Today we are going to see a very special pillar from the tanjore big temple. Who is this man depicted? Do you notice anything unusual ? Well the topic of this post does give it away !!

how beautifully infused into the pillar.jpg

Its special because it portrays a very special person, who was so great a devote that the most sacred of towns is named after him - yes, we are talking of Puli Kaal Muni in tamil - puli ( tiger), Kaal ( legs), Muni ( saint) or Vyagrapadhar in sanskrit.

He was one of the earliest devotees of Lord Shiva of Thillai ( Chidambaram) which was called from time immemorial as Puliyur or Perumpatrup puliyur ( perum - great, patru - devotion - puli - tiger, ur - city or town)

The legend goes that the great saint, would go early into the forest to collect the choicest of flowers to offer the Lord of Dance. But however early he went, the bees and ants would still get to the blossoms, so he went even earlier - even before the sun rose to find the flowers before the insects. This gave him problems as the dew drops wouldn’t have evaporated yet and he found the branches slippery.

So great was his devotion and his intent to get the best for his Lord, that he prayed to the Lord to endow him tiger paws, so that he could climb the trees effortless - and the Lord obliged. With great delight, he went on to collect the flowers before the first rays of dawn, beating the insects to the race to find the most beautiful and aromatic flowers, that so delighted his Lord. There are many references to him in literature ( pl see tamil portion of this post to read the references)

Now see him beautifully sculpted in the pillars of the big temple, down to the last detail imbibed into the pillar.

the tiger paw saint.jpg
watch the legs.jpg

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Category: Sculpture

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2008 at 17:52 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Comments so far


interesting ..Im not sure i saw this pillar in the big temple ..one more reason to go back

November 4th, 2008 at 22:29

One of the temples worshipped by Vyagarapadhar is Thiruppulivanam in the Uthiramerur-Kanchipuram section. A very ancient temple but now in controversy over some of the ancient mural paintings have been painted over in the name of renovation.

November 9th, 2008 at 10:15

உங்கள் அனுமதியின்றி புலிக்காலரைக் கொஞ்சம் கடன் வாங்கிக்கொண்டேன். நன்றி.

January 30th, 2009 at 18:30

dear Geetha Madam,

செதுக்கிய சிற்பிக்கே அணைத்து புகழ்….


January 30th, 2009 at 18:50
Raja Simma

When i visited Big Temple last week, i captured Puli Kaal Muni in my mobile, without knowing who he was. Now i come to know him. Thanks.

December 29th, 2009 at 11:49
Raja Simma

I captured Puli Kaal Muni in my mobile when i visited Big Temple last week, without knowing what that sculpture was. I now i come to know him. Thanks.

December 29th, 2009 at 15:20

hi Raja simma - you carry the name of a remarkable individual. I would have preferred simhan though.


January 6th, 2010 at 7:56
rhoda alex

the depiction of Puli Kaal Muni …now reminds me of Purushamriga in Krishnapuram

July 26th, 2010 at 11:55

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