The Circle and the Wheel and the Sundoor


[aras-image:7Ao.043,,10,,,Figure 11 Male and female couple in loving embrace.]

Pratapaditya Pal comments that the gods are often idealized in their most sensuous and erotic forms since, quoting from a 7th century text, their perfection is represented in the youthful figures of persons 16 years of age.7 The same underlying symbols occur in Tibetan paintings and statues, such as those of Yamantaka, the bull-headed Lord of Death with sixteen arms and legs sitting or standing while embracing his dakini. The eternal couple in the eternal embrace is the constant interaction of the polarities in the universe.
Indian art can move from such sensuous, personalized forms to totally abstract diagrams to symbolize this primal energy. The yoni sometimes is nothing more than a round cup with the lingam as a post in the center. The Sri Yantra is a complex of interlocking triangles, the downward-pointing ones representing the make energy and those pointing upwards representing the female. In the center the bindu, the seed, is represented by a single dot.
This central seed suggests the yin-yang interaction of the Chinese Tai Chi symbol. When a metaphor is derived from a perceived physical reality, rather than a logical deduction of relationship, the image carries great power. Marcel Granet's discussion of the historical, agricultural base for the Tai Chi symbol provides such an example. To many of us, at this point in time, the Tai Chi image is quite familiar but only as something in our heads and above our ears. Its original ground in the daily experiences of seasonal change is unfamiliar to most urbanized Westerners with artificial lighting and twenty-four hour supermarkets. Darkness is an inescapable and necessary part of the round of existence.