Monday, February 23, 2015

either / or

Thought behind the thought

Many a times, we stand at crossroads, staring at a seemingly difficult situation. Its either 'this' or 'that'! Tough choice. But it need not be so. So many things are seemingly complex, and if you think comprehensively from a totally different perspective, you discover that we could actually have the best of both worlds. We need not choose between 'this' and 'that'. We can have 'This' and also 'That', both at the same time!

Because things, situations, people, life ......  is always a composite of opposites, as most oriental cultures acknowledge. Be it the Yin-Yang of Chinese philosophy, or the Maya-Bramha of Hindu thought, the fusion of opposites to form a 'Whole' remains a dominant theme.

About The Art

Hindu philosophy is replete with examples of the fusion of two seemingly opposite concepts, the most well known of them being 'Ardha Narishwar' the half-male, half-female form of Lord Shiva.

An early Kushan head of Ardhanarishvara, Mathura Museum

Ardhanarishvara (Sanskrit: अर्धनारीश्वर, Ardhanārīśvara), is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati (also known as Devi, Shakti and Uma in this icon). Ardhanarishvara is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. The right half is usually the male Shiva, illustrating his traditional attributes.

The earliest Ardhanarishvara images are dated to the Kushan period, starting from the first century BC. Its iconography evolved and was perfected in the Gupta era. ThePuranas and various iconographic treatises write about the mythology and iconography of Ardhanarishvara. While Ardhanarishvara remains a popular iconographic form found in most Shiva temples throughout India, very few temples are dedicated to this deity.

Ardhanarishvara represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe (Purusha and Prakriti) and illustrates how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from (or the same as, according to some interpretations) Shiva, the male principle of God. The union of these principles is exalted as the root and womb of all creation. Another view is that Ardhanarishvara is a symbol of Shiva's all-pervasive nature.

relief in stone from elephanta caves, near Mumbai

relief in stone from gangaikonda cholapuram temple

view of the Ardha Narishwar temple, Velapur, Maharashtra, India, built around 1300 A.D

Credits and Source of information:

Do also visit for a mesmerising recital of the Ardha Nari nateshwar stotra by Pandit Jasraj.

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