The Churning of Oppositions and Extremes in the Mythology of Śiva

The Hindu mythmakers attribute opposing qualities to the god named Śiva. He is the ascetic archetype, but also the god of the phallus. He appears in paradoxical guises incorporating divergent facets of human experience. At once awful and auspicious, effeminate and masculine, intoxicated and sober, he is as an embodiment of death, as well as life.

This thesis is an invitation to think the problem of duality differently, accounting for the inherent uneasiness and unsettling aspects of the world. By becoming intimate with the god who is composed of fearsome contradictions, my contention is that we can develop a sensitised rigour when dealing with the complexities of oppositions and extremes.

Full Text.


The Churning of Oppositions and Extremes in the Mythology of Śiva. A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts, 2014. Image: Seal shows the seated proto-Śivan figure Paśupati, ‘Lord of Animals,’ ithyphallic and surrounded by creatures. 2600 ~ 1900 BC. Discovered during the excavation of the Mahenjodaro archeological site in the Indus Valley.

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