Thursday, June 10, 2010



Statue of Hari-Hara in British Museum

I write this blog for me as well as for two of my young friends ,one in Pune,india and the other in London, UK.

Pankaj Sakpal of Pune is a Design specialist, but, I know him through flickr.He is one of my few acquaintances who has an appetite for non-fictional books . He was the first person to invite me to make a presentation on Bengal's terra cotta temples to a small gathering of his friends in Pune when I visited that city in 2008.

Amit Guha is an IITian who lives in London ,and in spite of his busy schedule, devotes a lot of energy for the cause of Bengal's terra cotta temples.Whenever he is home in Calcutta, he steals two or more days from his crowded schedule for visiting terra cotta temples in a small town or a village in West Bengal's districts. I could not act on his suggestion of visiting British Museum's lecture session on Indian Art organised by SOAS, but, could find other opportunities in this line.

Four weeks at Banbury is a vacation , not a sight-seeing trip. My wife Ruby and I spent good amount of time at home, with family members, on computer , sorting out the large nos of photographs we have taken on our days out. My vacation has been considerably enriched by the very helpful and kind persons at Banbury Library.

Earlier during 1970s, during stint in Glasgow , I got myself enrolled in a local library.It was a small one. The library in Banbury cannot be called a big one , but adequate for a small community of 35000 people.Ground floor of this Library has 5 major sections : non-fictional, fictional,children-specific,audio books &video and large print . The entire 1st floor is for reference section on various subjects, town's history and lineage of families, maps/directories and computers.

I found a book on 'Hindu Iconography' written by Margaret Stutley in the reference book section of Oxford's public library .I got a very favourable response from the authorities .The book was sent across to the library in Oxfordshire for my studying and copying . This library has several excellent books on 'History of Arts' section. For example, books on Classical art from Greece and Rome, Isms and understanding Art, which I could never find in National Library or Asiatic Society in Calcutta.

Statue of Lakulisha in British Museum

I have scanned lots of pages from this book of 'Hindu Iconography', specially several manifestations of Shiva/Rudra. My interest in this matter was aroused by the statue of Hari-Hara and ithyphallic Lakulisha ( was he a great Shaiva sage from Gujarat , 200 AD or a manifestation of Shiva *) in British Museum. The evolution of Shiva's current imagery from the pre-Vedic days to 20th/21st centuries ia interesting reading....... I shall collect more materials regd. this subject once I return to Calcutta. Many scholars believe that pre-Vedic Shiva and Vedic Rudra merged during course of centuries , during which there used be a lot of conflict between the followers of Vishnu and Shiva.

I have little knowledge in Jain Iconography...... may be Pankaj has. See the Jain equivalent of Rudra's image ( Ranakpur temple) in : and Bhairav's photos in :

* A note below the statue describes Lakulisha as one of the biggest Shaiva sages whereas on searching 'Lakulisha' in 'British Museum's website, one finds this :
'an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva standing on the vanquished dwarf of ignorance, Apasmara, and flanked by two diminutive figures.'


PS said...

Dear Shyamal-ji,
Thanks for tagging me on this blog.
Very interesting to see the photo of the kakulisha sculpture.
Just a couple of words on the demon under Shiva's feet, known as Apasmara. In ayurveda, the word Apasmara is a medical term for epilepsy, apart from its semantic connotation of disorder, or a dis-rhythm.
Lord Shiva trampling on Apasmara makes more of a spectacular image in his famous Nataraja icon, where he is dancing in a superbly crafted image of grace, rhythm, order - destroying the demon of disorder. In this context, the ithyphallic nature of the image could be said to signify a high degree of motivation or raw passion. Thus, symbolically speaking, the statue signifies that order and rhythm and art, combined with pure passion can triumph over disorder.
(an ancient egyptian deity called Min is also often shown in an ithyphallic form, but its symbolism is not exactly profound).
- Pankaj

amitguha said...

Excellent article. Please write more.

Hardly anyone knows of the Saiva cult of Pasupata and its great proponent Lakulisa now but once (9th c) it was widespread across India.

We know the cult originated in Gujarat but I have seen images of Lakulisa as far away as the Muktesvara temple in Orissa and on the Sangamesvara temple in Alampur in Andhra Pradesh.