Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Trishul

Have you seen the giant Shiva statue at Murudeshwar Beach? My school friend Preeti clicked this arresting photo with the sun in the background:

This is the second largest statue of Shiva in the world, all of 123 feet tall.

Whenever I hear that something is the "second largest", I always wonder "Which is the largest, then?" :) :) In case you're wondering too, the world's largest Shiva statue is in Nepal, and it is a standing Shiva, not a seated one. The Nepal statue is a more chubby-cheeked smiling god. Take a look. I think it is quite an unsuitable depiction of this charismatic ascetic! The Murudeshwar statue somehow seems more impressive, don't you think?

In both statues, in his right hand, Shiva holds the Trishul, his trident.

It's hard to miss the trident when you visit any part of India. Especially if you go on a pilgrimage circuit, you will see the trishul just about everywhere.

I found this maker of tridents in a little shop in Jaipur

At the Delhi Crafts Museum, there's this interesting collection of decorative spears and tridents (looks like it came from South India, not sure from where)

Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar. This is one of the few temples where Vishnu and Shiva are both worshipped. At the entrance, there is a painting of the two Gods merged into one. Shiva is identified by his Trident, and Vishnu by his Mace and Discus.

But it's not Shiva alone who lays claim to the trishul; it is also the weapon of the great Goddess in her many forms.

Mithila painting of the many-armed Goddess Durga. She holds several weapons, but no Durga rendition is complete without the trident.

Paan-wallah in Agra - this is the most popular representation of Goddess Durga; you see this in little shops everywhere in the country

"Eunuch temple" in Mumbai; trident of the Goddess Mariamman, who is said to cure people of the pox.

So the trishul is everywhere, and clearly it has huge symbolic value. I looked up some websites and blogs dedicated to Shiva, and they have a set of complex explanations for what the trishul represents. I didn't really know any of that stuff earlier; and I don't know whether this is even correct. If you have a deeper understanding, and can point me at the right sourcebook, let me know.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to look for interesting tridents to add to my collection of photos!


Kim said...

Deepa - the link u have pasted to the photo of the Nepal Shiva- is going to a Shiva statue in Delhi.

and the Craft museum picture is of a reproduction of an Aiyannar Shrine in Puddukottai in Tamil Nadu

Deepa said...

Kim, it's the correct photo. Wikipedia has a wrong image description, saying it is in Delhi. If you google for Nepal or Bhaktapur Shiva statue, you'll get the same photo.

Thank you for the info about the Craft Museum :) I will look it up.

Deepa said...

And in fact, if it is an Ayyanar shrine, that is not even Shiva. It is a different deity; like a village guardian deity. For Ayyanar, the weapon you usually see is a "vel" or spear, not a three pronged trident (although when I googled I did find a trident photo)
See this:

Deepa said...

I've changed the link now, to go to a facebook page for the Nepal Shiva.

Divya Shankar said...

Got back to your blog after a long gap :) Great post(as always)

Kim said...

Thanks for clarifying.

Also u may b interested to know:

a year ago I was talking to a pilot with Jet. and was told that inspite ofo Delhi boasting of the longest runway in South Asia etc, less than half the length was usable most of the time, because of this particular Shiva statue (thats close to the airport)

The pilots can't fly low enough to use the entire length of the runway because this statue is so tall and the AAI could not get it shifted :)

Super Babe said...

Love Shiva!

Have you been in Benito Juárez Marg? Today is Benito Juarez's birthday and a major holiday in Mexico, and while reading a little about him, I came across this on Wikipedia: "Benito Juárez Marg is a major road in South Delhi near Dhaula Kuan. The famous Sri Venkateswara College is located on this road." :)

Super Babe said...

Love Shiva!

Have you been on Benito Juarez Marg? Today is a major holiday in Mexico to celebrate the birthday of Benito Juarez, a country hero, and while reading about him on Wikipedia, I found this: "Benito Juárez Marg is a major road in South Delhi near Dhaula Kuan. The famous Sri Venkateswara College is located on this road." :) It'd be great if, if you had a chance to be around there, to post something about it... you know, an India-Mexico connection! :)

Unknown said...

Maybe the rotund depiction has something to do with the way they portray Buddha - rounded, well cheeked.

At the risk of repeating myself, it is amazing how well you connect information and put forth a whole picture.

Unknown said...

that comment was about the Nepal statue, btw