Vaikuntha Chaturmurti

11th century CE

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

The sculpture represents a form of Vishnu. The placid face in the centre is that of Vasudeva; the one on his right is of Narasimha and that on the left is of Varaha. Usually such images have a fourth, fierce face at the back which is absent in our image since it was in all probability a bas-relief.

The Pancharatra system of Vaishnavism recognizes four principal aspects of Vishnu viz. Vasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha with whom eight siddhis or attainments of yogis are associated. They thus represent strength, knowledge, sovereignty and energy respectively.
The Vishnudharmottara Purana, a redaction of canonical tenets of iconography ascribable to about the fifth-sixth century was perhaps dealing with this form which had already originated in the Gupta period. But at that time the fourth face was not added. The fourth face was a development of about the eighth century in Kashmir, where this particular iconography became prominently popular. The fourth face sporting flaming coiffure and ferocious in outlook is said to be of Kapila the propagator of the Sankhya system.

Even though a few, stray icons of the deity are available from Rajasthan it cannot be said to have been as popular as it was in Kashimir. An inscription from Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh refers to this form as of “Kashimiri type”

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  • Title: Vaikuntha Chaturmurti
  • Date Created: 11th century CE
  • Physical Dimensions: 37 x 27 x 19 cms
  • Medium: Marble
  • Region: Gujarat / Rajasthan
  • Accession Number: S95