The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes Characteristics of the image of Vasudeva which is chapter 44 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 44 - Characteristics of the image of Vāsudeva

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The Lord said:

1-2. I shall describe to you the characteristics of the image of Vāsudeva and other gods. Having placed the stone to the north of the temple facing either the east or the north and worshipped it, the sculptor should divide the stone into nine parts along the central line after making the offering.

3. In the twelve divisions (of the line) a division is said to be an aṅgula (a finger breadth). Two aṅgulas are known to be a golaka. It is also said to be a kālanetra.

4. Having divided one of the nine divisions into three, (with one part) the region of the calves should be made. In the same way a part is to be used for the knees and part for the neck.

5. The crown should be of a measure of a tāla (12 aṅgulas). In the same way the face (should be) of the measure of a tāla. The neck and heart should also be a tāla each.

6. The navel and the genital part should be a tāla apart. (The length) of the thighs should be two tālas. (The length) of the part from the ankle to the knee should be two tālas. Listen now to (the description) (of the drawing) of lines (on the body).

7. Two lines should be drawn on the foot, and (two) more in between the calves (and knees). Two lines about the kneesand two more in between the thighs and the knees should be drawn.

8. One line should be drawn over the genital part, and one more about the waist. Another (line) (should) then (be drawn) above the navel for accomplishing the girdle.

9. Then (a line) should be drawn on the heart and two lines on the neck. One such line should be drawn on the forehead and one more on the head.

10. One more line should be drawn on the crown by the learned. O Brahman! seven vertical lines should be drawn.

11. Six lines should be laid in between the armpits and the lower part of the spine. These lines alone should be marked clearly omitting the central line.

12. The forehead, the nose and the mouth should be made (to measure) four aṅgulas. The neck and the two ears should be made (to measure) four aṅgulas long.

13. The cheeks so also the chin should be made (to measure) two aṅgulas broad. The forehead is said to be eight aṅgulas broad.

14. Over that the temples (sides of the forehead) should be made two aṅgulas endowed with curbs. The intervening space between the eyes and ears is said to be four aṅgulas.

15. The ears should be two aṅgulas wide. (The interspace between) the ears and the ends of eye-lashes (should be) two and a half units. The cavity in the ear is spoken to be in the same line as the eyebrows.

16. A pierced ear (should be) six aṅgulas and an unpierced (ear) (should be) four aṅgulas equal to the chin. (Or it should be) six aṅgulas whether it is pierced or not pierced.

17. Then the external auditory passage with its membranes etc. should be made. The lower lip should be of two aṅgulas and the upper lip should be half of it.

18. Then the (breadth) of an eye (should be) half an aṅgula and the mouth (should be) four aṅgulas. The measurement of its depth is spoken to be one and a half aṅgulas.

19-20. The unopened mouth should be in this way. The opened mouth should be three aṅgulas. The base of the bridge of the nose should be one aṅgula high. From its tip it should be two aṅgulas similar to the karavīra (flower) (oleander). The intervening space between the two eyes should be made to measure four aṅgulas.

21. The corners of the eyes (should be) two aṅgulas. The space between them (should be) two aṅgulas. The pupil (should be) one third of the eye and the iris (should be) one fifth (of it).

22. The breadth of the eye (should be) three aṅgulas. The cavity (of the eye) is considered to be half an aṅgula. The lengths of the eyebrows are considered to be equal and are proportional to the eye-brows.

23. The middle of the eye-brow should be two aṅgulas and its length (should be) four aṅgulas. The measure round the head (should be) thirty-six aṅgulas.

24. The measurement around the heads of the images of Keśava and other gods should be thirty-six (aṅgulas). The headmeasure of all those (images) which are short-necked (should be) ten (aṅgulas).

25. The inter-space between the neck and the chest should be three times the length of the neck and should be thrice as much broad plus eight aṅgulas.

26. The shoulders (should) be made (to measure) eight aṅgulas and the two beautiful shoulder regions (should be) three times those. The arms should measure seven times (the length of) the eyes. The fore arms (should be) sixteen aṅgulas.

27. The arms should be three kalās[1] in breadth and the forearms should also be equal to that. The upper arm should have a circumference of nine kalās.

28. It should be seventeen aṅgulas at the middle and sixteen aṅgulas above the elbow-joint. O Brahman! the circumference of elbow should be three times that.

29. The circumference of the middle of the forearm is said to be sixteen aṅgulas. The circumference of the fore-part of the arm is said to be twelve aṅgulas.

30. The palm of the hand is said to be six aṅgulas in breadth. The length should be seven aṅgulas. The middle (finger) should be five aṅgulas (long).

31. The index finger and the ring finger (should be) half an aṅgula less than that. The little finger and the thumb should be made to measure four aṅgulas each.

32. The thumb should be made to have two parvans (joints). The other fingers (should have) three joints. The measure of the nail is laid down as half (the size of the joints) on the respective fingers.

33. The extent of the belly is same as that of the chest. The:navel should be an aṅgula (in breadth) and proportionally deep.

34. Then the inter-space between the generative organ and the intestines should be made to measure a tāla. The girth around the navel (should be) forty-two aṅgulas.

35. The inter-space between the breasts should be made to measure a tāla in breadth. The nipples should be of the measure of a yava[2] (barley grain). The circular space around them should be two pādas (two feet).

36. The circumference of the chest should be made sixty-four aṅgulas clearly. The girth of the lower portion (of the chest) is said to be four mukhas[3] (one tāla).

37. The circumference of the waist should be fifty-four aṅgulas. The breadth of the base of the thigh is said to be twelve aṅgulas.

38. It is somewhat greater at the middle (of the thigh) and gradually less (broad) below. The knee-joint (should be) eight aṅgulas in breadth and thrice that in its girth.

39. The middle of the leg from the ankle to the knee is said to be seven aṅgulas broad. The girth of it (should be) three times that. The top of the leg (should be) five aṅgulas broad.

40. The girth of that (the leg) (should be) thrice its breadth. The feet (should) measure a tāla. The extent of elevation of the feet (should be) four aṅgulas.

41. The front (part) of the ankles should be four aṅgulas The extent of the feet should be three kalās. The generative organ should be three aṅgulas.

42. Its girth (should be) five aṅgulas. The fore-finger (should be) of same length. The other fingers are duly lesser by one part of eighth.

43. The height of the toe is said to be one and a half aṅgulas. The nail of the two should be made twice that.

44. (Those of other fingers) should be gradually made half aṅgula less than the previous. The scrotum should be three aṅgulas (long). The generative organ (should be) four fingers (long).

45. The girth of the upper part of the pouch should be made (to be) four aṅgulas. The girth of the scrotum is said to be six aṅgulas.

46. The image should be adorned with ornaments. This is the exact description of details. The features (of the deities) should be made in this world, as described.

47. A disc on the (upper) right hand, and a lotus on the lower (right hand), the conch on the (upper) left hand, the mace on the lower (left hand) are to be placed according to the characteristic of Vāsudeva.

48-49. (The images of) Śrī and Puṣṭi should be made carrying a lotus and a harp respectively in their hands, (their images) reaching upto the thighs (of that of Vāsudeva). Then the two Vidyādharas (a class of semi-divine beings) holding the garlands (in their hands) should be made in the halo of the principal image). The halo (should also) be decked with the (images) of (celestial) elephants. The pedestal should be radiant like a lotus on which the images (should be worshipped) as follows.

Footnotes and references:


Equal to two aṅgulas. Also called Golaka.


One eighth of an aṅgula.


Seems to be a corrupt form for mukhya equal to one tāla or twelve aṅgulas.

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