[Model Answer QP2022 GS1] Discuss the significance of the lion and bull figures in Indian mythology, art and architecture.

The significance of lion can be seen in the National Emblem which is one of the most visible symbols of national identity, used as the seal of the Republic. It was adopted from the Lion Capital of one of the Ashoka Pillars on January 26, 1950.
The significance of the bull as a symbol of fertility and strength was widespread in India as early as the Indus Valley Civilization (about 2000 BC).

Significance of Lion in Indian mythology, art and architecture

Significance of Lion  in Indian Mythology1. Lion is the ‘vahana’ or vehicle of Godess Durga.
2. Narasimha (Half lion and half human) is the avatar of Vishnu.
3. Lions are also found in Buddhism symbolism. In Buddhism, lions are symbolic of the Bodhisattvas.
4. Yali is a Hindu mythological creature portrayed with the head and body of a lion.
Significance of Lion  in Indian Art1. Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka (National Emblem of India).
2. There are four lions, standing back to back, an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion separated by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus.
Significance of Lion  in Indian Architecture1. Mauryan Pillars: The top portion of the pillar was carved with capital figures like the bull, the lion, the elephant, etc.
2. Rock engraving of Lion with wings and Bull has been found in the torana of the Sanchi  stupa.

Significance of Bull in Indian mythology, art and architecture

Significance of Bull  in Indian Mythology1. Nandi  is the sacred bull of the Hindu god Shiva.
2. The bull is also a symbol of First Jain Tirthankara Adinatha.
3. In Buddhism ‘Bull’ is related to the Janma (Birth).
Significance of Bull  in Indian Art1. Several steatite seals and sealings with bull figures in Indus Valley.
2. Bull is seen painted in the prehistoric rock shelters- Bhimbetka.
Significance of Bull  in Indian Architecture1. Bull Capital of Mauryan Empire: Rampurva Bull. 
2. Found in Lomash Rishi Caves and Barabar Caves are Gavaksha (Bulls eye)
The symbolism of animals is extremely important in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist mythology. Lord Vishnu’s initial incarnations include a fish, tortoise, hog, and half-human, half-lion. Almost every deity is accompanied by an animal or bird, which is represented on their idols or in temples. As a result, the value of animals and birds transcends their natural existence into the domain of the spiritual. Therefore their importance in spiritual arts and Indian and tribal art forms is undeniable.

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