20. Saint

20. Saint
Height: 26.5 cm
Nineteenth-twentieth century
Catalogue number 20.
Accession number 88.506.

This image despicts a saint with characteristic hand gestures of a wandering holy man, singing praises of the gods and cupping his ear to hear his song. Ecstatic song and dance were popular expressions of devotion encouraged by leaders such as Caitanya, the saint who led the Bengali Vaishnava movement in the sixteenth century. The word gurudaya meaning compassion of the saint is incised in Bengali script on the saint's garment. In a home shrine, it is customary to worship images of spiritual leaders along with those of gods. Such images are devotees, deities, and tools of worship, used as part of the panoply of ritual in a domestic shrine.

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