Discuss the significance of the lion and bull figures in Indian mythology, art and architecture. UPSC GS Practice Questions

significance of lion and bull figures in Indian mythology, art and architecture. UPSC GS Practice Questions

Animals played a very significant role in early Indian art and iconography.  Among the elements in nature, animal portrayals received greater attention. Among animals, lion and bull received much attention in mythology, art and architecture.   

Significance of the lion figure: 

From the primitive era, the lion is considered as the symbol of strength and power and worshipped through all ages in India as a symbol of royalty, leadership and protection as well as of wisdom and pride. 

Lions symbolically have played significant roles in magic, as deities or close association with deities. 

The lion symbolism and its cultural depictions can be found in Hindu and Buddhist art of India and Southeast Asia.

Narasimha (“man-lion”), Narasinga, is described as an incarnation (Avatara) of Vishnu in the Puranic texts of Hinduism.  

Lions are also found in Buddhist symbolism. Lion pillars (Sarnath Lion capital, Sanchi Lion capital) erected by Ashoka show lions and the chakra emblem.  

In Buddhist architecture, lion figure were used as protectors of Dharma and symbolic of the Bodhisattvas. 

Significance of the bull figures:

The Bull is associated with a number of divinities but, primarily, its association with Siva in Hindu religion, Adinatha in Jaina religion and its relation with the Buddha Sakyamuni.  It was a secular symbol. 

Nandi is the sacred bull of the Hindu god Shiva. Nandi is Shiva’s animal form, his means of transportation, and his most ardent worshiper. 

The white colour of the bull symbolizes purity and justice.  

Nandi is also believed to promote fertility, its relation to the fertility cult and its usefulness as a domesticated animal as reflected in ancient Indian art. 

During Indus valley civilization bull was presented in stone, clay, metal, seals and terracottas. 

In Ashoka pillar, the figure of bull was embossed on their capital or found relieved on abacus.  

During Gupta period, it became an established religious symbol.  

Chola’s constructed sacred bull of shiva (nandi) in various temples.  

Thus, In Indian mythology, art and architecture animal not only represents just nature element but also religious, cultural and social significance.

So this was all about the significance of the lion and bull figures in Indian mythology, art and architecture. UPSC GS Practice Questions.

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