A visual guide to Shiva symbolism

Shiva is one of the most widely known and revered Hindu gods. In the Hindu mythology, Shiva is the Destroyer, working in concert with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Protector. Shiva has always fascinated his followers by his unique appearance: he has not two but three eyes, has ash smeared all over his body, has snakes coiled up around his head and arms, wears tiger and elephant skin, leads a wild life in the cremation grounds far removed from social pretences, and is known for his proverbial anger. Here is a visual guide to the symbols associated with Shiva.


The Indian Art of Jamini Roy


jamini-roy-christ-crucifiedJesus Christ is crucified” by Jamini Roy

Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was an influential (non-Christian) Indian artist who forged a style that was both Indian and avant garde, taking crude Kalighat Pat styles as his sources of inspiration.

Although I find his art eye catching I can’t help but notice that, as with many non-Christian artists who delve into Christian themes, Jamini Roy seems to have limited his exploration to the beginning and end of the life of Jesus, not venturing in between. His works include of paintings of the Maddona and Child, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and narrative-less Jesus portraits, amongst many works illustrating Hindu mythology.

Not Quite Christian Art: Hindu Jesus

Jesus in India

An image of Jesus in India by an unknown artist.

Whatever its artistic merits I can’t help thinking that art like this is too syncretistic to properly be called Christian.

It is one thing to depict Christian stories in Hindu style. It is another to depict Hindu stories in Christian style. This strikes me as more typical of the latter than the former.

For if you changed the face, what of Christian substance would be left?

Gita and Gospel

“Here, then, we have the secret of that similarity which we are all so clearly conscious of, when we read a Gospel alongside of the Glta. In the Gospels we have in historical form the authoritative utterances of the historical Jesus; in the Gita we have the imaginations of a poet-philosopher who was clear-sighted enough to realize that an incarnate god would have many things to say about himself, and that his teaching would bear the note of authority. When, however, we look for exact parallels between the two, they are hard to find: the books are so utterly diverse in origin and teaching that they have little in common except the tone of the master. In a few cases, however, the resemblance is rather striking.”

“The Gita is one of the most eloquent possible proofs of the fact that the human heart cries out for an incarnate Saviour. Scarcely less impressive is the evidence furnished by the reception of the Gita by Hindu readers: not the greatest of the Upanishads, neither the Chandogya nor the Katha, has had one quarter of the influence exercised by this late poem; and the secret undoubtedly is to be found in the attraction of the man-god Krishna. How many generations of pious readers have found in the story of the life and teaching of the incarnate god something to which their deepest and most persistent religious instincts have responded! How many to-day turn to Krishna in their trials and troubles!”

“On the one hand, then, we have the imaginative portrait of Krishna, surrounded by millions of adoring worshippers—touching spectacle! On the other, stands the historical Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man and Son of God, stretching out His nail-pierced hands to India, as He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rightly read, the Gita, is a clear-tongued prophecy of Christ, and the hearts that bow down to the idea of Krishna are really seeking the incarnate Son of God.”

Farquhar, J. N. (John Nicol), 1861-1929

The Gita and Gospel is available for free in ebook format here.

Indian Christian Art: Zaccheus Meets Jesus

Art Prints

I love the art of Satheesan A K. It has a distinct Indian style without sacrificing the Christian substance. This one is entitled “Zaccheus Meets Jesus”. I also appreciate the image link that Fine Arts America have put together for bloggers. This is art promotion done well.

Christian Art: Indian Jesus


“The Dedication of Jesus” by Satheesan A K.

I found it at Fine Art America where it says, “This painting is done in the traditional mural art style of Kerala, India. This style of art is normally done on the walls of temples and churches and depicts stories. The artist, Satheesan A. K., has worked on the walls of temples in Kerala for several years. In 2008 Satya Global Arts commissioned 10 canvas paintings on the life of Christ. This painting shows Mary bringing Jesus to the temple for dedication. Simeon is holding Jesus, with the Anna is in the background.”

You can buy some of his art here and browse Indian art by other artists in my online collection of Asian Christian art.

Sai Baba and the Christ question


I was talking to one of our Sri Lankan members the other day when he revealed that Sai Baba was a much bigger influence amongst the Hindus of western Sydney than I’d realised.

For the uninitiated Sai Baba is an popular Indian guru who considers himself greater than Christ:

“Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and others were not Avathars. They had some divine power. Only in India are Avathars born, because only in India are the Sastras understood.” (Dr. John Hislop. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Ch. XL, p. 133)

This gives me much to ponder.

Mulitple Incidents of Hindu Terror in India

Mulitple incidents of Hindu terror have been reported against Christians in India this month by Compass Direct News. Here is just one example:

Hindu extremists on Jan. 26 disrupted a baptism and thrashed believers at Gangapur Dam, Nashik district. The Times of India reported that as members of the Navjivan Fellowship Church were conducting a baptism ceremony at the dam, a group of 10 to 12 men armed with cricket stumps, iron rods and sticks arrived and beat those present, including women and children … The Hindustan Times reported that Sangeeta Paulat, who also was injured, said the assailants shouted, “Jai Shri Ram [hail to Lord Ram]” while beating them.

Read more recent incidents of persecution