Shiva the Destroyer - Symbology of the Hindu God in Zen Decor

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Stories, references, techniques and materials come together through the fine arts to express that art in essence, like culture , is always plural; developed with the combination of many factors. This also happens when the central theme is a religious system such as Hinduism and the concomitant artistic representation of Hindu deities .

Lord Shiva , one of the most worshiped gods in Indonesia - where spirituality connects to all forms of art, from handcrafted production to artwork - presents iconography formed by various symbolic elements laden with teachings from the different philosophical strands that form Hinduism and disseminate its beliefs around the world.

In the Hindu cosmovision , Shiva is the father of Lord Ganesha with his consort Parvati and together with Brahma and Vishnu composes the Trimurti , a trinity of Hindu gods responsible, respectively, for the destruction, creation and maintenance of the universe, balance or eternal law. He is the Destroyer or Transformer god , as he controls the cycle of time and makes the ignorance, illusions and attachments of the world crumble so that opportunities for growth and renewal arise.

Shiva's image shows the importance of destruction for the progress of all cycles.

Through existence dedicated to spiritual elevation with ascetic and zen practices such as yoga and meditation Shiva teaches to let go and respect the cycles of life. In the artisans' eyes, the deity is materialized with asanas ( yoga postures) and mudras (hand gestures) that claim confidence in divine wisdom and the connection of everything that exists in the universe.

Each aspect of Shiva 's iconography carved in decorative arts such as mandalas and sculptures or represented in artistic paintings presents a symbology connected to time and transformation. The naked body covered in ashes emphasizes the superiority of the spirit over matter and demonstrates the connection with the cycle of life, highlighting the importance of destruction for change to occur.

Shiva devoted himself to an ascetic life, which is why he is considered the creator of yoga .

Shiva is considered Tryambaka Deva (three-eyed lord) in the Hindu epic Mahavharata , so the eyes represent the sun and action (right) and the moon and desire (left), while the third eye , the eye of wisdom, symbolizes fire (spiritual energy) and divine perception. The crescent moon in her hair shows that she is beyond emotions; the tiger skin , on the other hand, shows that destructive power is also beyond strength or instinct.

The snake around the neck represents time (past, present and future) and highlights the laws of justice that maintain order in the universe. The ear rings ( kundalas ) symbolize alakshya and niranjan - what cannot be shown and what cannot be seen by mortals. Ganga , goddess personified by the Ganges River , is supported by Shiva 's hair flowing like a trickle of water, symbolizing the purification that emanates from the body in the form of thoughts and actions.

the om symbol ( Ohm or Aum ), it is sometimes associated with the image of Shiva , who represents the sacred sound present in all that exists, whose combination of curves with a semicircle and a point represents the states of the elevation of consciousness . The vibhuti is another symbol present in the figure of the Hindu god characterized by three horizontal lines that connect under the third eye . It symbolizes purity and wisdom, through the symbolic burning of desires and attachments, as well as understanding the transience of matter.

Shiva is one of the three most important Hindu gods (trimurti) worshiped in Indonesia.

The trident ( trishul or trishula ) shows protection for the different dualities of life and the energetic balance point between them called Ida , Pingala and Sushumna . Rudraksha japamala, sacred seed also known as Shiva's tears , indicates a life devoted to meditation. The hourglass drum ( damaru or damru ) represents the rhythms that exist in everything that exists, the non-dual nature of the universe and the energy that flows in the process of expansion (creation and destruction).

The skull personifying the fifth head of Brahma , the silver bow ( pinaka ), the lingan (aniconic representation of the unification of the cosmos with its creator), the white bull ( Nandi ), symbol of dharma , are other significant elements also found in the iconography from Shiva .

Shiva Nataraja is the cosmic dancer who maintains the rhythm (balance) of the universe.

As dance is one of the most important forms of expression in Hindu culture , Shiva is also seen as the cosmic dancer in the figure of Nataraja , the Tandava lord of dance whose rhythm (a metaphor for balance) is manifested in all creations. Under the fiery circle of the endless cycle of time, holding the divine spark ( agni ) and the damaru drum Shiva demonstrates the abhaya mudra, gesture of fearlessness, and indicates the left foot as a symbol of salvation.

When performing the dance of destruction , Shiva keeps one foot on Aspamara Purusha , dwarf icon of ignorance and illusion. The snakes represent selfishness to be fought while the flowing hair symbolizes the goddess Ganga , epitome of the Ganges river that purifies and removes ignorance.

Shiva Nataraja 's image is a teaching on maintaining balance between ignorance (which is not destroyed but controlled) and knowledge.

Shiva teaches to detach from matter and to respect the time of things with destruction.

Whatever its manifestation, Shiva teaches the importance of detachment and understanding the cycles of existence, accepting the processes of death (destruction). Essentially or in materiality, something always dies for something to be born and maintain balance. Therefore, access the teachings of the decorative arts Hindus with Shiva and be aware of what you need to let go.


Milene Sousa - Art & Tune

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Achei o artigo realmente interessante e instrutivo, me ajudou a compreender mais sobre a figura de Shiva. Gostaria de perguntar qual o lugar adequado para colocar uma estátua de Shiva Nataraja!

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