India.

By Xufanc – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10854869

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Aarti diya.

By Amitbsws (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Lamps arranged in niches,Thiruvegappura temple Palakkad, Kerala.

By Argopal at ml.wikipedia – Transferred from ml.wikipedia by User:Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12450060

         Deepavali or Diwali means a row or array of lights and  symbolises chasing away darkness from one’s life and ushering in prosperity and abundance.  The festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. The whole town of Ayodhya was lit up with lamps to welcome Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.

            In Tamil Nadu a lamp is called Vilakku and in Kerala it is called Valakku. There is a lot of variety in the lamps of South India. Kuthuvilakku and Nilavilakku are traditional oil lamps used in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Many times,  a human figure is shown holding a lamp, the cup being the oil container. In the Padmanabha temple at Thiruvananthapuram the male is shown as the figure in the statues, which are mostly brass lamps. There are many inscriptions recording the gift of lamps to  presiding deities. The idea of statue lamps was probably taken from the Romans or Phoenicians as the Tamils had trade links with them.

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Paavai vilakku (lady with a lamp), Tamil Nadu.

By Xufanc – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10855014

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Tiered lamp in bronze, 13th-14th century, Kerala.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “airforceJK” [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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Lamps set around a rangoli ( a decorative design) on Diwali.

By siddarth varanasi – Flickr: DSC_0438, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29961576

       Lamps with human motifs is more common in South India. However many south Indian lamps are found in the temples of Benaras as per O.C Gangoly. The hamsa lamp or swan lamp is found in South India which has a perpendicular stem which is the pedestal of the lamp and is called deepa-briksha. This is broken into various knobs and the whole is surmounted by a model of a swan or hamsa. The hamsa is a beautiful and auspicious bird and is the vahana or vehicle of Lord Brahma. Lamps have been depicted in many paintings both medieval and modern.

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Diwali celebrations at Kotah, painting, Rajasthan.

By Indian Unknown Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Copper alloy lamp with peacock and elephant, 18th century, Maharashtra.

http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-17275183-O3.jpg

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lamp at Padmanabhapura palace,16th century, Kanyakumari,Tamil Nadu.

Bibinca at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       During the month of Kartika(mid-November to mid-December) in the Hindu calendar a festival of lights called Karthikai Deepam is celebrated in Tamil Nadu.The lamps are lit when the moon is in conjunction with the Kartigai(Pleiades) and is a full moon. This constellation is a group of six stars in the shape of an ear ornament. This day is called as Kartik Poornima and observed by  Hindus across India with lighting of lamps. It is also known as Dev Deepavali and is celebrated in Benaras or Varanasi by lighting of all the ghats on the river Ganges. It is believed that the Gods descend on earth on this auspicious day, to bathe in the Ganga river. Devotees take a dip in the river and offer lamps to the Goddess Ganga in the evening and perform Ganga aarti.

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Nilavilakku  lit up  for Karthikai deepam, Tamil Nadu.

By Aravind Sivaraj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22915898

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Image of chromolithograph ‘Indian woman floating lamps on the Ganges’ by William Simpson,1867.

 

Photograph of chromolithograph titled, “Indian woman floating lamps on the Ganges,” by William Simpson (1823-1899) Medium: Chromolithograph Date: 1867. Downloaded from this British Library Web Site by Fowler&fowler«Talk» 11:27, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ganga aarti at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

By http://www.flickr.com/photos/u-suke/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/u-suke/3156784664/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Hanging lamp, Kerala.

By Sajith Erattupetta – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50373207

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Lamp with swan motif, Kerala.

By Fotokannan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15902950

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • Gangoly, O. C/The Journal of Indian art, 1916: South Indian lamps, p 129-136.

 

 

Posted by : Soma Ghosh