The weekend has been buzz with news of youths exhibiting their skills in the various bull rings across Tamil Nadu - Jalikkattu as its more popularly known, has had a lot of coverage in the press during the recent years with animal rights activists and also public safety calls.
( image courtesy - wiki)
While respecting their sentiments and also the age old traditions associated with this sport, we present to you an early ( Chola) sculpture depicting this sport and who else to play Matador than the Stud Krishna himself !! This is another miniature from Tirumalpuram.
Before we proceed with a closeup of the sculpture, some quick references. There are two such episodes that are referred to in the brave acts of Krishna ( his leela) - one is the taming of the bull Hastin and the other slaying of the demon Aritasura who took the form of a bull. After close inspection of the panel under question, we believe that it depicts more a taming than a slaying.
The story is a simple one. In brindavan, the abode of Krishna, among the cattle was a prize bull named Hastin. It was massive and had quite an attitude and temper. So it was always tied to a tree and it would go round and round in rage never allowing anyone to come near. If anyone did dare, he would scour the earth with his hoofs and horns and try to gore them.
Such was his display of aggression that once even the fearless Balarama was apprehensive of going near. Around this time, the youth of the village challenge Krishna to a bet - and Krishna accepts to tame Hastin and ride on him.
Krishna tries to take good care of the Bull, giving it choice feed to eat, yet his temper doesn’t improve and he cannot even go near. Finally Krishna takes his flute and plays such a wonderful tune, that the fierce bull is mesmerized and calms down to allow him to pet it and finally mount it and ride it.
On the contrary the story of Arishtasura is that Kamsan sends his assistant to kill Krishna. Arishta takes the form of a massive bull and charges at Krishna. Unperturbed Krishna caught him by his horns, threw him long and far. Then he picked him up like a wet cloth and twisted him, finally impaling him on his own horns !!
The point to note in the sculpture, is the majestic countenance of the bull, the slightly upturned charge of the head and the ease with which Krishna seems to be riding it !!
Thanks to Mrs Parvadha for help and Geetha Madam’s blogs for content http://sivamgss.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post.html