bhoga-mūrti

(‘icon [that gives] happiness’)

The icons of Viṣṇu are generally of four varieties: bhogamūrti, yogamūrti, vīramūrti and ābhicārikamūrti. They respectively concern the attitudes of happiness, meditation, heroism and exorcism. Each one of these may again be sculptured in three possible postures: sthānaka (standing), āsīna (seated) and śayāna (recumbent). Further, each variety has three subdivisions: uttama (superior), madhyama (middling) and adhama (inferior).

The bhogamūrti of the sthānaka type, called ‘bhoga-sthānaka-mūrti’, has four hands. The two upper hands carry the cakra (discus) and śaṅkha (conch). The right lower hands exhibits the gesture of abhaya (protection) or varada (boon-giving). The left lower hand rests on the hip. The complexion is śyāma or dark blue. Śrīdevī (Lakṣmī) and Bhūdevī (Mother-earth) are shown as the consorts.

In the uttama variety, the deity is surrounded by several sages, celestial beings and attendants. In the madhyama and the adhama versions, the number of these subsidiary beings is gradually reduced.

In the bhogamūrti of the āsīna type called ‘bhogāsanamūrti’, the same description holds good. Viṣṇu is shown as seated on a splendid throne. In rare cases, he may be shown as seated on the Ananta or the thousand-hooded serpent.

In the bhogamūrti of the śayāna type, called ‘bhoga-śayāna-mūrti’, the god is shown in a recumbent posture. One of the right hands supports the head and one of the left hands is stretched till the thigh. The śaṅkha (conch) and the cakra (discus) may be shown in the other two hands. Sometimes, they are shown independently, the two extra hands being absent. Either Śrīdevī (Lakṣmī) or both Śrīdevī and Bhūdevī (Mother-earth) are shown near the feet. The fourfaced Brahmā on the lotus emanating from the navel is another feature.