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Metamorphosis in Myth - Composite Animal Forms in Vaishnava Art

Title:Metamorphosis in Myth - Composite Animal Forms in Vaishnava Art
Author:Swali, Haridas, Nalini
Publication:Marg
Enumeration:Vol. 36 Issue no. 2, p. 21-30
Abstract:Animal motifs occur with great frequency in Indian art. Perhaps this is because of the importance traditionally attributed to animals by different Indian religions. Not only are animals considered as capable of moral and spiritual development, but they are often transformed into figures worthy of devotion, as evidenced by the various bestial incarnations of Indian deities. The element of ennoblement of the animal kingdom is highlighted by the fact that out of the 10 popular incarnations of Vishnu, as many as 5 represent either a complete animal form or a composite man-animal form. Of all Vishnu's incarnations, that of Krishna is the most lovable and a large number of legends have grown around him and his exploits as a child, cowherd, lover and statesman. Krishna is the only incarnate form of Vishnu who also reveals his own endless universal form (Virat-rupa). In Sanskrit literature Kama is the god of love and represents desire. Krishna was often equated with Kama.

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