We had earlier seen the story of Chandeswarar and caught a glimpse of this amazing beauty from Gangai konda cholapuram when we saw the Big temple Chandesa panel. To do full justice to this sculpture, here is an exclusive on my favorite sculpture from Gangai Konda Cholapuram. ( dont fail to notice the panel surrounding the main sculpture - which has a delightful sculptural representation of the chandesa story - read the linked post or the full story and verses)
Often i have argued that the pallava stone sculpture is the pinnacle of stone art. For their sculptures are not cramped into any set rule, rather the imagination of the sculpture is given a free hand and he sculpted the forms in fluid grace, the images would look breathed upon - ready to take life and walk away. One such Pallava master craftsmen seems to have been in the employment of Rajendra Chola - for this sculpture is the crowning glory of sculpture. That Such exquisite grace, such infinite beauty, such immaculate emotions, can be brought into stone - is sheer poetry in stone.
I thought it fit to use Dr. Nagaswamy’s words to describe the sculpture,
Siva seated on a throne with four arms carries axe and antelope in his upper arms; with the lower the Lord is seen crowning Chandesa with a garland of flowers, a symbol of affection and stewardship. Chandesa is seen seated in front and with folded arms receiving the pride of place bestowed on him by his Lord. Chandesa is the embodiment of devotion and piety and the place he attained is considered the highest, a devotee of Siva is privileged with. It is called the Chandisa padam, the abode of deliverance. According to Saiva Siddhanta Siva bestows this grace, in the company of Sakti, His consort. In the sculpture under reference, Parvati or Uma Parameswari as she is often described, is seated by the side of Her Lord. The treatment of ornaments, the portrayal of limbs and affection with which Siva is seen taking the garland around the head of Chandesa are suggestive and truly convey the supreme message of Saiva Siddhanta, the image seeks to depict. In the figure of Chandesa, Rajendra Chola has carved his own image. Sri C. Sivaramurti in his work ‘the Chola temples’ states that “The most remarkable carving here, the Chandesanugrahamurti panel, is almost a suggestion of the laurels won by Rajendra through the grace of Siva and he humbly presents himself as a devotee of Lord, who blessed Chandesa”.
On the side walls is shown the story of Chandesa; Chandesa worshipping Siva as a Linga; the cows standing by the side; his father watching the happenings hiding himself behind the branches of a tree; disturbing Chandesa’s worship; perturbed Chandesa throwing his axe at his father and Siva bestowing grace on both.
Picutre courtesy: Ravages & Mohandoss ( flickr friends), Saathmeeka ( ponniyinselvan egroup)
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