THE popularity of the image of Vaikuntha Chaturmurti in Kashmir can be attributed to the famous King Jayapida who ruled Kashmir sometime in the 8th century CE. The Rajatarangini of Kalhana records that King Jayapida founded the city of Jayapura, identified by Buhler as Andarkot, situated on the Sambar lake. He built many temples and viharas there. Referring to the installation of Chaturatmana Vishnu it states, “In his own town (of Jayapura) Keshava, showing his quadruple form (Chaturatmana) as well as reclining on the Sesha, has truly taken up his abode, abandoning his residence in Vishnuloka (i.e. Vaikuntha)”.
The idol of Vaikuntha Chaturmurti has become very popular in Kashmir after this as evidenced by a number of icons of this deity belonging to the 8th–10th centuries from this region.
The four faces of Vaikuntha symbolise the Pancharatra concept of four vyuhas. The central human face with long curved eyebrows and closed meditative eyes represents Vasudeva, to its left is the face of Varaha representing Samkarshana and to its right is that of the lion representing Pradyumna. Both these have partially open mouths exposing their teeth and have wide round eyes. All three are adorned with earrings, with crown and other decorations on their heads. The fourth face behind is distinctly different from the other three as it depicts the fierce face of sage Kapila with jatabhara on his head. His angry face has knitted, arched eyebrows and wide open bulging eyes. His mouth, exposing his teeth and the tusks above his lips, add to the fierceness of his face.
Figurine Sculpture religious object
9th century CE
43.5 x 16.8 x 9.5 cms.