The Vyūha doctrine of Vaiṣṇavism and its conception in the Nārāyaṇīya

This iconography of Viṣṇu as Vaikuṇṭha Caturmūrti was first found in a 5th-century Vaiṣṇava Pañcarātra Saṃhita and reflects influences from the Gupta period (Mathura School) and the Gandhāra architectural tradition from as early as the 2nd century BC. A cult centered on this form of Viṣṇu developed in Kashmir in the 8–12th century, when the deity also enjoyed royal patronage in the region. …


The Hanuma-dhvaja or kapi-dhvaja, the monkey standard, was a widely known dhvaja in ancient india. According to the Mahābhārata, the kapi-dhvaja was created by Prajāpati after a long penance. It was borne by King Soma during his exploits over demons who then passed it to Varuṇa. Varuṇa gave it to Arjuna upon Agni’s request. This adds to the significance of Agni as a parivāra-devata who is also described as bearing the kapi-dhvaja. Hanumān standards were also used by Harihara I and Bukka I, the founding kings of Vijayanagara empire, in the fourteenth century. …


“lāya sa̐jīvani lakhana jiyāye
śrīraghubīra haraṣi ura lāye”

“Bringing the Mṛta­sañjīvanī herb, You resuscitated Lakṣmaṇa. The auspicious Lord Rāma rejoiced and embraced You.” (Hanumān Cālīsa)

Hanumān is venerated as Āyurveda Svarūpa in reference to his quest for the rare Himalayan herb Mṛta­sañjīvanī that heals all wounds. It is a sort of mini-epic that lends immense heroism and inspires worship of Hanumān as the bearer of the rejuvenating medicine. The tale is significantly elaborated in most medieval retellings of the Rāmāyaṇa, such as in the Telugu Raṅganātha Rāmāyaṇa, the Bengali Krittibasa’s Rāmāyaṇa or the Śrīrām Pãcālī, and in the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa…


The worship of footprints as a symbol of the deity is undoubtedly an ancient Indian practice. Though we see Viṣṇupāda worshipped more frequently than Śiva’s footprints (Śivapāda), texts confirm their existence, especially the Skanda Purāṇa, which describes the marking of Śiva’s sacred geography. In the Āvantya-khaṇḍa is described the implanting of the Himalayan mountain Mahālaya with Śivapāda — which Śiva sanctified by pressing with his foot while in his ferocious cosmic form, Mahākāla. By virtue of that act, the locale was henceforth considered to be a preeminent salvific space (mahātkṣetra).

“A crore of sins were torn (destroyed) by means of…


Śrīgaruḍadaṇdakam was composed by Vedanta Desikan, 13th century Śri Vaiṣṇava philosopher and Sanskrit scholar when challenged by a snake charmer, who released poisonous snakes in order to test him. Swami Desikan is said to have composed and recited the Garuḍa ḍaṇḍakam, by which the snakes were repelled from the instant protection conferred by Garutmanta himself.

नमः पन्नगनद्धाय वैकुण्ठवशवर्तिने ।
श्रुतिसिन्धु सुधोत्पादमन्दराय गरुत्मते ॥

My namaskāra to Garuḍa, the Lord of Serpents (to whose limbs serpents are intertwined), who resides in and commands Vaikuṇṭha; who, like the Mandāra mountain, is used to churn the ocean of milk to produce the nectar…


“The foot raised to kill the Moon,
at Dakṣa’s sacrifice,
the foot which sent Death to his death,
the foot which Nārāyaṇa and Brahmā
sought in vain to see,
the foot raised in dance
in Tillai’s Little Ampalam hall -
that is the foot which possesses us!”

Appar (translated by Indira Vishwanathan Peterson)

The sthala purāṇa of the Thillai Nataraja Temple at Cidambaram is associated with the great sages Vyāghrapāda and Patanjali. Sculptures of Vyāghrapāda and Patanjali are found on all the gopurams except the West.

From the ‘Cidambara Mahatmyam’ (a part of Skanda purāṇa), the ‘Koyil Puranam’ (in Tamil)…


“Pompeii Lakshmi” is an ivory statuette, thought to be of Goddess Lakshmi, from the 1st century CE, that was discovered in the ruins of Pompeii which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 79 CE. The place of production is thought to be Bhokardan, (present day Maharashtra) Satavahana territory.


In the tritīya pāda of Patañjali’s yoga sūtras, called the Vibhūti pāda, the method of attainment of vibhūtis (or siddhis), i.e. mystic powers is stated to be through the practice of Saṁyama. Saṁyama is itself the combination of three different limbs of yogic sādhana — dhāraṇā or concentration or fixation of the mind, dhyāna, or contemplation of a single object or thought without distraction, and samādhi or meditative absorption, the last being the ultimate aim of yoga.

tad evārtha-mātra-nirbhāsam svarūpa-śūnyam iva samādhiḥ III.3 …


Gadwal was one of the most prestigious of Hyderabad’s samsthanas, being among the oldest, largest, and wealthiest of them. Gadwal’s handloom weaving industry is renowned for its exquisite silk sarees and zari work. Of Gadwal’s rulers, Soma Bhupala or Somanadri was particularly well-known for having won many battles and strengthened the state. He improved the infrastructure of the town, and built a great many temples including the Chennakesava Swamy temple inside the Gadwal Fort in the 17th century. Large gatherings of scholars would be held twice a year at Gadwal, which acted as a thriving centre for the arts, and…


“Hindu images are not only an expression of the devotion of the believer, but also the representation through plastic or painted figures of a tremendously rich and multi-farious theological and philosophical background. When we are confronted with a Hindu image, we are not only admiring its aesthetic values, but we are deciphering a symbol in which are concentrated centuries-old institutions: an image is a book in which primitive glimpses of universal archetypes are exalted into bold metaphysical systems and devotional mystic ecstasies; Indian art does not express things but sublime ideas, complex meditations, flashing intuitions. …

Hindu Aesthetic

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