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All Indian Art Is Religious

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As you glance through the pages of a book on the art of India, or walk through a museum display of Indian art, you will be struck by the fact that the imagery seems overwhelmingly sacred in character. Who has not at one time or another seen a representation of a Hindu temple, a print of a meditating image of the Buddha, or a photograph of Shiva Nataraja as the cosmic god of dance?

Whether in the medium of stone, bronze, or clay, images of gods and goddesses, often multi-armed and occasionally multi-headed, dominate the scene. And setting aside Islamic monuments, all other architectural structures are sacred. Hindu and Jain temples exist in vast numbers, while Buddhist monastic establishments are abundant. It is not surprising that the notion is widely held that all Indian art is religious. The notion, however, is but a half-truth.