Hindu Deities as an Asian Art Form

Hinduism teaches that there is only one God the supreme, formless, omnipotent Brahman. The different Gods and Goddesses, or deities, seen in Hindu temples are merely symbolic representations of particular characteristics or functions of that formless God.

Three of the most popular Hindu deities are Ganesh, Krishna and Saraswati.

A painting of Ganesh - Remover of Obstacles Ganesh (or Ganesha) is the Hindu elephant-headed god, known (by various names in different parts of India and on different occasions) as the Remover of Obstacles, the god of domestic harmony and of success. He is the most beloved and revered of all the Hindu gods, and is always invoked first in any Hindu ceremony or festival. He is the son of Parvati (the wife of Shiva, the Destroyer, the most powerful of the Hindu trinity of principal gods). There are many stories about how Ganesha got his elephant head, and about his exploits and antics. He was created as an ordinary boy, but was decapitated in battle. Shiva's emissaries were sent into the forest and told to get the head of the first animal they found and to fit that head onto the boy's neck. They found a little elephant, and it worked!

Fine ivory figurine of Ganesh - Remover of Obstacles - from the Villa Del Prado Light of Asia Collection Ganesh has four hands, elephant's head and a big belly. His vehicle is a tiny mouse. In his hands he carries a rope (to carry devotees to the truth), an axe (to cut devotees' attachments), and a sweet dessert ball -laddoo- (to reward devotees for spiritual activity). His fourth hand's palm is always extended to bless people. A unique combination of his elephant-like head and a quick moving tiny mouse vehicle represents tremendous wisdom, intelligence, and presence of mind.

A painting of Lord Krishna playing his flute. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu and was born in the Dvarpara Yuga as the "dark one". Krishna is the embodiment of love and divine joy, that destroys all pain and sin. Krishna is the protector of sacred utterances and cows. Krishna is a trickster and a lover, an instigator of all forms of knowledge and born to establish the religion of love.

Krishna was born as the 8th child of Devaki, sister of the cruel demon king Kamsa. The sage Narada had predicted that Kamsa would be killed by his nephew, so the king killed Devaki's first six children. The 7th, Balarama escaped and the 8th, Krishna, was secretly exchanged for a cowherd's daughter. Krishna was brought up in a cowherd's family. As a child, Krishna had great love for his foster-mother Yashoda. Later Krishna loved to play the flute and to seduce the village girls. Krishna is the deity of Hasya or Humor and a messenger of peace.

Fine ivory figurine of Krishna, Lord of the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita - from the Villa Del Prado Light of Asia Collection Tradition holds that Krishna saw Vishnu in a vision in which the former deity told Krishna to destroy Kamsa, son of a demon, a tyrannical ruler of the world. After Krishna killed Kamsa, he became king. In the great Mahabaratha epic, Krishna spoke memorable words on the essence of Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of Devotion. They are at the centre of the Bhagavad Gita.

A painting of Saraswati - Hindu goddess of learning Saraswati (Sarasvati) is a Hindu goddess of learning. She is the goddess of speech (Vac), the Flowing-One. She represents the union of power and intelligence from which organized creation arises. Saraswati possesses all the teachings of the Vedas... scriptures, dancing, musical power and poetry. She revealed language and writing to man. Her origin is the lost Vedic river Saraswati. This is the source of her profound connection to fluidity in any aspect (water, speech, thought...). She is wisdom, fortune, intelligence, nourishment, brilliance, contentment, splendor and devotion.

Fine ivory figurine of Saraswati - Hindu goddess of learning - from the Villa Del Prado Light of Asia Collection Goddess Saraswati is the wife (consort) of Lord Brahma and possesses the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus (a symbol of true knowledge) in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on the violin (veena). She is dressed in white (sign of purity) and rides on a white goose (swan).

Closeups of the statues on this page and every sculpture in the Villa Del Prado Light of Asia Collection can be found on the main page.

back to the previous page