SHIVA-AS-YAMA, SHIVA-AS-KAAL, bearing a most Gauri bride indeed. Monday Devotional (A)Art(I) Posting!
Now, technically speaking, this is actually a depiction of Hades & Persephone by Ulpiano Checa, circa 1888 [the painting, I mean, not when They were depicted]. However, not only do we have reasonable strength of analysis to make a strong linkage between Hades and Sky Father [this has been, and shall be, covered by us in greater detail elsewhere – but for now, just take a look at the Roman: ‘Dis Pater’, for instance], but there are also an array of direct attestations supporting the connection of the Hindu equivalent – Yama – with Shiva, as well.
Fittingly, the artist may have been subconsciously aware of this – as Hades, here, is depicted wielding a *Trident* , rather than the Bident with which the Lord of the Underworld in Greek reckoning was more usually equipped.
Now, in terms of the actual myth itself, there is one rather key point that must be made. The painting in question is entitled “El Rapto de Proserpina” – and in terms of the verb in that title, it is not hard at all to see how moralizing authors of the past few centuries have ‘reinterpreted’ the myth in question with a bid to effectively cast Hades as a violent abductor if not outright ‘violator’ of a divine woman.
Yet art not so – and not only do we have an array of ancient texts that fairly explicitly paint *quite a different* [i.e. rather more voluntary] picture of the situation directly; we also have the linguistic evidence from the Classical world of the actual word itself – raptus – not referring (necessarily) to sexual violation, but rather of the abduction of a woman from her family, her father’s household. That is to say, what we would in *modern* terms, think of as being an ‘elopement’ – which, if you are running on an old-school and literally Patriarchal model of the family, is ‘seizing or ‘stealing’ from the head of said household.
This, perhaps, may also be thought of as bearing some level of similarity to the habitual situation of Lord Shiva as having either the outright emnity [in the case of Daksha], or initial misgivings [in the case of King Himavat] of His fathers-in-law, due to their general/initial perceptions of Rudra as having basically ensnared their daughters to marry, for love, beneath Their station.
[It may also, on a *further* side-note, be perhaps possible to compare this to the concept of a ‘Rakshasa Marriage’, as found in the Manusmriti and Dharmashastras … although those can often be rather more explicitly *involuntary* as applies the would-be bride-to-be’s ‘participation’. Which is *not*, lest there be any doubt, *at all* to do with the Shaivite myths in question.]
In any case, as applies the mythic parallels I am sketching out, there are two further instances which bear mentioning:
The first, concerns the Nordic Njord – whom we have previously argued to be either very close to, or almost coterminous with Odin Himself [n.b.: this particular equivalence-work is still highly theoretical, and Tristan is at pains to emphasize that he does not yet endorse this position]; and His Wife, Skadi [Skadi is also later attested as a wife of Odin, so make of that what you will; and I keep meaning to set to work writing up a more detailed #NAS comparative-mythological accounting of Skadi, in relation to several other Shiva-associated Devi-Forms and Aspects, such as Bhadra].
In this particular situation, the marriage of Skadi and Njord is further comparable to that of Persephone and Hades, as disagreements pertaining to the living arrangements and environs between the two lead to a ‘division of time’ – dependent upon source, either a 50-50 or a 75-25 division at Njord’s environs at or under the sea, versus in Skadi’s preferred demesne amidst the Mountains. It is not hard to see how this parallels the Pomegranatine-ordered division of domicilation of Persephone between the Upplands and the Underworld which accompanies Spring/Summer and Autumn-Winter in the Classical myth.
And speaking of the return of verdant vibrancy to the world, in the accompaniment of the Goddess’s footsteps, we shall close via mentioning of Devi as Shakambari, which occurs in the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam. Suffice to say that, as with many Durga legendary accounts, this features an act of demon-slaying carried out with impressively severe violence both metaphysical and veer-y physical indeed. As it should be. But also, alongside this is the *ending* of the drought and desertification that had been inflicted upon the earth by Durgamasur’s disruption of the righteous and proper rhythms of the universe via the obviation of the rites and sacrifices of the Vedas, and by extensions, Piety Itself being wiped from the minds of Men … which manifests, in part, through the restoration of greenery, of food-crops and the like that accompanies Devi Shakambari’s nurturing presence.
Indeed, ‘Shakambari’ as a theonym, directly connotes the idea of ‘bearing’, or ‘nourishing’, growing-things, plants, vegetables, life.
Which forms something of a dyad – not only with Her Divine Nature as the wrathful death-dealer to demons [and it is perhaps important to note that demon-slaying as a means to restore life to the world is a notion with long-standing Vedic precedency – consider the exploits of VAC as well as both Indra and Brhaspati in this direct regard, as applies Vritra and Vala, and the latter two’s disruption of water-cycles and the like, as classic examples) … but *also*, with the uber-fearsome and omni-lethal potential nature of Rudra, especially when Wrathful.
In other words, looking at the two figures at the heart of this image … it is not hard to see why it is that I see, not just ‘Proserpine and Hades’ –
But MahaGauri [‘Great White One’; ‘Gauri’ also meaning ‘fair’, ‘beautiful’, etc.] and MahaKaala [‘Great Black One’, ‘Kaal’, as we should all know by now, also meaning Death, and via the Proto-Indo-European “Kel-” particle which lies at its root, connoting also the ‘veil’ beyond which lies the Realm of the Dead].
Jai Ardhanarishvara Combined!