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Archives by Month: October, 2008


We had earlier seen how Kannappar defied conventional practise by wearing sandals. Today we are going to see him present a monitor lizard to Shiva. Again, the Tanjore Big temple sculpture - the deeds of the shaivite saints so en captured the fertile mind of Raja Raja Chola, that he loved their amazing lives and depicted them on the walls of his great temple.

kaattilkovil.jpg
kannamaram.jpg
Kannappar with udumbu.jpg
kannaclimax.jpg

Its a small sculpture, more like a story board of sculptures depicted the story of Saint Kannappar, but what interested me was this depiction of him presenting this meat ( being a hunter you can see him still clinging on to his boy and arrow, plus his hunting dog comes into the frame as well). The divine bliss resplendent on his radiant face, as he, with total devotion, presents the meat to the shiva lingam.

Kannappar with udumbu.jpg

Is there a devaram reference to this,ofcourse there is, how else would the chola sculpture depict such an act!!
Eleventh Thirumurai

As per the verse out of his extreme love for the lord, he presents a fat uncooked lizard to him.

For more of this amazing story and depiction in the big temple, please read this lovely post of Mr. Gokul ( watch the Priest Siva Gochariar, hiding behind the tree, in the climax scene)

Gokul’s lovely post

Images courtesy: www.varalaaru.com

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One of our viewers commented on the post of Sri Dhivakar, as to why despite lots of Shiva Bhikshadana forms being present, why i chose to depict only a few? A very good question and the answer is, inorder for the depth and beauty of his post to reach the audience, i kind of underplayed the sculptural content. Well it does give me a chance to run a sequel to that post.

So here you have Shiva Bhikshanda, you heard the story previously, now see how the master sculptor not only depicted the main form but also brought in the entire scene into his sculpture.

Kanchi kailasanatha bhikshadana.jpg
kanchi kailasantha bhikshadana closer.JPG
Kanchi kailasantha bhikshadana closeup.jpg

The Kailasantha temple in kanchi, is the grand creation of the great pallava kind Raja simhan, the temple was addressed as the big stone temple, but Great Raja Raja chola himself. Coming from someone who built the grandest of temples it quite a compliment and its not an exaggeration.. Every panel in the magnificent creation is sheer poetry and a delight to watch. Lets take the great shiva bhikshadana panel in long shot. Its beautifully framed by the famous prancing lion yaalis of raja simha. What grace and what artistic brilliance. Before we go into the main sculpture, we can see the left hand index finger of shiva pointing up - whats is it pointing to, the amazing dance of shiva ( see the similarity in the depiction to the one we saw in the mallai olakaneshwara temple)

kanchi kailsanatha shiva as dancer.JPG
mallai olakaneshwara temple shiva as dancer.jpg

Ok, lets come back to the composition. Shiva is the charming ascetic, the form of the sculpted youth exudes youth, vitality, the nakedness of his lower body, the grace of his bent knee, the slight flex of his left foot with the sandals, the broad shoulders, the nonchalant manner in which is right hand rests on his staff, the begging bowl stuck into his palm, the mischievous grin on his face - all portray youthful exuberance.

Kanchi kailasantha bhikshadana closeup.jpg
the begging bowl.JPG

Not being content with this masterly depiction, the sculptor continuous with his story board, two rishi wives, are charmed by shiva, captivated by his grace and prostrate at his feet. Seeing this an angry rishi is rushing at shiva, raising his left hand to strike him.

Angry Rishi.JPG
Rishi Pathini's.JPG

Is there a reference in verse to this, yes there is.
4th Tirumurai

has the instruments such as kokkarai, cymbals and vīṇai to measure time when the youth dances.
adorns his waist with chank beads.has a cobra of five hoods.
remove the snake-bite, 5 he is in vakkari a shrine nāka īccaravaṉār has a form in which the waist is naked without cloth and caused the wives of the sages of tārukāvaṉam to be infatuaged with love.
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

Ok, but what about the Mohini we saw earlier -thats from the Kanchi Devarajaswami temple pillar. Her you can again see the skill of the sculptor and more so his playfull intelligence.

Mohini kaanchidevarajaswami.jpg
Rishis getting intoxicated.JPG
naughty rishis.JPG

The rishis are not only drunk on the bewitching charm of Vishnu as mohini, but are also getting drunk on the beverage which she is serving. They are thus shown in various stages of intoxication.

Is there a reference in verse to this, yes there is

2nd Tirumurai


you spread yourself into many living beings and worlds you absorbed them into you at the end of the world you created all the living beings which had a short respite, to be born again, in order that they may be get respite for a short while from their Karmams yourself and the noble-minded Māl who bent the wild lime tree got separated and joined together you desired the cremation ground where corpses come and felt joy in staying there
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

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