Vinadhara (Shiva as Lord of Music and Knowledge)

ca. early 11th century, Processional image; bronze, India, Tamilnadu, Chola dynasty (9th–13th century), Purchased from the bequest of Charles M. Clark, 64.55

With two front hands in position, this Shiva once held a vina, a lute-like stringed instrument identifying him as Lord of Music. What might Shiva’s music sound like? This bronze sculptural form of Shiva was celebrated through song and other acts of veneration.

To share an example, South Indian musician and composer Ganesh Rajagopalan was invited to record a selection brought to mind by this sculpture. He chose a musical mode (raga) associated with the god Shiva in the Carnatic (South Indian classical music) tradition. Its composition can also be sung, with text said to date from the 5th century C.E.

One of India’s top violinists, Rajagopalan was born into a family of musicians in Tamil Nadu, the region of the sculpture’s origin. His broad outlook incorporates jazz, blues, and music from other parts of the world. He has frequent international tours, including with the band Shakti -- in between, he lives and teaches in the Seattle area.

Music: Composition for Shiva, South India
Ganesh Rajagopalan, violin
Sriram Ramesh, kanjira frame drum 
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