Friday, February 17, 2012


By Chirag Sharma

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With Shivratri, the well-observed, internationally widespread Hindu festival approaching, our office was abuzz with what art and design could well have to do with the Shivling, especially since the Shivling is vastly considered as the primordial form of abstractionism...

Firstly, we sorted out the inventory of images that we had - of beautifully decorated Shivlings, something that we felt we just had to share with our readers. (Wish we knew who mailed them to us – could have credited the photographer). Next, research pads quickly filled up with jottings from various sources.

 Prasat Kravan Angkorwat temple, Cambodia.
However, the initial euphoria of celebrating this aspect of Indian heritage has given way to an uncanny uncertainty. Theories confound as much as they mesmerize – from scientific allegories to mythological tales; and just as intriguing are the conflicting opinions and conjectures, definitions of the Shivling and its symbolic interpretations.  

Sailesh Vera's Digital Work
Sharing a fraction of our findings with you -Shiva is represented by the Ling or Mark, the outward symbol of the formless being, which manifests in the ‘Creative Power of Divinity’ - a creative power that artists have explored in various forms - Shivling, Nataraja, Ardhanarishwara etc. Lord Shiva’s manifestations are memorialized through temple complexes of Khajuraho in north India to Madhurai in the south and continue to be a point of exploration for many a contemporary artist. The Nataraja pose of Lord Shiva and is manifested as a popular form of metal sculpture.

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Image courtesy: suzynaik
Shiva mythology, in fact, is a rich source of Indian thinking about sexuality, social relations, ritual, cosmic process, and metaphysics. The Male-Female union in the form of ‘Shiva Linga or Yoni-Linga’ or ‘Ardhanarishwara’ may be visualized as a parallel to the Chinese philosophy of ‘Yin-Yang’ or ‘Male-Female’. Metaphysically too, scientific philosophy explains fundamentals of existence through ‘positive and negative’ or ‘male and female’ aspects of matter and life.

Ujjain Mahakaleswar Temple

Artist's Impression
The late astrophysicist Carl Sagan in his book, Cosmos, asserts that the Dance of Nataraja (Tandava) signifies the cycle of evolution and destruction of the cosmic universe (Big Bang Theory). “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shiva in a beautiful series of bronzes. Today, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the pattern of the cosmic dance. Thus, the metaphor of the cosmic dance unifies ancient religious art and modern physics,” he writes.

Vishveshwara Temple

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In Varanasi, at the famed Kedarnath temple is a Shivling in the main sanctum, which is a low flat rock with speckled light granite on one side, a line of white granite going across the rock and dark speckled granite on the other side. The Puranic (ancient Hindu Text) story is that this Shivling represents a plate of rice and lentils. The ling is epitomized as a bisexual symbol where shaft of the ling of Shiva is set in a circular base, called a ‘seat’. It is the seat of that divine energy personified as Shiva's female half called Shakti.

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Sailesh Vera's Digital Work
Absorbing philosophies apart, to enunciate the common expression of the Shivratri Festival, it is celebrated on a moonless night in the Hindu month of Phalgun that corresponds to the month of February-March in the English Calendar. According to Hindu mythology, Shivratri or 'Shiva's Great Night' symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that Shivratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. On this day, the Shivling is bathed with milk, honey, yogurt, sandalwood paste and rose water. Decorations range from beautiful floral patterns and garlands accompanied by select fruits (especially the jujube fruit) and traditional loin cloths. But the most important and significant offering to the Shivling on this day is the Bel Patra or leaves of a forest tree called Aegle marmelos (bilwa, maredu, wood apple), which have to be a stalk with three leaves.

On the eve of Shivaratri festival in Vizag, more than ten million small Shivalingas
 were joined together to get the shape of a mighty Shiva Linga on the beach road in Vizag in 2009


  1. A great recapitulation of major concepts of the Shiva Tattwa.I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.Thank you.

  2. Yes, one can learn much from mythology....if you can see it as metaphor for life....some things never change....
    Posted by Liz Hurley on LinkedIn Group: Art Collecting Network

  3. What fascinates me is that if we put our mind on any track it continues on that path like a railroad engine, and the more we pursue our thoughts in that one direction,the more we distance ourselves of everyday reality, which is matter. And matter -of course- doesn't even exist. It is all energy. And since matter doesn't exist, time doesn't exist either. (Oh, my God, did I just stir up a bee's nest?)

  4. Hi Rudy.

    Not really. String theory is now proving that one proton has all the information to create another universe. Quantum Physics is proving that matter can be infinitely divided. It is all fractal in design meaning that there is no single point of origin and time has no meaning in the concepts of eternal life. Neurological Science is starting to prove spirituality because they are defining the differences between Consciousness and something that is Self-aware.

    It does not matter if it is human nature or human behavior you are not born that way. It is caused by lack of knowledge and influence. Wisdom will always be the intelligent choices you make in life based upon the Freewill of how you use that knowledge for good or bad, where fate and destiny is 100% controlled by emotions. This is a probability just like timelines are.

    Timelines can be speeded up or slowed down by the power of knowledge. Timelines can be natural or altered just like evolution can be natural or interfered with. It does not take a physical change in an event to change a timeline. All it takes is a change in thought process. This is because it does not matter if you go forward or backwards into time. All timelines exist at the same time.

    The Einstein/ Rosen theory states that time will slow down the more you approach the speed of light. The opposite is true where days, months and years can past at the blink of an eye, only for you to return from those Fairy Realms with no memory and hearing laughter in the wind.

    What purpose does life serve if there is no memory of it kept?
    Posted by Norman Free in LinkedIn Group: Art Collecting Network

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  6. Interesting that the symbol and statue in front of the main particle accellerator for all the ESS research is Shiva.
    Posted by Norman Free in LinkedIn Group: Art Collecting Network

  7. Hi Norman:
    Thanks for your earlier comment. If I say “You made my day” I may be accused of living in that singular timeline. If I say “You made my life” it may sound a bit off the wall. And so I just say “Thank you for filling in some gaps in my (mostly intuitive) knowledge!” Your thoughts are very instructive and entirely in line with my own (philosophical) thought process.

    But in your last sentence “What purpose does life serve if there is no memory of it kept?” there is a flaw. Why does our life need to have a purpose? I am a perfectly happy human being (even a bit of a Buddhist, and definitely not a nihilist) living with the idea that our life is like that of a computer: When it shuts down and/or the hardware is thrown away it is all over. That thought doesn’t frighten me. I had a near death experience of 32 minutes back in 1965 and when I came back I was happy to be still alive. That was it.

    Rudy Ernst

  8. We search for answers using every tool we find. Correlation may or may not be correct, but they aid our understanding.
    Posted by Delora Harding on LinkedIn Group: International ARTS & CRAFTS Network

  9. Thank you folks. It is heartening to read such informed comments. Am I glad I got involved in this research. In fact, it is said of our Indian scriptures that if you want to see a combination of both, pure science and applied science at one place, you can experience it by worshipping Lord Shiva. I quote: "You can worship Shiva in two ways: one by acknowledging that he is present in the smallest as well as the biggest forms of life and the other as the creator of the life itself.
    This is one of the biggest accomplishments of our culture that modern science and ancient Indian spiritual knowledge are not separate but converge at a point. We can use messages from one to further our knowledge of the other. The need is to expand our thinking, spiritual knowledge studies and research in order to expand our understanding."
    Chirag Sharma, India Art n Design Ezine

  10. Today people seem surprise when science and spirituality connect, (the God Gene hypothesis) proving one another's legitimacy. But thats how they started out - science was the active step-by-step study of the 'mind of God' or the order of nature, while religion focused on the philosophy.
    Posted by Bettianne Thompson on LinkedIn Group: International ARTS & CRAFTS Network

  11. Penso che ogni creazione valida riesca solo nella condizione di schietto abbandono dell'ego. Quando il nostro spirito si eleva oltre il dolore e le miserie quotidiane .Silvana Canobbio
    Posted by Silvana Canobbio on LinkedIn Group: International ARTS & CRAFTS Network

  12. Today people seem surprise when science and spirituality connect, (the God Gene hypothesis) proving one another's legitimacy. But thats how they started out - science was the active step-by-step study of the 'mind of God' or the order of nature, while religion focused on the philosophy.
    Posted by Bettianne Thompson on Linedin Group: International ARTS & CRAFTS Network


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