Large Size Mahayogi Shiva in Pranayama
30.5 inch x 22 inch 15 inch
This excellent brass-cast represents Lord Shiva, one of the Gods-Trio in Indian theological tradition, as engaged in 'Yoga', a kind of penance involving regulation of physique and controlled breathing and thereby commanding the mind to transcend from its material plane to a perception of infinity. Different from a simple 'padamashana' figure, Lord Shiva has been represented in this brass-piece in a posture of 'pranayama', the most difficult and rigorous of all breath-controlling exercises. Stern attitude of hands and straight figure, all define the state of 'Pasupat Yoga', a combination of 'Pranayama' and penance, of which Lord Shiva was the master. Lord Shiva is sculpted here young and charged with energy. He has been conceived with normal two hands, as hands have little role in 'yoga' and penance. This same Shiva is conceived with multiple arms when he is in his manifestations as 'Tripurantaka', 'Natesha' or when performing 'Tandava', obviously because he works then for destruction and dissolution. This statue has been modeled on South Indian style of Chola bronzes. A strong sensitive pointed nose, not large but detailed lips set within a recessed socket, the third eye boldly cutting across the capacious forehead, Matted hair towering like a turban, Ganga enshrining its top and the crescent its middle, are characteristic features of Shaivite iconography, but here in their style of rendering they are essentially South Indian. "Jatamukuta', but for a thick lock let loose to recline on his right shoulder, has been shaped as a towering crown, again a feature of South Indian images. The image has been cast with other essential attributes -trident, tiger skin, garlands and armlets made of 'rudraksha' and kamandalu, the mendicant's food bowl. In texts, Lord Vishnu has been acclaimed as the 'Adi-guru', i.e., the first teacher, of 'Yoga', but it is only Lord Shiva who, by practising rigorous penance and 'Yoga', wins the title of 'Mahayogi'. His earliest icons, manifest in Indus terracotta seals, depict him seated cross-legged as a 'yogi' engaged in penance. Subsequently, after he emerged as an important deity of Vedic pantheon, there grew around him a number of legends, some of which also related to how he resorted to penance and 'Yoga'. As the tradition has it, once Brahma asked him to assist Brahma in the work of creation. Shiva, endowed with immense energy, began the work but created all of his own kind, ferocious and violent. Awe-stricken Brahma prayed him to stop and resort to penance to better equip himself for further creation. He retired to mount Munjavat and devoted himself to penance, especially the 'Pashupata yoga'. Later, Brahma held a great 'yajna'. Shiva, although not invited to the 'yajna', headed to 'yajna-shala'. He had a piece of meat in his hands. He was disallowed entry. In utter humiliation he left to Varanasi and engaged there in rigorous penance. It was during his stay at Varanasi that he killed the elephant demon Gaya inflicting terror in the town. Early Brahmanical texts are a little critical of Shiva and depict a reluctance as to his acceptance in the pantheon. It is one reason that many scholars claim that Lord Shiva had a non-Aryan origin. They allude to excavations from Mohenjo-daro and Harappan towns, which reveal material evidencing that, as early 3000 B.C., the inhabitants of Indus valley worshipped a god who greatly resembled the subsequent god Lord Shiva in his 'Yogi' form. Carved on Indus terrcotta seals this god, seated as 'Yogi', has three heads and is surrounded by various animals. The sculptural remains of about 2000 B.C., discovered from Babylonia, reveal the existence of a similar god known by the name of Teshaba worshipped by the Hitatite tribe of West Asia. The Indus god did not carry trident nor had bull as his vehicle. Teshaba had both, the bull as well as the trident. Such scholars perceive in the ferocious Rudra or Ishana of the Vedas and the 'Trishira' or three headed "Vrashavaha' or 'Vrashavahana', i.e., the god riding the bull, of Mahabharata (14.299; 14.390) a blend of the 'Yogi' god of Indus and Teshaba god of West Asia.