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I have never met Pradeep ( yet) and my interaction with him started only in early May this year over a few brief email and facebook exchanges. Must confess that even the few initial interactions made quite an impression. Some googling threw up his columns in the papers, other articles about his Temple walk campaigns ( 30 such in a year is no mean achievement), they made me sit up and take notice that I was dealing with someone special. A few more weeks of email interactions, and I was pretty sure that I was dealing with someone not just special, but an extraordinary person, a dedicated professional who did meticulous preparations and indepth research for even his newspaper columns. Later thanks to technology, managed to view some of the recordings of his talks and realised that inside this modern profile ( definitely not the current avtar of a techie) and attire, there was a vestigial being - the remnants of the rich tradition of Kathakalakshepam, where the versatility and humor of the one man performer held sway over the audience for an entire evening.

profile page

So, when he told me that two of his books are scheduled for release shortly, I was more than excited at the prospect of a special treat for heritage lovers and was eagerly awaiting their formal launch. One was ” Thanjavur - A Cultural History” and the other ” Temple Vahanas of Tamil Nadu“. While we wait for the official release of the first book, the second one has been released recently by Kalamkriya, the publishing house of the Sanmar Group of Companies.

Vahanas or vehicles have always been my passion - be it my first BSA SLR and then graduating to an Atlas MTB during my school days, seeing Dad’s trusted Lamby and then on to the popular Chetak, when the affluent could afford either an Amby or a Fiat ( ok Bangaloreans would go for their Premier Padimini) - a slight flicker of hope was the Standard 2000’s and then the Invasion by the Maruti 800’s till the flood gates opened. But then to me - it was always an Arnie inspired bike rage, but had to settle for the Indian Harley - our very own Royal Enfield. Each of these were special in their own right but with the passage of time, most of them have been stripped of their positions. But what we are see today is from a bygone Era, an era when human energy or at best animals were the only means, and how tradition is still ensuring that they are alive to this day.

Combined to this, the fact that these adorable creations get their brief time under the sun ok moon ! once or twice a year ( if at all) - during the annual festival or some special days for the deity, and then being consigned to dingy bat infested confines for the rest of the year, where no one even acknowledges their existence. Its always been our endeavor to champion the cause of Temple Art, more so the beauties that escape our notice most often - a pillar sculpture here, a wood carving on a temple chariot or a magnificent Vahanam. Credit goes to Pradeep for bringing out this work to champion their cause.

Temple+vahanas+of+tamilnadu

What immediately caught my attention was the Pencil sketches - not just for the cover art but the entire book has been wonderfully illustrated by Sri V. Vijayakumar. I hope he does more such and hones his skills to follow the illustrious steps of greats like Sri Silpi, Sri Padmavasan. The team has also made it a bilingual ( in English & Tamil) which is a very good trend. The layouts bring a old world charm and the book in landscape mode is surely a collectors item.

The Foreword starts off on a really bold note and was actually quite surprised that the author chose to start on those lines, but as I read on it was more like the author wanting to clarify his stance on the “great divide”. But the real intensity of the work and the author’s passion hits you as you read the Introduction. He couldn’t have picked a better inscription to set the tone - an inscription from 1274 CE.

The contents cover an exhaustive list including some very special delightful Vahanas.

contents

Here is a sample chapter on Adhikara Nandhi, for you all to read and enjoy

adhikara+nandhi+content
adhikara+nandhi+sketch

My personal favorite was the Kailasa Vahanam with Ravana shown stuck under the mountain, playing the instrument that he fashioned out of one of his heads and hands with his veins as the string.

kailasa+vahanam

Of the specials there is one Aadu ( Goat) Vahana. The extent of background research done by the author is evident as he quotes from literature to support the deity who would ride it !

aadu+vahanam

To me the beauty of our heritage is in its complexity and in its own idiosyncrasies,on how even a simple description of a Puli Vahanam for the “Son” of God can be portrayed.

Surprisingly not all Vahanas are animals, reptiles and Demi Gods, some are Trees as well like the Punnai Mara Vahana or the Kalpa Vrisha Vahana. a pointer to strong nature worship prevalent among out ancestors ( are we learning ?)

Credit to the Author, the Artist and the team behind the book for successfully bringing out the significance of each Vahana, in a crisp manner, interlacing narration with choice selection of hymns and verses that transport you to the temple precincts, to visualise the lilting motion of the vahana bearers, to the accompaniment of characteristic drums and trumpets, and even maybe smell the kerosene from a leaking Petromax lamp.

p.s The book is currently under reprint and will update as soon as they are off the press !!

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 11:07 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.

23 Comments so far

Vishwaksenan
  1  

Creating a lot of interest about the book and telling that the copies are not available now, is too bad VJ. Pl. inform when it is available. Adhikara Nandhi’s sculptures are wonderful. Then, You forgot old vehicles like Jawa, Rajdoot, Yezdi, Enfield Machellors. They are are also vehicles to be kept in museums.

November 13th, 2010 at 11:21
Kathie B.
  2  

Who does ride a goat? Love the illustrations. Will purchase when available.

November 13th, 2010 at 17:15
  3  

Impressive, and informative. A topic, considered rather odd, as not much is written on this till now. However this would be a very nice study and research field.
Kudos to Mr Pradeep and his team, I have heard about his temple walks, however never got a chance to be in Chennai on those times. Detailing about illustrious personalities is very much needed as we sometimes do underestimate the hidden talent. Very nice and informative article. Hope we will hear more on different personalities in future.

November 13th, 2010 at 17:31
venkata rao
  4  

passion for tamil drove u ve sa to tread villages temple art made baskara thondaiman take bullockcart rides on holidays their hard work have our language&knowledge richer may sri prateep’s temple walk bear such results
lord murugan i think rides goat

November 13th, 2010 at 18:24
Pradeep Chakravarthy
  5  

Many thanks, i owe much to Kalamkriya for giving me this opportunity and letting me do the research and writing my way! hopefully more copies will be available in early 2011.

Muruga rides the goat and the elephant(Pinimukam). Vijay can you replace the goat drawing with the text? it has my favourite quote on students and animals!

November 13th, 2010 at 22:55
  6  

Thanks. I never perceived Vahanas as that important other than to identify a deity. Goat as Vahana for Murugan is also something new to me.

November 14th, 2010 at 21:36
Gowri
  7  

Superb sketches, and explanations.Hope the books gets available.

November 18th, 2010 at 5:13
Shankar
  8  

I want to buy the book like everyone else.. Highlights a part of our history not looked into….

November 29th, 2010 at 11:25
  9  

அன்பு விஜய்,
ஒரு சிறந்த புத்தகத்தை அறிமுகம் செய்துள்ளீர்கள்.. அடுத்த பதிப்பு வந்ததும் தெரியப்படுத்துங்கள் ..
கண்டிப்பாக எனக்கு வேண்டும். நன்றியுடன் - பத்மநாபபுரம் அரவிந்தன்.

December 15th, 2010 at 13:56
  10  

அன்பு விஜய்,
ஒரு சிறந்த புத்தகத்தை அறிமுகம் செய்துள்ளீர்கள்.. அடுத்த பதிப்பு வந்ததும் தெரியப்படுத்துங்கள் ..
கண்டிப்பாக எனக்கு வேண்டும். நன்றியுடன் - பத்மநாபபுரம் அரவிந்தன்.

டிசம்பர் 15th, 2010 at 13:56

December 15th, 2010 at 14:01
Pradeep Chakravarthy
  11  

I hve a few copies for bloggers/readers of this website!! please have them collected from me in Madras in Jan 2011. Sorry i cant post outside India but if someone in Madras can handle that , i can help. Only one copy per blogger/reader please!

December 24th, 2010 at 14:17
vaishnavi
  12  

I am much interested to learn about the heritage. How do I get a copy and also let me know the price of the book. Thanks

December 28th, 2010 at 18:27
Pradeep Chakravarthy
  13  

the book is free.

December 30th, 2010 at 11:23
vaishnavi
  14  

Kudos to Pradeep for sharing knowledge for free. Thanks!

December 31st, 2010 at 10:53
vaishnavi
  15  

Collected a copy of the Vahana book.. Very nice pictures and details of the things which I never noticed before while visiting temples. I used to think that the idols at the entrance of the shrine are randomly imaginated by the artist who made it. Now I believe it bears lot of meaning. Thanks for insight view of the vahana!!

February 2nd, 2011 at 17:06
  16  

wonderful pradeep. am sure we are going to see many more works of yours

anbudan
vj

February 2nd, 2011 at 20:43
karthik
  17  

hi Pradeep….
Awsome work.. Got ur Thankavur book. I nned the vahana book… How to get it…

May 6th, 2011 at 16:24
karthik
  18  

U can include Yama VAhana in the next edition.
The yama vahana is available only in Srivanjiyam temple….

May 6th, 2011 at 16:35
klikravi
  19  

SIR,

I READ THE ARTICLE ABOUT YOU IN THE HINDU DATED JULY 20 2011. EVEN I HAVE SEEN MANY INSCRIPTIONS OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE LIKE TIRUPATHI AND KANCHIPURAM AND OTHER PLACES. BUT NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THEM FROM YOUR ANGLE. DURING A TIME WHEN PAPER, PRINT, PEN, PENCIL WERE NOT AVAILABLE AN IMPORTANT EVENT TO BE MADE KNOWN TO ALL THE CITIZENS, TEMPLE INSCRIPTIONS IS THE EXCELLENT WAY. IF AT ALL WE HAVE THE PATIENCE AND KNOW THE ART OF READING THESE LETTERS WE CAN WRITE MORE STORIES (OFCOURSE TRUE TO THE CORE WITH EVIDENCE) AND GET PUBLICISED IN MAGAZINES.

BY THE BY I AM A FOTO JOURNALIST AND A STORY WRITER CONTRIBUTING ARTICLES TO KALKI, AMUDHASURABI AND THE LIKE MAGAZINES. MAY I HAVE YOUR ADDRESS AND MOBILE NO. SO THAT I CAN MAKE UP AN INTERVIEW OF YOU FOR SOME OF THE TAMIL MAGAZINES.

TRULY
KLIK RAVI

July 20th, 2011 at 6:39
Shaam
  20  

Hello, Are there any more temple walks scheduled? If so, how do I sign up for one of the walks with Pradeep?

Thanks,
Shaam
raghavshyam@gmail.com

July 21st, 2011 at 10:20
PRadeep chakravarthy
  21  

I am doing two walks in Aug on the Bronze Gallery, details here - http://themadrasday.in/events-calendar/

To get regular invotes to my temple walks/talks, email - PCHW@googlegroups.com

July 21st, 2011 at 10:49
mehuldavey
  22  

Sir,
Requesting for the English version Temple vahanas of Tamilnadu book, also upcoming heritage walks.
with regards
Mehuldavey

May 24th, 2012 at 17:18
b..s.venkatesh
  23  

whether i can get a copy thro. the press (in peters road) which published your another book “lesser known temples:

September 10th, 2012 at 12:22

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