Śiva with the corpse of Sati

A unique mūrti of Śiva with eight arms, and a Jatāmaṇḍala with both Goddess Gaṅgā and crescent moon carved skillfully. The hands on the right carry paraśu, damaru, cakra and the stick while the left hold the gazelle, agni, bell and a vessel. His yajñopavita is visible. The lifeless body of his consort Sati is slung over his left shoulder. Śiva is in his ferocious form. The divine attendant with bugle in hands mourns the death of Sati. The left leg of Śiva is placed on the head of the attendant.

Upon Sati’s self-immolation, Śiva, in an act of unbearable grief, places Sati’s corpse on his shoulders and wanders the worlds. The Gods call upon the Lord Viṣṇu to intervene and restore Shiva to normalcy. Viṣṇu uses his Sudarṣana chakra to split Sati’s body into 51 parts, following which Shiva regains his sanity. The parts of Sati’s body which were scattered, fell on earth at various places, and were henceforth known as Śakti Peethas, temples which house the manifestations of Gauri herself.

Shiva Tramples the World with the Corpse of Sati, Upendra Maharathi, 20th century. National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru
Siva with Sati, Nandalal Bose. National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
Kalighat painting of Shiva with the corpse of Sati over his shoulder (West Bengal, 1865–75)



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