THE EXPERIMENTAL PHASE
Multiple Icons of the
Period and Related Works
of the Early Gupta Period
are several north Indian sculptures of the Kuṣāṇa period and other
related products of the early Gupta period which represent an experimental
phase in early iconographical composition It was during this phase that
the unitary multiple icon as a free-standing sculpture was invented. These
works are termed experimental for the following reasons. They do not
continue any earlier iconographical tradition. Each sculpture is unique;
none constitutes a fixed iconographic precedent which is later repeatedly
copied. Each sculpture appears to be an original attempt to express in
visual terms a complex abstract concept.
sculptures to be discussed in this chapter which do not bear any definite
brahmanical symbols are nevertheless considered to be brahmanical icons on
the following- grounds. The metaphysical concept of which each sculpture
appears to be a Visual expression cannot be traced in either Buddhist or
Jaina theology; a reasonable explanation of each icon is, on the other
hand, to be found in the brahmanical tradition. The images described and
analysed in this chapter can be shown to be the prototypes form which iron
types of the brahmanical cults were derived.
the few extant works which represent this experimental Phase in
brahmanical iconography, I shall examine the following:
vertical arrangement of elements in which each figure is so positioned as
to appear behind and partly above the figure below it, as if all were
seated upon each other's shoulders, or standing upon the successive steps
of a stairway.
A ramifying composition in which several partly represented figures are
conjoined obliquely and vertically, somewhat like the spines of a fan, to
a central upright figure.
An apparent compromise between these two types, consisting of one partly
represented figure above and toward the back of the main figure (a
modification of the method used in Type A) while the obliquely disposed
figures of Type B Seem to have been abbreviated in such a way that only
their heads are represented on either side of the face of the central
Multi-headed unitary icons of different types.
the selected works which remain from this experimental phase in
brahmanical iconography, listed above, Sculptures numbered 1 and 2 belong
to Type A; Sculptures 3 to 5 are of Type B; Sculptures 6 and 7 are related
types; sculptures 8 to 10 belong to Type C; and 11 and 12 are transitional
images classed as Type D. The descriptive analysis and interpretation of
each work within the four types
which follows will provide the iconographical background to mature, established multiple icon
types of the Gupta and post periods.
first, and probably the earlier example of Type A, is a red stone fragment
found in the course of fieldwork, in one of the storerooms of the Mathura
Museum (Plate 1-2). It is an
upright rectangular slab, 59.7 centimetres in height. Upon one of the
wider sides is one anthropomorphic figure in low relief, another headless
figure above it and a head only below it. There are no gins of joints (for example, mortice sockets) on
the narrow sides, which would have suggested that it was a railing pillar.
On the contrary, there are faint traces of carving, now badly
eroded and not recognizable as
representing any particular figure or objects, on the sides where such
joints would normally be found if it were part of a stone railing.
It may have been a cult object in its own right; this conjecture
receives some support from the description of the Nānd column, which
follows, as the only other known example of Type A.
head at the base of the fragment (Plate 2) were the turban-with-rosette
headdress which is common to Kuṣāṇa sculpture and is to be seen on the
face of the Ekamukhaliṅga from Aghapur,
on other Kuṣāṇa Mukhaliṅgas, and eleven times on the Nānd column. The
now headless topmost figure, evidently male, retains no clear evidence of
clothing or body adornment, and the right arm is broken, its remains
suggesting that it was doubled back in the abhayamudrā.
The left hand holds an object resembling a stick with a swelling outward
curve at the top, which appears to have been a cāmara.
The middle figure has a hairstyle pulled to the left of the head, which is
surmounted by what appears to have been a peaked headdress, and wears
pendant ear-ornaments and a necklace. The bosom is unmistakably female.
The right hand is held up, as if in abhayamudrā,
and some elongated object is held in the left hand, leaning across the
second, and only other known example of Type A, is a sculpture which
presents the appearance of a populated Śivaliṅga (Plate 3-9).
It stands in the open, implanted upright in the surface of a square
mound faced with stone blocks among the low hills outside Pushkar not far
from Ajmer in Rajasthan, near the village of Nānd.
column stands approximately 152.5 cm high above the surface of the mound.
It is carved with anthropomorphic figures on four sides and has an
elongated hemispherical top. The main shaft of the column is demarcated by
a rebate cut horizontally into the stone three-quarters of the distance
from the base; the remaining portion constitutes the curved top of the
column, having a smaller diameter than that of the shaft.
badly damaged figures are carved upon the top portion, each facing one of
the four cardinal directions. At first glance, these seem to be grotesque,
pot-bellied dwarf-like creatures of the type associated with Śiva. They
appear in a squatting posture upon the narrow shelf formed by the rebate.
Their hands and arms are mostly broken, but it seems from the remains that
the right arm hung downward and that the left elbow rested on the left
knee, with the forearm extended horizontally across the chest (Plate 6).
They seem to have been depicted as completely naked, and at least
two of them are ithyphallic, a feature which would suggest strongly that
they are Śaiva. Their formal
posture and positioning in the four directions, however, suggests that
they were intended to be more than mere Śiva-gaṇas.
each of these four is a vertical series of three figures.
The two upper figure of each series are depicted standing behind
and partly above the one below it, in such a way as to be fully visible
only from the waist upward. The lowest figure can also be seen only above
the waist; unless the mound is excavated, it cannot be ascertained whether
or not there are further figures on the shaft.
It is possible that there is a tenon or other plain projection
beneath the lowest visible figures and that what is at present visible
constitutes the whole sculpture.
of these twelve figures appears to wear the same headdress, consisting of
a turban with a large 'rosette' on the crown, of the type frequently seen
in Kuṣāṇa sculpture. The most immediately relevant comparative example
is the headdress of the Ekamukhaliṅga from Aghapur already mentioned.
On one side of the shaft, two of these figure - the third is
severely damaged - have a circular halo behind the headdress, a feature
not shared with any of the remaining nine figures.
All the figures are represented with natural human anatomy and all
are two-armed, although the forearms and hand-held symbols are in nearly
every instance broken off, and none has more than one face.
description of this complicated sculpture might suggest a Śaiva cult
affiliation. But his assumption must be questioned at the outset set. The
following points may be set against a straight-forward Śaiva
identification, Frequently, Liṅga sculptures of early date which
incorporate an anthropomorphic element are unequivocally phallic in shape.
The Aghapur Liṅga and the Liṅga at Guḍimallam, Andhra Pradesh, are
perhaps the most striking examples, in which the base of the top section
of the Liṅga has a greater diameter than the shaft. In no type Liṅga
which exhibits this primitive attempt at realism has the opposite of such
a relative scale of proportions been used. That is, the 'realistic'
phallic symbol does not have a top portion of smaller diameter than the
rest of the shaft, which is exactly what the Nānd column does have, as
may be observed in Plate 9 especially Even in the less realistic Liṅga
types of the Gupta period and later, the brahmasūtra lines which demarcate the top section do not mark an abrupt reduction in the diameter. As the
Nānd pillar is not a 'realistic' phallic symbol, it may not be a Śivaliṅga.
second point is equally negative. If the figures which quart upon the top
of the shaft are Śaiva-gaṇas, they are ritually displaced. For such minor grotesque
figures are rarely, if ever accorded such high ritual status as to warrant
a place against the very apex of the most sacred of Śaiva symbols, the Liṅga.
The deformed creature upon which Śaiva stands in the Guḍimallam Liṅga
sculpture is clearly a defeated personification of anti-Śaiva forces; it
is debased, not elevated, and Śaiva does not emanate from it as the
figures upon the shaft of the Nānd column emanate from each other.
third point which allows one to query the phallic nature of this column is
the fact that there were in existence, in the third century A. D. at the
latest, non-phallic cult objects of comparable shape and content. These
constructs are the Buddhist pillar carvings of the kind found at Sanchi on
the uprights of the gateways and at Amaravati.
The best illustration is that type of pillar, to be seen in relief panels
from Amaravati, which has populated panels upon the shaft. A good example
is a pillar, 128 cm in height,
which depicts three successive stages in the life of the Buddha, in
ascending sequences, which is followed by a frieze of squatting gaṇas who support the top of the pillar which has the domed apex of
a miniature stūpa. Thus far it
is a direct parallel, although in a different idiom, of the Nānd column;
above the stūpa.-apex there
follow the familiar Buddhist appurtenances of
harmikā and dharmacakra.
our analysis, it is convenient to refer to the side of the Nānd column
which bears the nimbate figures-and which may thus he regarded as the
'front' or most important aspect of the composition-as side 'A'. The
remainder may then he termed sides 'B', 'C' and 'D respectively, in
clockwise order. Similarly, individual figures from bottom to top are
numbered 1 to 3, and the apical figures are referred to as number 4. Thus
the base figure on side 'A' will he called A 1
one scholar, R. C. Agrawala, has published this sculpture;
shall discuss his observations and interpretations first as providing a
useful point of departure from which to enter into my own interpretation
and conclusion. Agrawala assumes from the outset of his study of the
column that it is a Śivaliṅga, also referring to
it, inaccurately, as a;
Liṅga having four faces. The Śaiva character of the sculpture is
taken for granted, apparently, because of the shape of the column and
because of the four ithyphallic figures squatting upon the rim of the
shaft. As these pot-bellied, naked figures are separated by the ledge
formed by the rebate from the super-imposed, standing crowned figures
below them, I find it an inaccurate statement that the column 'is divided
into four horizontal tiers'6
Agrawala is in no doubt as to the identity of these four apical figures,
stating of the column that 'It depicts Lakulīśa as ūrdhvaretas at the top and on all the four sides; the deity is
shown squattish like the Kuṣāṇa Sūrya from Mathura; all his four heads
and hands are completely broken and that is why it is not possible to form
any idea of the head-gears and so also of the weapons held by Lakulīśa.,7
This seems to be a remarkable statement, simultaneously acknowledging that
identificatory details are lost and asserting a positive identification.
Agrawala bases his identification of all four figures as Lakulīśa upon
their undeniable ithyphallic (ūrdhva-retas)
appearance and, contradicting his description of the extent of the damage
in the previous statement quoted immediately, above upon what he claims
represents a' "manuscript"... (Pustaka)'
held in the hand of one of the four figures and 'touching his chest to the
In view of the severely damaged condition of (these figures, this can only
be guesswork; Lakulīśa, Agrawala states holds the manuscript in certain
By reverse reasoning he claims that these squatting figures represent what
'appears to be the earliest extant representation of squattish and
1965 Agrawala published an article11
which challenged a statement made by K. V. Soundararajan to the effect
that no Icons of Lakulīśa survive which antedate the sixth century A.D.,12
the evidence adduced by Agrawala in contradicting Soundararajan consists
of the squatting 'Lakulīśa' figures near the top of the Nānd column and
an image upon a pillar13
bearing an inscription with the Gupta date 61, equivalent to A.D. 380,
which is also said to represent Lakulīśa. Subsequently, in an article14
published in 1970, Agrawala attempted to prove that the figure upon the
same Gupta pillar is not 'Lakulīśa' but 'Śiva as Bhairava'; one of the
grounds for this change of mind-which is not acknowledged-is that no icons
of Lakulīśa are found in Kuṣāṇa sculpture, including the Nānd
column, with a flabby belly (lambodara)',15
which is a prominent feature of the Gupta pillar figure. This is not only
an unacknowledged reversal of a previously advanced identification, but
also inaccurate description. For the four highest figures on the Nānd
column are distinctly pot-bellied, as will be evident from the
photographs, in marked contrast to the three superimposed figures beneath
each of them; this contrast is most clearly to be seen by looking at the
profiles of these figures, especially in the detail of the top of side C
(Plate 6). On the grounds of insufficient identificatory details due to
damage and the lack of comparative iconographical evidence from the Kuṣāṇa
period, I do not accept the identification of these four figures as Lakulīśa.
makes no Śaiva identifications on the remainder of the shaft; this fact
in it self might lead one to suspect that the sculpture is not a Śivaliṅga.
Most of the figures on the main shaft, it is stated here, 'have raised up
their right hands in abhaya
pose.' This is inaccurate. The abhayamudrā
can, in fact, be positively identified only in the case of one figure,
namely B.2. The right hands of seven of the eleven remaining figures,
moreover, definitely held an object, now damaged; they could not have been
posed in the empty-handed abhaya gesture.
the figures of level 1, Agrawala writes: 'The lowest (i.e. fourth from the
top) portion of course depicts Vaiṣṇava
divinities very clearly on all the four sides; the main figure is that of
Vāsudeva with a halo behind his head, the lower right hand is raised up
in abhaya pose, the upper left
seems to have carried a colossal mace with bulky portion on the top as
also in the Kuṣāṇa sculptures from Mathura.' There is no evidence to
suggest that the latter figure (my A.1) was originally four-armed; like
the other two haloed figures on this side, and indeed all the other
figures on the sculpture, it appears to have had two arms. The abhayamudrā
cannot clearly be distinguished in the broken remains of the right arm.
None of the known Kuṣāṇa sculptures from Mathura which represent Vāsudeva
or Viṣṇu as independent images support a mace on the left, which is the
side upon which the cakra (disc)
is held. The club appears conventionally at this time to have been
depicted in the right hand. Moreover, the object to the left of figure A.1
(Plate 3, bottom right) is not iconographically connected with it. It is a
continuation downward of the damaged object held on the end of a stick or
stalk in the right hand of figure D. 1 (Plate 7, bottom left), as may
readily be seen by, comparing Plates 3 and 7, probably as part of the
block left in place as a strengthening bracket. Figure C.1 (Plate 5) is
considered by Agrawala to be female, and he notes the large pot or
drinking bowl held in the left hand; it is difficult to agree that it is a
lotus which is held in the right hand of this figure. Agrawala suggests
that 'she may even represent Lakshmī or Ekānāṃśa [sic]'. Of the other figures at level 1, he considers B. 1 (Plate 4)
to be an image of Baladeva, the object resting against its left shoulder
being seen as a plough (Balarāma, Baladeva or Saṅkarṣaṇa being also
known as Halāyudha. 'He who is armed with a plough'). Since the 'plough'
is severely damaged, this identification is uncertain; the 'abhayamudrā that Agrawala sees the right hand of this figure
displaying is a mistake, for there was some object, now unrecognizable,
held in this hand, which is supported by a thickening of the shaft of the
kind mistaken for the mace of Vāsudeva in the case of figures A. 1 and D.
1 Only in figure D. 1 (plates 7 and 8) is there one unmistakable
iconographic symbol. Both arms of this figure are intact, the hands being
raised to shoulder level and holding, on the proper right, the slightly
curved stem of what appears to have been either a large flower or else a
yak-tail (cāmara), and on the
left a fully preserved, densely-spoked disc, the diameter of which is
greater than the width of the crowned face. The figure thus represents,
beyond question, an aspect of Viṣṇu, holding one of the standard emblems
of that god, the cakra. Despite
the erosion of The sculpture, the manner of holding the disc is clearly
archaic in terms of brahmanical art, and may be compared with the upper
left-hand of the earliest Kuṣāṇa Vāsudeva icons of Mathura,17
in which the disc is similarly held with the palm facing outward and the
fingers hooked around the rim between the spokes. Tempting though it is to
see, in the broken object at the end of the stick held in the right hand,
the lotus blossom, another attribute of Viṣṇu it must be remarked that
none of the Kuṣāṇa Vāsudeva icons in the Mathura style holds this
symbolic flower. The only commonly represented object of this period which
would conform to the shape of the broken cross-section remaining at the
end of the stick would be the yak-tail fly-whisk. As this is held only by
attendants of figures of divine Status in brahmanical sculpture, it must
be presumed that the cakra-bearer represents either a minor Vaiṣṇava
figure of unique iconography, or else an iconographically incomplete
aspect or partial manifestation of Viṣṇu.
the figures of level 1 as a group, one sees (1) a crowned and nimbate
figure whom Agrawala regards as Vāsudeva; for convenience, it may he
presumed that this most important side of the column originally was
oriented to face the east; (2) to the right of this Vāsudeva, figure B.1,
which may represent Saṅkarṣaṇa, on the south face; (3) to the left or
north side of Vāsudeva another Vaiṣṇava figure, D.1, wielding the disc;
and (4) at the back, or on the west face of the column at this level,
figure C. 1, which appears to portray an uncrowned female bearing a pot.
If this latter figure is indeed female, as part of the first of three
tetrads surrounding the axis, the fact will be seen to be of significance
for my argument associating the Nānd column and two of the Mathura
sculptures (infra, Sculptures 3 and 4) as manifestations of a theological system
skin to that of the Pāṅcarātra.
level 2, it is stated only that it 'may be Brahmabhāga(?)',
evidently in accordance with his assumption that the column as a whole is
a Śivaliṅga, the three portions of which arc said to be associated with
Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra respectively from the base upward.18
This wholly unacceptable proposition has apparently been arrived at by
Agrawala because of the irrefutably Vaiṣṇava character of at least one
figure at level I; only by ignoring this fact and then counting the three
divisions above it (levels 2 and 3, plus the four squatting figures) as
the standard vertical series of divisions or bhāgas
of a Śivaliṅga could level 2 he taken as the base-portion, dedicated
to Brahmā, of a vertical axis.
examination, the four figures at level 2 are seen all to he crowned with
the crested turban and all definitely male. Figure A.2 (Plate 3) is, like
A. 1, distinguished by a halo encircling the crown; but whereas the halo
of figure A. 1 is decorated with concentric designs, that of A.2 above it
is incised with curved lines, perhaps suggestive of lotus petals. The
iconographical significance of this is not clear; hut the fact that there
is a difference is in itself noteworthy. The left hand rests against the
chest, while the right is raised to shoulder level; that this raised hand
held an object is apparent from a supporting mass of the block, sloping
downward to blend with the main shaft, its top upon which the hand-held
emblem was represented being smashed. The figure to the proper right, B.2
(Plate 4) appears to have held its left hand in a similar position to that
of the previous deity, while the right is
raised in a clear abhayamudrā, the edge of the hand turned forward as is common in Kuṣāṇa
representations of this gesture. At the back at this level, figure C.2
(Plate 5) has its left hand lowered to waist level and holding an
indistinct small object, rendered in low relief across the body,
resembling a small flower. The right hand is raised to the level of the
chest and holds a large object, damaged beyond recognition, by the handle,
which rests aslope the shoulder; there is a marked contrast between the
massiveness of this emblem and that held in the corresponding hand by the
(probably) female figure below, which is broad hut supported by a very
slender and curving handle or stalk. The last figure at this level, D.2
(Plates 7 and 8), holds two prominent emblems, one in each hand, of which
that on the right is similar to that held in the same hand of the
preceding figure. In the left hand, which is held at waist level, is a
long staff which rises from behind the turban-crest of the figure below
(D.1), across the shoulder, and on at an upward angle until cut off by a
break in the stone. At the end of this staff there appears a large
leaf-shaped object which may, perhaps, be intended to represent a
spearhead; there is an oblong projection from the staff or haft, just
below the leaf or spearhead, connecting with the inner shoulder or neck of
the figure by whom it is held.
now to the figures of level 3, it will be seen that on the front (Plate
3), A.3 is severely damaged; the broken remains of what may have been a
halo are evident above the obliterated face, level with the rebate. One
may assume that this figure was nimbate, since the two below it have very
prominent-and clearly differentiated--śiraścakras. The left hand is again held across the body at chest
level, and the broken right hand was evidently raised, with a broken
surface beside it suggesting that it held some object. To its right,
figure B.3 (Plate 4) appears to he in the same posture, but here again the
hands are broken. On the rear or western side (Plate 5), C.3 has the left
hand in the same position as the two preceding figures, and originally
held some large object over the right shoulder which is also destroyed.
Exactly the same may he said of the last figure in this series at level 3
(Plates 7 and 9), except that the left hand gesture against the chest is
here seen clearly for the first time, the hand being undamaged. This
strange gesture-which is repeated by so many of the figures upon the shaft
that it attains almost to the conventionalized status of a mudrā--can here be seen to take the form of what might be termed simply muṣṭi-karaṇa-mudr,19
"a fist-making gesture', for that is exactly how it appears. The
knuckles are directed downward at an angle, the thumb invisible behind
them; it might seem to be a pugilistic gesture, suggesting some heroic
posture, or the formal stance of a man of power, somewhat like the
Victorian holding of the lapel while posing for a photograph. It may
derive from the practice, as seen in Gandhāra sculpture especially, but
also at Mathura, of holding up the end of one's robe over the left wrist,
which, to judge from the frequency of its occurrence in sculpture, was
considered stylish. These very Indian figures, bare to the waist, may be
imitating such fashionable gestures to convey the impression of prosperity
and self-confidence, in the absence of any emblem for the hand to bold.
Its appearance upon this early sculpture, in the case of as many as seven
of the twelve figures on the main shaft, is noteworthy for it is a
transient convention in India, possibly of. Mediterranean origin, which is
not perpetuated in later brahmanical iconography.
four squatting figures upon the rebate which marks the top of the main
shaft, their barks to the domed apex of the column, seem to he nearly
identical in posture and in that they are all pot-bellied, ithyphallic and
naked but for a cord around the waist. That on side B (Plate 4) suggests
that they probably also wore armlets, at least on the left arm. These
shared characteristics, which identify them as a distinct group, also
serve to differentiate them utterly from the well-proportioned
standing figures on the main shaft, each one of which appears to be
different. This differentiation and their support, the ledge formed by the
rebate, cuts off the four topmost figures from the ascending sequence of
emanations below them.
upon their precise identity, as 'Lakulīśa' or any other established
figure of the pantheon is, it may be suggested, a time-wasting exercise,
in view both of their severely damaged condition and the formative phase
through which brahmanical iconography was passing during the Kuṣāṇa
period. It is rather, I propose, the ideology behind the complex
composition of such early religious sculptures which is a useful subject
for investigation with regard to the origins of the later, more numerous,
standardized multiple iconographic types. The purpose of the four
squatting figures at the top of the shaft of the present sculpture may be
inferred from the details which remain visible and from their very
difference from the twelve emanatory forms below them.
may be said with some confidence that they represent ṛṣi-figure:
their apparent yogic posture (somewhat similar to the utkuṭikāsana20),
the ūrdhvaretas condition
symbolized by the erect phallus21
and their nakedness (dig-ambara)22
would all indicate that they are yogins
enjoying the spiritual benefits of their exercises. Their paunchy
appearance does not contradict this proposition: the Buddhist teaching of
avoidance of extreme asceticism had long been known, and the Hindu
tradition itself does not preclude sensual enjoyments on the part of
enlightened seers. Indeed, Brahmā, the embodiment of wisdom and the seer,
although not represented as ithypallic, is traditionally portrayed with a
As ṛṣis, they are not divine
figures-unless they represent apotheosised yogins
such as the Lakulīśa figure whom these images represent in the opinion
of Agrawala-but rather types or symbols of the enlightened state to which
the devotee may aspire. To such a man the gods and their associated
mythology become to a degree irrelevant, for the yogin
who has achieved his aim (known as a sidha24)
is in a beatific state and immortal as arc the gods; he becomes a maharṣi,
inhabiting one of the highest worlds, or even attending the court of
On earth, their worship was in epic times especially associated with
groves of sacred trees which stood between earth and heaven.26
Similar notions were encountered in modern India during the field research
for this work: in several villages, and especially on the hanks of rivers,
was found a holy tree locally termed the mokṣ-pipplā
(Sanskrit mokṣa-pippala, 'tree
of salvation'). In Kuṣāṇa times, the idea of the saviour finding
enlightement under a particular tree was already well established in the
Buddhist and Jaina traditions.
Bharatpur Museum, Rajasthan, no. 52.60.
A. K. Coomaraswamy, Elements of
Buddhist Iconography, Harvard 1935, Plate I.1, 2, 3.
W. and B. Forman and M.-M. Deneck, Indian Sculptures, Masterpieces of
Indian, Khmer and Cham Art, London 1962, revised edition 1970, Plate
50: British Museum, no. 84.
R. C. Agrawala
'Some Unpublished Sculptures from Rājasthān', JIH 42 (1964), fig. 1.
'Two Standing Lakulīśa Sculptures from Rājasthān', JOIB 14,3-4
(1965), figs. A, B, C, D.
(c) 'Some Kuṣāṇa Sculptures in the National Museum,
Delhi, and Allied Problems', Bmaup3 (1968), pp. l5-17.
'A Unique Śiva-Liṅga Near Bharatpur', BMAUP 7 (1970-l), p. 23.
'Carved Pillar of Gupta Year 61', JOIB 19 (1969-70), p. 355.
'Four-faced Śiva-Liṅgas in National Museum, New Delhi, JOIB 22
(1972-73), pp. 367-8.
(g) The 'Chaturmukha' Śiva-Liṅga from Nānd, near
Pushkar, Rajasthan', Purātattva
2, Varanasi 1968-69, pp. 53-4 and Plate X.
Chaturmukha Liṅga recently
discovered by me at Nānda, near Pushkar, Ajmer', JOIB 14.3-4, (1965),
p.388; and similar remarks in all articles mentioned in note 4,
identifying the column as a Liṅga.
BMAUP3 (1968), P. 15.
'Manuscript is associated with Lakulīśa, in later sculptures as
well': ibed. Agarwala refers here to his article 'Some Interesting
Sculpture of Lakulīśa from Rājasthān', AA 21 (1958), pp.43-4, were
he notes three sculptures identified as Lakulīśa which hold an
object claimed to be a manuscript in one hand.
The latter object is not clear in the illustrations (figs.
1,2,4). One of these sculptures is dated to the 'early mediaeval'
period and the other two are also stylistically very much later than
the Nānd column. If
these sculptures may be dated to the 8th or 9th centuries A.D., there
is a period of some 500-600 years between them and the approximately
third-century Nānd column. Agrawala himself places the latter
sculpture in the '2nd-3rd century A.D.'(BMAUP3, p.15) and fails to
account for the survival of the manuscript as an attribute identifying
Lakulīśa through the intervening half-millennium.
BMAUP 3 (1968), p.15.
JOIB 14.3-4 (1965), p.388.
K.V. Soundara Rajan (also Soundarajan, Sounder Rajan), 'Lakulīśa and
Liṅga Polymorphism', VIJ 2.1(1964), pp.117-18.
Mathura Museum no.29.1931.
JOIB 19 (1969-70), pp.355-6.
BMAUP 3 (1968), pp.15-17; all subsequent quotations and discussion of
R.C. Agrawala's opinions in this section refer to this article.
For example, Mathura Museum no.15.956: K. S. Desai, Iconography of Viṣṇu,
New Delhi 1973, figs. 1 and 3.
J. N. Banerjea, The
Development of Hindu Iconography (second edition), Calcutta 1956,
The term is invented; muṣṭi-karaṇa, however, is an old Sanskrit
word formation (M. Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, new
edition, Oxford 1899, p. 458).
Described and illustrated by Banerjea, Hindu
Iconography, pp. 271-2 and line drawing, Plate IV.5.
'In many texts Śiva is said to be ithyphallic (with an erect
phallus), an image which would certainly seem to be unambiguous
sexually but for its particularly Hindu connotations, which tie it to
the word of asceticism as strongly as it is naturally related to the
realm of eroticism... the ambiguity of ithyphallicism is possible
because, although the erect phallus is of course a sign of priapism,
in Indian culture it is a symbol of chastity as well... The basic
Sanskrit expression for the practice of chastity is the drawing up of
the seed (ūrdhvaretas), but
by synecdoche, the seed is often confused with the liṅga
itself, which is 'raised' in chastity.' W. D. O'Flaherty, Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology
of Śiva, London 1973,pp.8-10.
The nakedness of the ascetic has a long tradition in India. O'Flaherty
(Asceticism and Eroticism, p.7) p.7) translates from Mahābhārāta13 ('c.300B.C.'): 'Who else [but Śiva as ascetic] can
be said to be a naked brahmacārin
with his vital seed drawn up?' A common term for such nakedness, dig-ambara,
'clothed in space', is also used as a noun meaning a mendicant
ascetic. Its use as a
term for the naked sect of Jainas is well known, dating probably, from
the 1st century A.D. (B.C. Bhattacharya, The Jaina Iconography, Lahore 1939, p.9 ff; and minor-Williams, Sanskrit-English
Early images of Brahmā are discussed infra.
E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic
Mythology, Strassburg, Berlin 1915,pp.60, 140,175 and passim
©Oxford University Press 1988