Friends, today we have a special guest post. Very pleased to have Mr Pradeep Chakravarthy , we have already seen a review of his book on Temple Vahanas
He has also authored a very successful book Thanjavur A Cultural History - - , and we will surely see more from this amazing person. I had requested him to do a guest post and we hope this is only the start of an insightful series. Over to him now.
Tirumeyyam is a well known pilgrim spot not very far off from Madurai. I wrote about it in The Hindu a long time back and have always visited it when possible.
After reading Vijay’s posts on sculptures that bear a message of how the sculptor conceived movement and drama, I took a closer look at the stupendous moolavar – more than 10 feet and carved out of a cave. The additions are from the 7th century by Perumpidugu Perundevi a Muttaraiar chieftain’s mother. The structural temple temple complex built around this cave is from the 12th century and later.
Thanks to Ashok for splendid feat to capture the entire scene ( digitally removing the pillars - this is copyrighted work)
The scene is of Perumal reclining in the coils of Adisesha with Brahma emerging from his navel.
In this case, like the Gupta images, the sculptor has chosen a free style in showing the coils, not neat and arranged like in other temples. Already there is drama and movement –
The action in the scene is Adisesha spewing forth venom shown as streaks of fire that move towards your right.
The heads of the serpent are backwards, as if they have just recoiled from one attack.
Just in case you missed the direction, scores of divine nityasoories are all flying to the right. Just above the Lord’s face, the sculptor has left a natural indentation, this is possibly to indicate that the flying figures are much higher than you think and to remind you that even when they are flying, they are keeping their legs away from the face of the lord.
To the extreme left is Chitragupta and Garuda who some scholars think is actually the king who commissioned this image.
Another cleft in the rock indicates a substantial distance between the deity and the two asuras
The asuras are a little slanted to give us a clue that they eventually bite the dust
The temple is one of the few Vaishnavaite cave temples still in active worship and a modified image of this theme can be seen in Mahabalipuram as well.
As part of the relief there is a depiction a deer headed person next to Brahma - who could he be?
Photo Credits : Flickr : lomaDI, Prof Swaminathan and http://senkottaisriram.blogspot.com/2008/04/thirumayam-near-pudukkoottai-tamil-nadu.html