The notion that there is nothing static nothing abiding but only the flow of a

The notion that there is nothing static nothing

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The notion that there is nothing static, nothing abiding, but only the flow of a relentless process, with everything originating, growing, decaying, vanishing-this wholly dynamic view of life, of the individual and of the universe, is one of the fundamental conceptions (as we have already seen) of later Hinduism. We discovered it in the tale of the Ant Parade. It is of the essence of the conception of Maya. We shall study it again in the cosmic Dance of Shiva, where all the features and creatures of the liv-ing world are interpreted as momentary flashes from the limbs of the Lord of the Dance. In the phenomenon of the growing or expanding form an effect of this typically Hindu "total dy-namism" is imparted to a solid monument; the elusive element of time is woven, with its imperceptible flow, into the pattern and substance of a block of stone. Once having become aware of the effect, we can rediscover it, again and again; for the Hindu craftsmen have freely employed their subtle artifice. Consider, for example, the celebrated relief from Badami shown in Figure 31. This is a specimen of early Chalukya art, from the sixth century A.D., representing Vishnu in the form of his fifth avatar, as the pigmy who suddenly waxed into the cosmic giant. According to the story, a mighty demon or titan had driven all the lesser divinities from their seats, and
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in order to wrest the world from the terrible grasp, the essence of all being, Vishnu, maintainer of the universe, descended-as he had so often descended before and would descend so often again-out of his transcendental quietude into the troubled sphere of cosmic event. Born of the good woman Aditi, mother of Indra and Indra's brother divinities, he appeared in the form of a brahmin pigmy, no bigger than a stunted child. And this unimpressive, rather amusing little figure, bearing a parasol such as brahmins are wont to carry, comically craved audience with the demon tyrant, and asked of him a boon. What he wished was only as much space as he might cover with three of his puny strides. But when the titan, entertained, freely granted the tri-fling favor, 10, the god, mightily waxing. swelling in every limb, with his first stride stepped beyond the sun and moon, with his second reached the limits of the universe, and with his third re-turned to set his foot on the head of the conquered foe. In the Badami relief both the pigmy form and that of the giant infinitely expanding are represented side by side, signifying re-spectively the beginning and the process of the miracle. The vic-tor is depicted as about to step on the head of the foe, either to crush him, or (if he but recognize and pay worship to the Pres-ence) to bless him with the touch of Vishnu's foot. The body of the dilating god crowds with its tiara the upper frame of the composition, as if to burst the bounds of space. The dynamic character of the whole universe, with all its creatures, as con-ceived by Hindu philosophy, is rendered in this impressive cen-tral figure. The work as a whole is to be deciphered and compre-
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  • Spring '14
  • AimeeHamilton
  • Hinduism, Indra, Vishnu, Shiva, Kali Yuga

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