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Varuna and His Decline – Part Six

 Continued from Part Five

V. Varuna Iconography

70.1. The Iconography of Varuna is highly varied. The variations are generally two-fold. One, the depiction of his image depends upon the stage of his career at which he is being discussed. For instance,  in the context of the early Rig Veda Varuna is a sublime , gracious and a very handsome deity who is  the lord of all existence ; but , in the Brahmanas   he is depicted as a severe looking stern judge holding the punitive noose and riding a fearsome mythical monster Makara. And again,  When he is portrayed  as a water-god the attributes symbolizing water element are stressed; and, when he is shown as Dikpala the guardian of  the west  he is shown in the air riding his mount in the sky; and so on.

And the other is that the various texts of Shilpa Shastra and the Puranas each project its own version of Varuna image; and, they differ in details. Thus the Iconography of Varuna is not uniform; it is spread across a whole spectrum of varied notions of Varuna. In the iconographic sense there is not one but several Varunas. It might not therefore be possible to discuss the whole range of Varuna features. We may pick up just a few instances.

70.1. Before looking at few instances of his form,  let’s glance at his features in a summary fashion by putting together his descriptions scattered across several texts.

71.1. Most of the descriptions of Varuna celebrate him as the lord of the waters; and some (e.g. Aparajita pruccha)   hail him as the lord of the west. But, his original attributes, mentioned in Rig Veda, of being the lord of the sky or the governor of Rta are not stressed in the texts dealing with his Iconography. They are completely glossed over. That is understandable, because the Shilpa texts and the Puranas are far removed in time from the age of the Rig Veda; and these texts came into being centuries after the Vedic period. By then, Varuna’s decline and his demotion into a water-god had been complete.

: – Varuna is shown either in standing posture (sthanaka) or as seated (aasana) or as riding his vahana. But he is not shown in reclining position (shayana). He is shown either alone (kevala) or with his consort/s.

:-The Varuna –iconography sometimes describes him as having four heads (Vishnudharmottara) and four arms (in Rupamandana, Vishnudharmottara and Aparajita pruccha); but, generally he is described with one head and two or four arms.

: – Varuna is usually presented as a bright looking, well built god of peaceful and benign disposition.  But he is also shown with a potbelly (a characteristic of lunar gods). The Brahmana texts show him as an obscure (jambaka) ugly looking, white-spotted (shukla), a rather deformed bald headed fat man with protruding teeth (vikidha)   and yellow or brownish eyes (pingaksha).

:-  His complexion too varies across the texts. In most of the texts he is described as of fair complexion radiant like a conch or a sparkling crystal (spatika). But he is also described as having glossy sky-blue complexion (Rig Veda, Vishnudharmottara); or lustrous golden complexion (Kashyapa shilpa), or dark complexion (Padma samhitha).

:- Varuna usually favours white colour; his garments, ornaments, garlands and necklaces are of white. But, in some instances he is adorned in red garments (kashyapa shilpa) or yellow garments (Shilparatna).

:- He is either seated or is riding a Makara (a mythical monster of which we shall talk a little later); but he is also mentioned as riding a crocodile (Rupa mandana) or seated on a swan or seated on a dog or a Makara with a dog-head (Mathsya Purana).In some older texts (Vishnudharmottara) his chariot is drawn by a set of seven swans. And, at times he is  shown sitting by a waterfowl.

: – The Ayudhas or the objects he holds usually are: the pasa (noose), lotus, a jewel box, and a snake. At times he is depicted with water pot (kamandalu) or a mace (musala) or a conch (shankha).

: – Varuna’s abode as mentioned in the early Vedic texts is the atmosphere. In the   later texts, his abode is in the waters or a region in the ocean (pastatsu) in a multi-pillared mansion. He is also said to have palaces in hilly regions near the Meru on the Pushpagiri hills. Mahabharata mentions that Varuni (also called as Gauri), Vriddhi and Jesta (daughter of Shuklacharya) are his queens. He rides across the heavens in his glittering chariot. He has at his service thousands of spies who report to him on all that the men do or do not do.

Particulars of Varuna Iconography as in:

Rig Veda

72.1. Rig Veda describes Varuna’s appearance in glowing terms: as the most resplendent god of glowing- sky-blue complexion, with Agni in his face and Surya in his eye. He is far sighted (uru-chaksasa). He is the eye of all the worlds (jagath-chakshu- RV.1.25.5). He has soft and beautiful hands (supani) in which he holds lotuses and   an auspicious noose .He is splendidly adorned in golden mantel (drapi) and a shining robe. His chariot dazzles brilliantly like sunrays (ghabasti suro nadyauth – RV.1.122.15).Varuna and Mitra ride the golden chariot like floating clouds in the blue sky, drawn by well yoked steeds. (RV.5.62.7). in the midst of vast heavens urukşhaya (RV. 1.2.9) he is seated on a splendid throne placed in his  golden palace of thousand pavilions, thousand columns (RV. 2.41.5) and thousand doors (RV. 7.88.5).  From his glittering throne, the monarch (samrajnya) watches over the deeds of all men and gods (pastyasu) – (RV .1.22.11-12).

Brahmanas

72.2. Taittereya Brahmana (3.9.15.3) and Shatapatha Brahmana (13.3.6.5) present a totally different and a fierce picture of Varuna. He is ugly and deformed. He appears here as an obscure figure (jambaka) , as a white-spotted(shukla) bald headed fat man, with protruding teeth(vikidha)  and reddish brown eyes (pingaksha).But, he is embellished in golden ornaments .

Puranas

72. 3 .1. The sixth century –text Vishnudharmottara Purana (part three, Ch.52, verses 1-21) as also Brihatsamhita carry almost identical descriptions of Varuna. In the Vishunudharmottara, sage Markandeya explains that the image of Varuna the lord of waters should be made on a chariot with seven swans.

Elsewhere it is said; His colour resembles the glossy brilliant blue (lapis-lazuli). His blue is described as the colour of clear blue sky reflected in a tranquil pool of transparent water. Varuna is depicted with four faces, a slightly prominent belly and four arms holding   in his:   upper right hand – a noose, upper left hand – a conch, lower left hand a – jewel box, and in his lower right hand a lotus.

72.3.2. As per the Varuna Dhyana sloka, Varuna is smiling, gentle colour of snow, lotus or moon. Varuna is wearing white garment; and is well adorned with ornaments and rows of pearl necklaces .He is seated on a magnificent throne along with his two queens (Ganga and Yamuna) . A white umbrella named Abhoga mounted atop the throne is spread over his head. Incidentally, that white umbrella emerged from churning of the ocean and was given to Varuna. White umbrella (sveta chattra) is a royal insignia. His emblem Makara the mythical creature is placed to his left. Varuna, in most cases is depicted as a highly respected king.

72.3.3. In the Matsya Purana (26.17.18) Varuna is depicted as a mighty (maha-balam) god of peaceful continence. He has two arms; and  he holds the Pasa; and,  gestures assurance (abhaya) or blessings.  He is   fair in complexion; and glows like a conch (shankha) or the crystal (spatika). He is adorned in white garments, ornaments of pearl, white flower garlands, rows of pearl necklaces and an ornate crown. He is riding a dog or a Makara with dog’s head (basha asana).

Again , Matsya Purana   (174.15) sketches Varuna as standing in the midst of army of gods ,  holding a noose and waiting for the fight to commence, like an ocean furious to overshoot the shores .

At another place, Matsya Purana (260.17.18) describes Varuna of white complexion like that of a conch and crystal (spatika) . His disposition is peaceful.  He is adorned with white garlands and garments.   He is seated on a Makara or crocodile wearing a crown.

Varuna2

Texts of Shilpa Shastra

Similar descriptions of Varuna are provided in the texts of the Shilpa Shastra.

72.4.1. Rupamandana (2.35) describes Varuna the regent of the west as having four arms. In three of his hands he holds a Pasa (noose), a lotus and a jewel box (lower left hand). And, his lower right hand is bestowing blessings on the devote. He is riding a crocodile (nakra –arudam).

72. 4.2. Pushkara samhitha (4.153) describes Varuna as the lord of waters who is strong and well built (bhimam). His complexion glows like a fresh pearl (muktha-phala dyuthi samam).He is ever surrounded by thousands of Naga nymphs (naga kanya sahasradyam). He rides a Makara.

72.4.3. In contrast to that, Padma Samhita (22.60) and Haya shirsha Samhitha (Adi.25.8) present Varuna as dark complexioned (varunam shyamalam). Of his two hands he holds in the left a noose (pasa) and with his right he gestures assurance (abhaya pradam) and blessings. He is resplendent with his sparkling   earrings in the shape of Makara (makara kundala) and in his bright crown modest sized crown (karandi makuta).

72.4.4. In Kashyapa shilpa shastra (48.52.-54) Varuna the lord of waters is adorned in red garments (raktha dharo bhushitam); his body is lustrous as gold (swarna varni) .In his two hands he holds a snake (naga) and a noose (pasa) .He rides a Makara with his consort Padmini Devi.

72.4.5. Shilpa -ratna gives a slightly different version of Varuna. Here the benign (saumyam) and peaceful (shantam) looking mighty (maha balam) is resplendent and fair (swetha varnasthu). He is wearing yellow garments (pitha vastra dharam); and is richly ornamented (sarva-bharana bhushitam) and is adorned with a crown (karandi makuta). He holds a noose (pasa) in each of his two hands; and is riding a Makara. . He is placed in a yajna pavilion (yajna satra).

72.4.6. In Aparajita pruccha (213.13) Varuna the regent of the west is described with four arms. He holds in his upper right arm a pasa (noose), in his upper left a lotus, in the lower left a water pot (kamandalu) and with his lower right he bestows assurance and blessings (varam).He rides a Makara.

72.4.6. Hayastra Pancharatra depicts Varuna as a water-god; he is shown with two arms standing on back of a swan. His right hand shows gesture of removing fear (abhaya).In his left hand he holds a noose made of a snake. The water pot is to his left. He is accompanied by his consort Vriddhi on the left and his son Pushkara on the right. He is surrounded by serpents, rivers, and water animals.

In the niches of temple walls

There are of course no temples dedicated to Varuna. But, his image is at times carved in the niche of the western temple walls. Let’s see a few such instances.

73.1. In the eleventh century Brahmeshwar temple, Bhubaneswar Orissa , an image of Varuna is carved in the niche on its western wall . Varuna is depicted as standing (sthanaka) in a relaxed and graceful posture holding in his right hand a long noose by its end while his left hand is placed on his hip. In his lower left hand he holds a water vessel. He is adorned with jewelled crown,( ratna-kundala,) pearl yajnopavitha that runs down across his chest, , and  with a waist girdle. An oval halo is carved around his head. At his feet lies the Makara with its mouth open standing in the waters. His consorts carved at the base in miniature figures carry lotuses.

73.2. In the Raja-rani temple at Bhubaneswar, Varuna two armed is standing near Makara. He holds a noose in his left hand.  And his right hand shows gesture of removing fear (abhaya)a noose (pasa) by its end in the left. Makara is depicted next to him. This sculpture is remarkable for its relaxed demeanour, pleasant facial expression and rich ornamentation.

73.4. In the Kosalesvara temple (c. eighth century) at Patnagarh, Orissa, an exquisitely carved image of a youthful Varuna sitting in a relaxed pose (lalithasana) is on the temple wall on the west. He is richly ornamented with a beautiful crown bearing a kirtimukha logo at its centre,  a semi oval Prabhavali (orb ) placed behind his head, rows of necklaces (Hara, Keyura, Kankana, Katisutra) and an yajnopavitha across his chest.

73.5. Varuna is often depicted along with a waterfowl as in the following.

73.6. A seated figure of Varuna is carved on the walls of the Parasuramesvara temple, Orissa, (c.10tcentury).  Varuna is on the lower left.

73.7. The tenth-eleventh century temple of   Banteay Srei, Cambodia, displays rich and varied depictions of Varuna as riding a swan or a Makara; and surrounded by host of followers.

W. Makara

74.1. Makara is often translated as crocodile. In the context of Indian iconography that may not be quite correct. Makara as referred to here is truly a mythical creature that combines in itself the features of several sea and land animals.  Makara has no well defined form or structure. Its appearance varies depending on the features of the animals that combine into its form. Perhaps because of its indefinite form, Makara is termed a monster  in the sense that it is neither this nor that. It is a mythical beast of both land and sea with fanciful features.  Almost any weird combination of animals could be a Makara. But the two common features of all Makara forms are: a long and a probing snout; and the other, an elaborate and spread out tail.

75.1. In the Indian Iconography ,  Makara is a composite figure, generally,  with a trunk as that of an elephant, ears like that of a cow, eyes as those of a fish, body as that of a boar, and the tail elaborate and  bushy like that of a peacock ; and its legs resemble that of a lion . It could even be presented as fantastic marine monster structured with the body and tail of a fish and the forelegs, neck, and head of an antelope, an alligator, or a shark; or whatever.

75.2. It is also called kantaka, Asita-dramstra (black teeth) and jala-rupa (water form). Makara may be shown either as carrying a rider on its back (vahaka yuktam) or it may not (svatantram). It may even be shown as if it is ready to pounce and attack (yuddha sannaddham) or just being playful (kridabhi-ramakam).

75.3. A feature of Indian temple architecture is Makara –Torana    the ornamental arch way to the temple entrance; it  also adores the doorway   to the sanctum. Makara toranas are very varied with endless permutations of elaborate patterns and designs. But, invariably the toranas are artfully designed to suggest as if the doorway is held afloat, at either end, by the extended snouts of two Makars with frothy or bushy peacock tails. Even the Buddhist monuments including the gateway to the ancient Sanchi stupa are decorated by Makara toranas.

75.4. Sometimes, when it is used as a decorative motif its entire body may not be depicted; but, only its head could be detailed along  with its tail either well spread out and standing up (puchcham urdhva visrtam) or spread around (sarvato gatam) or hanging down to earth (bhu-pranta vikshiptam) .

75.5. Makara’s face alone is used in Indian temple architectural element as kirtimukha “glory face”.

75.6. Makara as a decorative and as a royal insignia is well accepted. It is a widely used decorative embellishment and a symbol in most Indian works of art and in iconography.

Makara – an Indian symbol that travelled worldwide

76.1. Makara is essentially an Indian symbol. It is very ancient too. In the Bhagavad-Gita Sri Krishna mentions “I am Makara among the aquatics (jhasanam makarah) just as the Ganga among the rivers and Rama among the warriors”- (Gita .10.31). As a sea creature, Makara may have initially been a fish or a crocodile but later on it took many fanciful forms. The Makara concept seems to have captured the imagination of rest of the ancient world too. Makara in its various forms and manifestations spread to west .And it is said, Makara‘s metamorphosis is the Babylonian water-god Ea an antelope-fish; the goat-fish Capricorn of the Zodiac; the horse-headed sea-water animal or water-serpent Nykkur of Norse legends; and, the mythical seahorse and the dragon. Even the Sphinx could be termed a Makara.  It is also explained that in old-Greek Makara means ‘the blessed ‘and is root of Greek names such as Makarios.

76.2. The combination of the features of an aquatic animal, a serpent, an elephant and the dragon; as also the mystic symbolisms associated with it inspired the legends, myths and all art forms in Burma,  China , Far East and  in Buddhism. It is also said; the ancient flag of ancient seafaring people of Sri Lanka, the Karware carried the Makara emblem with an image of a fish at its centre.  Burma’s animal of five beauties is also a Makara.

Makara Symbolism

77.1. Makara is rich in symbolism. Ananda K Coomaraswamy (in his Yaksha) writes “Makara is a great Leviathan (serpent) moving through the primeval waters, the cosmic ocean of the night sky, which contain the essence of life.” He suggests, Makara stands for Prakrti that manifests the un-manifest. He equates Makara with the abode of lotus which in turn symbolizes life.

77.2. In the Indian calendar , Makara –Sankranthi (in December/ January) marks the end of winter solstice and the entering of the Sun into the tenth house of the Zodiac heading toward the northern hemisphere. It is the dawn for the gods. It also is the birth of time; and the first day of the New Year. Makara is associated with creation-process; thus, it symbolizes time and its cyclic nature. Makara is therefore prominently placed in Sun temples.

77.3. The Makara, its forms and symbolisms have permeated Indian art and living at various levels. Apart from being a royal insignia and serving as a decorative designer as a structural bracket, Makara is the vahana, the vehicle or the ride, of Varuna, the goddesses Lakshmi, Ganga and Saraswathi; and, is the banner on Kamadeva’s flag. The earrings of Vishnu and other gods are in the shape of Makara (Makara-kundala).In astrology Makara is related to constellation of Capricorn (Makara-raasi) with Sea-Goat as its symbol.

There is even a depiction of the five-faced Hanuman riding a Makara

Five-faced Hanuman

77.4. The elephant-like trunk of the Makara and the waters bring together Lakshmi goddess of beauty and prosperity and Ganga the river goddess. Elephants are associated with clouds, rains and waters. Makara which serves Lakshmi, Ganga and other river-goddesses as their vahana, the ride, is also connected with water.

Ganga

[Note: Wherever there is discrepancy between the narration and the picture  ; please take the narration and ignore discrepancy.]

navagunjara

Continued

in the Next Part

References and Sources

1. Indra and Varuna in Indian Mythology by Dr. UshChoudhuri; Nag Publishers, Delhi, 1981

2. The Indian Theogony by Dr.Sukumari Bhattarcharji, Cambridge University Press, 1970

3. Asura in early Vedic religion by WE Hale; Motilal Banarsidass; Delhi, 1986

4. Goddesses in ancient India by PK Agrawala; Abhinav Publications, New Delhi,1984

5. The Hymns of Atharvan Zarathustra by JM Chatterji; the Parsi Zoroastrian Association, Calcutta, 1967; http://www.avesta.org/chatterj_opf_files/slideshow.htm.

6. Outlines of Indian Philosophy –Prof M Hiriyanna; Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 2005

7.Original Sanskrit texts on the 0rigin and history of the people of India, their region and institution By J. Muir;Trubner & co., London, 1870.

8. A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature byJohn Dowson; Turner & co, Ludgate hill. 1879.

9. Vaidika Sahitya Charitre by Dr. NS Anantharangachar; DVK Murthy, Mysore, 1968

10. Sri Brahmiya Chitra Karma sastram by Dr. G. Gnanananda

11. Zarathustra Chapters 1-6 by Ardeshir Mehta; February 1999

 http://www.indiayogi.com/content/indgods/varuna.aspx

http://www.bookrags.com/research/varua-eorl-14/

http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Varuna

http://www.hinduweb.org/home/dharma_and_philosophy/vshirvaikar/Dnyaneshwari/Dnch10pg1.html

http://rashmun.sulekha.com/blog/post/2010/03/vedic-literature-the-degradation-of-varuna-and-indra.htm

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Varuna

http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/vedic-verses/453851-vak-suktam-aka-devi-suktam.html

http://www.svabhinava.org/HinduCivilization/AlfredCollins/RigVedaCulture_ch07-frame.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahura_Mazda

http://www.iamronen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/ReadingLila.pdf

 http://www.hummaa.com/player/player.php

All images are by courtesy of Internet

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Iconography, Varuna

 

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Virabhadra, the auspicious hero

1.1. Virabhadra the auspicious hero raging like flaming fire is Shiva‘s ferocious instrument for destruction of ignorance, ritualism and dogma. Virabhadra, the Great Warrior,is the sublimation of Shiva’s impatience and anger; the embodiment of his resolute might; and is therefore regarded an aspect of Shiva in blazing mood burning down delusion and falsehood (samhara –murti).

1.2. It is said; Shiva represents pure-consciousness (jnana shakthi); Devi is the creative energy, the thought within his consciousness, the will to intend an act (itccha shakthi); and Virabhadra is the power of action (kriya-shakthi) the determined might to transform that will into an act. Virabhadra, the action-hero,    personifies implicit faith, absolute devotion and reverence as also the ruthless efficiency in carrying out the command of his creator.

1.3. Virabhadra also symbolizes the sharp incisive power of discrimination, potent in each of us, to sever  attachments to conceited values, misplaced faith and the routines that we all run through thoughtlessly. He points out to our adulation of that which should not be esteemed; and to our neglect of that which ought to be valued. Virabhadra’s message is to open our heart, to embrace everything that life has given us, without fear or prejudice. Virabhadra destroys in order to save.

Daksha – Shiva – Uma

2.1. The origin and the relevance of Virabhadra have to be appreciated in the context of the running feud between Daksha and Shiva spread over many eons, manvantara.   The two mighty personages represent two different realities, two divergent faiths, two separate streams of understanding and two opposed world orders.

2.2. Daksha meaning ‘able, competent, skilled ‘in performing rituals, is rooted in the propriety and the relevance of elaborate rituals; and in their techniques as prescribed in the scriptures. He is also a great believer in the organized  hierarchy of gods and the proper order of apportioning the oblation among various levels of gods. He is one of the Prajapatis and is sometimes regarded as their chief. He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring perpetuation of life on earth, as also the richness and dignity in life. He is a very prominent person of the established order; and, in fact, is at its very core. Daksha holding the office of Prajapathi was a lawgiver who formulated rules for conduct of behaviour in the society and norms for the orderly working of the society along the well respected traditional lines. The world order as envisaged by Daksha defined the precise role and conduct not merely of humans but of gods as well. He expected from all, reverence to his self and obedience to his law.  He would not tolerate subversive bunch of renegades who had scant regard for the social dignity and decorum. Daksha therefore represents the matter-of-fact logical mode of thinking, the way in which most of us would like to lead our lives.

2.3. Shiva, in contrast, was beyond the pale of normal society; and stood for everything that Daksha dreaded. Shiva was a Vratya, and the most distinguished among them, Ekavratya, an unorthodox hermit, who lived by his own rules, not always acceptable to traditional society. He refused to conform to the ways of the world.

3.1. Vratyas  were a community of dissenters, social rebels and ascetics living under a set of strange religious vows (Vrata). They totally rejected the Vedic rites and rituals. Vratyas followed their own cult-rules and practices; and did not care either for the rituals or for initiations (adhikshitah); and not at all for celibacy (Na hi brahmacharyam charanthi).They did not engage themselves in agriculture (Na krshim) or in trade (Na vanijyam).They behaved as if they were possessed (gandharva grithaha) or drunk or just mad. They roamed about the countryside and lived among the warriors, herdsmen and farmers. They were worshippers of Rudra, Isana or Mahadeva; and yet were regarded irreligious. In the words of Shri DSamapth, they were the ‘freethinkers who gave a very time and space based approach to the issues; and, were the initial social scientists with rationality as the anchor’.

3.2. Shiva, Rudra the wild one, like a true Vratya, wandered among cremation grounds with a rowdy bunch of renegades consuming intoxicants forbidden in polite society and slept amidst the warmth of burning funeral pyres. He sang and danced whenever and wherever he wanted to with little heed to decorum and protocol. Shiva refused to indulge in any social rule having pretentions of respect.  He had no home, no possessions, no family, no vocation; he was a drifter, ritually impure, unsuitable for married life.

4.1. Uma was the daughter of Himavat (Uma Haimavathi) by Menaka or Mena [In this version she is not related to Daksha]; she was desperately in love with Shiva but had a hard time persuading him to marry her. Shiva narrated all his disqualifications that failed to make him a dependable householder. Despite that, Uma followed Shiva wherever he went, over hills, across desolate plains and dense forests and through cremation grounds. Shiva at first ignored Uma. He barely acknowledged her.  Uma finally told her reluctant lover, “It is for the good of both of us.You are incomplete without me and I am incomplete without you. I do not ask for anything, but you. I accept you for what you are, not deterred by what you do not have…I would like to observe with you”. Shiva could no longer be without his loving consort.

5.1. Daksha Prajapathi’s intense dislike of Shiva was because the latter was a vagrant, a tramp who had neither commitments nor sense of values in life. Daksha called  Shiva – a Kapalin having neither father nor mother, impure , incorrigible and proud abolisher of rites and demolisher of barriers who roams about in dreadful cemeteries, attended by hosts of ghosts and sprites, like a madman, naked, with disheveled hair, wearing a garland of skulls and ornaments of bones of the dead, pretending to be Siva (auspicious), but in reality is   a- Siva (inauspicious), insane, leader of the insane Bhutas (spirits), the wicked hearted whose nature is essentially darkness.’Let this Bhava (Siva), lowest of the gods, never, at the worship of the gods, receive any portion along with the gods Indra, Upendra (Vishnu), and others’.

5.2. Uma’s perception of Shiva is of a different kind. It is non-judgmental absolute faith and intense love. There are no words to describe it otherwise. It obviously is unwise. But, that foolish wisdom is a precious gift of grace received in humility of mind and simplicity of heart; an un-bounded loving energy that transforms the world more effectively than the rhetoric. But, that rarely happens.

6.1. The Daksha – Shiva conflict is more along the traditional lines, It is between establishment and anti-establishment. It occurs in every generation and all the time. It is the conflict between normal learning and intuitional understanding; between the conventional point of view and the transcendental experience; and between the man of the world and the one who has cast off all concerns and obligations.

6.2. The Indian traditions, for some reason, have always regarded content-less intuitional understanding and recognition of ‘what Is’ as being far superior to belief systems or a schools of thought. Our ancients always asserted that the immediate experience ( sakshat aparoksha) which liberates is truly superior to  the  intellectual knowledge of scriptures, rites and rituals.  They explained it as the sort of experience that leads to the true understanding of the problems of being and becoming; that which aids to cross over all sorrows (shokasya param trayathi); and to realize one’s true identity. It is beyond the understanding of the intellect; it is experience (we shall return to this theme a little later).

6.3. The Daksha –Shiva conflict enacts the theme of limited formal learning giving place to expansive intuitional understanding. This theme manifests in life, in all ages, in various forms. The ego fears for its death, so it refuses to surrender to the heart. But, it eventually does give in.  The old sage Parashara wryly remarks “in every age Daksha and the rest are born and are again destroyed.”

6.4. The emergence of Virabhadra as Shiva’s instrument for destruction of Daksha’s small ’ego’ and for awakening of true understanding in him occurs when Daksha was born as the son of Prachetas and Marisha; and was designated as Prajapathi in age of Vaivasvata Manu.

Daksha yajna

7.1. The performance of the magnificent and most elaborate Brahaspathi – savana – yajna by Daksha Prajapathi must have been a highly significant event in the very ancient past. The Daksha story became a ground for fertile epic imagination. Countless versions of the event were described elaborately in various Puranas, epics and folk legends; each version, of course, bending the event to champion its own pet theme.

By all accounts, ‘Daksha’s sacrifice’ shook the old world and brought in a new world order. Shorn of prejudices and rhetoric, the legend indicates that Rudra-Shiva an unorthodox god stormed his way into the world of established order, secured there a prominent undisputed status among all gods and claimed a fair share of esteem and oblations that were due to him. It also amply demonstrates the futility and irrelevance of mere scriptural learning, rituals and sacrifices; and upholds the way of right-understanding as the means to liberation from all sorrows.

7.2. But the germ of the story seems to be in the Taittiriya Samhita(2.6.8) , where the gods, excluded Rudra from a sacrifice; and he pierced the sacrifice with an arrow; thereafter a ‘well offered yajna (svista)’ was submitted to Rudra. Gopatha Brahmana too carries a similar story where Prajapathi deprived Rudra of his share in the Yajna; then Rudra pierced the Yajna (prasitra) and gained his share. In these brief references, there is no mention of Daksha by name; and Rudra gains his share of the Yajna by force. There, of course, is no Virabhadra.

7.3. There is another reference to Shiva and Daksha in Ramayana. The King Janaka describes the great bow Shiva Dhanus as the one wielded by Shiva when he threatened to destroy Daksha’s Yajna    because Devas had not offered Shiva a portion of the oblations. In this version of the legend also there is no mention of Rudra commissioning Virabhadra, or anyone else, to destroy the sacrifice or put the gods to flight. He is simply said to wound the gods with his bow.

8.1. All these references indicate that Shiva ( it is not clear if he was the same as the Rudra of the Rig Veda) who perhaps was  at the periphery was determined to break into the world of Vedic rituals , to be recognized as one of the major gods and to secure a fair portion of the Yajna because of the esteem associated with it.

8.2. The later epic –poets strung together these references; and spun amazingly elaborate and divergent tales around Shiva – Daksha Prajapathi conflict. The various Puranas were structured, basically, in two levels. One, Daksha and Shiva were projected as two opposite poles in the society; Daksha representing the establishment and Shiva the anti – establishment and everything that Daksha hated.

Uma the Devi was the gracious link of love that connected the two opposing worlds.

The other was the determination of the Devas to continue to keep Shiva out of the Vedic fold and to refuse him recognition within its orthodox framework by denying him a share of the Yajna; and Shiva’s repeated, determined and forceful efforts to secure the esteem which he thought was due to him. He does eventually succeed not merely in gaining acceptance but also in becoming the premier god in the Vedic pantheon revered with fair share of the Yajna oblations. Along with that, the Pashupathas stood to gain some   recognition within the Vedic fold, though it was conceded very reluctantly.

8.3. In addition, two other minor themes run through the narrations: One is the element of Shiva –Vishnu rivalry; and the other is the efforts of the Shaktha cult to use the events at Daksha-yajna in order to relate the origins of its Shakthi peethas and to base its legends.

8.4. There is however a dichotomy in these narrations; and it is not adequately explained. The followers of Shiva, mainly the Pashupathas, did not seem to have faith or respect for the Vedic rituals and their efficacy. Yet, they fight very hard, even by violence, to secure their leader a fair share in the Yajna and to see him established in the hierarchy of the Devas. And, eventually they agreed to become a part of the very Yajna which they set out to destroy.

8.5. In any case, several Puranas together have  woven a very complicated  ( at times confusing ) maze of  stories  involving assumed traditional proprieties, their alleged breach, disputed claims, divided loyalties and prejudices for and against Shiva or Vishnu; and, an undecided stand on the efficacy of Vedic rituals.

Narrations in Vayu Purana

9.1. Of the several versions of the Daksha Yajna, the narrations in Vayu Purana, perhaps the oldest of the extant puranas and in Mahabharata are restrained and comparatively brief. They describe, in substance, the waste of food and drinks stored for the Yajna and the burning of the Yajna.  Here, Devi is presented, without a preamble, as Parvathi or Uma daughter of Himavat (Uma Haimavathi) by Menaka or Mena .In this version she is not related to Daksha; she does not also visit the Yajna; and she does not die (out of grief at the insult directed at her husband).There are no references in these versions to the previous conflicts or the enmity that existed between Daksha and Shiva. Here, Shiva’s anger is directed not so much against Daksha as against the unfair arrangement devised by the Devas to deprive him of a share of the Yajna. He wills Yajna to be disrupted; but he does not command Virabhadra to kill Daksha. Shiva left to himself, perhaps, would have accepted the position as it were but for Devi who felt slighted and did not want to see her husband belittled by other gods.

9.2. Here, Uma is terribly unhappy that her husband is not invited to a great Yajna where all other gods participate joyously. And she anxiously enquires why he does not proceed to the Yajna; what holds him back? Mahadeva replied ‘This is the contrivance that in all sacrifices no portion should be assigned to me’. Devi is filled with ‘deep sorrow and trembling’ and is hardly able to restrain as her husband ‘of unsurpassable splendour, glory and power’ is excluded from share of oblations. Then, after prodding from Parvathi, Shiva says “O queen of the gods, behold whom I shall create for the purpose of claiming my share of the oblation in the yajna”.

10.1. He then creates Virabhadra from his mouth .In these versions; there is no beheading of either the Yajna who assumed the form of a deer or of Daksha. There is also no mention of beating up and mutilating various gods and sages assembled at the Yajna. Daksha at the end realizes his folly and submits to Shiva who pardons and grants him salvation. Yajna is concluded successfully. All ends well.

Lets us briefly go over the narrations as provided in Vayu Purana  and Mahabharata- Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva.[ The following is extracted from  Prof.Wilson’s   translation of Vayu-Purana ] We can later have a brief look at the variations of the legend  as depicted in other Puranas.

Virabhadra

10.2. “ Having spoken thus to his beloved the mighty Mahadeva created out of his mouth a most magnificent and frightening being glowing like the fire of fate (kaala-agni); a divine being with thousand heads , thousand eyes , thousand feet , thousand arms , wielding a thousand clubs, thousand shafts ; holding the shankha , chakra, mace, bearing a blazing bow and battle axe; fierce and terrible shining with dreadful splendour; decorated with crescent moon; clothed in tiger skin; dripping with blood; having a capacious stomach and a vast mouth armed with sharp protruding formidable tusks; his tongue was lightening; his hands brandished thunderbolt; flames streamed from his hair; a necklace of pearls wound around his neck; a garland of flames descended from his breast; radiant with lustre he glowed brilliantly like the final-fire of destruction that consumes all existence.

Four tremendous tusks projected from his wide mouth extending from ear to ear; he was of vast bulk, vast strength a mighty war god and destroyer of universe and like a vast fig-tree in spread, shining like a hundred moons at once; fierce as the fire of love; sharp white teeth and mighty fierceness , vigour, activity and courage; glowing like a thousand fiery suns at the end of the world; like a thousand undimmed moons; in bulk like Himadri , Kailasa and Meru or Mandara with all its gleaming herbs ; bright as the sun at the end of ages; of irresistible power; beautiful aspects; irascible with lowered eyes and a countenance of burning sun; clothed in the hide of elephant and lion and girdle of snakes; wearing a turban on the head, moon in his brows.

10.3. Sometimes savage; sometimes benign; having a chaplet of flowers on his head; anointed with various fragrant perfumes adorned with variety of ornaments and many designs of jewels; wearing a heavy garland of karnikara flowers and rolling his eyes in rage.

Sometimes he danced wildly , sometimes he sang out aloud, sometimes he wept out uncontrollably; sometimes he spoke gently sweetly , meditated intensely; he was endowed with faculties of wisdom, dispassion , power, penance, truth, endurance , fortitude and self-knowledge.

10.4. Virabhadra of Rudra-manohara –rupa, of terrifying and the same time heart-warming form, born of Shiva’s potent mouth (Va.p.30.122) was thus like Purusha of Rig Veda of immense strength and splendour, a great being with a huge body the size of any mountain, ablaze and adorned with crescent moon.

10.5. His monstrous exterior disguised his true nature of vibrancy – full of wisdom, detachment, sovereignty, asceticism, truth, patientince, fortitude, lordship and self knowledge (Va.p.30.125-136).He greatly resembled Shiva whose emanation he was.

11.1. The mighty Virabhadra knelt down upon the ground in respect and raising his hands on to his head in reverence addressed Mahadeva “Sovereign of gods, Command me! What is it you desire me to do?” Mahadeva charged Virabhadra to “destroy the yajna of Daksha”

11.2. Then the powerful Virabhadra having heard of the pleasure of his Lord bowed down his head to the feet of his Master and jumping out like a lion loosed from shackles he rushed to despoil the Yajna of Daksha. The wrath of Devi took the form of the fearful Rudrakali. She accompanied Virabhadra with all her train to witness the destruction.

2.1. Virabhadra then created from the pores of his skin powerful demigods the Ganas the attenders on Rudra, of equal valour and strength, who poured out in hundreds and thousands. Then, a loud and confused clamour filled the air and heavens with dread. The mountains tottered , the earth shook, the winds roared wildly, the depths of the oceans were disturbed; the fires lost their radiance and the sun grew pale; the panels of the firmaments shone not; neither did the stars give light; Rishis  ceased their hymns; and gods and demons alike were muted; thick darkness enveloped the sky like blankets.

12.2. Virabhadra and his Ganas set out in chariots drawn by ten thousand lions. Among his bodyguards were Sixty-four groups of Yoginis, Shakhini, Dakhini, along with Bhutas, Pramathas (churn spirits) guhyaka (guardian of hidden treasures), Bhiravas, kshetrapalas and other types of spirits and fiends.

13.1. In the meantime, Dadhichi, one of the sages assembled at the Yajna is distressed when he learns that Rudra had not been invited. He queries Daksha, “Why do you not offer homage to the god who is the lord of life?” and remarks “The man who worships what ought not to be worshipped or pays not reverence where reverence is due , is guilty, most assuredly , of heinous sin”. To which, Daksha laughs and replies “I have already many Rudras present, armed with tridents, wearing braided hair, and existing in eleven forms. I recognize no other Mahadeva”. Dadhichi offended by Daksha’s reply walks out of the Yajna warning it would not be completed.

Destruction of the Yajna

14.1. Then the gloom emerged fearful and numerous hideous forms, shouting aloud frightening battle cries instantly broke and overturned the sacrificial altar and danced amidst the oblations. Running wildly hither and thither like hurricanes they tossed about the implements and vessels of the yajna. The piles of the wood and the beverages stocked for the Devas like little mountains; the rivers of milk; the banks of curds and butter; the sands of honey, buttermilk and sugar; the mounds of condiments and spices of every flavor; the undulating knolls of flesh and other vandals ; the mounds of celestial liquor , pastes and confections which had been prepared; these the spirits of wrath devoured with glee . Then falling upon the assembled Devas the vast and furious Rudras mocked and insulted the nymphs and quickly put an end to the Yajna.

14.2. His sacrifice being destroyed, Daksha overcome with terror and utterly broken in spirit fell upon the ground. The multitude of the assembled Devas in disarray cried out helplessly “O Rudras have pity on us thy servants; o lord dismiss thy anger”. They all pleaded “Declare who you are. Which Deva are you”.

Virabhadra shouted back “I am not a Deva or an Aditya; nor I come here for enjoyment; nor am I curious to see the various Devas. Know you all that I am here to destroy the despicable Yajna of Daksha; I am Virabhadra springing forth from the wrath of Rudra; Bhadra kali who sprang from the anger of Devi is sent here with her multitudes of spirits to destroy the yajna. Take refuge you all Devas and Rishis at the feet of Rudra the lord of Uma; f or better is the anger of Rudra than the blessing of the Devas (ymram Icrodho ‘pi devasya vara-danam na chanyatah)”.

14.3. Suppressing his vital airs – prana and apana- and taking a position of meditation, Daksha tried fixing his thoughts .Then god of gods, Mahadeva appeared out of the sacrificial altar resplendent as thousand suns , smiled upon him and said “Daksha your Yajna has been destroyed through the sacred knowledge. I am well pleased with you. What shall I do for you?”

14.4. Then Daksha frightened, distressed and alarmed fell on his four , his eyes suffused with tears and hands raised over his brows in reverence and submission pleaded with the mighty Lord ” If you are pleased with me , have mercy on me , confer me this boon, this is the blessing I beseech of you, all these provisions that have been prepared with much effort and time , which now have been eaten , drunken and destroyed by hosts may not have been prepared in vain”. “So be it” said the merciful lord. Whereupon the relieved Daksha fell upon the feet of Mahadeva and burst into hymns,  celebrating one thousand and eight names of the lord.”

…and thereafter

15.1. The story, though it highlights vandalism and destruction, it is, in essence, the glorification of Shiva as the Supreme Lord. He destroyed the sacrifice from which the Devas had excluded him; and having destroyed it he made it the whole again and won his share. After the destruction of the Yajna the Devas lost their creative power. It is said; the Devas did not fully understand Mahadeva the great god, ferocious and kind at the same time; ruthless at one time, kind and benevolent at another; a demon and an ascetic. That is the pristine nature of Shiva.

15.2. As the Devas praised Shiva they all Pashus were relieved of their bonds and Shiva became their Lord Pashupathi. He gave back to each god his of creative power and understanding (Varaha Purana 21.78-82;33,25-28; and Mbh .10.18.22-23) . The gods recognized Shiva as the lord of the knowledge that liberates – Pashupathi.

15.1. In substance, the event was primarily a solemn Vedic event to which all important persons of that age were invited. Daksha who performed the yajna appeared a follower of Vishnu; and obviously there were many others who were not. A participant, perhaps a follower of the Pashpatha School which dominated the mountain areas, points out the lapse in not inviting Shiva and suggests that could be rectified by more equitable representation. Daksha annoyed at that, spurns the suggestion. But eventually Daksha learns his lesson the hard way; and submits to the strength of the Pahupathas .It was the triumph of Pashpatha; but then thereafter they seemed to soften their stern stand.

15.2.  In one of the Versions of the event, Nandisvara, an ardent follower of Mahadeva very strongly condemns Vedic rituals as also those who believe in it : ” let him, from a desire of vulgar pleasures, practice the round of ceremonies, with an understanding degraded by Vedic prescriptions. Forgetting the nature of soul, with a mind which contemplates other things, let Daksha continue to exist in this world of  ceremonial ignorance. Let the enemies of Rudra whose minds are disturbed by the flowery words of the Veda, become deluded! Let those Brahmans, eating all sorts of food, professing knowledge and practicing austerities and ceremonies merely for subsistence, delighting in riches and in corporeal and sensual enjoyments, wander about as beggars! “

15.3. The sage Bhrigu  spokesperson of the orthodox who were present at the sacrifice launched a counter attack and cursed the Pashupathas : ‘Let those who practice the rites of Bhava (Mahadeva)  having lost their purity, deluded in understanding, wearing matted hair, and ashes and bones, let them undergo the initiation of Shiva, in which spirituous liquor is the deity ”. The Pashupathas that Bhrigu described might be the forerunner of the Naga Sadhus of all weird appearances who throng the Kumbha Mela.

6.1. As if to justify Brighu’s curse, the Pashupathas and various schools of Avadhutas emerged strongly after the Daksha –yajna episode. And, despite their heretical stand they gained acceptance within the Vedic traditions as the essence of the most sublime spiritual wisdom. For instance, the classical texts Avadhuta –GitaAstavakra -Gita and similar other texts celebrate the glory of one who has no use for social etiquette, not bound by any dharma, never knows any mantra in Vedic meter or any ritual; and having renounced all, he moves about naked, roams the earth freely like a child, like an intoxicated or like one possessed; perceives the Absolute, the All, within himself.

These extreme schools decried scriptural learning: There are no divine scriptures, no imperative religious practices; there are no gods, no classes or races of men, No stages of life, no superior or inferior; there’s nothing but Brahman, the supreme Reality. He is the embodiment of detachment and spiritual wisdom.

[ It is said; Pashupathas should be viewed as distinct from Kapalikas who practice extreme forms of Tantra. The Pashupathas are said to be inspired by wisdom and shun hideous ritual-practices.]

16.2. Shakthas who along with Pashupathas perhaps had strong presence in the mountain regions emerged stronger after the Daksha-yajna. The Daksha-Yajna  lore provided them a base for building their  legends and temple -chains of Shakthi Pithas .These legends grew rapidly ; and the Pithas associated with Devi’s organs and ornaments  soon grew from four to one hundred and eight. The lists of Shakthi Pithas varied from text to text and from region to region. And, eventually, Shakthas too moved into the inner circle of the tradition through various forms of Tantra and Sri Vidya; and laid claim in the Vedic rituals. Later, the cults of Shiva and Devi drew close to each other ; and their merger was symbolized by Shiva-Shakthi, Ardha-narishwara formed by two halves- one each of Shiva and Devi . On a metaphysical level it was the union of the active and passive principles in the universe.

Karaikkal Ammaiyar

17.1. A branch of the Pashupatha cult spread to the South India in its moderate form. It came to be celebrated as the sublime and mysterious Siddha tradition of South. The Siddha is one who has attained flawless identity with reality.

17.2. I cannot resist mentioning here the  remarkable Karaikkal Ammaiyar (sixth century) the forerunner of the Siddha tradition  in the South  and who  in the prime of her youth abandoned the respectable life of a traditional dutiful wife  and chose to embrace  extreme asceticism of unswerving devotion to Shiva in his terrible Bhairava form.

This amazing woman was born as Punitavathi into an affluent trading family in the coastal town of Karaikkal, Tamil Nadu. She had to give-up her home, hearth and husband because of rupture in her domestic life. Punitavathi rejected the social and domestic world of conventions and obligations. She then took shelter in the cremation ground as one of Shiva’s Gana, an adoring ghoulish attendant. Punitavathi beseeched Shiva to divest her of the burden of her flesh asking only that she watch him dance into eternity. It is said; a miracle occurred:  In place of the young woman stood an emaciated hag. She even began to look like an emaciated frightening attendant of Bhirava haunting the cremation ground. Known from henceforth as Mother of Karaikkal (Karaikkal Ammaiyar) she came to regard the cremation ground as the truly beautiful place of liberation and the ideal abode to dwell in peace with the Lord of Universe. From then on she wrote poetry in praise of Shiva.

The ground is damp with liquid marrow–
Skeletal ghouls with sunken eyes
jostle and elbow–
looking furtively around them
extinguishing the fires
with gleeful hearts
they eat half-burned corpses–
There, in that menacing forest
holding fire in his hand
dances our beautiful lord.

(Vidya Dehejia, Antal and Her Path of Love:  Poems of a Woman Saint from South India, 1990)

Seated Saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar Chola period, 12th century;Metropolitan Museum of Art

This image portrays her not as a fearsome figure but as a once-beautiful woman who has lost her flesh. Her calm, smiling face expresses her inner peace while she blissfully plays her cymbals and sings to the glory of Shiva.

17.3. Ammaiyar in her poetry asserts that to know Shiva, ones state in life or ones gender is irrelevant; but one should truly transcend the limitations of ordinary human awareness and should give up a life rooted in conventions, attachments and rituals.  She does not talk of temples, worship, rituals etc; and she criticizes those who vainly attempt to know Shiva through hallow rituals.

Liberation from cycle of rebirth and to attain the nature of Shiva is the aim of Shaiva-siddantha. Ammaiyar exhorts devotees to meditate in intense devotion   on Shiva the ultimate truth and the only means to salvation.

17.4. Through her powerful poetry, Karaikkal Ammaiyar proclaims that the horrific cremation ground is indeed the cosmos; and the terrifying form of Shiva performing his dance of destruction is really the most sublime and blissful expression  of the Lord. She makes the terrible look beautiful. Ammiyar asks one to go  beyond terror and revulsion associated with the dreadful cremation ground ;  to regard it  as the theater of Shiva’s dance of life and death ;  and as  the sacred grove of liberation from this world. It is where one overcomes fear of death and the fear of losing attachments.   She explains cremation ground as the state of one’s mind, as the space in ones heart where the ego and ignorance are burnt to ashes over which Shiva dances in delight the dance of destruction. She urges the seeker to revere Shiva as the beautiful embodiment of the rhythm of life, as the destroyer of our illusions, as the conqueror of death, as pure consciousness and the ultimate sovereign of the universe.

In the cemetery where you hear crackling noises
And the white pearls fall out of the tall bamboo,
The ghouls with frizzy hair and drooping bodies,
Shouting with wide-open mouths,
Come together and feast on the corpses.
 
In the big, threatening cremation ground,
When The Lord dances,
The Daughter of the Mountain watches Him,
In astonishment.
 (Tiruvalankattu mutta tirupatikam, 2.8)

 

17.5. Kariakkal Ammaiyar’s poetry is filled with vivid images of Shiva as the heroic god whose grace rescues his devotees from sorrows of the world. Bones are a central liberation motif in Karaikkal Ammaiyar’s poetry. Shiva adorns himself with a garland of bones he finds in the cremation ground.

Ghouls with flaming mouths and rolling, fiery eyes,

Going around, doing the tunankai dance,
Running and dancing in the terrifying forest,
Draw out a burning corpse from the fire and eat the flesh

17.6. Karaikkal Ammaiyar’s extreme asceticism (Pashupatha) portrays the state where the seekers strived, in body and spirit, to be Shiva the terrible Bhairava residing   in the cremation ground. Ammaiyar’s way of life and her teachings represent the early phase of Tamil Shaiva tradition before it transformed into a temple-based orthodoxy. It is said; because of its extreme views, Karaikkal Ammaiyar’s poetry is not normally sung in Shiva temples today along with the devotional hymns of the Tevaram poets.

Think of our Lord all the time

One who shines like a leaping golden flame;
With complexion of setting sun and of a smoldering fire.
Think of Our Father with the gleaming throat,
Who wanders around with the strong ghouls
His lotus-like body smeared with ash and garlanded with
Snakes and bones of others.
Happily Dances at night in the fire
With the kalal jangling and the anklets tinkling
His body cool with Ganga on his head,
A moonbeam in his long matted hair
A radiant flame in his beautiful hand
 His streaming hair flying in all eight directions.
 
All those who do not understand that he is the real Truth,
Have seen only his ghoul form.
But those who take refuge in him with wisdom
Will not be born here in this world in a body with bones.

[For more on Karaikkal Ammiaiyar, please read The Anatomy of Devotion: The Life and Poetry of Karaikkal Ammaiyar   by Professor Elaine Craddock; Department of Religion and Philosophy; Southwestern University, TX]

 

The other Versions of Daksha Yajna legend

 

18.1. As mentioned earlier, the legend as narrated in Vayu Purana is simpler and more restrained. The story however gets complicated and more violent in other Puranas.  For instance, in Kurma Purana, Sati is described as the daughter of Daksha prajapathi who is unhappy with Shiva his son-in-law because Daksha thought Shiva did not offer him the respect he deserved. And when Sati his daughter visits him next, Daksha abuses Shiva and turns Sati out of his house. Sati in deep sorrow and anguish gives up her life. Shiva on hearing the horrible news curses Daksha. Shiva then did penance and obtained Sati again reborn as Parvathi daughter of Parvatha-raja. She also undertook penance to obtain Shiva as her husband. It is in her next birth that the much talked about Yajna takes place. The Linga, Matsya, Skanda, Padma and Bhagavatha puranas mention of disputes between the daughter and her father in greater detail and say that Sati put an end to herself out of devotion and love to her husband.

It is only in Kasi kanda, a long poem, forming a part of the Skanda Purana that Sati throws herself into fire. This could be an improvement over Vayu purana and other versions.

18.2. The exploits of Virabhadra and his Ganas are more particularly described in the Linga, Skanda and Bhagavata puranas. Here, on hearing of the death of Sati, Shiva enraged produced out his wrath a terrible form of Virabhadra and asked him to destroy Daksha’s Yajna. Bhagavata Purana adds a more picturesque creation of Virabhadra (4.5.3).Shiva pulls out locks of matted hair and strikes against the mountain rocks. However, In Kurma purana it is the Devi who requests Shiva to create Virabhadra. According to Mahabharata, Virabhadra was born out of Shiva’s brow (Mbh.12.274.36-38)

18.3. The destruction and violence are particularly described in these texts.  Indra is knocked down and trampled upon; Yama has his shaft broken ; Saraswathi and Maitra have their noses cutoff ; Mitra or Bhaga has his eyes pulled out; Pusan has his teeth thrust down his throat ;Chandra is pummeled; Agni’s hands are cut off ;Bhrigu loses his beard ;the Brahmanas are pelted with stone; Prajapathi is beaten up; and all Devas and semi Devas run through the swords, struck with trident or pierced with arrows.

Harivamsa mentions that the Ganas made a hideous clamour and others furiously shouted, when Yajna began to fly up to heavens in the shape of a deer; and Virabhadra cut of its head which then settled in the heavens as the star Mriga-shira.

Shiva Purana mentions that Virabhadra pulled out Daksha who was hiding behind the altar, cut off his head and threw it into the sacrificial fire pit, the last sacrificial offering (Sp.2.2.37-61).Another version mentions that Virabhadra gave the severed head to Mahakali who played with it. Later, it is said, at Shiva’s instructions the gods put the head of the sacrificial goat on the decapitated body of Daksha. Shiva glanced at the goat head and Daksha came alive, as if waking from a deep sleep.

In another version Daksha’s sacrifice was destroyed by Shiva himself; and he danced the dance of death in the evening (Ns.4.234)

18.4. The Vayu Purana does not mention of the conflict between Shiva and Vishnu or the fight of Vishnu with Virabhadra .In the Linga purana , Vishnu’s head is severed and his head is thrown into the sky. The Kurma purana is less irreverent towards Vishnu; it mentions about Vishnu’s conflict with Virabhadra but Brahma intervenes and separates the contestants. The Kasi Kanda of the Skanda Purana describes Vishnu as defeated and at the mercy of Virabhadra .But Virabhadra is directed from heavens not to destroy Vishnu .

According to Hari Vamsa , a fight ensued between Vishnu and Shiva during which Vishnu grasped Shiva’s throat and caused black rings marks (suggesting it was not by poision he consumed after the churning of the ocean).

18.5. In every version of the legend a  reconciliation takes place between Daksha and Shiva at the end. Daksha free from malice invites Shiva to preside over the Yajna and sings his praise. But each Purana bends the Daksha Yajna legend to suit its own pet theme and to further its cause.

Virabhadra Iconography

19.1. Virabhadra is described as great warrior and one the trusted generals of Shiva. He is also the protector of sages. The puranas attribute to Virabhadra number of exploits against demons and the benevolent acts performed for protection of the holy ones. As an auspicious god, Virabhadra is worshipped greatly in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra regions where numbers of temples are dedicated to Virabhadra.

19.2. The images of Virabhadra appear in the temples of ninth and tenth centuries   sculpted in the deva koshta (niches) figures of gods on the temple walls. In the earlier period they appear as four armed images. And later they expand into eight armed or  ten armed images of Virabhadra holding khadga, shula, parashu, dhamaru, bow and arrow etc .

19.3. The cult of Virabhadra – the ferocious and formidable aspect of Shiva- was popular among the warriors of the Vijaynagar period. Virabhadra was the mascot, the war- cry and the inspiration of the armies and fighting forces of Vijaynagar.The Virabhadra temples proliferated in the Vijayanagar region mainly in Karnataka, Andhra and southern parts of Maharashtra.

20.1. The awe-inspiring form of Virabhadra is described in various Puranas narrating the tale of Daksha Yajna. His description narrated in Vayu Purana is highly picturesque (as can be seen from the earlier paragraphs).The Shilpa – texts too provide the iconographic features of Virabhadra. But, these relate to worship-worthy images installed in temples. Let’s briefly see a couple of such details.

20.2. The Silpasangraha mentions three varieties of Vlrabhadra (viz. sattva, tamasa and rajasa) with two, four or eight arms. All are dark in color and fierce looking. The Seated figures of Vlrabhadra are called Yoga-Vlra, his standing figures, Bhoga- Vlra and those in a walking posture, Vlra-Vira.

In the first, Vlrabhadra holds a sword and shield and is seated  in sukhasana with one leg folded on the pedestal and the other hanging down.

In the second posture he exhibits the bow and arrow, sword and khetaka. On the leg is worn the anklet of heroes. The head is adorned with a crown, in the middle of which is represented a linga. A garland of skulls-munda mala –  decorates the neck. On the right side is the image of Daksha with folded arms.

In the Vira- Vlra figures, Vlrabhadra holds the trident (shula), sword (khadga), arrow (bana) and the deer (mriga) on the right side and the skull (kapala), shield (khetaka), bow (dhanus) and the goad (gadha) on the left.

In the form of Shiva as Dakshinamurti ,Bhikshatanamurti or Virabhadra , he is depicted as a wandering mandicant.

In his Digambara Form, his body is adorned with many snakes  ( bhujanga-gana-bhushana ) and his third eye is awesome. His eye brows are knit in anger and his hair is spread out  like flames ( Jvala-kesa ). His body is smeared with the and he carries a Gada ( Club ) and Trishula ( Trident ).

In Sapta-Matrka Panels, Virabhadra is in the right end and Ganapathi is in the left end flanking the Seven Mother Goddesses in between.

Avarana krama for Maha prasada Vidya described in the Krama Tantra (a tantra of the Shaiva School) mentions in its tenth avarana (enclosure) various forms of Virabhadra: Chaturbhuja Virabhadra; Ashtabhuja Virabhadra; Dashabhuja Virabhadra; Rana Virabhadra; Shodashabhuja Virabhadra; Dwatrimshadbhuja Virabhadra; Aghora Virabhadra

20.3. The Pancharatragama describes Vlrabhadra as dark in color, having three eyes and holding in- his four arms a sword, arrow, bow and club.He wears a garland of skulls and has sandals on his feet. A yellow garment is tied round his loins.

20.4. Karanagama  describes Virabhadra as one who redeems our Sins, relieves all our sufferings, and mentions  that the image of Virabhadra-murti should have four arms, three eyes, head covered with unruly mass of hair (jata-bhara) emitting flashes of lightening and fire, side tusks, wearing garlands of skulls, bells and scorpions. His face should be red blazing like fire, with an angry and fearsome countenance.His neck is blue.  A snake should form his yajnopavitha .He should be  adorned with beautiful anklets, heavy footwear. He should be dressed in tight shorts – a sort of knickers. His four hands should carry a broad sword (khadga), shield (khetaka), the bow (dhanus) and arrows (bana).

20.5. Sritattvanidhi,an amazing iconographic treatise of the 19th century commissioned by the then Maharaja of Mysore Sri Krisharaja Wodeyar III (1794 – 1868) mentions that Virabhadra-murti should have four arms, three eyes, terrifying face with fierce side tusks.He should hold in his right hands a broadsword (khadga) and an arrow (bana); and in his left a bow (dhanus) and a mace (gadha).He should be adorned with garlands of skulls, costumes of a warrior and thick footwear. On to the  left of Virabhadra a figure of Bhadra Kali should be depicted. And, on his right a figure of Daksha with a goat-head with horns should be standing with folded hands (anjali –mudra).

20.6. Virabhadra is also depicted with ten arms ; three of the five arms on the right holding an arrow (bana), axe (parashu) and sword (khadga) .In his hands on the left he holds a mace (musala), a bow (dhanus),a lasso (pasha) , a shield (khetaka) and another long sword.The Shilparatna describes him as having eight hands and riding on vetala  (a demon) surrounded by his ganas (nija gana sahita).His complexion is white and is fearsome.   His disheveled hair is flying like wild fire; and he is clad in tiger skin. He stamps on Daksha symbolizing suppression of dogma and ignorance.

Dhyana-Shloka of Virabhadra

21. In the Dhyana shlokas of Virabhadra is virtually the Shiva. He is described as having white complexion, holding a mriga (deer), veena etc and adorned with snakes.

 Following are some of such Dhyana slokas.

21.1. Svethangam Sesha Bhushangam Khadga Veena dharam Subham /
Drutakrishnamrigam veeram Shaardhoolajidhavasam //
Arthonmeelita Netram dham Trinetramcha Jadataram /
Suganthi Pushpamalam Sri Veerabhadram Namamyaham //

I worship the White complexioned Virabhadra, with half closed eyes along with the third eye in his forehead, his matted hair locked as Jatamakuta. He is   adorned with snake- ornaments, tiger skin and garlands of fragrant flowers; holding  an  antelope.

21.2. Shannetram Trimugam Bheemam Kalamegha Samaprabham /
Udharsijvalanam Neelaghatram Shatbhahu Shobinam //
Banapatrasi Soolekshu Chapa Khadga dharam Subham /
Bhoothapretadhi Dhamanm dushtarati vinasanam /
Meru vasam Mahesam tam Veerabhadram Namamyaham //

I worship the Black complexioned Virabhadra in a Fierce form with three faces, six eyes, his hair-locks flaming as fire. His six arms hold Banapatra (arrow-case), sword, trishula, bow, arrow; and he blesses all who worship him. He tames and controls Bhutas and Pretas (demons and goblins), and destroys the evil and dwells forever in the Hill of Meru.

21.3  Chaturbhujam trinetram cha Jatamakuta manditham /
Saravabharana samyuktham swethavarnam vrushadvjam //
Soolam cha abhaya Hastham cha dakshinedhu karatvayam
Gadha varadha hastham cha Vama parshvey karathvayam //
Swetha Padmasanasoonam Vatavriksha Samasritam /
Veerabhadram Ithikyadam Brahmi roopam dhadha shrnu //

(Dhyana-Shloka  in Amsumadbeda-agama)

I worship the White complexioned Lord Virabhadra with four arms, three eyes, Jatamakutam, adorned with ornaments  , sporting a flag carrying a nandi image .In his right he holds  Trisula and gestures  Abhaya mudra ; and in his left he has a gadha and gestures Varadha mudra. He is sitting under the vata Tree, on a White Lotus seat…

21.4. Marakata Manineelam Kinginee Jalamaalam /
Prakasita Mugameesam Bhanu Soma-Aagni Netram ://
Hariharamasikedatraya Kradhandakra Hastham /
Vidhudharam ahi Bhusham Veerbhadram Namami : //

I worship Lord Veerabhadra, of Blue-Black complexion, in a fierce looking form of Shiva with the Sun, Moon and Agni as three eyes representing the Vibhuti of both Shiva and Vishnu,  wearing the crescent Moon in his hair , Serpent garlands , ornaments  of bells, and holding the sword, shield and club.

21.5. Akasha-Virabhadra Mantra :-

Kalarudra Rushihi /Jagadhee Chandaha /Veerabhadra Devata / Vam Beejam / Hoom Shakthihi /

21.6. Mula Mantra:

O Namo Veerabhadraya Vairi Vamsha Nivinasaya Sarvaloka Bayankaraya Beema Veshaya Hoom Phat Vijaya Vijaya Hreem Hoom Phat Svaha ׀

Veerabhadra

I bow down to Lord Virabhadra who is as fierce as Yama at the end of Kalpa

and whose terrible laughter causes the worlds to tremble,

for destroying my fears in crossing the terrible ocean of sorrows

— Amogha Sadashiva kavacha

 

References and sources

The original Daksha saga by Klaus Klostermaier

The Presence of Siva  By Stella Kramrisch

Genealogy of the South-Indian gods: a manual of the mythology and religion … By Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg,

The Horse-sacrifice of the Prajapati Daksha Kisari Mohan Ganguli  Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCLXXXIV.The Mahabharata  translated by

The Anatomy of Devotion: The Life and Poetry of Karaikkal Ammaiyar

Professor Elaine Craddock; Department of Religion and PhilosophySouthwestern University, TX

http://chinthamani-griha.blogspot.com/2007/01/veera-bhadra-murthy.html

All images are from internet 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Iconography, Indian Philosophy

 

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The Rudras Eleven

 

Namaste! Thank you for the wonderful note on Dvarapalas. Can I ask you for one more? Could you please give me info – texts, descriptions or images – of 11 forms of Rudra? I am artist, I need to draw and paint them, but I don’t know how they look. Thank you. Atma-Raga

Dear Atma-Raga, Welcome. Thank you for asking. This again is an interesting question ; and is  a tough one to answer. It needs a rather lengthy explanation.  But at the end, I fear, it might leave you a bit disappointed. There are various versions of the origin of Rudra, etymology of the term, types of Rudras, their names, attributes and their iconographic representations. It is virtually impossible to detail all the versions in a blog. One has therefore, by sheer necessity, to be very selective. That might not please all or answer all questions. Further, the descriptions of the features of the Rudras in various texts are not uniform. And, in many cases they are incomplete too.

In any case, please read on…

 May I suggest you  listen to  Rudram while you read?,  You may  Please   select rudra namakam chamakam    by Sri M.N. Venkata Sastry   on  http://www.vedamantram.com/

A. Rudra

Rudra in Vedas

1.1. The earliest mentions of Rudra occur in the Rig Veda, where three entire hymns are devoted to him.

It is said that there are as many as seventy-five references to Rudra in the Rig-Veda Samhita. Most of those occur in the First and the Second and Books.

[For details please see Notes below@]

Rudra is a divinity of the mid-sphere

2.1. Rig Veda mentions a set of thirty-three deities. According to Yaska-charya, the thirty-three gods are divided equally in three different planes of existence namely the celestial plane (dyuloka) the intermediate region (antarikshaloka) and the terrestrial region (bhurloka) each plane having eleven gods.

There is however a slight variation among the different traditions in naming the thirty-three deities ( trayastrimsati koti ).  According to the Shatapatha Brahmana, these thirty-three deities include eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, Dyaus, and Prithvi. While, Yaska-charya mentions: eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas and two Asvinis.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the Rishi Yajnavalkya at one stage says “The eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati are the thirty-three gods”.

2.2. In Rig Veda, Rudra is one of the intermediate level gods (antariksha devata). He is a divinity of the subtle world, the sphere of space, the mid sphere between the he spheres of  earth and the Sun (Rig Veda 5.3).

Rudra is the intermediary between physical elements and the intellect.

Rudra (the howling one) as a divinity associated with winds represents life-breath (prana-vayu). Rudra is thus the principles of life.

Rudra is thus a deity of the intermediate stage. He presides over the second ritual of sacrifice, the mid-day offering, the second period of man’s life (say from 24 to 50).

[ Another interesting feature is that in the hymns of the Rig-Veda specially devoted to Rudra (RV: 1.114;2.33; and 7.46)  the proper name of Rudra never appears either in the beginning or at  the end of the Pada  ; but , it is always hidden in the middle , often suggested by its sound -hints.

For example; the hymn 2.33 contains fifteen instances of Rudra ( once in each stanza) ; but, none at the beginning or the end of the Pada (line). Let’s say, the first Pada of 2.33.1 commences with the address Pitar_Marutam (Father of Maruts). In the fourth Pada of the same stanza the name ‘Rudra’ is hidden between the noun Praja (Praja-yemathi Rudra Praja-bhih) meaning:  ‘ we want to be reborn  O Rudra in our children.’ Similarly, in stanza 2.033. 4a: ma tva Rudra cukrudhamanamobhir ma duÍeuta vaÍabha ma sahat (Let us not anger thee, O Rudra, with our improper praise …)  is hidden in the middle. ]

The howler

3.1.Yajnavalkya, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, queries :  Katame  rudra  iti:   “Who are the Rudras?” ; and , then  goes on to explain “The ten senses and the mind make eleven. These are the Rudras.””When the senses and the mind leave the body, they make one cry in anguish.” While a person is alive, these eleven: the senses and the mind, subject the individual to their demands, and make him cry in agony if he violates their laws.

Dasame puruse prana atma-ekadashah te yadasmath sariram martyad utkranta-mantyatha rodhayanti tad yad rodhayanti tasmad Rudra iti – Br.Up: 3.9.4

Chandogya Upanishad also calls Rudra the howler or the red one as  Prana , the cause of tears, because : ”verily, the vital breaths are the cause of the tears, for on departing they cause everyone to lament in tears” (Chandogya Upanishad 3.16.9).

Prana vava Rudra ete hidam sarvam rodayanti

B.Etymology

4.1. The etymology of the word Rudra is interpreted variously; and at times is confusing. Its etymology has taken scholars into all sorts of wild chase.

Rudra, in Rig-Veda, is a god of the storm, the wind, and the hunt. His distinctive characteristics are his fierce weapons and his medicinal powers. He is the ‘archer’ (sarva – sarv – which means ‘to injure’ or ‘to kill’), the ‘bowman’ (dhanvin) armed with fast-flying arrows (ashu – bana-hastha).

The name Rudra has been translated as ‘roarer’, ‘howler’, ‘wild one’, ‘the fierce god’ and ‘terrible’. The alternate etymology suggested as derived from the root rud is: ‘to be Red, Brilliant’, ‘to be ruddy’ or ‘to shine’. Rudra is sometimes identified with the god of fire-Agni.

Rudra is also used both as a name of Shiva, synonymous with Bhava, Sarva, Ugra and Mahadeva.

Rudra also means ‘Father of the Maruts’ (RV 2.33.1); and collectively “the Rudras” is used to mean ‘the sons of Rudra’ or the Maruts.

According to a commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama (ascribed to Sri Sankara?)  , Rudra means ‘One who makes all beings cry at the time of cosmic dissolution’. Alternatively, Rudra means ‘One who gives speech’. Rudra also means ‘one who drives away sorrows’. And , finally Rudra relieves  one of worldly woes (Kapardin)

There are also other sublime interpretations of the term Rudra.  It is said:

– Rudra is one who dispels (Dravayati)   illusions or maladies (Rujum) through his light (Ru).

– Rudra is one towards whom all the words of praise (Ru) are directed (Draghatau)

– Rudra is one who bestows (Rati dadati) knowledge (Rut) – Rut jnanam rati dadati iti Rudrah

In other contexts, Rudra can simply mean ‘the number eleven’.

C. Rudra in the Rig-Veda Samhita is a highly complex divine character

5.1.  Rudra in the Rig-Veda Samhita is a highly complex divine character with contradictory qualities; and yet harmonizing within himself all contradictions.

(I) The magnificent verses composed by the Rishi Grisamada (RV. 2.33) hails the merciful (jalasa) Rudra as the ‘best of all the physicians (bheajebhi, bheshaja shiromani ) –Vaidyanatha (RV 2.33.4).  He is said to possesses healing remedies – jalasa-beshaja (RV 1.43.4); and, thousand medicines and strengthening balms (jálāabheajam) – (RV 7.46.3). 

His gracious hand bestows health and comfort.

Prayers are submitted to Rudra : “Do thou with strengthening balms incite our heroes”. He is requested not to afflict children, men and cattle with disease (RV 7.46.2); and , to keep villages free of illness (RV 1.114.1). 

Rishi Grisamada adores Rudra as the blissful god of all created beings, the mightiest of the mighty who rests in his own glory. In him, the sovereign (Isana) of this world; the power of divinity (Asurya) is inherent; and, from him that power never departs. The hymns beseech Rudra to ‘transport us over miseries to well-being’. He prays to Rudra: ‘As one who finds shade in blazing sun, may I , unharmed, win the grace of Rudra ‘ (RV.2.33.6)

Rudra is also Shiva the auspicious one who is easily pleased (Ashutosha) with simple adulation. He is also Prachetasa (exceedingly wise); Midustama (the highest of all); and Ishana (the overlord).  Rudra is also Svayambhu (self-generated– RV.7.84.4 –  and Trayambaka  (three eyed like the Sun or as having three mothers) – RV.7.59.19.  

Rudra is known for his wealth.  He is also associated with Aditya (sun) and Agni. He is addressed as the thousand-eyed one (saharaksha) holding thunderbolts. He is associated with the dramatic fierceness of the thunderstorm and lightening which strike at men and cattle, but which through the rain brings forth peace and plenty.

As for the fierce power of the Rudra , all the four hymns mention it; and pray to Rudra not to inflict his wrath upon the humans and the animals ; and , at other times requesting Rudra to ward off evil and to provide protection against wicked forces. . In a hymn (7.46), Rishi Vasistha admires the wise and compassionate Rudra wielding a firm bow and swift arrows to chasten the unrighteous. Thus, even while Rudra is ferocious, he acts as the upholder of the moral order ; and the protector of the good .

(II). And, Rudra is also “fierce like a formidable wild beast” (RV 2.33.11).     He is associated with  thunderstorm and lightening . He is fierce  Goghana,  Purushagna  and  Kasyad-vira – RV. 1.114.10 – (slayer of animals and men; and lord valiant heroes).  He is not purely benefic like other Rig Vedic gods, but he is not malevolent either. Rudra is thus regarded with a kind of cringing fear and respect . He punishes and at the same time he rescues his devotees from trouble. One appeals to “mighty Rudra, the god with braided hair (kapardin)” for mercy and protection (RV 1.114).

Rudras as a group

6.1. Rudra is not merely the proper name of a deity; but it also is one that refers to a collection of Rudras ( Rudra-gana) . And, the Rudra-s as a group also signified a powerful host (Gana) of destructive deities often associated with storms (Marut). The Rudra-s represented not only the awesome, destructive fury of the tempest but also the benevolence of fertility, healing and welfare.

6.2. The  collective form , the Rudra-s , had two aspects; the fierce , terrible aspects(ugra) ; and the gentle , benevolent aspects (sowmya) – (dve tanu tasya devasya).

Thus, Rudra is a fierce deity of stormy winds, deafening thunderbolts, devastating floods and raging epidemics. Rudra is also benevolent; he is wealthy; he reassures the frightened ones and cures deceases.

D. The glory and splendor of the Rudra

7.1. The Rig Veda sings the glory and splendor of the Rudra. The Rig-Veda Samhita has four hymns (RV.1.43; 1.114; 2.33; and 7.46) comprising 39 verses dedicated to the Rudra.

In the hymns of the Rig-Veda, Rudra  appears in innumerable forms and colors (puru-rupa). Rudra is depicted as the ever youthful, most powerful, malevolent and terrifying deity , Lord of thunderstorms and lightning, presiding over the entire existence. Rudra who is endowed with strong arms, lustrous body decorated with ornaments and having flowing golden hair is said to be brown or tawny (Bablusha) or blue (Neela) in complexion; shining like sun and glittering like gold is endowed with sturdy limbs (vajra-bahu), charming lips . And, he is adorned with beautiful ornaments such as necklaces (nishika) of dazzling brilliance; and is crowned with mop of braided locks of hair (Kaparin). 

Rudra Blue

Rudra is described as fierce; armed with the mighty bow (pinaka), and a quiver holding unending array of arrows and missiles which are terrifyingly swift and penetrating. His fast-flying arrows, ‘brilliant shafts run about the heaven and the earth’ (RV 7.46.3).

Pinaka the powerful, sturdy bow with a wide span, bending along the course of the Sun , is said to be  the symbol of Rudra, the Isana (Lord); and,  his supremacy over all others. In the later texts, Pinaka is also known as Ajagava, the southern part of the Sun’s path. (Ajagava is also explained as a bow made of the horns of goats.)

Oh, the devoted to the devotees, always travelling in the chariot, ever young, fierce like the lion, vanquisher of the enemies, May the devotees pray to you. May you make us happy. May your armies fight against the enemies and be merciful towards us. There is none that matches him in strength. He is the Ishana the Master of the world; he is the father of worlds (Bhuvanasya pitaram).He commands men and entrusts tasks. He sets things in motion and makes flow like a river. He is medhavi, intelligent and the compassionate one. He is praised as midvah, for his generosity. As he is an auspicious one, he is called Shiva. (RV: 2-33-7; 6-49-10; 7-46-2)

Stomam vo adya rudraya shikvase I Kshaatadiraya namasa didistana…| Yebhih Shivah svavam yevayabhihi I  Divaha sishakti svayasha nikamabhihi.||  (RV: 10-92-9)

7.2. The Rig Veda sings the glory and splendor of the Rudra:

Chief of all born art thou in glory, Rudra, armed with the thunder, mightiest of the mighty (2.33.03)

To him the strong, great, tawny (Bhabru Varna), fair-complexioned, I utter forth a mighty hymn of praises. We serve the brilliant God with adorations, we glorify, the splendid name of Rudra.(2.33.08)

With firm limbs, multiform, the strong, the tawny adorns himself with bright gold decorations: The strength of Godhead never departs from Rudra, him who is Sovereign of this world, the mighty.(2.33.09)

Worthy, thou carry thy bow and arrows, worthy, thy many hued and honoured necklaces.

Worthy, thou cut here each fiend to pieces: a mightier than thou there is not, Rudra.(2.33. 10)

Praise him the chariot-borne, the young, the famous, fierce, slaying like a dread beast of the forest (2.33.11).

E. Father of the Maruts

8.1. Rudra is the father of Maruts the “storm gods”; hence they are called Rudriya. They are the deities who bring havoc, associated with the atmosphere The Maruts (immortals) are described as restless troops of flashy young men, transporting in space the hordes young warriors called martyus (mortals)

Maruts are war-minded close knit bunch of exuberant youth. “They have iron teeth, roam like lions, hold bows and arrows and round projectiles; they speed away in golden chariots drawn by tawny stallions. They dwell in the North.”(RV 1.153.6).

Riding on the whirlwinds, singing loudly, they direct the storms. Clad in rain, they spread rain, pushing away storm. When they move the mountains tremble and trees fall (RV 1.39.5; 5.53-54)

They are known for moral and heroic deeds. Often brutal, though usually good humoured, they are feared by everyone.

8.2. The number of Maruts varies. They are a group of gods, supposed to number usually either eleven or thirty-three. The Rig Veda speaks of them as twenty-one (RV 1.133.6) as twenty-seven or forty-nine (seven groups of seven each) or one hundred and eighty (three times sixty in RV 8.96.8.).

Athi-Rudra-Maha-Yagna

F.Rudra-Shiva

9.01. In Rig Veda, as it is often said, the term Shiva occurs eighteen times. And, each time it is used as an adjective, an epithet standing for “an auspicious one” (mangalakara) in the sense of being “propitious” or “kind” (10.92.9).Shiva, in Rig Veda, is not the name of any god. It is a quality found in many gods.

9.02. It is said, that Rudra’s identification with Shiva came much later; and for the first time in  Svetavatara Upanishad and later in  Yujurveda (Taittariya samhita, 4-5-1 – shatarudriya section). Vajaseniya samhita (3-63) also identified Shiva with Rudra (tam Shiva namasi). Shathapatha Brahmana too said Shiva was known as Bhava, Mahadeva, Sarva, Pashupathi, Ugra and Ishana. Panini (say 4th century BCE) in his Grammar -Astadhyayi (1-49; 3-53; 4-100; 5-3-99) mentions that Rudra was called variously: Mrida, Bhava, Sarva, Grisha, Mahadeva and Trayambaka.

Patanjali (in Mahabashya) also mentions icons of Shiva along with those of Skanda and Visakha. By Patanjali’s time (say 2nd or 3rd century BCE), I reckon,   Shiva as god with his attributes was well established.

9.03. Thus ,  an interesting reversal had taken place. Rudra, who  till then  signified a deity, became an epithet or an aspect of Shiva ; while Siva which term till then meant a benevolent or gracious virtue became the name of a great deity.

By the time of the Puranas, the aspect of  Rudra had  merged  with Shiva , one of the Grand Trinity ; and , Rudra  represented  Shiva’s terrific  aspect as the destroyer. Not surprisingly, Rudra came to be  closely associated with the god of death, Yama; with the god of fire, Agni; and with the magical drink, soma. At the same time, he was  also an aspect of Shiva the Lord of the universe, the cosmic dancer, the Supreme yogi and master of all yogis.

G. Legends of Rudra

10.01. The myths and legends that allege the origin of the Rudra abound. There are a variety of stories. I do not propose to discuss them here. Suffice it to say, all those legends have in common the Shiva, anger, howling or crying out loud.

10.02. Rudra who stands for all the intense feelings associated with the entire spectrum of surging emotions, ranging from piteous wail of the one weeping in excruciating pain to the terrifying thunder-clap emanating from clashing universes. It appears; Rudra had his origins in the pre-Vedic distant past lost in the antiquity. It is said;  he forcibly entered into the Vedic fold . Since then he has been celebrated and as one the fundamental and Supreme deities of the Vedic lore. In the Agamas of the post Vedic period, we witness the metamorphosis of the Rudra into benevolent Shiva the auspicious; Mahadeva, the Great Lord; and Parameshwara, the Supreme Lord of all Universes.

H. Rudra Prashna

11.1. Apart from the 39 verses dedicated to Rudra in the Rig-Veda Samhita, the  highly celebrated Rudra-adhyaya (the chapter on the Rudra) or the Shata-rudriya  ( the hundred names of Rudra) , or the famous Namaka  hymn of Rudra Prashna  also appears in the  Vajasaneyi Samhita of  Shukla  Yajurveda  and as also  in the Taittiriya Samhita of Krishna Yajurveda.

The version of Rudra-adhyaya as in the Vajasaneyi Samhita of Shukla Yajurveda (chapter 16) comprises 66 mantras (here known as kandikas). Many of these kandikas are drawn from Rig-Veda Samhita. The other version of Rudra-adhyaya appearing in the Taittiriya Samhita of Krishna Yajurveda (Kanda 4; Praparthaka 5) is more comprehensive having as many as 170 mantras, including the 66 kandikas of the Vajasaneyi Samhita.

11.2.The 170 Taittiriya Rudra mantras are grouped into eleven Anuvakas (sub –sections meant for recitation) in which all the splendorous aspects of and attributes of Rudra as the Vedic divinity have been elaborated magnificently. This highly charged, inspired piece of grand poetry is rendered with great gusto and devotion by the worshippers on all occasions. The style, diction, rhythm, word structure and itintesity of the Rudra-prasna are truly matchless. It truly is a grandest ode to the all-powerful Lord of the Universe, the Rudra.

Here, Rudra has been elevated to the height of a sublime Vedic divinity. He is equated with ancient Vedic gods such as Aditya (sun) and Indra (Sahasraksha); and is celebrated as the presiding deity of the forest of evergreen trees (kaksanam pati), as the architect of the universe (stapathi), as also as the commander-in – chief (Senani) of a large army of followers (ganas) possessing countless number of horses (Asvapathi) , the presiding lord (Sabapathi), the minister (mantri), the trader (vanija) and the sharp-shooter (krtsna-vit) and so on.

11.3. Rudra is also described through various other terms related to forest-dwellers, hunters and artisans. Rudra is the a steel–blue (Nilagriva) coloured mountain-dweller (Girisha);  protector of hills (Girisanta); a blacksmith (Karmara)  who crafts  (taksa) bows and arrows(Dhanvakrt and Isukrt); a hunter (Mrgayu)  with a fearful pack of hounds (Saravani); a bird-catcher (Punjista) ; and , a potter (Kulala) etc

11.4. Rudra is also addressed through several epithets that are not laudatory; and some of them are even derogatory. He is called lord of robbers (stayunam pathi), the chief of gang of thieves (taskaranam pathi), a cat-burglar (stenanam pathi), a marauding butcher (prakrnta) waiting in the dark shadows holding a deadly chopper, and such many other names.

11.5. Rudra ultimately is the Supreme entity encompassing all forms and colours (Visva-rupa) of the limitless space and harmonizing within him all the contradictions in whole of existence.

[ It is said; when the name Rudra is invoked in the Svetavatara Upanishad, it is  NOT with the same sense as in the hymns of the Rig-Veda; rather, Rudra, here, represents the Supreme Being – both as the personal god (Deva) and as the Lord of all existence (Isha); and, above all, Rudra stands for the impersonal Absolute Brahman. The Rudra in the Svetavatara Upanishad is thus not limited or restricted to the sense a deity. And, Rudra as the Supreme Being manifests in countless forms and is called by multitude of names. In the Advaita outlook of the Svetavatara Upanishad everything emerges from Rudra (Brahman) , exists in it and merges back within it.]

11.6. The Sanat –kumara-samhita (7.7) aptly remarks that the ways of the Rudra who is endowed with inconceivable powers (achintya-bala) and valour are beyond comprehension (achintyan). The elusive power (Ajnanam) of his Maya cannot fathom either. Rudra is a beloved of his devotees (bhakthi-vatsalam) and is quickly pleased with devotion (Asuthosha)

Achintya–niyamo Rudro achintya-bala–purushah achintyan cha tad ajnanam na sakyam bhakthi-vatsalam

11.7. In the Shata-rudriya, or the hundred names of Rudra, or the famous Namaka hymn of Rudra Prashna found in the Vajasaneyi samhita of Yajurveda:

” Rudra is described as possessing many contradictory attributes; for example, he is a killer and destroyer; he is terrible, fierce ( ugra), inauspicious ; he is a deliverer and saviour; he causes happiness, and prevents disease ; he has a healing and auspicious body (siva tanuh); he is yellow-haired, brown- coloured, copper-coloured, ruddy, tall, dwarfish; he has braided locks (kapardin), wears the sacred thread, and is clothed in a skin ; he is blue-necked and thousand-eyed; he dwells in the mountains, and is the owner of troops (gana-pati) of servants who traverse the earth obeying his orders ; he is ruler and controller of a thousand Rudras who are described as fierce and ill-formed (virupa); he has a hundred bows and a thousand quivers; he is the general of vast armies; he is lord of ghosts, goblins, and spirits; of beasts, horses, and dogs; of trees, shrubs, and plants; he causes the fall of leaves ; he is lord of the Soma-juice; he is patron of thieves and robbers, and is himself present in a thief, robber, and deceiver; he presides over carpenters, chariot-makers, blacksmiths, architects, huntsmen; he is present in towns and houses, in rivers and lakes, in woods and roads, in clouds and rain, in sunshine and lightning, in wind and storm, in stones, dust, and earth.”

– -Monier-Williams (of the Boden Chair of Sanskrit at Oxford University)

11.8. Rudra is thus all pervading and present in every aspect of creation- moving and non-moving; conscient or sub-conscient. Rudra bestows upon us the magnificence of his nature.

[The Rudra-Prashna is usually recited along with another passage called ‘Chamakam’  (taken from the Yajurveda -TS 4.5, 4.7) which is composed with words ending with “Cha’ requesting Rudra to grant many, many things in life and beyond. The Chamakam (Just as the Rudra-Prashna) has also eleven sections (Anuvak); and, its each Anuvak corresponds to a force of each of  eleven  Rudras.

In the Anukak-s 1 to 10 of the Chamakam, the devotee prays for almost everything needed for human happiness. And in the 11th Anuvak of Chamakam  the devotee prays for the desired things not specifically but in the sequence of numbers, first in terms of odd numbers from 1 to 33 and later in multiples of 4 from 4 to 48, as follows:

      “Eka cha me, thisrascha may, pancha cha may, sapta cha may, Ekadasa cha may, trayodasa cha may, panchadasa cha may, saptadasa cha may, Navadasa cha may, ek trimshatis cha may, trayovimshatis cha may, Panchavimshatis cha may, saptavimshatis cha may, navavimshatis cha may, Ekatrimshatis cha may, trayatrimshatis cha may, panchatrimshatis cha may, Chatasras cha may, ashtou cha may, dwadasa cha may, shodasa cha may, Vimsatis cha may, chaturvimshatis cha may, ashtavimshatis cha may, Dwathrimashatis cha may, shatstrimshas cha may, chatvarimshas cha may, Chatuschatvarimshas cha may, ashtachatvarimshas cha may”

This means:

“Let these be granted to me. One, three, five, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty one, twenty three, twenty five, twenty seven, twenty nine, thirty one and thirty three as also four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty, twenty four, twenty eight, thirty two, thirty six, forty, forty four and forty eight – to ensure food and its production, its continuity, and the urge to enjoy, the origin of all productions, the sun, the heaven, the head of all, the infinite, the all-pervading like the sky, time and the like present at the end of total consummation exists at the end of it on the earth as universal form, the Antaryami the immortal, the inner ruler of everything, the Omni present and Omni potent”.

The sequence of odd and even numbers carry many interpretations.

Some have tried to present these numbers in graphic form. The entire square is divided in to 16 small squares and 64 triangles. If the entire square is folded in the Middle, both sides are symmetric; that is the place where the number 33 crossed the Middle of the square.  Each small square is symmetric with crossed lines forming triangles.                                       

Even Numbers are 4,8,12,16,20,24,28,32,36,40,44,and 48. Each number explains the number of cumulative triangles in each square.http://chamakamgeometry.blogspot.in/

Chamakam_Geometry

[For more please check

http://creative.sulekha.com/the-rudram-chamakam-an-original-explanation_473528_blog

http://cincinnatitemple.com/articles/SriRudram.pdf

https://sites.google.com/site/mathematicsmiscellany/mathematics-in-chamakam ]

***

The recitation of eleven sections of Rudra-Prashna followed by eleven section of Chamakam is called Nyasam. This is the normal or the general mode of recitation of these passages.

There are other peculiar and complicated patterns of the recitation of Rudra-Prashna and the Chamakam.

:- Rudra-Ekadashi – the Rudra-Prashna is recited 11 times. At the end of each recitation one Anuvak of Chamakam is recited. (That is Rudram 11 times and Chamakam once)

:-  Laghurudram – The Rudra -Ekadashi is repeated 11 times (that is the Rudra-prashna is recited 11×11 = 121 times  ); and , Chamakam is recited 11 times

: – Maharudram – The Laghurudram is recited 11 times – that is, 11X11X11  =  1331 times ; and Chamakam is recited 11×11 = 121 times

: Then there is the Atirudram – 11 Maharudram-s are recited (that is, Rudram is recited 11X11X11X11 =  14641 times); and, Chamakam is recited 11X11X11 =  1331 times.]

I. The Rudras Eleven

12.1. The Rudras are said to be truly infinite (shatam anantam bhavati, asankhyakam). They are present everywhere, manifest in millions of forms in as many abodes; and influence every aspect of creation (sahasrani sahasrasho ye rudra adhi bhumyam…); and they are there even in the food we eat and drink we consume (ye anneshu vividhyanti prateshu pibato janan...). They are immanent within us. They are the protectors of the beings and the created world; the decay and destruction sets in when they refuse to support. Pray therefore to the Rudras for protection and benevolence; and to alleviate our troubles. (Shata rudriyam- Rudra prashna).

12.2. Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita declares, among the eleven Rudras I am Lord Shiva.

The Rudras are however talked in terms of sets of eleven- Ekadasa Rudra, inasmuch as the term Rudra has virtually come to represent ‘the number eleven’. However, each tradition, each text has its own set of eleven Rudras, according to its priorities. Their names and attributes differ from one text to another. There is thus, virtually, a plethora of Rudras. But, each of them represents a certain aspect of Shiva or Rudra.

12.3. The following are some instances of the names of the eleven Rudras according to different authorities:

Shatarudriya hymns celebrates Rudra in his eleven forms as : Aghora (benevolent); Kapardi (with matted hair); Girisha (Lord of mountains) ; Bhima( terrible) ; Nilagriva (blue throated); Trayambaka (three eyed); Sabhapathi (master of the assembly); Ganapathi (leader of the hosts);  Senani(commander of forces);  Samkara(doer of good ); and Shambhu (appearing for the welfare of all).

Rudra Prasna (3.5): Bhava; Sharva; Pashupathi; Nilagriva; Shithikanta; Kapardina; Vyupta-kesha; Shasraksha; Shatadhanva; Girisha ; and Shipivista.

Rupa-mandana (a text of Shilpa sastra) : Isana; Tatpurusha; Aghora; Vamadeva; Sadyojatha; Mruthyunjaya; Kiranaksha;Srikanta;Abhirbhudhya;Bahurupa; and Tryamkaka.

Visvakarma Shilpa (a text of Shilpa sastra): Aja; Ekapat; Abhirbudhya; Virupaksha; Revata; Hara; Bahurupa; Tryambaka; Suresvara; Jayanta; and Aparajita.

Amsumad bheda agama ( a text of Shilpa sastra): Mahadeva; Siva; Rudra ;Sankara; Nilalohita; Isana; Vijaya; Bhima; Deva -Deva; Bhava ; and Kapali.

Padma Purana: Rta-dhvaja; Manu; Manyu; Ugra-retas; Mahan; Siva; Bhava; Kala; Mahinasa; Vamadeva; and Dhrta-vrata.

Mahabharata (Adi Parva): Mrigavyadha; Sarpa; Niriti; Ajaikapat ; Abhivardhana ; Pinaki ; Dahana ; Iswara ;Kapali ;Sthanu ;and Bharga.

Valmiki Ramayana (4.43): Aja; Ekapada; Abhirbhudya; Hara; Shambu: Tryambaka; Aparajita; Isana; Tribhuvana; Twasta; and Rudra.

Srimad Bhagavata (3.12.12):Manyu ; Manu; Mahinasa; Mahan; Siva; Rta-dhvaja; Ugra-reta; Bhava; Kala; Vamadeva; and Dhrta-vrata.

Agni Purana (Ch 18) :Aparajita; Hara; Bahurupa; Tryambaka; Vrsakapi; Shambu; Kapardina; Raivata; Mriga vyadha; Sarpa; and Kapali.

And

According to Jothish Sastras (Astrology ) : Kapali; Pingala; Bhima; Virupaksha;Vilohita; Shasta; Ajapada; Abhirbudhnya; Shambu; Chanda ;and Bhava.

These rule the eleven-division chart called Rudramsha, which indicates the struggles and strife’s of the horoscope. There are prayers to appease the specific Rudras.

12.4. Corresponding to eleven Rudras, there are eleven consorts for them. They are said to emanate from the feminine half of the Shiva’s body. For instance, Dhi; Vritti; Usana; Uma; Niyuta; Sarpi; Ila; Ambika; Iravathi; Sudha; and Diksha are the eleven Rudranis mentioned in Vishnu purana (1.7).

J. Iconography of the Rudras

13. 1. The Iconographic details of the Rudras as provided in the various texts are not uniform. And each text follows its own set of eleven Rudras. The treatment of the subject across the text is rather irregular. For instance, some texts (like Rupa mandana) provide details of the features of the Rudras, their ornaments and the weapons they carry. The Visvakarma Shilpa provides details of only the weapons. In most other texts the information provided is incomplete or is meagre.

13.2. But, as a rule, all Rudras are said to possess forms similar to Shiva. They weave their matted hair in the form of a crown, to which a crescent moon is stuck.

Vishnudharmottara, a text dated around 5-6th century, too states that the images of the Rudras should be made as in the form of Mahesvara (Part Three; Ch 72; verses 1-8).It gives elaborate description of how Mahadeva or Mahesvara should be depicted.

13.3. Rudra is described sometimes as tawny (bablusha) ruddy complexion. The term also means a bull (as in Bhabru-vahana). Rudra is therefore often depicted as riding a bull and carrying a trident or shooting arrows.

13.4. Vishnudharmottara states that Mahadeva should be have a moon like complexion and seated on a bull. Sadyojata (earth), Vamadeva (water), Aghora (fire) and Tatpurusha (wind) should be shown as his four faces; and Isana (sky) should be his fifth face. His four faces should all be looking placid and the fifth one facing south should be fierce wearing a garland of skulls. All four faces with the exception of the north face (Vamadeva two eyed) should be three –eyed. On the crest of the matted locks of the north face should be the crescent moon, and on top of it should be the fifth face .A serpent should serve as his sacred thread. He should be provided ten arms. His right hands carrying rosary, a trident, an arrow, a staff and a lotus. In his left hands a citron, a bow, a mirror, a water-pot and skin roll. 

13.5. The Shilpa text Karanagama prescribes that Rudra should be represented as white complexioned (kailasabha), five- faced, three-eyed, and four-armed carrying rosary and water pot and gesturing boons and protection. He is clad in tiger skin and is decorated with snake ornaments. He wears matted hair with crescent moon in it.

 

13.6. Another text Amsumad-bheda-agama states that all Rudras are to be represented as standing in a well balanced posture (samapada-sthanaka) on a lotus pedestal, bedecked with ornaments and flowers; four armed and three eyed; with matted hair done as a crown. They are to be shown as fair complexioned; draped in white garments. They carry in their upper hands battle axes (parashu) in one and black antelope (krshna mriga) in the other. The lower right hand gestures protection (abhaya) and the left bestowing the boon (varada).

13.7. Another Shilpa text –Sanathkumara Samhita (shiva-175-178) provides slightly different iconographic details of Rudra: as having a pearl, moon or jasmine like soothing–bright complexion; four arms; three eyes glowing like embers; and having a coiled mop of hair (jata-makuta) decorated with crescent moon. He is clad in tiger skin and garlands of Arka flowers and snakes. His front two hands bestow blessing (varada) and assurance or protection (abhaya).His upper two hands hold battle axe (parashu) and deer.

The text prescribes that Rudra could be depicted in seated (aasana) or standing (sthanaka) posture. When Rudra is seated he should be made to face East or West. A standing Rudra could however face any direction. The text also cautions that Rudra should never be depicted in lying down (shayana) posture.

13.8. Rupa-mandana, Karanagama and other Shipa texts provide totally different iconographic details of the Rudras. For instance:

Isana (sun): Five faced; ten armed. Crystal white complexion; matted hair done like a crown with a crescent moon in it; ten arms carrying rosary, trident, skull-cup, goad and gesturing assurance (on the right);gesture of protection;. Skull-cup, book, rope and damaru drum.-(karanagama).

Tatpurusha: Yellow garments; two arms; three eyed; the right holding rosary and the left carrying a fruit (maatulinga)-(Rupamandana)

Aghora: Complexion resembling blue-lotus; reddish eyebrows; three eyes of yellow tinge; fierce face with sharp tusks; all ornaments including sacred-thread made of snakes; garland of scorpions; band of skulls (kapala mala) round the matted hair yellow in colour done like a crown; eight arms –the hands on the right holding trident, battle axe, sword and cudgel; while the left hands hold khatvanga, skull cup, shield and noose.—(Rupamandana)

 

Vamadeva : the body, eyes, garments, ornaments and sacred thread – all done in red; three eyes; broad face; long nose; two arms carrying sword and shield.—(Rupamandana)

Sadyojatha:   the body, garments, garlands etc are all done in white like jasmine flower, moon or conch. He is joyous and of handsome appearance. He is three eyed and two armed; the hands gesturing protection and boons; and carrying a book and a rosary. His crest is adorned by crescent moon.

 

Bahurupi Sadashiva: Five faced each with three eyes; endowed with eighteen arms holding various weapons-axe, bow, arrow, khatvanga etc; skull-cup, book, rosary, water-pot, lotus, and gesturing assurance and benediction. His five faces glow with crystal like luster; Vamadeva face has yellow tinge; Aghora face in blue with sharp fierce tusks; Tatpurusha face is red like lotus with divine grace; Isana face is dark and handsome; and Sadyojatha is clear and bright like a crystal.- (Rupamandana and Kalika purana).

Mrutyunjaya : fair complexion; tiger-skin garment; garland of skulls; six arms; two hands held on the lap in yoga posture; other hands carrying trident and rosary (right) and skull-cup and water-pot (kamandalau) in the left.

Kiranaksha: fair complexion; dressed in white; four arms –two gesturing protection and boon and the other holding rosary and a book.

Srikanta: garments of variegated colour; well decorated with ornaments; handsome face; four arms carrying bow, arrows; sword and shield.

Virupaksha: has expanded eyes, a bright face, hairs erect, two hands and a yellow beard. His limbs are reddish –dark in colour; he wears dark garments; holds a majestic staff (death) and is richly ornamented .He rides a camel representing delusion.

Bhima: is shown having a garland of skulls and carrying a khatvanga (skull –staff). He is jackal faced with terrible fangs and looking angry. He has deep red complexion.

Aja , Ekapada, Revata, Hara, Trayambaka, Suresvara, Jayanta and Aparajita are described with sixteen arms. They hold, in various combinations, the instruments such as: shula, ankusha, kapala, damaru, sarpa, mrudanga, akshamala, chakra, bana, dhanus, ketaka, gadha, khatvanga, pattisa, ghanta, shakthi, parashu, kamandalu, tomarara and pattika etc.

[The descriptions given in other texts vary from the above considerably.]

13.9. The other texts like Kalika purana, Padma purana, Vishvakarma samhita, Aparajita puccha, Shilpa rathna, Shiva agama etc too carry their own descriptions of the Rudras. They vary from each other in regard to details such as the number of faces, arms, postures, colour and countenance of the faces. It is virtually not possible to list out and illustrate each of those interpretations. But, all depictions are based in Shiva and his attributes; and are made in the form of Shiva.

13.10. In the popular depictions of the Rudras  all Rudras are made to look like the central figure of Shiva. But, one cannot make out which are those Rudras, their names or special attributes, because all are made to look alike. That surely is easier but lacks authenticity.

K.  At the end:

14.1 There is no standard set of Rudras. Each school, text or authority identifies its own set of eleven Rudras according to their priorities. The details of iconography of Rudras vary greatly across the texts and traditions. There is a considerable flexibility in the choice of the attributes, the physical forms, the postures and the ornaments/weapons.

14.2. It appears, you too may have to select your team of the Rudras Eleven from across the spectrum of Rudras in each category, according to your preferences. Or you may select a particular text and follow its tradition of depiction.

For that purpose , you might take the aid of books like Siva Kosa (two volumes) and Indian Iconography (three volumes) authored by Prof SK Ramachandra Rao ; or similar other books , to explore the subject. In case it is possible, you may even consult Shilpa texts such as; Rupasampada, Karanagama, Shilpa ratna, Vishvakarma Samhita or Aparajita puccha etc. These texts do provide interesting iconographic details and, at times, illustrations too. I reckon many of the major libraries in the continent have books on ancient Indian sculpture.

14.3. Else, you may treat this blog as a hint or a place to commence your pursuit; and to improvise your creations based on the few details given here and in the resources I referred to.

14.4. I am not sure I have been of much help to you. If you have read up to here, I admire your patience.

Thank you for asking. Writing this article has been a sort of education to me. Kindly let me know if I can be of any assistance. God Bless you.

Warm Regards.

[ Notes @ :

It is said that there are as many as seventy-five references to Rudra in the Rig-Veda Samhita. Most of those occur in the First and the Second and Books; and some in the Seventh Book. The following are some instances

RV 1.43 Rishi: kaṇva ghaura; Devatā: Rudra, 3 Rudra, Mitrāvaruṇā ,  7-9, Soma; Chandas: Gāyatrī, 9 Anuṣṭup

: – What could we sing to Rudra, strong, most bounteous, excellently wise, that shall be dearest to his heart? –  kád rudrā ya prácetase mīḷhúṣṭamāya távyase vocéma śáṃtamaṃ hṛdé– ( RV 1.043.01)

:- May that  Aditi may grant the grace of Rudra to our folk, our kin, our cattle and our progeny – yáthā no áditiḥ kárat páśve , nŕ̥bhyo yáthā gáve yáthā tokā ya rudríyam –  (RV 1.043.02 )

:- May that Mitra ,  that Varuna,and  that Rudra  remember us-  yáthā no mitró váruṇo yáthā rudráś cíketati yáthā víśve sajóṣasaḥ– (RV 1.043.03)

:- To Rudra Lord of sacrifice, of hymns and balmy medicines, we pray for joy ,  health and strength-  gāthápatim medhápatiṃ rudráṃ jálāṣabheṣajam tác chaṃyóḥ sumnám īmahe – (RV 1.043.04)

:- He (Rudra)  shines in splendour like the Sun, refulgent as bright gold . he is   the best among the gods – yáḥ śukrá iva sū riyo híraṇyam iva rócate śréṣṭho devānãṃ vásuḥ – ( RV1.043.05)

:- May He  (Rudra) grant health to our steeds;  well-being to our rams and ewes; as also  to our  men, women, and to youngones – śáṃ naḥ karati árvate sugám meṣā ya meṣíye nŕ̥bhyo nā ribhiyo gáve – (RV 1.043.06)

RV 1.114 Rishi: kutsa āṅgirasa; Devatā: Rudra; Chandas: Jagatī, 10-11 Triṣṭup

: – To him, the mighty Rudra, the Lord of heroes , adorned with with the braided hair , we submit our songs of praise- imā́ rudrā́ ya taváse kapardíne kṣayádvīrāya prá bharāmahe matī́ ḥ yáthā śám ásad dvipáde cátuṣpade víśvam puṣṭáṃ grā́me asmínn anāturám – ( RV 1.114.01)

: – Be gracious unto us, O Rudra, bring us joy: May we enjoy that O Rudra, under you leadership – mṛḻā́ no rudra utá no máyas kr̥dhi;  kṣayádvīrāya námasā vidhema te yác cháṃ ca yóś ca mánur āyejé pitā́ ; tád aśyāma táva rudra práṇītiṣu –(RV 1.114.02)

: – O Bounteous One, O Rudra, Ruler of valiant men.,  come to our families, bless them bliss: aśyā́ma te sumatíṃ devayajyáyā kṣayádvīrasya táva rudra mīVhuvaḥ  (RV 1.114.03 )

:- Rudra, of Flaming Power, May he throw far away from us, the wrath of gods.   what we seek of him is sublime thoughts-  vayáṃ rudaráṃ yajñasā́ dhaṃ vaṅkúṃ kavím ávase ní hvayāmahe – (RV 1.114.04)

:- Father of Maruts, the sweetest of all; O Immortal, Amṛta, grant us the mortal enjoyment ; be soft to us; to our offspring and our future generations,  – idám pitré marútām ucyate vácaḥ svādóḥ svā́ dīyo rudarā́ ya várdhanam –  (RV 1.114.06)

: –  O Rudra, harm not , either great or small of us, harm not the growing boy, harm not the full−grown man. Slay not a sire among us, slay no mother here, and to our own dear bodies, Rudra, do not harm – mā́ no mahā́ ntam utá mā́ no arbhakám mā́ na úkṣantam utá mā́ na ukṣitám – ( 1.114.07)

: – Harm us not, Rudra, harm not our progeny; harm us not in the living, nor in cows or steeds, Slay not our heroes in the fury of thy wrath. Bringing oblations evermore we call to thee – mā́ nas toké tánaye mā́ na āyaú mā́ no góṣu mā́ no áśveṣu rīriṣaḥ– (RV 1.114.08)

: – We, seeking help, have spoken and adored him.  May Rudra, hear our prayers – ávocāma námo asmā avasyávaḥ śr̥ṇótu no hávaṃ rudró marútvān – (RV 1.114.11)

RV 2. 33. Rishi: Gṛishmada (Aṅgirasa Saunahotra paścād) , Bhārgava śaunaka; Devatā: Rudra; Chandas: Triṣṭup; Anuvāka IV

: – Father of Maruts , let thy bliss approach us – ā ́ te pitar marutāṃ sumnám etu , prá jāyemahi rudara prajā́ bhiḥ – (RV 2.033.01)

: – O Rudra, with your most benignant means of healing, may I enjoy hundred winters – tvādattebhiḥ śaṃtamebhiḥ bheṣajebhiḥ,], śatam himā āśīya –  (RV 2.033.02)

: – You are, O Rudra, the best in glory, the best of all who are born here in the body, you are the strongest – śréṣṭho jātásya rudara śriyā́ si tavástamas tavásāṃ vajrabāho párṣi ṇaḥ pārám áṃhasaḥ suastí víśvā abhī́ tī rápaso yuyodhi – (2.033.03)

:- Let us not anger thee, O Rudra, with our improper praise; the strongest among gods let’s not displease you with mingled invocations. You are indeed the best of the physicians . Heal our heroes – mā́ tvā rudra cukrudhāmā námobhirhih,  mā́ dúṣṭutī , vṛṣabha,  mā́ sáhūtī ún no vīrā́m̐ arpaya bheṣajébhir bhiṣáktamaṃ tvā bhiṣájāṃ śṛṇomi – (RV 2.033.04)

:-   May I with my invocations  win that Rudra’s favour who is adorned with gifts and invocations. hávīmabhir hávate yó havírbhir áva stómebhī rudaráṃ diṣīya – 2.033.05

:- As he who finds a shade in hot sun  may I, uninjured,  win the protection and  bliss of Rudra- ā vivāseyam rudrasya sumnam, ; ghṛṇīva chāyām arapā aśīya (RV 2.033.06)

:- Where is that compassionate  hand of yours, O Rudra, which heals, delights; showers benifits and dispels sins ; have mercy upon me – yo asti bheṣajo jalāṣaḥ? kúva syá te rudara mr̥̄ḷayā́ kur hásto yó ásti bheṣajó jálāṣaḥ – (RV 2.033.07)

: – To him the strong, great, the cherisher (of all), tawny, fair−complexioned, I utter forth a mighty hymn of praises. The Flaming One we sing your glorious name and pray earnestly- prá babhráve vr̥ṣabhā́ ya śvitīcé mahó mahī́ṃ suṣṭutím īrayāmi namasyā́ kalmalīkínaṃ námobhir gṛṇīmási tveṣáṃ rudrásya nā́ma (RV 2.033.08)

:- the , the Supreme Ruler , the strong-limbed  lord of this world , the One with infinite forms, of  fierce  golden red  complexion who has decorated himself with bright gold ornaments – sthirébhir áṅgaiḥ pururū́ pa ugró babhrúḥ śukrébhiḥ pipiśe híraṇyaiḥ ī ́ śānād asyá bhúvanasya bhū́ rer ná vā́ u yoṣad rudarā́ d asuryàm- (RV 2.033.09)

: – Nothing is stronger than you, , O Rudra- ná vā́ ójīyo rudara tvád asti  (RV2.033.10)

:- O Rudra, praised, be gracious to the singer. Let thy hosts spare us and smite down another. mr̥̄ḷā́ jaritré rudara stávāno anyáṃ te asmán ní vapantu sénāḥ (RV 2.033.11)

:- To you Rudra  I have surrendered myself, just as a boy  approaches  his respected father . The Lord of all existence, I beseech you ! Please bestow upon us the cure to our ills– kumāráś cit pitáraṃ vándamānam práti nānāma rudaropayántam bhū́ rer dātā́ raṃ sátpatiṃ gr̥ṇīṣe stutás tuvám bheṣajā́ rāsi asmé  – (RV2.033.12)

 :- I crave from Rudra his  pure and luminous curing powers , for our gain and welfare – yā́ vo bheṣajā́ marutaḥ śúcīni yā́ śáṃtamā vŕ̥ṣaṇo yā́ mayobhú yā́ ni mánur ávr̥ṇītā pitā́ nas tā́ śáṃ ca yóś ca rudarásya vaśmi – (RV2.033.13)

: – May the flaming darts of Rudra be diverted away from us- pari ṇo hetī rudrasya vṛjyāḥ! pári ṇo hetī́ rudarásya vr̥jyāḥ – (RV 2.033.14)

: – Rudra, listen to our invocation. Loud may we speak, with heroes, in assembly-  havanaśrún no rudarehá bodhi br̥hád vadema vidáthe suvī́ rāḥ  (RV 2.033.15)

RV.7.46 Riṣi: vasiṣṭha maitrāvaruṇi; Devatā: viṣṇu; Chandas: triṣṭup

:-We sing to the glory of Rudra the sovereign Lord wielding a firm and strong bow discharging swiftly-flying shafts – mā rudrāya  sthiradhanvane  ghiraḥ  kṣipreṣav e devāya svadhāvne (RV 7.46.1)

:-The Wise, the Conqueror whom none may overcome, armed with sharp-pointed weapons: may he hear our call – aṣāḷhāya sahamānāya vedhase tighmāyudhāya bharatā śṛṇotu naḥ ( RV.7.46.2)

:-O Rudra, Come willingly to our doors that gladly welcome thee, and heal all sickness, Rudra., in our family  – avannavantīrupa no duraścarānamīvo rudra jāsu no bhava – (RV .7.46.4)

:-Thou, very gracious God, hast thousand medicines: inflict no evil on our sons or progeny – sahasraṃ te svapivāta bheṣajā mā nastokeṣutanayeṣu rīriṣah  (RV 7.46.6)

:-Slay us not, nor abandon us, O Rudra, let not thy noose, when thou art angry, seize us mā no vadhī rudra mā parā dā mā te bhūma prasitau hīḷitasya – (RV.7.46.7)

:-Give us trimmed grass and fame among the living. Preserve us evermore, ye Gods, with blessing – ā no bhaja barhiṣi jīvaśaṃse yūyaṃ pāta  (RV.7.4.8)

[Source: Hymns to Rudra- Vedic Studies- Vladimir Iatsenko and Nishtha

http://www.ipi.org.in/texts/vladimir/vladimirclassfiles/ ]

rudra

References and sources

I gratefully acknowledge the painting by Acharya Shri S Rajam

And the line drawings by Dr. G Gnanananda from his wonderful book Rupa Lakshana sangraha

And other pictures from the internet

Shiva Kosa by Prof. SK Ramachandra Rao

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv02033.htm

http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/brdup/brhad_III-09.html

http://www.mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/hv_1_3.html

http://www.rudraksham.com/Shiva%20Paintings/shiva_paintings.htm

http://varahamihira.blogspot.com/2004/07/33-devas-pt-sanjay-rath.html

http://www.mythfolklore.net/india/encyclopedia/rudra.htm

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Rudra#The_Eleven_Rudras

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01067.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudra#Rig_Veda_7.40.5

http://brahmanasamskara.blogspot.com/2007/12/sri-rudra-upasana-sri-rudra-mahima.html

 
21 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Iconography, Indian Philosophy, Rudra

 

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The Buddha Iconography in Hindu Texts

The Buddha in scriptures

1.1. There are many references to the Buddha in the Puranas. All those references might not pertain to one and the same person or mythical figure. The term Buddha , in most cases , denote a wise person , a sage-like person possessing Buddhi ( derived from the root budh -to know with the suffix  kta the agent).

Some of the Hindu scriptures notably Srimad Bhagavatha Purana accept the Buddha as one of the avatars of Vishnu There are of course numerous dissenting scriptures. Srimad Bhagavatha mentions that in the age (Yuga) of Kali, the Buddha is born as the son of Anjana of the Kikata tribe in the mid Gaya Region (Madhya Gaya pradeshe). There is no mention of the Buddha’s wife in the Puranas; and there is also no references tohis son.

The purpose his avatar is to vanquish enemies of the Devas and to establish the Dharma. He is also praised as purassara or purogamin , the forerunner ; and as the destroyer of Madhu or Mara the  distractor. Just as Sri Rama and Sri Krishna were the guarding divinities and representations of Vishnu in the Treta and Dwapara yugas, it is said, the Buddha is the Vishnu of the Kali Yuga. We all now live in the dispensation of the avatar of the Buddha (Bhauddavathare); and will do so till the advent of the next avatar, the Kalki.

Four -faced Buddha in a Bangkok temple

1.2. The Buddha is addressed in the scriptures with titles asserting his divinity: as Buddha-deva (Padma purana); Buddha-rupa (Brahma purana); and Siddhartha (Matsya purana) ; and , as Bhagavata (supreme person),  Lokavid (knower of all worlds), Anuttara (the unsurpassable), Shasta Deva Manushyanam  (Lord of men and demigods) and Buddhir Buddhimatam  (the enlightenment of the enlightened ones), which are similar to the titles addressed to Vishnu.

In a few passages ( in Matsya, Skanda and Devi Puranas ) he is described as a yogin , yoga-charya as one whose ideas are pure, as one  having a pacified mind free from attachments and hatred .  The Vishnudharmottara pictures the Buddha as a sanyasin (monk) adorned in brown or ochre robes , full of compassion towards all beings.

1.3. Sri Jayadeva’s sublime poetry Gita-Govinda which articulates the Vaishnava philosophy of Love sings the glory of the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu and personification of compassion (karunya) towards all beings.

1.4. Srimad Bhagavatha explains the teaching of the Buddha as: ” The Buddha taught that material existence is dukha; and   that there is samudaya, a cause of material existence; and because there is a cause, there is also nirodha, a way to remove material existence.  That way is marga, the path of righteousness”.

Matsya Purana mentions that the Buddha preached ahimsa, discouraged sacrifices, and supported nivrtti (non-attachment) and jnana-marga (the path of knowledge) of the Vedas.

Naradiya Samhita (1, 60) describes the Buddha as a great sage with limitless compassion and self restraint (muni varo vasi); and as emanation of Pradyumna the Vrishni hero and son of Vasudeva-krishna. Some of the later texts depict the Buddha as the naked one (digambara).

The Vishnu purana mentions that when sage Maitreya queried sage Parasara “who are the naked ones?”, the latter replied “those who have discarded the three sheaths (coverings) or limitations  of the three Vedas – Rik, Yagus and Sama – are the naked ones (digambara) ”

Depictions of the Buddha

2.1. The early representations of the Buddha were through symbols such as: the Bodhi-tree; the wheel of Dharma; the throne of exposition; sacred foot-prints; and so on. His representation as a perfect human being came about much later, perhaps through the influence of the Greek. His images were meant not merely to please the eyes but also spark pious and noble thoughts in the hearts of the onlookers. The Buddha image personified compassion, wisdom, enlightenment and tranquillity. The artists, generations after generation spread over the centuries and across the continents have strived to give expression the beauty and virtue of the Buddha and his message.

2.2. The raise and popularity of Mahayana Buddhism and the Bhakthi cult brought forth highly idealized Buddha icons meant for worship; and they virtually pushed the historical Buddha to background. The evolution of the Adi-Buddhas, the Dhyani-Buddhas (five types), the Bodhisattvas and other forms gave great impetus to Buddha iconography.

2.3. I need to mention here briefly about a few special features of the Indian figurative art and Iconography. It succeeded in making a coherent use of images to represent abstraction; and gracefully uniting forms and ideas in a loving marriage. An image (prathima) in the Indian traditions is , therefore, an all-inclusive representation of the aspects and attributes of a deity. It is more than a mere portraiture; it is an embodiment of the dominant abstracted impersonalized state of a deity in a given stance or posture, evoking stillness and dynamic movements together.

The image of the Buddha is not merely a semblance of the historical prince Siddhartha Gautama and Sakyamuni; but is more than that. The Buddha is the comprehensive representation of intellect, wisdom and non-attachment; and above all of pathos, grace and boundless compassion, in absolute. His image is the universal principle of compassion (karuna) and wisdom solidified into a visible form. It is not the ‘historical figure’ , but is the idealized form encircled sometimes with many transient states, represented as vegetation , flora, fauna , yakshis ,dryads, gandharvas, and apsaras each playing a specific role in building a totality of his eminence,  an incarnation of the still centre of peace and enlightenment.

2.4. There are countless forms of the Buddha depictions in Buddhist lore. The purpose of this blog is merely to mention some depictions of the Buddha form in the Hindu tradition. The forms discussed under are those as described in Hindu and Shilpa texts, as also in the Dhyana-slokas. They are meant for worship with the prayer they lead to tranquillity and salvation. They are not decorative pieces of mere aesthetic appeal.

 

 

Forms of the Buddha icons

3.1. The icons of the Buddha are made either in sitting or standing (Sama bhanga) positions; but never in abhanga (bent) or dancing position. He is depicted lying-down position only to represent the posture he assumed while about to give up his mortal coils (pari nibbana).

3.2. The Buddha icons seated in lotus position (padma-asana) are depicted in three forms: as turning the wheel of dharma (chakra pravartana); or as in meditation (Dhyani Buddha) or as calling the earth as witness for his own integrity (bhoomi sparsha). The last is also called as pushparisa mudra. The positions of the hands and fingers (mudras), in each case, give expression to the posture.

3.3. The Buddha in the Dharma chakra parivarthana mudra is seated in lotus position on a thousand petaled- lotus under Bodhi tree. His eyes are half-closed in contemplation (dhyana). This represents the Buddha delivering his first discourse soon after attaining enlightenment.

3.4. The Dhyani Buddha is depicted in a meditation posture with the upturned palms of both hands placed on his lap. He is seated under a decorated canopy (chattra) placed beneath  the kalpa vrikshatree; and is flanked by two attendants who with great reverence wave the chamara flywhisks .A bright aura of wisdom and enlightenment adorn the head of the Buddha in meditation.

3.5. The Buddha seated in lotus position has his upturned- left palm placed on his lap while his right fore-arm  is lightly placed on the right knee; and the long and delicate fingers of his right hand gently touching the ground on which he seated(bhoomi sparsha). This represents the Buddha soon after enlightenment calling the earth as witness for his own integrity.

3.6. There also depictions of the Buddha in vyakhyana posture, as if teaching and imparting a sermon.

3.7. While standing the Buddha is represented either as preaching (vyakhyana) or going around begging. His right palm should bestow protection (abhaya) and his left clutching the side of his long garment should bestow assurance. His countenance should emanate peace, love and compassion.

3.8. The depictions of the Parinibbana scenes where the Buddha is shown giving up his mortal coils resemble Vishnu in Yoga shayana posture where he is surrounded by gods, goddesses, angles,  sages, devotees and other beings, all worshipping with folded hands , devotion and reverence.

 

 

The Buddha iconography in Hindu and Shilpa texts

4.1. The Panchratra Agama texts such as Hayastrasa Samhita (23-26) and Naradiya Samhita (1, 60) provide the iconographic details of the Buddha icons. He is described as sitting in lotus-position (padma-asana), covered in ascetic garments (chira- alankara).As regards his features: His face must be radiant like lotus and his eyes too should be wide and full like lotus (padmasyam – padma lochanam).His ears must be long (lamba karnam) .His navel should be adorned with a gem. His body must be lustrous like molten gold (taptha hema prabha). He must be shown having two arms .He must be shown deeply absorbed in meditation or bestowing protection and assurance (varada- abhaya – hasta) or his hands close to his heart indicating movement of dharma-chakra (the wheel of dharma). The Buddha image should be scaled in uttama dasha tala measure

4.2. The other Hindu texts which accept the Buddha as an avatar, such as – Brihat SamhitaAgni puranaVishnudharmaottara purana and Rupamandana- specify the features of the Buddha image in Dhyana mudra – in meditation posture. Matsya Purana describes the Buddha as Deva-sundara-rupa , handsome like a god, pale-red or fair in complexion. The foot soles and palms of the Buddha should be graced with auspicious signs of the lotus (padma). His body should be healthy and well developed; and glowing mellow and bright like moon light.He should have adorable thick curly hair (kundala kesha).The eyebrows should mold into a ring called urna, an insignia of the emperors. His long suspended earlobes should have holes. He should be adorned in kashaya (saffron) garments. He should wear across his right shoulder a piece of cloth (valmala) as upper garment. He should be sitting in lotus position (padma asana).His hands should gesture protection and assurance (varada abhaya mudra). The countenance on his broad, smiling face should radiate peace. The love and compassion emanating from his face should kindle a feeling in the viewers’   heart that they   are looking at the father of all existence.

4.3. Another text Manasara (ch.56) offers a graphic description of the Buddha images which are depicted either as standing or seated. He should always be two armed and two-eyed, with long arms and wide chest; his body muscular (mamsala) and well developed. He must be shown wearing yellow garments (pitambara-dhara) and adorned with a brilliant head dress (ushnisha-ujwala-maulikam). His body must lustrous like moon and his face large (vishala anana).His ears should be long and hanging (lamba karna), his eyes long or elongated (ayataksha) and his nose aquiline (tunga ghona).The smile on his face should be like a lamp that has just been lit – bright and pure. He As regards the seated Buddha:  The Buddha must be placed upon a throne or under the Ashwattha (peepal) tree or in the vicinity of the wish-fulfilling (kalpa vriksha). The Buddha image should be scaled in uttama dasha tala measure.

4.4The Buddha images are depicted in Hindu temples either  in niches or on Vimanas (temple-towers ). And, in the Hoysala temples the Prabhavali, the intricately carved ornamental sculpture which serves   as background to Vishnu’s head includes the Dhyani Buddha image. Further Chalukya and Hoysala temples (10-11thcenturies) in their depictions of Vishnu’s ten-avatars do include the Buddha. 

 

Ushnisha

5.1. The reference to the brilliant ushnisha of the Buddha icon is truly interesting. Ushnisha in its etymological sense means “protection from sun or a sun-shade”; but, it is generally taken to mean a turban, a royal turban –one of the royal insignia.

5.2. The Buddha is at times referred to in the Pali Nikayas as mundaka-samana, a shaven-headed monk (e.g. Subha-sutta – 99 – Majjhima Nikaya).In the older tradition, the Buddha is represented as amundaka, a shaven headed monk. The images of the Buddha found at Mathura, Mankur and Saranath represent this older tradition.

5.3. The later Pali Nikayas and Sanskrit texts like Lalitavistara preferred to treat the Buddha as a royal personage endowed with all the auspicious signs of a maha-purusha. Two of such signs were having a head like “royal-turban” (usnisa –sirasa) or having hair “arranged in ringlets turning to the right” (pradakshina-vrata-kesha).This tradition gained popularity in the later depictions of the Buddha images.

5.4. Though some scholars interpret usnisa as denoting fullness of the forehead or the head, it is quite likely the Buddha wore, at times; a brilliant colored turban (ushnisha-ujwala-maulikam). Perhaps, as a testimony to that, one of the panels in the Sanchi stupa depicts devotees paying respects to the Buddha’s turban.

5.6. The tradition of depicting the Buddha with a turban or a crown gained popularity in the Far East and South East Asia. a majority of the Buddha images of those regions have  caps or crowns ending with a flame-like tip, flame niche or a lotus bud.

Salagramas

6. In the Hindu tradition the Buddha is depicted as Saligrama too. The Salagrama sastra mentions that the salagramas with a wide crevice like a cave .The Buddha-murti salagramas are also described as “having two apertures, and two chakras in the interior. The chakras are upward-inclined at the head, or they are at the sides; and the stone may be multi-colored”. The worship of the Buddha Salagrama, it is believed, leads to sharper intellect, wisdom and non-attachment

.

7. Generally, all Hindu iconographic representations of the Buddha are the worship-worthy idealized representation of a god incarnated as a Raja-rishi (king-seer).He is a Chakravarthin  (Emperor ) endowed with thirty-two auspicious signs (lakshanas) of a maha-purusha, a noble and a gracious person . Accordingly the Buddha  is depicted as a  young , handsome, healthy, well formed   god-like person  (Deva – sundara – rupa )  with long arms reaching up to his knees; having lustrous body; thick glossy hair; long earlobes; happy , peaceful countenance with wide eyes full of love , compassion and wisdom; and seated or standing  on a lotus pedestal. The devout have a faith the worship of such auspicious icon bestows peace and liberation.

“Creatures without feet have my love.

And like wise those who have two feet; and those, too, who have many feet. 

 Let creatures all, all things that live, all beings of whatever kind,

 See nothing that will bode them ill.

May no evil come to them.”

—The Buddha

Resources

I gratefully acknowledge the Iconographic drawings and details from Dr.G Gnanananda’s monumental work Brahmiya-Chitra karma sastram


The other picture are from internet

Devata Rupamala And Vishnu Suktha By Prof.SKR Rao

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/baner.htm

Usnisa-siraskata (a mahapurusa-laksana) in the early Buddha images of India

Jitendra Nath Banerjea; The Indian Historical Quarterly-1931.09

http://www.salagram.net/Buddha-dev.html

http://www.salagram.net/sstp-Newsletter007.html
Gautama Buddha in Hinduism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_as_an_Avatara_of_Vishnu

 
12 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Buddha, Iconography

 

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