Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Shiva-like Figures

Shiva Iconography (Buddhist)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
--- Simhanada Lokeshvara
--- Nilakanta Lokeshvara
--- Indra
--- Tara, Accomplishing the Complete Perfection
--- Shivaa
--- Indrani
- Confusions
- Others...

There are four figures that have a close resemblance to the Hindu god Shiva in his peaceful yogi appearance. Three figures are male and two are female. The first three are the male figures of Simhanada Lokeshvara, Nilakanta Lokeshvara and Indra. Only a few instances of Indra in a Buddhist context has a similar appearance to Shiva.

The two female figures are Tara and Shivaa. The Tara is known as the 'Accomplishing the Complete Perfection' from the set of Twenty-one Taras of Suryagupta. Shivaa is a female form of the god Shiva, or she could be a consort in the same basic appearance - rather than in the appearance of Parvati.

- Shiva-like Figures
- Shiva in Buddhist Art
- Simhanada: Lion's Roar
- Nilakanta Lokeshvara
- Twenty-One Taras of Suryagupta

"... with a body white in colour, one face, two hands, three peaceful eyes, with the face slightly smiling. The right hand is extended above the knee in the mudra of giving refuge. The palm of the left hand is supported on the moon seat, holding the stem of a red lotus, the petals blossoming next to the ear. Above is the cleansing blue sword of wisdom. The left breast is covered with the skin of a krishnasara deer; encircled with a white Brahmin string necklace; with a lower garment of red silk. The body is slightly thin and dexterous. At the left above a red lotus with eight petals is a skullcup filled with various fragrant flowers; at the right, a trident with a green shaft entwined with a white snake. The left [hand] is in the gesture of holding a fragrant lotus." (Written by Yarlungpa Sengge Gyaltsen, 13th century. (Jeff Watt, Vancouver, Canada, September, 1985).

Shivaa is either the female form of Shiva or the consort of Shiva. She is identified by having the same attributes such as the crescent moon in the hair, mala in the right hand, trident in the left hand and riding Nandi the bull. All of these are unique attributes to Shiva - not unique to Parvati. Tara, Accomplishing the Complete Perfection, and Shivaa are very similar in appearance.

Jeff Watt 9-2022

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).