India: Devotion Through Depiction



India is a beautiful country with a truly astounding culture. The people of India are strong in their ways of Hinduism, often being able to worship their many deities while even walking a block down the street. Practicing your devotion to your religion and beliefs is more than just going to a place of worship and saying prayers when the obligated time arrives. There are several ways and means of devotional practice to the spiritual world, especially in the beauty and wonder of India and Hinduism.

This gallery is a perfect representation of the greater meaning that is devotional practice. Each piece is a prime example of the many aspects of Hinduism. We enter with a stone sculpture of Ganesha, the Hindu god with the elephant head and multiple arms. Ganesha is foremost known as the “remover of obstacles”, but also known as the god of wisdom and knowledge, as well as the supporter of arts and sciences. Another part of Hindu beliefs is that each god has its own vehicle, or vahana, as shown in the second piece. Shiva, the highest deity in Hinduism, was known to have a sacred bull called Nandi as his vahana. Ganesha Ratha, the third piece in the gallery, is a temple in India that was once devoted to the god Shiva, but was replaced as devotion to Ganesha in the 1880’s. The fourth piece is a sandstone sculpture of the Seven Mother Goddesses, the protective heptad who was once exclusively worshipped, but is now worshipped as an entourage of Shiva. Last but certainly not least is Shiva as Lord of the Dance, also known as Nataraja, who is in the midst of his divine dance to destroy the universe so that it may be reborn.

Each of these magnificent works comes from both the ancient and current beliefs of India’s grand Hindu culture. While there is an example of a literal place of worship, the other pieces are thought to still be devotional practices to their ever-loved gods and goddesses. This is due to the artist being so indulged in their beliefs that they decided to create their own representation of each. Enjoy this small yet vast endeavor of India!


Citations within Image Labels

Figure of Ganesha made of stone Unknown Artist This stone sculpture, or "schist", is of the Hindu deity Ganesha. It is just under four feet tall and is very similar to the statues used in many households during Bhadrapada, the month of Ganesha. "Celebrating Ganesha." The British Museum. N.p., n.d. Web.
The sacred bull Nandi, vehicle of Shiva Unknown Artist - Chola dynasty (9th-13th centuries), India While each Hindu deity had their own vehicle, called vahana, the god Shiva had his sacred bull Nandi. The bull is said to represent masculinity and valor. "Nandi (bull)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
One in ten, Ganesha Ratha is a monolithic temple that was originally dedicated to Lord Shiva. Villagers sought allowance in the 1880's to replace Shiva with an image of Ganesha. "Ganesha Ratha." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
The Seven Mother Goddesses (Matrikas) Flanked by Shiva-Virabhadra and Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles India, Madhya Pradesh, 9th century Sculpture Red sandstone In South India, Saptamatrika (or "seven mothers") is a group of seven Hindu goddesses. This sculpture, made of red sandstone, features the heptad of goddesses flanked by gods Shiva and Ganesha. "The Seven Mother Goddesses (Matrikas) Flanked by Shiva-Virabhadra and Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles." LACMA Collections. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja), c. 11th century, Copper alloy, Chola period A copper sculpture, this figure shows Nataraja, a depiction of the god Shiva during his sacred dance. His divine dance is intended to destroy the universe so that it will be recreated by god Brahma. "Khan Academy." Khan Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
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