A Unique Conception of Ardhanarishvara

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One day Bhringi, a mighty sage and one of Shiva’s greatest devotees during his visit to pay homage to Mahadeva, refused to bow down before Shakti or Parvati because for him only Shiva and no one else was worthy of being revered. To teach him the valuable and occult lesson of the inseparability of Shiva-Shakti, the divine duo merged and thus emerged the enthralling composite divinity- “Ardhanarishvara” (Ardha-half, Nari-female, Ishwara- god), glowing with the union of the forces of Purusha (Shiva) and Prakriti (Parvati). After several attempts to prove his initial stand correct, Bhringi realized the prowess of Ardhanarishvara, who is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent forms worshipped in Hinduism. Based on this legend from the Shiva Maha Purana, artist Kailash Raj has produced this striking Ardhanarishvara watercolor on paper, in the artistically rich idiom of the Chamba style of the Pahari school of Indian painting. 

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Item Code: PAA607
Dimensions 7.00 inch Height X 6.00 inch Width

A wide bright red border outlines the celestial image of Ardhanarishvara in the painting, infusing the art with the remarkable vigours of red. On a contrasting background created by the muddy plains and light blue sky, the roopa of Ardhanarishvara is presented. The right half of Ardhanarishvara is goddess Parvati dressed in the traditional attire of a Pahari woman- a red Ghaghra, short pink choli (blouse), blue dupatta, and gold and pearl ornaments. Sandalwood paste painted with yellow tinges in this watercolor adorns the forehead of the great goddess who looks exceedingly enhanced with the large eyes and stray hair strands freely falling on her torso. In her hand, Devi Parvati carries an elongated skull cup, an attribute that is associated with her bloodthirsty avatar as Mahakali. Complementing her gaura varna (fair color) with his ash-smeared white body, Mahadeva Shiva stands in the left half, with three-fourths of his face appearing on the canvas in comparison to the half profile of his wife. Shiva’s body is marked with Tripunda (three-lined auspicious mark) made with Kasturi (musk) paste, Chandra or crescent moon (on the matted hair), Rudraksha bead ornaments, Naga-Abhushana (snake ornament), and Baagha charma or tiger hide. Between his index and middle finger, Shiva holds his Trishula (trident) whose stalk stands parallel to his bare leg. With a remarkable focus and use of complementing colors, Kailash Raj has successfully recreated the fusion of Shiva and Shakti while keeping their unique characteristics apart for us to appreciate. The respective amounts of Parvati and Shiva- tiger and bull dressed in patterned drapes and strings of ghungroo (tiny bells) gaze up at their mistress and master, in awe of the ethereal form they have chosen. For the artist, philosopher, and devotee, this watercolor Ardhanarishvara painting is nothing short of a blessing and an invitation, to share the awe experienced by the celestial feral beings.

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