We return today with a fascinating legend, supported by three sculptures. Two from Darasuram and one from Krishnapuram. Thanks to Mr Arvind Venkatatraman for lovely pictures from Darasuram. we got an unexpected Bonus from Artist A.P. Sreethar, sharing this rare sketch of the Krishnapuram pillar by the legendary Artist Silpi as well.

While there are many different versions of this legend, am trying to give the simplest ( and less controversial one). More so, since this legend doesn’t appear in the main Mahabaratha, i am taking one that has just about enough information to support the sculptures exhibited.

Yudhistir is performing a great Yaga ( sacrifice). He is advised that inorder for it to be performed properly he needs the help ( milk of !! by some versions) Purushamriga - a half man half tiger ( or lion), which is a staunch devotee of Shiva. Trouble is the creature resides deep in a jungle and preys on almost anyone it sees. ( other versions bring in a Shivaite /Vaishnavite angle to this debate)

Bhima is selected for this task and wily Krishna gives him 12 stones ( lingas, rudrahsa by other versions) and asks him to use it when he is in trouble. Bhima sets off to find the Pururshamriga and finds it deep inside the jungle. By one version they agree to a challenge - kind of a running race, in other versions he chants something that upsets it. Well back to the story, Bhima is being chased by the Purushamriga and its catching up with him at a fast pace. Bhima decides to use the `stones’ and drops one. Instantly it turns into a Shiva LInga ( shiva temple in some accounts) - anyway the animal being a stauch shiva devotee has to worship the Lord, giving Bhima much needed time to put some distance between them. But the animals superior speed enables it to catch up with him once more and he uses one more of the stones. Thus he uses up all 12 ` help lines’ but he is still not out of the forest. He uses all his strength and just as he puts one leg outside the forest, his other leg is caught by the Purushamriga. An argument ensures and Yudhistr is called on to pass judgement.

Yudhistir being the just king that he is, rightly !! passes the judgment that the Purushamriga can have half of Bhima ( the portion within its territory). The impartial judgment makes the Purushamriga let go of Bhima and all is well.

OK, now to the sculptures. Two delightful panels from Darasuram. You can see in the first one you can see the chase. The Purushamriga seems to be hardly taxed and is about to grab Bhima.

bhima vs purushamriga darasuram

The second panel, it has caught him and both are in front of Yudhistir ( who has a lady attending on him).

purushamriga darasuram

The Krishnapuram pillar sculpture is more elaborate and seems to be depicting a fight scene almost - maybe when the Pururshamriga caught up with Bhima. Both are holding small maces..

purushamriga n bhima krishnapuram.jpg

Now, we see the master strokes of Artist Silpi who has caught this pillar in his immortal work here.

krishnapuram silphi sketch.jpg

Amazing sculpture and an inspiring sketch.

pl do visit Sri Raja Deekshithar’s wonderful site for more of these beauties. Sadly, sir left us this year. http://www.sphinxofindia.rajadeekshithar.com/

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7 Comments so far


VJ, great post, the ending is a little better in the version I know of - the Purushamruga is satisfied with Yudhistir’s reply, lets go of Bhima and follows Yudhistir to attend his Rajasuya sacrifice. After the sacrifice Yudhistir asks it to guard the entrance to Thillai where Lord Shiva performs his cosmic dance, and he remained there since!!


April 21st, 2009 at 20:40

மாலதி சொல்லி இருப்பது போலத் தான் நான் படிச்சதும், அதனாலேயே அவர் வ்யாக்ரபாதர் என்றும் சந்தேகம், ஆனால் தெளிவாகவில்லை, வ்யாஸ பாரதத்தில் சபா பர்வத்தில் ராஜ சூய யாகம் அத்தியாயம் 13?14? அதிலே அர்ஜுனனும் இது பற்றிப் பேசுவதாய் வருகின்றது இந்த நிகழ்வு. ஸ்லோகங்களைத் தேடினால் தான் சரியான தகவல் கிடைக்கும். :(

April 22nd, 2009 at 14:36

Thanks malathi, Geetha amma

Actually there are too many versions of this legend, hv tried to tread the `middle’ path.


April 22nd, 2009 at 19:29
சு. முருகானந்தம்

கபாலீஸ்வரத்தில் ஐயன் புருஷா மிருக வாகனத்தில் எழுந்தருளி அருள் பாலிப்பதை தரிசனம் செய்துள்ளேன். உங்களால் இன்று புருஷா மிருகத்தின் கதியையும் தெரிந்து கொண்டேன் நன்றி விஜய்.

May 19th, 2009 at 17:44
Kathie B.

note resemblance in 1st photo you show here to the mustached lion in Govardhana Cave, Mallai?

March 19th, 2010 at 20:31

yeah kathie….

March 20th, 2010 at 6:15

I have seen all the three panels in the temples but only now appreciated the fine work hats of to you for bringing it to light

August 5th, 2010 at 14:00

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