17 Facts About Ardhanarishvara


Ardhanarishvara is depicted as half-male and half-female, equally split down the middle.

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Ardhanarishvara remains a popular iconographic form found in most Shiva temples throughout India, though very few temples are dedicated to this deity.

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Ardhanarishvara represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe and illustrates how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from (or the same as, according to some interpretations) Shiva, the male principle of God, and vice versa.

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An early Kushan Ardhanarishvara head discovered at Rajghat is displayed at the Mathura Museum.

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Ardhanarishvara is interpreted as an attempt to syncretise the two principal Hindu sects, Shaivism and Shaktism, dedicated to Shiva and the Great Goddess.

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Ardhanarishvara wears a yagnopavita across the chest, which is sometimes represented as a naga-yagnopavita (a snake worn as a yagnopavita) or a string of pearls or gems.

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Ardhanarishvara wears ornaments characteristic of Shiva's iconography, including serpent ornaments.

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Ardhanarishvara's has a fuller thigh and a curvier body and hip than the male part of the icon.

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Ardhanarishvara's wears a multi-coloured or white silken garment down to her ankle and one or three girdles around her waist.

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Naradiya Purana mentions that Ardhanarishvara is half-black and half-yellow, nude on one side and clothed on other, wearing skulls and a garland of lotuses on the male half and female half respectively.

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The Linga Purana gives a brief description of Ardhanarishvara as making varada and abhaya mudras and holding a trishula and a lotus.

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In other Puranas like the Linga Purana, Vayu Purana, Vishnu Purana, Skanda Purana, Kurma Purana, and Markandeya Purana, Rudra appears as Ardhanarishvara, emerging from Brahma's head, forehead, mouth or soul as the embodiment of Brahma's fury and frustration due to the slow pace of creation.

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Ardhanarishvara suggests the element of Kama or Lust, which leads to creation.

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Ardhanarishvara signifies "totality that lies beyond duality", "bi-unity of male and female in God" and "the bisexuality and therefore the non-duality" of the Supreme Being.

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Ardhanarishvara conveys that Shiva and Shakti are one and the same, an interpretation declared in inscriptions found along with Ardhanarishvara images in Java and the eastern Malay Archipelago.

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Across cultures, hermaphrodite figures like Ardhanarishvara have traditionally been associated with fertility and abundant growth.

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Ardhanarishvara is one of the most popular iconographic forms of Shiva.

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