Vishnu, Krishna, and Shiva


1.    Lord Shiva

a.    Two general Features:

                                     i.     Unconventional:  ecstasy, dance, intoxication.  Some of this in Krishna devotionalism, Shaivism includes strong ascetic emphasis, accepts non-vedic forms of revelation (Tantra); finds value in pollution and the cremation grounds.

                                   ii.     God of paradox (in later, developed forms): Not only an ascetic, but the ideal householder as well. Cosmic forms, union of all opposites

1.    The "erotic ascetic."  Dharma & moksha.  Householder & ascetic

1.    Transformation of the ascetic ideal: assimilated into the householder ideology (ashramas; Gita)

2.    The emphasis in Shaivism is on asceticism, but it develops in ways that assert both asceticism and householding as two parts of a dynamic process that sustains the entire universe. A union of opposites. Cf. Cosmic Shiva: inclusive of all things.

b.    Representations:

a.    Lord of Yoga. Seated in meditation in the Himalayas, covered in ashes; third eye (burned kama, desire), matted locks, crecent moon in hair

b.    Shivling: phallus and yoni. Sexual?  

                                              i.     Cf. Prema: erotic love raised to level of devotional love that transcends human love

                                            ii.     The linga draws on sexual imagery to symbolize cosmic principles of male and female principles that unite to make the universe run in its eternal cycles.

c.    Ardhanarishvara: The Lord who is half woman

d.    Nataraja: Lord of the Dance. 

                                              i.     A play of divine energy, dynamic process of creation and destruction.  (Cf. Visnu on celestial serpent).  Chola dynasty (10th century).

                                            ii.     A rhythmic cycle of creation and destruction; beyond which is the one, pervasive divinity.  Wild motion/perfect serenity. The two together make up the dynamic quality of the Nataraja image

2.    Lord Vishnu

c.    Traditional representation with discus, lotus, mace, and conch shell

d.    10 Avatara, including:

                                     i.     Krishna

1.    As youth

2.    As child

                                   ii.     Rama: of the epic Ramayana

e.    Saving the world from disorder, maintaining dharma