According to followers of the branch of Hinduism that considers Shiva to be the ultimate, original creator of the universe, he takes on a mythological form and resides in his created world. His home is in the Himalaya Mountains, on Mount Kailasa, where he lives with his wife Parvati.
In one episode of Shiva's mythology, he presses down his big toe to quell the ten-armed demon Ravana, who tried to steal Mount Kailasa and take it away to his island. As Ravana was trying to shake the mountain loose, Parvati turned and clung to Shiva in fear-the moment depicted in this magnificent sculpture, which once formed part of a temple exterior.
It is thought that Shiva created the world for the sake of his own enjoyment, his lila or divine play, and emanated himself into all the beings of creation: gods and demons, humans and animals. He shrouded their awareness of the reality that they were in essence the god Shiva himself, so that they would perform the actions of his cosmic drama.