It is MONDAY – Lord Shiva’s Day :
And therefore – this fine Shiva murti , located at the Azhimala temple in Kerala. It is an impressive element of modern sculpture – towering nearly 18 meters tall and standing watch above the entrance-way to a subterranean place of worship.
The Form or Role of Shiva commemorated in this design is Shiva as Gangadhareshwara – the Lord [‘Ishvara’] of the Ganges; Who can be seen supported and borne ‘midst Lord Shiva’s ‘Vyomakesha’ [‘Heavenly Hair’ – the broad sweep of blackened strands of hair radiating out from His Head that are cognate to the Kyanokhaitis characteristic attested in Greek for Dionysus, Hades, Poseidon].
This sculpture took some six years to complete from start to finish – and was just recently unveiled, last week on New Years Eve. An auspicious start to the (Western) Year!
Now, I have often made it clear – my belief that India is the last ‘integral’ Indo-European civilization … the Hindusphere, the last living bough of the Indo-European mytho-religious tree … and this image helps to convey just what it is that we mean by this.
It is not uncommon, in other parts of the world, to see statues and other great works of public art erected – of course it isn’t. We even find, in some places, that these statues are of the Great Gods and mighty heroes of one’s ancestors – although most usually, these are relics of a time some centuries ago when such artworks were still deemed unproblematic (even at the height of Christendom) to be erected.
But here is the essential difference: there, no matter how mighty and aesthetic those depictions might so happen to be (and yes, there are some truly magnificent sculptures in various parts of Europe of which I am, even now, having cause to think) … they are just that – ’empty’ sculptures, placed up for aesthetic value alone.
Or, at the very least, engaged with purely for aesthetics by the passers-by. That is their meaning. That is their value, their role, their function. Adornment. Adornment of a long-since-gone-dormant spiritual core.
[There are some partial exceptions to this rule, of course, and my work upon the Cybele Statue of Madrid is a most intriguing immanent-implicit counter-example … to a degree, anyway – there, the Mythic Resonancy is such that even though they do not know quite why they are doing it, the people of Madrid nevertheless have, over the course of some two hundred years or more, begun to act a little more like there is something more going on there than a mere work of public aesthetics … ]
But this sculpture of Lord Shiva – this is a pious work of devotion! That is the Purpose. It is done intentionally and fully aware that that is what is going on. That this is a God – a Living God – being rendered in hard materials. Two, in fact!
And this fine depiction is standing at the site of Shaivite worship – a temple. An active, living, breathing, Indo-European Temple even amidst the Modern Age ; where mantras and stotrams that have been recited by us [Hindus] (or, if you are European – by our Cousins to the East) for near four thousand years plus in an unbroken line of descent.
This is, in other words, incredibly aesthetic! How could it not be!
But it is more – so much more – than that! It is the outer aesthetic manifestation of the still-living spiritual core. The adornment, in other words, is not ‘hollow’ – and the ‘attachment’ between those who are there around it, the community of worship, and the Gods is not simply one of ‘sentimentality’ nor idle faux-appreciation for appearances and artistic merit.
It is, in short, one of Faith.
And that – that is something that we can ALL learn from.
And hope to instill in our home societies, no matter where in the Indo-European sphere they may so happen to BE !
ॐ नमः शिवाय