Emory University: Vishnu's role in Hindu stories of creation

11/20/2014 5:00 PM

Emory University: Vishnu's role in Hindu stories of creation

Emory University: Creation Stories project

Anandi Salinas, student in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, will introduce teachers to the god Vishnu and his role in Hindu stories of creation. In the galleries, teachers will view images of Vishnu including one with Brahma seated on a lotus emerging from Vishnu’s navel as he sleeps on the Cosmic Ocean in between cycles of time.

Fee: $7 museum members, $10 non-members.

Registration is required by emailing Julie Green at jgree09@emory.edu.

Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2014
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Michael C. Carlos Museum, Tate Room, Plaza Level, 571 South Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322
Register: Julie Green atjgree09@emory.edu. Contact: 404-727-4282


Vishnu Sleeping on the Cosmic Ocean Northern Madhya Pradesh, possibly Khajuraho. 11th century Sandstone 2001.1.14 Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art, a Gift of the Nathan Rubin-Ida Ladd Family Foundation Here, Vishnu sleeps in between the yugas, or cycles of time, on the cosmic ocean which lies outside space and time. His head is protected by the hood of Shesha, the cosmic serpent, and his feet are massaged by his consort Lakshmi. From his navel emerges Brahma, the creator God, seated on a lotus. His weapons, including the mace and the conch shell, lie relaxed in his hands. The waves beneath him are crowded by the creatures that were churned up when the cosmic ocean was created: the horse, the divine physician, and celestials playing musical instruments.

Built during the florescence of creativity of the Chandela rulers in a remote area of Madhya Pradesh, eleventh century Khajuraho sculpture represents a unique moment of Hindu art and religion merging together to form a powerful architectural spirituality. A worshipper would have encountered this image as one of several bands of sculptures in successive waves of higher and higher towers. He would have meditated upon it as one mythical moment in a spiritual progression involving several Hindu narratives.

Download a Carlos Conversation podcast in which Joyce Flueckiger and Laurie Patton, Professors in Emory's Department of Religion, discuss this image.


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