For all the long years that was in my motherland, i had not yet discovered by true thirst for my language, thought the love for art was there since long. It was a chance introduction of one of well wishers Sri Divakar who brought me into a forum that made me realise the beauty of my mother tongue and like a toddler learning to walk, i relearnt my mother tongue, trying to find my release through the amazing mintamil forum. I was egged on during those initial stages of just a few lines on sculpture to deeply analysing and inferring literature, bakthi and their interplay with sculpture - was catalysed by the interactions i had with Mr. Kannan. a stunning academic whose love for the language and the great devotional hymns, amazed me. As luck could have it, Mr Ashok my photographer friend came up with a set of amazing sculptures from Tirukurungudi, one look a them and i decided inorder to do justice to the mastery of these beauties, the right person to write about them would be Mr Kannan. Grateful to him for agreeing to do so and come up with such a great post in such a short duration. Read on and enjoy…..

It often amazes me! You and me look at a rock, a barren hill as stone. But an artist sees a temple inside. How else could we have those marvelous cave temples in Mamallapuram, Ajanta and Ellora?
There are plenty of stones around us. But only an artist sees God in a stone. A poetry is hidden in words. Poetry is hidden in stones as well. I shoot a butterfly on the other day. It was so beautiful that I felt that this butterfly is nothing other than a Haiku written by the flower! Can we say this? Yes! we can. Beauty and order are the
essence of creation. Whenever there is beauty there is poetry. Vijay has rightly called his blog “Poetry in Stone”.

But of course most of us don’t see a poetry in rock or a flower. We need to develop those aethetics. Tirumular a saint poet of India says that when you see a wooden elephant, at that moment you ’see’ only an elephant and not the wood. In the same way, when you see nature, you see only the elements but not the god. This is certainly an art. To see a poetry in stone and God in everything.

unfinsihed gopuram.jpg

Nammalvar, the poet saint of southern India expresses it in a different way. He visited Tirukurungudi. He saw God there. He saw ONLY god and nothing else. Not even the ’seer’. Only ONE existed. He says
then “If then, how dare I call myself an entity?” I think Nammalvar is correct. After seeing these beautiful sculptures, one forgets oneself. Only the Poetry in Stone Exists.

Govardhana Giri.jpg
krishna flute.jpg
vastra haranam.jpg

The popular belief is that Sriman Narayanan decends now and then as Avatars on earth, as it is one of the playgrounds for him (Leela Vibhuti). Among the most popular Dasavatar (ten) Vamana is celebrated by saints and poets. As it reflects the sentiments of Tirumular and Nammalvar beautifully. Pali was a great ruler,in fact, he was referred as ‘Mapali’ the great one! All the worlds under the heaven was his (in fact, he owned the heaven as well). He naturally forgets God, the creator. This story repeats after his great grand father Hiranya who was a tyrrant and egoist. He was slayed by Vishnu for the same reason. However, Pali is also the grandson of Prakalatha, a well known devotee
of Vishnu. So, Vishnu didn’t kill him but he wanted to show him a lesson. He came as a dwarf and asked for three feet of land as alm. Without relizing the fact that he was God himself, Pali promised HIM his land. Next moment HE grew so big that the entire known universe is under one feet and the unknown universe under another feet. Even Brahma the creator of universes got baffled by this enormous BEING. He realized that HE must be the ‘real’ creator and so he washed HIS feet using water in his kamandala. The water flew in the heavens there after as “Akasa Ganga”. Later Siva brought that to earth for earthly uses. The God who resides in Tirukurungudi is none other than this
huge entity. This beautiful myth is captured in stone.


HE appeared once to the call of Gajendra. Under distress Gajendra called for help. He requested the roots of all roots to appear in front of him to remove his distress. So he called “Adi Mulame” (the
one from it everything springs, the undifferentiated ONE). Before THAT appeared everything else such as all the Devas, Trimurthi, Rishis and Munis appeared. Why? They wanted to see who THAT one was? At that moment Sriman Narayanan appeared in his Eagle cart (Garuda vahanam)
majestically. This story is depicted as poetry in stone as well.

tirukurungdui tiruvikrama.jpg

However, the most interesting one is Krishna stealing butter. The most popular myth of India and elsewhere. Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu as well. However, with a difference. While rest of all avatars are magnificent and majestic. This one is ‘down to earth’. A playful child, mischievous to the core. Naughty and charming. Nothings escapes his charm. Not even the cattle and trees in Brindavan. Krishna is embodiment of beauty, simplicity and benevolence. He undertook major tasks for the benefit of people around him like a child play (the samhara or the destruction of evil in this avatar is unparalleled) mainly to make himself accessible to his dear ones as a child companion to play with. That’s why Krishna is accepted by everyone without cast, creed and religion. This beauty is etched on stone with the same charm in Tirukurungudi.

When poetry emerges, it charms, it enchants and it mesmerize. At that moment only poetry exists. Paranirvana, Satory, Moktsha. Don’t you feel that at this moment in this blog?

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9 Comments so far

Satish Kumar

Mr.Kannan and Vijay,

Amazing photos and a good write up. Breathtaking sculptures. The krishnaleela panel is awesome. The expressions and posture of each and every figure in it, what an imagination of the sculpture. Keep posting such interesting things.


September 25th, 2008 at 22:09

ரீச் பவுண்டேஷனின் விளக்க brochureல் முன்னட்டை இந்த வெண்ணை எடுக்கும் கண்ணன் தான்! அஷோக் தேர்வு செய்து, அந்த brochure design செய்து கொடுத்தார். கண்ணன் சிற்பங்களுக்கு, கண்ணனின் வர்ணனை அழகு, அழகு! நாங்கள் பார்த்த பார்வை - REACH - Rural Eduction And Conservation of Heritage. ஆண்டவன் கிடைப்பதற்கறிய பல விஷயங்களை (கோவில், கல்வெட்டுகள், சிலைகள், கலை,கலாச்சாரம்) நமக்கு தருகிறான். அதை எட்டிப்பிடிக்க நாம் முயல வேண்டும். அதே போல், கிராம மக்கள், பொது அறிவு குறைந்தவர்கள், இந்த நல் விஷயங்களை அறிந்திலர். எனவே, ரீச் அவர்களுக்கு அவற்றை REACH செய்ய உதவும்! எனவே, இந்த திருக் குறுங்குடி சிற்பம் எங்களுக்கு special! படங்கள் தந்த அஷோக், எழுத பெரிய மனசு பண்ணி, கண்ணனுக்கு சொன்ன விஜய், அழகாக எழுதி வர்ணித்த கண்ணன் [பட்டர் :)] வாழ்க!

September 26th, 2008 at 1:02

I always learn something new when I drop in every time..thanks for this brilliant post with some wonderful pictures

September 26th, 2008 at 11:00
Kathie Brobeck

Dear Sirs,
Could you tell me where this handsome temple is ? Do you have its dates?

September 27th, 2008 at 17:02
ashok krishnaswamy

Hi, This temple is in Tirunelveli district. I happend to visit there during my official trip to Tirunelveli. I am not sure about the dates.
The main dieties are the 3 forms of Lord Vishnu. Standing, Sitting and Reclining postures.
Beautiful colored (blue) dieties. I guess they are using organic paints.


September 28th, 2008 at 14:57

i hav read the message for the above.
but not read the that place situated and the district and correct place. please needful for the reader

September 30th, 2008 at 19:18

wow, for a minute I thought I was in vaikundam itself. absolutely stunning sculptures. Thanks for making my life worthwhile. Thanks a ton to all the painstaking done to bring the wealth of sculptural and cultural heritage to us casual visitors.

October 15th, 2008 at 12:22

Your Comments and Pictures are really good, can u come down to tirunelveli we shall show u many more postures

November 7th, 2009 at 22:22

dear Chandru

Will definitely try and make it. I will be in India during dec of this year for 2 weeks.


November 8th, 2009 at 12:29

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