Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Short But Sweet: Episode 13: Hindu Art

Shiva with three faces
In Hinduism there are four goals in life while on earth and a person should aspire to all four. These four goals are: Dharma (righteous living), Artha (wealth earned through the pursuit of a profession), Kama (human and sexual love), Moksha (spiritual salvation).
Hindu temples are dedicated to a deity and aimed at helping the devotee toward his or her spiritual salvation, but the other three goals of life are often represented as well, mainly in sculpture. When a viewer understands these goals they will better understand the many sensuous and seemingly secular themes that can be found on the walls of Indian temples.

Unlike Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or many other religions, Hinduism had no single founder or prophet. Parts of Hinduism can be traced to the sacred literature of the Aryans called the Vedas, which are sacred Sanskrit hymns of praise dedicated to the gods. Other parts of Hinduism came from faith in the power of the mother goddess, a belief prevalent among indigenous peoples. How Hinduism is understood in the present day emerged at about the beginning of the Christian era.

Shiva the Lord of the Dance

This modern form of Hinduism emphasizes the supremacy of the god Vishnu, the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti.

In Hinduism there are many gods, this is called polytheism and can be confusing to people who believe in one god, or monotheism. Hindu’s view their gods as different facets of one diamond.


Shakti, also known as Durga

In Hindu art the viewer will notice deities often portrayed with many arms, this multiplicity emphasizes the power of the deity and the ability to accomplish many astonishing acts of power at one time. If two arms is good, six arms is great. Demons are often depicted with many heads, this is done to indicate their supreme power. When deities are shown with more than one head this is generally an attempt to show the different aspects of their character. For example, if you see the god Shiva portrayed with three heads, the head in the center is his “essential” character while the other two heads could depict his fierce and blissful characteristics.

In Hindu art, just like any religious art, the more you understand of the religion, the more you will appreciate and understand the art.

Lord Rama with Arrows
We apologize for not having the Kandinsky episode up, illness in the ranks prevented us from recording it. We hope you enjoy this SBS on Hindu Art. Join us next week for or first episode delving into fashion! Jo and Alisha will be talking about Christian Dior.

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