Today we have a new addition to our team. An art enthusiast transforms into a writer in our columns. Mr. Satish Kumar Arunachalam, a software professional, crosses the border from being a silent appreciator of art, literature and spirituality to share his wonderful experiences with us. We look forward to many more such post from him. Over to satish

Those who have been following Vijay’s Posting in this space, will be very much familiar with Pullamangai. Pullamangai is a treasure trove; A masterpiece, created by sculptors, 1000 years back. This temple which has numerous miniature panels, which are just the size of the stretched palm, is a treat to watch.

The following piece will make the readers to recollect Pullamangai. ( vijay’s favorite tiger belly shiva ghana )

Pullamangai - tiger Belly.jpg

Though the miniature panels are the specialty of Pullamangai, in this article, we are going to see another masterpiece , located on the ‘Vimanam’ of Pullamangai temple.

There are many songs sung in praise of Lord Shiva in different forms and the form in which he shares his left part with ‘Umai’ is no exception.

Thiru Gnana Sambandar sings in Tiruchirapalli as,

nandrudaiyAnai theeyadilAnai naraivellE
rondrudaiyAnai yumaiorubaga mudayanai
chendraiyAdha thiruvudaiyAnai chirApalli
kundrudaiyAnai kUravennullang kulirume’

(when I talk about Civaṉ who has two holy tanks, naṉṟuṭaiyāṉ and tiyatillāṉ who has a spotless white bull who has Umai on one half who has wealth unlike the wealth that people get as a result of their virtuous acts done in previous births who has the hill of cirāppaḷḷi as his abode my heart is comforted

Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)
Courtesy – www.thevaaram.org)

and Appar sings in ThiruKodika as,

‘pUnara vArat tane puliyuri araiyinAnE
kAnilven kOvanamung kayilOr kabAlamEndhi
UnumOr pichchaiyAnE yumaioru bagaththAnE
kOnalven piraiyinAnE kOdika vudaya kOvE’

(one who wears a cobra in the form of a garland one who wears on his waist a tiger`s skin when we see him one who has as his food a small amount of alms, holding in the hand a skull, and tied a white loin-cloth one who has as his half Umai one who has a curved white crescent king of kōṭikā!

Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)
Courtesy – www.thevaaram.org)

We are going to see the form of Shiva, which these great saints have praised and sung quite often in their padigams.

The form in discussion is known as the ‘Arthanaareeswaran’ aka ‘ammaiyappan’ (mother and father) aka ‘umai oru pagan’ (umai on one side of his body) etc.

One half of the body is in male form and the other half is in female form. The right half is male and left half, female. The significance of this form is that, the female power is equal to the male and without the female or the Shakthi, the male power cannot function. Please refer to the link for the purana linked with this form of Shiva

pullamangai ardhanari 1.jpg
pullamangai ardhanari 2.jpg

Left side of the sculpture gleams with feminism

pullamangai isan portion.jpg
pullamangai umai portion.jpg

Right side portrays the majestic male look. A single face with two different expressions, when looked from different angle. One cannot stop wondering the artistic skills of the sculptor.

pullamangai closeup of parvathi face.jpg
pullamangai closeup of shiva face.jpg

I have heard Dr.Kalaikovan speak about Chola art. He says, ‘Chola artists knows the anatomy well’. No other proof is needed to validate this statement, other than the ‘ammaiappan’ sculpture we are looking at.

pullamangai - the beautiful androgynous form of shiva.jpg

Umai’s slender waist, and the beauty with which she carries herself; the Lords masculine shoulders and the majestic pose with which he places his hands on the Rishabam; - a thousand words cannot describe the beauty, which the sculptor has brought before our eyes.

I was fortunate enough to visit this temple and see this masterpiece along with the varalaaru team (www.varalaaru.com). One of the elderly gentleman in the temple, observing our groups interest in the sculptures, came forward and helped us to get a ladder, with which we climbed the vimana to have a closer look at this ‘arthanaareeswaran’ sculpture. After enjoying the beauty till it was dark, we started to the railway station and before we left, thanked and asked this gentleman his name. Even after getting into the train, we could not come out of the melancholy caused by his name. He told us that his name is ‘Ammaiappan’.

Pullamangai Ardharai.jpg

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Category: Sculpture

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 at 18:58 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.

10 Comments so far


வியக்கவைக்கும் கலைத் திறன்.. கண்களை கொள்ளை கொள்ளும் அழகு, சதீஷ் அருணின் கடைசி ‘டச்’ - அருமை. வாழ்த்துகள்


January 8th, 2009 at 11:02

Beautiful narration by Satish. It is quite probable the elderly gentleman would have given the name of the deity and not of himself.

January 8th, 2009 at 17:56
Srinivasan N.

Nice take VJ. In fact the two photos following one another regarding the look on the face of the Ardhanari are tremendously striking. The look on the Parvathi side is decidedly feminine while the left (right of the sculpture, that is) side, that of Shiva is certainly (more) masculine, it is even aggressive and you could argue that the masculine side is (probably) missing (even) a moustache!!!!!!

January 9th, 2009 at 14:36
Sivaram Kannan

Fantastic Post. Those who had been fortunate to see pullamangai had told me about the fantastic sculpture there. Good that I have atleast seen it in the blog. Thanks

January 16th, 2009 at 7:47

hi Siva

There are more to come, Satish has a whole set of amazing sculptures from there.


January 18th, 2009 at 7:10
Kathie Brobeck

Just beautiful. I missed this when I was there
in ‘95.

January 27th, 2009 at 0:52
Rajan Subbaraman

Nice one Satish.. Keep posting.

Rajan Subbaraman

February 17th, 2009 at 20:29

புள்ளமங்கை கோயில் பற்றிய மிகவும் சந்தோசமாக இருந்தது.ஏனெனில் அது என் சொந்த ஊராகும். அம்மையப்பன் எனது பாட்டனார்.

May 15th, 2009 at 18:26

I am the first to flash the beauty of Pullamangai in 1981 in Dinamani daily.At that time Arthanariswarar was under chunnam.Recently,during renovation work,it was brought to light.Actually Ammayappan was a prominent personolity.He is no more.I’m happy that my student Rajarajan gone thro’ the article.Satish I’m proud of you,since a software engineer involved in preserving in our ancient art and culture. Keep it up.

July 25th, 2009 at 21:28

Hi Vj,

Nice article with beautiful photos :)


December 16th, 2009 at 17:32

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