The concept of Shiva - Somaskanda murthi

In Indian iconography, Shiva is often depicted in one of two forms. The soumya(pleasant) rupa(form) and the (a)ghora(terrific) rupa. In ancient times Shiva cults across India has been accepted as esoteric, magical and often non conformist. He is worshiped at cremation grounds, his company is depicted as ghosts and dwarfs and ganas etc... His exploits in various mythological stories appear reasonably rebellious to social order, yet he is one of the most respected deities in the pantheon of Gods.

Depictions of him in soumya rupas are related to his family. Here the reference is made to his son Karthikeya also called Soma Skanda. Soma - is also a drink. It is an intoxicant, it is also the elixir to immortality.

Shiva is also associated with the Tantric school of thought that deals with the raising of the Kundalini. This sculpture, though very simple and basic holds a far more amazing concept than what meets the eye.

Somaskandamurthy is one of the most famous sculptures of Shiva and depicts Shiva with Parvati and their son Karthikeya. This sculpture is a Chola sculpture from then 10th century AD, in the Rajaraja Museum at Tanjore.

Photos courtesy: Michael D. Gunther / ww.art-and-archaeology.com


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