The Damaru

- November 17, 2021


By Kayva Gokhale The Damaru plays an important role in the Puranas and is one of the main markers in Shiva’s iconography. Illustration: Durgesh Vellhal What is a Damaru? A Damaru is a small,  hourglass-shaped drum that is most commonly associated with Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology. While it is unclear as to when exactly the Damaru originated, some sculptures of Shiva holding this drum have been dated back to the 10th century C.E. The Damaru also makes an appearance in the Tibetan practice of Tantric Buddhism after that. This hourglass-shaped drum is generally carved from a solid block of wood with skinheads covering each opening. A piece of string with pellets at each end (or a leather cord with knotted ends) is tied to the waist of the Damaru. The player holds the waist of the Damaru in their hand and rotates their wrist to make the ends of the string hit the skinheads, thus producing a reverberating sound.  One instrument, many interpretations There have been various philosophical and spiritual interpretations of the Damaru in Hinduism. According to the most common interpretation, the Damaru is seen as a representation of yin and yang, since the shape of the Damaru symbolises the coming together of male and female procreative energies, with the top portion representing the lingam and the bottom portion representing the yoni. ...

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