Hindu God Dattatreya, Synthesis of Shiva, Vishnu & Brahma

HIndu God Dattatreya statue

View this statue of the Hindu God Dattatreya

Dattatreya or Datta is considered by Hindus to be god who is an incarnation of the Divine Trinity, the three main Hindu Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The word Datta means “Given”, Datta is called so because the divine trinity has “given” themselves in the form of a son to the sage couple Atri and Anasuya. He is the son of Atri, hence the name “Atreya.”

Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Shiva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas. Although Dattatreya was at first a “Lord of Yoga” exhibiting distinctly Tantric traits, he was adapted and assimilated into the more devotional Vaishnavite cults; while still worshiped by millions of Hindus, he is approached as a benevolent god and a teacher of the highest essence of Indian thought.

In sculpture Dattatreya statues have some distinct characteristics. He always has three faces, one for Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Vishnu faces forward with Shiva on the left of Vishnu and Brahma on the right. He has six hands where he holds a drum (damru), discus (chakra), conch shell (sank), japa mala, water vessel (kamandala) and a trident (trishul). All these attributes of the Lord have their esoteric meanings. The trident is used for killing the ego, and the drum is used to awaken those souls who are still sleeping in the slumber of ignorance. Lord Datta’s conch shell is used to make the sacred sound OM. Lord Dattatreya is also holding a rotating discus -chakra. It is a round circle with no beginning and no end. Like the universe, it too is constantly moving, always in a flux. He uses this chakra to destroy all kinds of karmic bonds of His devotees. His right hand holds a rosary -japa mala. With this the Lord counts His devotees, liberating them by merely thinking of their name. In another hand the Lord is carrying the water pot -kamandala. This holds the nectar of pure wisdom. With this He revives the souls thirsty for knowledge, liberating them from the endless cycle of life and death.

Bronze Hindu God Dattatreya statue

View this Bronze Hindu God Dattatreya statue with 4 dogs and Kamadhenu the gift giving cow

Accompanying Dattatreya are 4 dogs and a cow. The four dogs surrounding Datta represent the four Vedas. The dogs are both wild and tame and symbols of fidelity and devotion. The cow is Kamadhenu the gift giving cow. She grants all wishes and desires. She is the cow of plenty, which emerged from SAMUDRAMANTHAN (the churning of the ocean) and and was claimed by Indra as his property. She is the mother of all cows.

The Sacred Symbols of Lord Ganesh Statues

“Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.”

Bronze Dancing Ganesh Statue

Dancing Ganesh Statue holding noose, axe, broken tusk and sweets

Lord Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, is rich in symbolism used as spiritual guides. Each symbol associated with the elephant-headed Hindu god is viewed as a reminder to manifest the powers held within us. Ganesh, a much-beloved and worshiped deity, is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is also known as the God of wisdom, prosperity and auspiciousness.

A Ganesh statue can be hand-carved in many postures and forms, typically with four or eight arms, holding various symbolic objects. Lord Ganesh is often displayed dancing or playing a musical instrument, such as a flute. He is sometimes accompanied by or riding a rat (or the mouse) – a symbol of all-pervasiveness. The rat can be interpreted as under Ganesh’s control, which is symbolic of a spiritual pursuit to attain self-realization and grace.

Even the position of Lord Ganesh’s trunk has significance and special meaning. Like all of Ganesh’s symbols and traits, each hold an interesting difference in the benefits devotees would get. If the idol trunk turns left, it signifies blessings of wealth, success and pleasure. To his right, the trunk represents moksha-related benefits – understanding that all pleasures on earth are momentary and to take the path of achieving bliss. His cracked tusk held in the right hand was broken off with purpose to use as a writing tool for the Mahabharata Epic. This is seen as a symbol of sacrifice, strength and demonstrates that we must finish what we start.

Some of the most popular sacred symbols in Lord Ganesh statues are an elephant goad, bowls full of Indian sweets or honey, an axe and an upside-down noose. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earth, just as man would steer an elephant away from a treacherous path. Modakapatra, also known as a bowl of sweets, exemplifies Ganesh’s love of sweets and the symbol He loves most – moksha, or liberation, one the sweetest of all things sweet. The axe is a tool used to destroy ignorance in the world.  The noose illustrates the notion to draw loved-ones close, but also remind us to encircle and save strayed ones in extraordinary ways.

Although some symbols hold more esoteric meaning than others, all of the sacred symbols of Ganesh can be interpreted in many ways. Above all, Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.

Ganesha Symbolism

Ganesha Symbolism

Thailand; Passion for Buddha Statues

“I just love making Buddhas.”
~Jeuw~

Chaing Saen Buddha Statue

Large Thai Brass Buddha with Jeuw

I love meeting people with true passion. Passion for anything; painting, traveling, their children. Six years ago I was very fortunate to meet someone passionate about making Thai Buddha statues and his name is Jeuw.

In my first 4 years of traveling through Thailand I spent every waking hour of every day I was there looking for good honest people who make great Buddha statues for my budding business, Lotus Sculpture. Every year I was disappointed and had to settle for doing business with a factory who made quality, yet uninspired Buddha statues.

6 years ago while meandering through an amulet market in Bangkok I stumbled upon a great little shop full of beautiful Buddha statues that had both a sense of peace and radiated energy. They were not typical of the Buddhas sold anywhere else in the market. I was giddy from the start. Did I just find the people that I have been looking for the past 4 years? I stayed and enjoyed the day with the mother and wife of the owner who was away at the workshop. I made plans to come back the next day to meet the owner, Jeuw, and to go to see where he makes his Buddhas. When I met Jeuw I was outright ecstatic! He was young and passionate. In the hour and half drive to the outskirts of Bangkok to see his workshop I could feel that he was just as excited as I was. He was telling me about himself in his broken English and I was doing the same in my broken Thai.  One thing I remember from our first meeting was that he was not trying to sell me anything. He was continually pointing out the Buddha statues that he loved and that he was proud of making. “No one else has this style. I am the only one making this Buddha.” he kept saying. And he was right. No one else has his quality and style in making Buddhas. Jeuw’s father started the workshop 25 years ago and Jeuw just took over the day to day operations of the workshop. He was very happy to have their first and only foreign customer!

Besides the beautiful proportions and style of the Buddha statues Jeuw is a master of patina. He can make any statue have the most beautiful antique patina. I noticed this immediately that the color of his Buddhas was so authentic and stunning to look at. Even in his smaller Buddhas there is care given to the color of the piece. For this reason many known “Antique” shops in Bangkok purchase his Buddha statues. They sell his newly made sculpture as antiques to foreign tourists. I have seen many shops selling antiques in Bangkok that are not antique at all.

Enjoying dinner of the Khoa Praya river in Bangkok

Enjoying dinner of the Khoa Praya river in Bangkok

Six years later our relationship has grown immensely. Each year he shows me other styles he is making and Buddhas he had in mind for the future. Each night after our business is done we go out to a dinner on the Khoa Praya river in Bangkok and just talk Buddhas and life. One thing he reinforced to me was the passion he carries with him about Buddhas. “I just love making Buddhas.” He told me to start on my personal collection of Thai Buddha statues which I have done. He told me that there is no one else in Thailand who makes Buddhas like him. The younger generation has no interest in making Buddha statues and he feels that when he gets older there will not be anyone else who will carry on with his passion for the sculptures. I do hope he is wrong.

Lotus Sculpture has been blessed to have such a good person with Love for his Art and Lord Buddha supplying us with all our Thai Buddha statues. I’m looking forward to the next shipment of statues which should be arriving October, 2012.

Click here to view all Jeuw’s Thai Buddha statues.

Shiva as Dhakshinamurti Quotes

Dhakshinamurti, Shiva as the south facing lord

Bronze Shiva as Dhakshinamurti, the south facing lord

“Salutations to Lord Dakshinamurti, the abode of all wisdom, teacher of the whole world, healing those who suffer from the disease of samsara.
Salutations to Lord Dakshinamurti, who is the meaning of “Om“, whose form is pure knowledge, who is taintless and utterly silent.”

“I extol Dakshinamurthy, the handsome youth who has transmitted the truth of Parabrahm by silent speech; who is surrounded by a host of venerable sages as disciples, all absorbed and established in meditation upon Brahman; who is the Supreme Teacher; who displays the sacred sign of fusion of the soul with the Absolute — the joining of forefinger and thumb — the paragon of bliss; who has a resplendent face replete with the rapture of the Self-Existent.”

“May this obeisance be directed to the Blessed Dakshinamurti to Him who takes the guise of the auspicious Guru, to Him whose eight-fold Form is this entire motionless and mobile cosmos, manifesting as earth, water, fire, air, ether, the sun, the moon and the soul; beyond whom, all-pervading and supreme, there exists nothing else for those who truly search!”

“Let us Praise Dakshinamurthy, the Supreme Father,
who is ‘having the Opening to Delight’,
who Delights in the Self alone,
who is the Embodiment of Delight,
who is with a Hand (with fingers closed in the fashion of) Sealing in
Brahman (as it were),
who is the pre-eminent among Spiritual Masters abiding surrounded,
by the foremost among spiritual disciples, who are Rishis resting in
Brahman,
who is a small boy,
who is of the Form of the Supreme Brahman, and
who denoted (the Supreme Brahman) by the Expounding that is Silence.”

“A young guru, imparting knowledge of Brahman through silence, surrounded by rishis who are firmly established in wisdom.
Teacher of teachers, whose gesture signifies wisdom, whose nature is fullness, smiling, reveling in himself, I worship that Lord Dakshinamurti.
Seated on the ground under the banyan tree, bestowing knowledge to all the rishis who have assembled near him…
teacher of the three worlds, destroyer of the miseries of birth and death, I bow to that Lord.”

Cruising for Ganeshas & Buddhas in Bali!

“My favorite days in Bali are spent on my rented motor scooter cruising through the markets, stores and back village workshops”
~Kyle~

 

Bali….I was amazed that I got through India without getting sick. In my 10 years of 15 trips to India I have managed to get a wide range of illnesses ranging from ordinary bugs to full-on, 105 degree temperatures. I dodged the bullet this trip! I was amazed! I jumped on the plane to Bali and patted myself on the back. Well done Kyle!

After arriving in Bali I sat down to a nice dinner at a respectable restaurant then quietly went to sleep that night. I awoke at 5am with an acrobat in my stomach. Yup, sick off the first meal I ate in Bali! That is what I get for counting my blessings to early! I spent the next day going through the lava stone workshops of my friend Christian, looking for quality Buddha statues that his family has been producing in Bali for the past 20 years. He consistently has the best quality Buddha carvings as well the best coloring for the statues. His artists can produce any color or texture in the stone. Each year I have seen a consistent improvement in the statues.

Lava stone Ganesh statue

On previous trips I have always shied away from Bali style Ganesha statues.  I was so used to the refined lifelike appearance of Ganesh in my travels through India, that the more crude Ganeshas of Bali did not seem attractive to me.  However, this year I opened my eyes and really saw the Bali style Ganesh for the first time and I liked what I saw.  There is a quote that I love about Ganesh;  “If you take home a stone and worship it in full faith, over a course of time you are bound to see the image of Ganesh.”  I truly saw Ganesh in the stone!  His fat almost tribal qualities are a perfect variation to the Indian style Ganesh.  As usual I bought too many of them!  I can never say no to a good statue!  In roaming thru his workshop I was consistently fighting back the desire to sit down and go to sleep or just fall over.  But I made it through the day…then on to Ubud, the cultural center of Bali to visit my Buddha wood carvers!

6 foot wooden buddha statue

My favorite days in Bali are spent on my rented motor scooter cruising through the markets, stores and back village workshops in Ubud. I must go into 30-40 shops a day. It is not easy to find quality wood Buddhas in Bali. There are hundreds of shops selling wood Buddhas however, over the years I have only found a small handful of artists who actually carve with true feeling for the work they are doing. Two artist that consistently make beautiful Buddhas are Mr Sayub and Mr Wayan. Wayan and his son carve my large standing Buddha statues on a blooming lotus base. This year he has carved two of them for me. One 8 feet tall and the other 6 feet tall. The detail and time taken on the flowing robes of the Buddha set his Buddha apart from other standing Buddhas!

wooden buddha statues in Bali

My other artist who I always look forward to seeing is Sayub. He makes small Buddha statues each usually with a very unique hand position. The thin fingers of each statue and minute detailing in the robes in my opinion crown him the current king of Balinese wood work…at least for Buddha statues! I also managed to pick up some very large wood statues including a 7 foot Kwan yin, 8 foot meditating Buddha and two other 7 foot standing Buddhas. After a couple of days of searching for Buddhas and cruising through rice fields on my scooter it was time to return to the coast.

I noticed in the shops in Ubud that there was some new metal work in Bali and I was determined to find out where they were being made. The statues were of Hindu gods and goddesses in various forms. The style was more similar in style to Cambodian Hindu and Buddhist statues with many arms and small weapons. I thus headed into Denpasar, the capital to check the markets. I knew I would not find the source here but I did find many shops that were selling the statues I was looking for. After many questions to many dealers I finally nailed down the source of the metal Hindu statues which I went to the following day. My search was rewarded and I choose some beautiful images. My favorite being a dancing Vishnu statue like no other I have seen before. The statue reminded me more of a Nataraja figure. I find it so fulfilling to start on a search for new sculpture mediums and designs and then achieve my goal. There is nothing like finding new artists!!!

By this time in my trip I really needed a reward. I spent the past 23 days working, flying, scooting, exploring every day and deserved a day off. I went to the quite surf beach of Padang Padang and got a bungalow on the ocean and spent the next day surfing and enjoying the ocean and stillness. My body and mind appreciated the day of mental tranquility and relaxation! Here is a video I shot from my bungalow. Yes, it was paradise!

Then I was off to Bangkok, Thailand and the last leg of my trip!