My friend Mr.Satheesh Kumar is an ardent sculpture lover like me and he offered to get me some nice photos of the tanjore big temple. Little did i realise that he will get me such a rich collection. We are going to see one interesting panel from his collection today.

As usual, we go for the story first:

Shiva’s consort Parvathi is born to Dhaksha - the king of mountains ( she is fondly called malai magal - in tamil - malai - mountain, magal - daughter). When she comes of age, she expresses desire to marry Shiva ( as is destined), but being a vain king, Dhaksha ( he himself being the son of Brahma) refuses to give his youngest daughter, whom he so lovingly brought up, in marriage to shiva - for he considers him uncouth, wearing animal hides and living in the cemetery, accompanied by ghouls/demons/ etc.But Shiva marries Parvathi and Dhaksha is not able to stand this insult.

He plots his revenge,and tries to insult Shiva, by organising a massive penance/sacrifice, but doesn’t invite Shiva, the foremost of Gods. However,hearing of this big event in her home, Parvathi’s heart and love for her family, makes her plead with shiva to let her go and attend the function. Shiva cautions her, that she will not be welcome and doesnt give her permission to go. However, love blinds the eyes of paravathi and despite the advise of Shiva, she lands us as an uninvited guest in Dhaksha’s palace. There she is not given any respect and is witness to all insults thrown at Shiva. Not being able to bear these and having acted against the advise of her husband, in anguish she kills herself in the sacrificial fire ( meaning, she gets rid of her material body which had affection to family there itself and takes her divine form). However, this enrages Shiva and he cuts the head of dhaksha and throws it into the sacrificial fire.

A bit later, Brahma and other rishis come and plead with Shiva, to forgive Dhaksha. Shiva obliges, but since the original head has already been consigned to flames,he cuts off the head of a sacrificial lamp and fits it on Dhaksha’s head ( inter species head transplant - how is it?)

Now lets look at the sculpture - Satheesh has masterfully taken the pictures to give you an idea size ( with ball pens for scale)

run run run.jpg
the first part of the story.jpg

The story board is broke into two sides of the staircase - on one side is the beheading episode and on the other is the head transplant. wonderful depictions.

See the first part, the assembled guests are shown - towards the back of the composition against the wall. Then you see Shiva seated in a lovely pose, with Parvathi leaning non nonchalantly with one arm on nandhi. she is flanked by her assistant to her right.

the assembled guests 2.jpg
the assembled guests.jpg
shiva parvathi n nandhi + helper.jpg

The crucial scene kind of flow through the entire panel - Dhaksha’s severed torso is shown, fallen to the ground, with his wife lamenting with her hands towards the sky, and shiva is shown clutching the severed head by the hair and dropping into the sacrificial fire ( he has an evil looking sword in his hand - kind of reminds of the blade - neck cutting video’s we saw from iraq)…the priest who is next to the fire is turning away in disgust.

Shiva consigning dhaksha head into the fire.jpg
shiva beheading dhakshan.jpg
the fallen dhaksha and his wife grieving over.JPG
witnesses,on your mark get set go.jpg

To the right of the composition, we see three ladies and three men - faces turned in aghast at the beheading and almost freezing to flee - their highly strung bodies about to run away - towards the end we see much mutilated but clearly - two beings running away from the scene ( note the size of the composition with the ball pen scale)

fleeing ( note the size).jpg
run run run.jpg
witnesses,on your mark get set go.jpg

The other side - is a prettier picture - a beautiful standing depiction of Shiva, complete with his axe and deer, with a snake adorning his waist - being pleaded to by Brahma, looked on by three rishis. The final scene, we see a revived Dhaksha with a Ram’s head, in all humility,bowed along with the others - showing deep respect for shiva.

the second part of the story.jpg
Revived Dhaksa with goat head.jpg
dhaksha revived with a goats head.jpg

A delightful panel. Trust you enjoyed it as much as i did. i loved the depiction of shiva with the snake hanging by the waist.

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Category: Sculpture

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 14th, 2008 at 13:25 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.

12 Comments so far

Kathie Brobeck

Great post. Enjoyed the photos immensely.

November 14th, 2008 at 13:53
Anandhi Subramanian

Great post. Great explanation. I enjoyed each and every bit of this post. Thanks!

November 14th, 2008 at 20:36

Dear Ms. Anandhi

Thanks for your encouraging words.


November 17th, 2008 at 7:17
shanthi palaninathan

Hi Vijay,
As good as always.Thank you and thanks to Sateesh for the photos.

November 21st, 2008 at 7:44

Credit goes to Satheesh. Many more such beauties coming up from the lenses of his camera.


November 21st, 2008 at 8:11

I did not notice this when I visited big temple.

Thanks for sharing

April 30th, 2010 at 18:05

Great work. The way Satheesh picturised and the way u gave life to the pic… amazing work..

May 3rd, 2010 at 13:44

Excellant. I was searching the tamil web for ‘dhakshan’ and landed in this site. What a treat! God Bless you!

July 11th, 2010 at 14:26

thank you mr pugazhendhi. pl keep visiting often.

July 11th, 2010 at 18:28

Hi vj,
Very good revelation as I did not give much attention this panel also I was unaware of this head cutting of Daksha by Shiva. However I think your mentioning of Parvati is confusing as this should be replaced with Sati. Sati (Dakshayani) was later born to Himalaya as Parvati. Or I am wrong?

August 13th, 2010 at 15:04

himavan is umai - i think - u ma - sanskrit meaning u dont - which i read somewhere is menai telling her daughter not to do too much penance on shvia. but need to check. but dhaksha is prior to himavan.

August 13th, 2010 at 15:07

I think Shiva is the only god who pioneered Anthropomorphism. This happens to daksha, ganesha… are there any more?

there is an account that chandragupta mauryas son- bindusara was born in a goats stomach, transferred from the mothers womb to a goats fetus overseen by chanakya! such miracles are knows throughout the ages.

April 11th, 2011 at 16:17

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