“Fire is His head, the sun and the moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet, the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner self of all beings.”
Anonymous, The Upanishads: Translations from the Sanskrit
Shiva, the Mahadev, the Adiyogi, and the destroyer, is perhaps the most complex and most powerful god in the Hindu pantheon.
On one hand, Shiva is known as a representation of sacrifice, compassion, and the protector, while on the other side, he is also known to lead the evil spirits, vampires, and ghosts.
Similarly, while Shiva is connected with the destruction of the entire universe, he is also attached with the inception of this entire world as we know. Hindu scriptures believe that the universe gets dissolved in a particular time-cycle basically comprising of 2160 million years and at the end of each epoch, it is Shiva that brings the entire creation to an end creating a void for the new beginning.
Artists across India keep Shiva as their center of creation for centuries. From the cave paintings of Shiva on the Ajanta and Ellora caves to the current contemporary depiction of Mahadev, artists have always been obsessed with the representation of this Supreme Being.
Whether it is the Nataraja representation or the Linga depiction or the generic blue-skinned, serpent wearing figure, there are numerous attempts from the artists to showcase Shiva in a physical form. What’s more intriguing is that more the artists try to represent the greats of this supernatural being, the more traits get decoded.
The perception of Lord Shiva paintings
There are a lot of assumptions about who Shiva was. Some say Shiva was the first yogi who walked this earth, while others say Shiva is a constant that resides and holds the universe together. The interpretations never stop coming and artists have created multiple images of Shiva as per their experience and thought process.
For instance, if we look at the art of medieval India, which was revolving around the life and tales of religious deities and tales, we can see a lot of different depiction of Lord Shiva. A mesmerising example would be exquisite bronze statues of Shiva and Parvati in the inner halls of Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.
The representation of Shiva as ‘Nataraja’ is another intriguing manifestation of Mahadev. Another representational way of Shiva is in form of ‘Linga’.
The most generic depiction can be seen in a number of Lord Shiva paintings where he is holding a damru, a trishul, have Ganga flowing through his headlocks, with a blue neck, and serpent along.
All these depictions are just the way of forming an image from the tales and epics we have learned about Shiva. Artists find it enticing thousands of year back and they find it intriguing today.
Shiva cannot be represented by anything that is visible to us or known to human life. He is everywhere and is nowhere.
IMHO, the interpretation that comes closest to the Shiva is in form of Linga. Do you know what it is?
Well, it is something that stands tall on the science of today and the religious scriptures that were written thousands of years back.
You must have witnessed a ‘Linga’ form of Shiva in numerous temples and paintings too. Because of the lack of spiritual and intellectual knowledge, a lot of people misinterpret this manifestation of Shiva.
Hinduism stands on the basis of the Trinity of Gods comprising the Brahma, Vishnu, and the Shiva.
The Linga form has three lines running around it with a red dot in the center (you must have seen). Now, all of you must be aware of the constituents of an atom; proton, neutron, and electron.
The religious saints in ancient times depicted Shiva as the neutron, Vishnu as the proton, and Brahma as the electron. Like the electron is attached with the proton, Brahma, the creator is bounded with Vishnu. But, the neutron is free and hence Shiva is still deemed to be meditating in the Himalayas.
People in India tend to keep mesmerising Lord Shiva paintings in their home to bring spirituality and grace to the entire aura. The glorification of these artworks is not limited to the home décor ideas.
Do you know that CERN, at its headquarters in Switzerland, has an artefact of Shiva in ‘Nataraja’ form? Why do you think an esteemed organization that is totally focused on science and its implication would keep some piece of religious art in their headquarters?
Shiva is the ultimate saviour and the destroyer of all life as we know it. Do not make the mistake of deeming Shiva as an entity or a physical being, he is not. He is the ultimate truth, the elevated consciousness in each of us and the goodness that lies in each of us.
Share your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks!
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