From the Jacket:
The book deals with the iconography of Sadasiva, an important form of Lord Siva. It has four chapters: Sadasiva, Mahasadasiva, the Consort of Sadasiva, and Resume.
The Sadasiva aspect of Siva, having five heads and ten arms, did not receive much attention from the scholars so far. The present book envisages to bring together all the material bearing on the subject. A number of photographs, mostly of unpublished sculptures, bronzes and miniature paintings representing different phases of Indian art, illustrate the text and make the book useful for the students of art, iconography, religion and philosophy.
The seven appendices, appended in the end, provide information as gleaned from religious and secular literature related to the subject.
About the Author:
Dr. B. N. Sharma, Keeper, National Museum, New Delhi, is the author of Social & Cultural History of Northern Indian (c. 1000-1200 A.D.), Iconography of Revanta and Festivals of India. He has also contributed extensively in Indian and foreign scholarly journals on various aspects of Indology, particularly iconography and art.
In 1971, he organized the exhibition of 'Indian Art through the Ages' in the "Man And His World", exposition in Montreal.
In 1973 at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State and American Association of Museums, he was deputed by the Government to represent India at the International Conference of Museologists held at New York and other places and also to attend the meeting of the American Association of Museums at Milwaukee.
In 1975, he was offered a Fellowship by the J.D.R. 3rd Fund, New York to study Indian art collections in the museums of U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain and different countries of Europe and Asia.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the book
of Doctor B.N. Sharma, a well-known scholar as
historian of Indian art and as vidydrthi who
masters Indian thought.
The Hindu images of Gods and the Buddhist
ones as well, are not only to be admired as works
of art-it thus may be a mere: "bahirangapariksa"
-but to be read, so to say, as a literary text. There
is the exoteric way of looking at them, as a stranger
or a simple devotee can do; it is the relative form
which is the basis for further concentration and
meditation which may gradually lead to higher
intuitions: kramamukti. Then there is another way
of reading them; an esoteric one which allows the
man who has been initiated to the inner meaning
of the doctrine to understand the image in its full
significance, in its spiritual tattva. The image then
turns into a kind of book, written in those appa-
rently strange symbols or aspects, many arms,
many heads, many legs and so on. So the aesthe-
tical appreciation of those figures is only based on
a pratibimba of very high and complicated truths.
Anyhow the aesthetical contemplation when we are
lost into it, can lead us to that enosis, that anirva-
caniya identity with the supreme truth. Abhinava-
gupta rightly discusses on this delicate point of the
esoteric value of the aesthetic contemplation which
makes us surpass the duality of the empyric form.
All this will appear very clear to the reader of
the book of Doctor Sharma on Sadasiva, one of the
most popular gods of India, where his images
are worshipped from one corner to another of
Bharatavarsa. Behind them there are meanings
absconded to the profane, I mean the highest
speculations which man ever created; to the highest
metaphysic to the deeper devotion. Because meta-
physic does not dissolve but exalts bhakti. All
those images go back to origins of very old times;
there are condensed in them thousands of years of
thinking and meditation, and their proper under-
standing needs a full familiarity with an immense
philosophical speculation. The murti is the begin-
ning of the path which leads to a faint understand-
ing of the Real. 'When new approaches to God
are discovered, even the images are transfigured;
their visual appearances assume a new shape: they
are figurations of the Divine accessible to the
Images, books and even living century-old tra-
ditions go together: therefore only when one re-
members all this, one can appreciate in its proper
meaning the value of the present book, which is at
the same time a chapter of the history of Indian art
and an introduction to Saiva doctrines that deve-
loped around Sadasiva, so well introduced by
Doctor Sharma, with the famous hymn of Sanka-
No study is more fascinating than the study of
lord Siva in his various forms. He is the God of
gods (Devadeva, Mahadeva) the Enlightener of the
universe (Jagat-Guru), the Lord of Yogis (Yogis-
vara) and at the same time the God of the spirits
(Bhutesvara), the Lord of the animals (Pasupati)
and also the Lord of dance (Nataraja). Worship
of Siva has been widely popular in India since very
early times. Even now, there are temples of the god
in every village and town in India, where people
throng daily to his worship and also to gain reli-
Several scholars like T. A. Gopinatha Rao, A.K.
Coomaraswamy, V.S. Agrawala, J.N. Banerjea, C.
Sivaramamurti and others have written monu-
mental works on various forms of Siva. H. Mitra in
his learned article on Sadasiva has traced the evolu-
tion and development of Sadasiva worship in
Bengal. And T.A. Gopinatha Rao has elaborately
discussed the philosophic aspect of Sadasivamurti
and Mahasadasivamurti in his Elements of Hindu
Iconography. I have also made an attempt in the
present book to bring together from different
sources the relevant material bearing on the subject.
A number of photographs mostly of the unpublished
sculptures, bronzes and paintings have been added
to give a comprehensive idea of various types of
representations of the god like the Chatushpada-
Sadasiva, Ashtapada-Mahasadasiva and the Consort
of Sadasiva, which did not find place in the earlier
works on Hindu iconography. It is hoped that the
book will be of some interest to the scholars and
students of Indian art and iconography.
I am deeply obliged to Padma Bhushan C.
Sivaramamurti, former Director, National M u-
seum, New Delhi, for his kind encouragement and
valuable suggestions. I am also very grateful to Dr.
Giuseppe Tucci, President, Istituto Italiano Per II
Medio Ed Estremo Oriente, Rome, for kindly con-
tributing a valuable Foreword for it.
I am grateful to Dr. Wladimir Zwalf, Dr. V.P.
Dwivedi, Sri T.R. Agrawala and my elder brother
Sri Y.N. Sharma, for offering me some useful sug-
gestions. I am thankful to Sri V.R. Nambiar, Dr.
N.P. Joshi, Dr. H.R. Gaudani, Dr. Mary C. Lanius,
Dr. Ronald Y. Otsuka, Dr. Ananda Krishna, Dr. K.
Krishnamurti, SrI V.N. Srivastava and SrI C.M.
Srivastava, for supplying me photographs for the
book. My thanks are due to Smt. Raka Jain for
nicely preparing a line-drawing of the devi paint-
ing and also to Sri B. Sahi for tracing several old
books from the Library of the Archaeological
Survey of India.
Lastly, I am thankful to Sri Sakti Malik,
Proprietor, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, for
the special interest he took in the early publication
of this book.
If there are any errors, I crave the indulgence
of the readers, for the subject of Siva is so vast and
varied as rightly pointed out by the celebrated poet
Kalidasa that nobody is able to understand His
real form correctly:
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