The image of a god or goddess in Hindu art is conceived in anthropomorphic terms but at the same time it transcends human appearance. Towards this end, with certain exceptions, the gods of Hinduism are visualized with more than two arms. Their hands, posed in definite gestures, hold the attributes that represent the deity’s power and also establish its identity.
While Hindu art is concrete in its substantiality, it is but a means of conjuring up the divine presence. This is their essential function. The Hindu image serves as a yantra, an “instrument” that allows the beholder to catch a reflection of the deity whose luminescence transcends what our physical eye can see.
The vast literature available on Hindu art includes ancient texts delineating the exact iconographic features of deities and Hindu temples. These are known as silpa sastras. Several books on the art of Hinduism delineate the iconometry of individual Hindu gods and goddesses. Also displayed here are numerous encyclopedias and reference works, providing handy, but comprehensive information on all aspects of Hindu art, including history, aesthetics, and iconography, all at one place.
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