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Archives by Month: June, 2011


There are always trick questions and this is one such. When you murthis with multiple consorts how would you distinguish between them. Are there standard right left positioning - like Vishnu with Sridevi and Bhudevi, how would you distinguish between them. You might ask, why to seek, but then each are expected to bless you with a different gift hamper.

This is especially true when only one is found as part of a buried horde. The answer is pretty simple of course, Iconographic guidelines stipulate that Sridevi always comes with a Kuchabandha or breast band, whereas Bhudevi is without.

Let us test this out in. The Vishnu cave ( Olipathi vishnu griham) in Malaiyadipatti has a depiction of Vishnu with his consorts.

malaiyadiappatti

Lets step in closer to view the costumes of the two ladies.

sridevi+bhoodevi+malaiyadipatti
bhoodevi+malaiyadipatti
sridevi+malaiyadipatti

You can clearly make out the distinctions between the two of them.

Let us know see this wonderful 10 C CE bronze currently on exhibit at the London Museum.

vishnu+consorts

We will study the evolution of the Vishnu bronze images including a few early period bronzes shortly, but for the purpose of today’s study, lets just analyse the distinction in wearing the Kuchabandha.

boodevi
sridevi
vishnu

Lets go closer to Sridevi

sridevi+breastband
sridevi+kuchabanda

You can see that she clearly wears the Kuchabhanda.

Now for Bhudevi, who doesn’t wear it.

closeup
no+kuchabanda

Now, comes the small niggle. The display board under Bhudevi reads as ” Here she wears the characteristic Kuchabandha or breast band‘ which is wrong. She is not wearing in this bronze nor does she ever portrayed as wearing under iconographic canons.

board
wrong+label

Hope the authorities in the London Museum can make this small correction.

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We had earlier seen how Shiva contemplates to consume the poison . This post is a continuation of that act, with a brilliant sculpture from Surutuppalli about 60 km from chennai near Uthukkottai. The narrative for this post is courtesy Mr. Shankar Kumar, a medical doctor currently in USA[North Carolina] and a blogger since 2006 ( www.aaththigam.blogspot.com, and www.kasadara.blogspot.com and photos are thanks to our expert Mr Ashok Krishnaswamy.

‘ No, means no ! How much ever you plead its going to be the same answer from me’ Nandhi was animated in his refusal as he swung his huge head from side to side.

The dejected crowds let out a collective moan of desperation.

A tense air prevailed as it was no ordinary crowd, for it had Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Vayu the god of wind, Agni the god of fire, Varuna the god of rain, Narada, Mahalakshmi, Saraswathi and along with them countless devas, rishies.

agathiyar+co
ganesha+muruga+with+consorts
kubera.jpg
perumal+markandeyar

‘ Its all because of him’ murmured a irritated Vayu.

Indra knew it was directed at him. ‘ Did i do this for me ? I did it for all of us, is it not ?’ so saying he glanced around at the hundred eyes looking at him.

‘ Ok, ok. No point in crying over split milk now’ Brahma tired to pacify everyone.

‘ Well, how to just leave it. What Vayu is saying is right. He asked for Amrit and it is what led to all these events!’ Narada as usual was upto his tricks to flame the fire.

‘ Come on, we were getting bashed right left and centre by the Asuras. Unable to bear this and with no other option in sight, we all agreed to churn the milk ocean to obtain the Amirt. Even then, our limited strength was not enough and we had to enlist the support of the Asuras as well. At that time it sounded like a good idea. Who would have known it would end up like this?’ Indra found his voice once more.

‘ Yes, ofcourse. We are not disputing that. But did we use Vasuki like a normal rope. Scared to hold the head of the snake, we gave it to the demons and held the tail. The savages, they must have used all their strength to squeeze the poor creatures head, that out of extreme pain it spit out its deadly poison. Seeing the frothing deadly poison, all of you ran away for your lives’ Brahma was really angry now.

‘ Didn’t I tell you guys……my dad needs just a little encouragement and then no one can stop his ranting’ would be right words that go with Narada’s sly smile, But he didn’t utter a word, lest his father might blow his top.

Brahma ignored that and continued

‘ The Venom leapt across threatening to devour the three worlds and beyond. I didn’t know what to do, who to seek shelter. Who else to seek refuge under but Shiva’

‘Then too, this same Nandhi blocked our paths, as we sought an audience with Shiva. We half pleaded half begged him to let us through and somehow managed to gatecrash. Finally as we stood in front of the three eyed one, he gave us his all knowing smile and turned his glance at Sundarar who was next to him. In an instant he vanished and returned again with the condensed Poison in his hand. Oh my, such strength in those hands, they didn’t shake even a little on the prospect of carrying the most potent venom ever as he offered it to Shiva. ‘

‘ You guys were not around when it happened, that is why i am giving a detailed account now. Shiva took the entire contents off Sundaramurthy Nayanar’s hand and before we could even contemplate what he was about to do, he swallowed it in one stroke.’

‘ What love he has on this world, knowing that the continued presence of the venom would destroy entire creation, he had a difficult choice. Where to discard the poison, every second he delayed could be catastrophic, he took the decision to consume it himself. We were all taken aback at his selfless act, when…..’ he paused for the effect to sink into the crowd.

Everyone looked at him, open mouthed, gaping at the enormity of the sacrifice that had played out in front of them.

Brahma for once was happy that he was the center of attraction. Narada once again smirked at his dad.

‘ Tell us, what happened next?’ Varuna could not stand the suspense.

‘The poison that he drank had not yet passed his throat, when Uma who was seated next to him, caught his throat in her hands, not allowing the poison to pass through. It finally condensed at his throat’

‘ The enormity of her act dawned on us, as we realised the implications of the aftereffects of the deadly poison if inhaled by shiva, whose very dance fuels the cosmos and dictates its every move. If the poison were to reach him then there is no point of taking it from the outside.’

‘And the only person who knew the implications and had the presence of mind to act instantly was the mother herself. The divine mother, with her overflowing affection over all beings, used all her power to stop the poison from descending and hence by the divine miracles of the couple, we live to tell this tale’. You could see the gratefulness in his eyes and it reflected in those of the assembled crowd.

‘That miracle has no precedent or comparison, nor will there ever be. But we are waiting her for something that happened after this.’ Brahma brought them all to the present from his tale.

‘Yes, ask this Narada. He is the one who told us’ said Brahmma.

‘It is as i told you all. The poison unable to come out or go in, has stuck in the Lord’s throat. He is feeling a bit tired and has rested on Umai’s lap. He has now closed his eyes and in deep sleep’ said Narada

pallikondeshwara+surutuppalli
umai
umai+shiva

‘ What, He is sleeping. That is my patented posture ! If he were to close his eyes and ly down, what will happen to this world. No wonder the whole universe is darkening and slowing down. I have to see him and my sister Meenakshi and congratulate them on their bravery and selfless act, but this Nandhi is not allowing me in.’ Vishnu was getting agitated.

‘ Sir, It is not a big thing. He just felt a bit dizzy and rested his head on mother’s lap. When he is resting, how can I let everyone in. Please understand, even I cannot go in now. So saying, he turned his head to listen to the sounds inside. ‘ Hang on, I can hear them inside. Let me go in and check’

Hearing the commotion, Surya, the Sun god decided to peep in as his shift was almost getting over.

moongod
sungod

‘ I too have some time to rise, before that let me get a seek the blessing of Shiva’ felt Chandra the moon god.

They were both just in time to get the darshan of the divine parents in all their splendor as they came out of their chambers, rested and in all their brilliance.

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