Veenadhara Shiva, Not a Dakshinamurti

N.Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 13 13:22:19 UTC 1999

Re: Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Panini, Abhinavagupta, etc.

Earlier, B. Ramakrishnan drew attention to a small footnote
by S. Kramrisch, The presence of 'Siva, p.57:
<<"A very early example of Siva as vINAdhAra daxiNAmUrti can be found
in C. Sivaramamurti, Nataraja in Art, Thought and Literature, 1976, p.
169, fig. 4, a terracota image of the **shuN^ga period, 2nd century
BC**. A much later example, p. 169, fig. 95 on p. 243 from the early
Cola period, illustrates **the image in its consolidated
iconography**" (emphasis mine).>>

While the terracotta image illustrated in C. Sivaramamurti,
Nataraja in art, thought, literature (CN) could be a
Veenadhara Shiva, it is not a Veenadhara Dakshinamurti.

Dakshinamurti icons are found mostly in the Tamil South only
and the remainder in its cultural sphere. In the main text
on the same p. 57, Stella Kramrisch writes,"In South India, the
image of Siva Dakshinamurti is enshrined in a niche on the
South (dakSiNa) wall of the main sanctuary of the temple,
whether 'Saiva or VaiSNava. `Because 'Siva was seated facing
South when he taught the rishis yoga, jnAna he came to be known as
Dakshinamurti' (T. A. Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu iconography,
1968, v.2, pt. I, p.273)". Not only classical sangam texts
(maturaik kAJci and kalittokai), even the canon
of the prime rival sect, - nAlAyira prabandham has two hymns
on Dakshinamurti. Hence, Dakshinamurti images can be
found in Vaishnava Tirupatis also. Naturally, Tevaram has several
instances of Dakshinamurti, Plus Shaivaite agamas written in Tamil

Dakshinamurti is viewed in four different aspects depending
on what he taught to the Rishis, - 1) yoga, 2) jnAna, 3) sAstras
(vyAkhyAna) and 4) music (veenadhara). The first three
- yoga, jnana, vyakhyana - dakshinamurtis are only found in the
South. J. N. Banerjea, Development of Hindu iconography, p. 470
"The Yoga-, JnAna- and VyAkhyAna- Dakshinamurtis of Siva are
mostly South Indian in character and Rao's attempt at explaining
two of the PArzvadevatas in a niche of the DazAvatAra temple
at Deogarh (U.P.) as Jnana and Yoga Dakshinamurtis of Siva have been
proved to be wrong, the figures really standing for Nara and Narayana,
the two AvatAras of viSNu (cf. supra, p. 254, fn 4)".

Let us look at the Figure and what CN has to say on the
Dakshinamurti (??)of the Sunga period, 2nd century BCE. Very
brief and ambiguous.C. Sivaramamurti, Nataraja ..., - p.168
[Mentioning a 'Siva in a copper seal found in Sirkap and of
the Hellenistic period. Following it]
"in the context of a still earlier terracotta figurine of the
zuGga period, representing the musical form Vinadhara Dakshinamurti,
now in the Gopi Krishna Kanoria collection. It is a unique
figure, representing ziva as Dakshinamurti, presiding over
Gandharva veda, which includes music and dance (Fig. 4)."

The title of the Figure 4, so called Veenadhara Dakshinamurti
reads: "Vinadhara Dakshinamurti seated on a bull(Himalaya)
eith GaNas below, carrying harp-shaped vINA in his hand. 'SuGga,
2nd century B.C."

Whether this image is really a Dakshinamurti??
No bull or mountain (Himalayas) is clearly visible
in the small terracotta. Note Sivaramamurti's
hesitation to call it a bull or a hill.

1) Two gaNas are squatting and upholding a slab on which
'Siva (?) is seated with the harp (rudraveena?). The gaNas wear
patra kuNDalas usually worn by women. In other sculptures, these
overfed gaNas enjoy music, blow conches, beat drum, make dance
showing their relation to music and frolicking character.
These overfed imps are subhuman and are usually out of control.
Only the mad guy, 'Siva can handle them. They are not the
attentive students trying to pick up Siva's speechless lessons.
On the contrary to depicted gaNas, Dakshinamurti's disciples are
the old, physically worn out, Rishis (sanaka team of four) overgrown
with beards and are very different than the gaNas in manners.

2) The image appears to be ithyphallic with an Urdhva-liGga.
Then, this zuGga item is a precursor to numerous Veenadharas
found in North India from later periods. The patra kuNDalas
of the gaNas seem to strengthen this likelihood since Veenadhara
images seated or dancing often accompany the 7 mAtrikas.
May be the gaNas' female aspect is highlighted by large
patra kuNDalas (tamil tODu).

The erect linga organ is very common in Veenadharas in the North.
Many later examples exist for Veenadhara. Eg., from CN, a) Veenadhara,
Gupta, 5th century, NAchnA b) Veenadhara in a Matrika group, vAkATaka,
Ellora 3) Veenadhara (with Urdhvalinga), Asanapat, Orissa, 6th
century and so on. Veenadhara accompanied by seven mAtrikas or just
the Devi alone, is common in the North. Look at CN, Fig. 204.
Siva as Veenadhara and Devi with anklets in the hands,
getting ready for dance, Gurjara PratihAra, 9th century A.D.
from LakkamaNDal (p. 323).

3) On the other hand:
Any form of dakshinamurti, veenadhara or otherwise, is
*never* accompanied by a woman. P. R. Srinivasan, Bronzes of
South India dedicates several sections on how to distinguish
between a TripurAndaka and a Veenadhara Dakshinamurti
(Those who work on Southern sculpture  know that
often it is highly difficult to say which is which).
A main criterion is that if a Goddess (Tripurasundari) is
present, then definitely it is not a Veenadara Dakshinamurti.
Hence it is unthinkable to have a Dakshinamurti with an
erect organ. The supreme teacher in the South does not want a woman
nearby dancing.

4) Another problem is if Dakshinamurti is manifest so early
in the North, why no single image of Dakshinamurti is
present there ever since?

Summary: This Sunga terracotta, with no tree (a banyan) and no
rishis, could well be a Veenadhara Shiva, but not a Veenadhara
Dakshinamurti. Much like Ananda tANDava NaTarAja, Lingodhbhava,
Somaskanda and so on, Dakshinamurti imagery is found in the
South only.

N. Ganesan

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