The Iconography and Ritual of Siva at Elephanta: On Life, Illumination, and Being

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SUNY Press, 1988 - Art - 331 pages
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The beautiful rock-cut Siva temple on Elephanta Island in Bombay Harbor is one of the finest monuments of Indian religion and art. Until now, interpretation of its magnificent sculptured scenes has been neglected.

In this book, Collins systematically surveys the pertinent Vedic, Epic, and early Puranic literature as well as the contributions of India's foremost poet and dramatist, Kalidasa, to reveal sources for and interpretations of the subjects of the relief sculptures. This survey shows strong associations with areas formerly controlled by the classical Gupta dynasty in northern India. This book provides the first detailing of this link, intimated by others before, which helps to explain the grandeur of style found in the colossal reliefs.

By applying certain aspects of ritual texts of the Lakulisa-Pasupata, the sect that probably used Elephanta originally, exceptional clarity is revealed for the worship of the sculptures in a counterclockwise sequence, quite unusual in India, but appropriate to this particular sect. Lakulisa-Pasupata texts are invoked in Collins' theory of how the cave-temple at Elephanta was used. This area of investigation has been virtually untouched by other scholars for any early Hindu shrine in India.
 

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Contents

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About the author (1988)

Charles Dillard Collins is Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

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