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Archives by Month: February, 2009


Thanks to Satheesh again we are going to see another interesting panel from Darasuram. Tiruneelakanta Naynar.

For a change we are going to see the panel first and see if you can help identify it.

This is the long shot from Satheesh,

thiruneelakantar darasuram

zoomed in

thiruneelankantar closer

some more

thiruneelakantar panel darasuram

ok, this is the panel, see the `Hero’ pen for the size comparison

thiruneelakantar

Its a very simple panel - to the left you see a temple, to the right a couple shown holding a stick, emerging out of a tank.

For those who want to read the full story here goes:

http://www.nayanmar.com/abtus.htm

Thiruneelakanta Nayanar’s birth place was chidambaram( Thillai). His profession was making pots and clay items. He extended his service to the saivite Nayanmars by providing them with begging bowls made of clay because they bowed down in reverence before the pinaka bow shouldered Lord Shiva, like him. He was also an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He is the place of all good qualities. His youthful vigour influenced him to lead an amorous gay life.

One day he returned home after he had carnal pleasure with a woman of low character. His wife came to know about this and was unhappy with him for his deed. She fulfilled all the responsibilities of a wife but didn’t allow him to share the bed with her. To bring down her resentment he went near her and tried to hug her praising her with sweet words . She retorted immediately, “If you touch us (me)! Thirunilakantam !” meaning “Beware, in the name of Lord Shiva who has burnt the desire, do not touch us- lay not your hands on us”. The very moment of hearing her pledge on the name of Lord Shiva that great man Thiruneelakanta took off his hands from her.

The immense respect he had for Lord Shiva the Hero Who burnt the lust made him say with determination, “As you pronounced as “us” (emmai) rather than `me’ in your vow I won’t touch, not only you but also any woman, even in my dream. They lived together under one roof fulfilling all the responsibilities of a husband and wife barring conjugal status. They grew old.

Lord Shiva wanted to put the principle of celibacy of this great couple to an acid test. He came down to the earth as a sage and proceeded to Chidambaram . He met Thiruneelakanta and gave him His begging bowl asking him to preserve it in safe custody till the time he asks for it. He by His Godly ability made the bowl disappear from the Nayanar’s safety. After many days, He came back and asked for His bowl. The Nayanar did not find it in the place where he kept in safe custody. He searched his entire house, but in vain. He could not find it anywhere. He told the sage that the bowl was lost beyond trace. He begged His pardon and promised that he was ready to present Him even with a golden bowl, instead.

Lord Shiva, in the form of the sage was very adamant and scolded the Nayanar for his negligence and said that he required only His bowl and not any other even if it is made of gold. Nayanar begged many a time. The sage asked the Nayanar whether he could vouch that he kept the bowl safely. The Nayanar replied that he was ready to vouch like that to the satisfaction of the sage. Then Lord Shiva started to play His game of trickery on him. He told the Nayanar that if he takes a dip in the pond in front of the local people holding the hand of his son He would believe his words. Nayanar told him that he did not have any offspring. “O.K. then hold the hand of your wife and and have dip in the pond and vouch your promise” said the sage, cunningly. When the sage asked him to have a dip holding his wife’s hand he replied humbly that due to a vow he was not able to do that. Acting as if angered the Graceful sage went to the court of the priests of Thillai and appealed to them his case. The court upheld the argument of the sage that Nayanar should have a dip in the pond holding his wife’s hand since the bowl was lost while in his custody.

Nayanar came with his wife to a pond of the Thiruppulichchuram. True to his secret vow that he won’t touch his wife he held one end of a bamboo while his wife held the other end and was ready to take the dip. But the old sage stopped this and was very adamant that the Nayanar should hold his wife’s hand and take the dip and then only He will be satisfied. The Nayanar was caught in a fix. He had to declare to the entire public the secret behind his not touching his wife and the entire episode behind it. He narrated the entire secret story and they both plunged into the water, holding the bamboo. The couple who rose from the water after the dip regained their youth, to the astonishment of all. They were as young as one could covet and at the same time they found the Lord who came in the form of the sage disappear. There appeared the Lord in the horizon on the holy Bull with His consort Parvathi Devi to bless the hailing devotee, “You both are very great due to your victory over your five senses and conquered the craving for carnal pleasure . You be with Me, in bliss, for ever with your ever-lasting youth.

images courtesy: Satheesh and http://www.kumbakonam.info/kumbakonam/darsuam/index.htm

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Its been a long pending wish of mine to do this post on a truly remarkable site - Sittanavasal. For today, even a die hard enthusiast will return back with a negative feeling from a visit to Sittanavaasal - the general opinion is, its not worth the effort ?. What is there? The right question to ask is what was there? But first where is it

Its located at a distance of 58-km from Trichy is Sittanavasal, a site of an ancient Jain monastery - rock cut cave ( pandyan), couple of Jain beds, a rare inscription..and the subject of this post.

Ok ,what was there. I am not going into depth into the history of this place, but just want to showcase what we have lost out. Thanks to Sri Swaminathan and Mr. Mohandoss Ilangovan, read on for the first part of the Sittanavaasal series. Now, i see some of you already googling for information, rest a bit. There is very little on the net about what we are going to see today. Why?

Not many people recognise the name of Sittanavasal. Even fewer look at it as a art location. The minuscule number who claim to know about it, know of it from literary references or form some catchy films tunes. Apart from this not much is known of this amazing treasure trove outside of this small and shrinking band of people. It is after a dying or as of now a dead breed. When the whole world is going ga ga over modern art, its sad that no one cares for this small cave rich with art - 1000 years old. Sadder still is the fact that these stood the test of time for a thousand years, seen innumerable conquests , winds of change sweeping over the plains which they overlook, seen the British come and go, sadly, they have been ruined by the hand of man - to be true the very hands of the men from its own soil in the last 40 years. Yes, what you see is what has been left of these spectacular frescos. The paintings on the pillars of the rock cut cave are two heavenly damsels - we will try and see one of them today.

They must have been the crowning glory of south Indian art,some of the earliest frescos of South India, comparable to the beauties in Ajanta, yet they have been neglected, not just neglected but ravaged.

sirigiyacelestials

The amazing ladies of Srigriya have managed to live on despite all the ethnic conflict around them, while these have been destroyed. Maybe we are not worthy of being bequeathed such an inheritance - Not fit to savor these treasures.

I am going to split this post into parts and focus on the main paintings - and today we are going to see just one painting, or rather what is left of the painting.

sittanavasal dancer1
sittanavaasal dancer 2
sittanavaasal dancer3

This is what greets you now. Can you make out. can you make out anything.

closeup of sittanavasal dancer
this is what is left - sittanavaasal dancer

Hmm, do you see the scratch marks - yes, the hand of man or rather vandals.

We are left with no authentic pictures even - just been left with a few line drawings of some great men. This rare black and white photograph gives you just an indication of what it used to look like. A couple of line drawings illustrate the great loss.

How did it look before. Catch you breath, if you have seat belts put them on. Here goes, line drawings of these amazing dancing women is what is left for us.

line drawing
sittannavasal_dancer02

I tried to work some colors to imagine how she would have looked in her prime.

a recreation
some experimentation

The grace with which she is dancing, her fluid yet confident movement rendered masterfully by the artist - such aesthetically appealing work, such perfection of form is remarkable. The sensuousness of the moment has been brilliantly captured - the slightly pouting lip, the eyes that drown you with an avalanche of emotions, the youthful grace of the maiden.

Sadly, we have allowed it to be destroyed - i thought of using the word lost, but what is lost can be found, but this is dead beyond resurrection. Shame on us.

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