Ardhanarishvara (Ardhanārīśvara)

Ardhanarishvara – Concept and Significance

Ardhanarishvara (Ardhanārīśvara), is an androgynous deity composed of Shiva and his consort Shakthi, representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. The Ardhanari form also illustrates how the female principle of God, Shakti, is inseparable from the male principle of God, Shiva. Ardhanari in iconography is depicted as half-male and half-female, split down the middle. The best sculptural depictions of Shiva as Ardhanari are to be seen in the sensuous Chola dynasty bronzes and the sculptures at Ellora and Elephanta.

`Ardhanarishvara` is a combination of three words `Ardha`, `Nari` and `Ishwara` means `half`, `woman` and `lord` respectively, which when combined means the lord whose half is woman. It is believed that the God is Shiva and the woman part is his consort Parvati or Shakti. The Ardhanarishvara represents a constructive and generative power.

image1.png The Chola bronze is from the 11th century Tamil Chola Kingdom depicting Shiva and Shakthi in the form of Ardhanariswara