This thirty-two inch tall brass statue, anodised as bronze, represents Lord Shiva engaged in penance, a form identified in iconographic classification as Yoga Dakshinamurti. In theology, and hence correspondingly in arts involving iconography, Dakshinamurti is one of the many forms of Shiva widely represented in arts. Even Dakshinamurti form is immensely diversified, and there are a number of Dakshinamurti forms 'Vinadhara Dakshinamurti', 'Pushkara Dakshinamurti', 'Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti', 'Jnana Dakshinamurti', 'Yoga Dakshinamurti', and the like. The term Dakshinamurti combines two Sanskrit terms; one 'Dakshin' the supreme master or expert in any of the disciplines; and the other, 'Murti' form; that is Dakshinamurti is the form of the supreme master.
Theological tradition perceives in Shiva the root of dance, music, entire knowledge, rhetoric, Yoga, and of all disciplines. Shiva's form carrying 'vina' represents him as 'Vinadhara Dakshinamurti'. 'Vinadhara Dakshinamurti' represents Shiva as the master of both dance and music, but his form playing on his drum and known as 'Pushkara Dakshinamurti' represents him only as the master drummist or instrumentalist. Similarly, as the master of rhetoric, he is 'Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti'; when revealing the ultimate truth, he is 'Jnana Dakshinamurti'; when engaged in Yoga he is 'Yoga Dakshinamurti'; and the like.Yoga, broadly the practice of controlling body and mind for the realisation of one's pure self, is one of the earliest cults associated with Shiva. As reveal the five thousand-year old pre-Vedic finds, Lord Shiva was perceived, and perhaps worshipped, as the originator of Yoga even by Harappan settlers who themselves practised it. One of the terracotta seals, recovered in excavations of the Indus sites, represents a yogi-form engaged in penance. This form is now unanimously identified as Shiva.
Mythological tradition also perceives Shiva primarily as Yogi doing long and rigorous penance. After Sati, his loved consort, immolated herself in 'yajna-kunda' ritual fire of 'yajna', of her father Daksha Pajapati, Shiva retired to forest and engaged himself in penance for many thousand years. On another occasion, he likewise retired to Kashi on the earth and engaged himself in penance. It was here that he killed the elephant demon Gaya. Before annihilation of Tripura also he had likewise engaged in penance at Maheshvara on the bank of river Narmada. He was thus basically a 'yogi' resorting to 'Yoga' in every difficult situation. On the contrary, he is not known to have ever resorted to 'Yajna'.
Lord Shiva is seated on tiger-skin in 'padmasana', characteristically a posture of Jain iconography. His swelled chest, prominent muscles, deeply set eyes and recessed belly denote that he is engaged in 'Pranayama', one of the basic 'yogik' practices. As suggests the term, the exercise helps inhaling cosmic energy and discovering fresh dimensions of life. He has his attributes trident, drum and the pot made hollow gourd, but not on his person. Tied with cords they lie around his seat. One of his snakes lies around his neck and the other besides him. Elongated face with sharp features, broad forehead, elegantly combed and knotted hair with crescent and Ganga couched there, and inflated throat, define his iconography, and a few Rudraksha beads, a pair of rings on wrists and yajnopavit, his ornaments.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.