Please help me expand my Hindu pantheon!
May 30, 2007 6:50 AM   Subscribe

There is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant in Paris called Krishna-Bhavan (delicious, BTW), that has an image of a flute-playing butt with eyes (and jewellery) on one of their walls. Can anyone help me identify this deity / character? Picture here (scroll down).

It took me and my sister a fair bit of work to finally sneak a picture of this in a way that didn't broadcast "Hey! Your religious icons amuse us!" But seriously, I really want to figure out what part this character plays in the Ramayana.
posted by LMGM to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I don't know, but maybe this post will finally answer my question about Pink Floyd's movie for The Wall.
posted by Tuwa at 7:21 AM on May 30, 2007

You know what it looks like to me - it looks like there were two people in the picture and that "face" was superimposed over where their faces and bodies would go. There seem to be two headdresses.

The hand by the lips looks larger, possibly belonging to a guy, the other hand looks smaller. It seems to me like whoever put this up basically photoshopped some mess together. Which is probably a good thing, since the "butt with eyes" and "anal flute deity" might not be the best way to get Hindus to respond to your question about god.

A friend says it could be Krishna, who would be in the Mahabaratha, not the Ramayana. But to me, it looks like a photoshop.
posted by cashman at 7:25 AM on May 30, 2007

Given that you're eating in a place called Krishna House and you've got a flute-playing deity there, I'd venture that that's just a weird painting (or composite 'shop, whatever) of Krishna.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:27 AM on May 30, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm, far less interesting than I had hoped, but that seems like most plausible explanation. I recognize flute-playing hand positions from a similar posture in bharatanatyam (sp?) dance traditions that represents one of Krishna's aspects. That much being said, it's odd that there are what you might interpret as two heads facing each other, but the arms coming from each shoulder join together over the flute. Also, what happened to the nose?

Anyway, that's some crazy photoshopping, if that's what it is.

Also, try the mushroom dosa. It's lovely.
posted by LMGM at 7:49 AM on May 30, 2007

It looks like a painting of two people: probably Radha and Krishna.
posted by Arthur Dent at 10:34 AM on May 30, 2007

It's two people in one. Notice the head-dresses that don't line up and the hands and eyes that don't match.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:45 AM on May 30, 2007

Best answer: I'd have to agree with the party for Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā. Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa's consort, is considered to be Kṛṣṇa's Śakti - the active and dynamic power of the gods which often manifests in the female form. Hindu deities are often portrayed with their consorts as a way of communicating that all exists as Brahman - the one universal Reality. In portraying Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā together as virtually inseperable composites of a single being, the artist comments that gender distinctions in this world are but an illusion, as we are all, at our very core (our Ātman), genderless.1

But yeah, my vote is with Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā.

As for what part Kṛṣṇa plays in the Hindu tradition, I'd venture to say that he is best known for his conversations with Arjuna (one of the five Pāṇḍavas of the Mahābhārata) in the Bhagavad Gītā - historically considered an abridged guide to Vedantic Philosophy. If you are interested in learning more about Kṛṣṇa and the role he played in the Hindu epic (and don't feel like traipsing through dated translations of the text), I highly suggest the miniseries entitled (go figure) The Mahabharata, by Peter Brooks. It is lengthy (about 6 hours), but quite beautiful.

1 despite the overwhelming gendered social discrepancies.
posted by numinous at 2:06 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

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