Shiva as Vinadhara
Shiva is shown here as Vinadhara. In Sanskrit, vinadhara translates as Vina Holder, although in this icon, as in most Vinadhara sculpture, the vina is assumed rather than depicted literally. Here Shiva is dressed very simply as Creator of Yoga and Lord of Meditation. His two front hands are in a position to hold the vina, while his rear hands hold an axe (parasu) symbolizing the severing of ties to the material world and a deer (mrga), representing gentle attentiveness. Whatever it is doing, the deer is always mindful of predators and suggests the way we should live in the world — practising non-violence (ahimsa) while being aware of the impermanence and transitory nature of the world. Shiva tramples spiritual ignorance represented by the dwarf, Apasmara, under his left foot.
The first vina was created as an experiment by Shiva in his role as creator and master of yogic meditation, thinking music may help focus the mind. He went into the forest, cut a length of bamboo and attached a hollowed out gourd to either end before stringing it with animal gut. It is said that when the deer of the forest first heard Shiva play, they implored him to; “Make the strings of my own veins and put them on your vina. As long as I live, continue to play”.
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12 in / 30 cm
5.18 lb / 2.35 kg