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Posts Tagged ‘Darasuram’


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.

update+++++++++++
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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Today we are going to see a very very interesting panel from Darasuram. Thanks again to Satheesh for the excellent camera work. This panel was a total shocker at first glance and there was no way i could have proceeded to identify it.

darasuram panel.jpg

Locating this panel itself is difficult - no one seems to even acknowledge their presence. We have already seen the other panel that is alongside - Sundarar resurrecting the boy from crocodile’s belly in a previous post.

sundarar splitting1
sundarar splitting kaveri

At first sight, it looked like someone was felling a tree or a structure in front of a temple and and it was falling on the temple! The man was actually not felling but maybe yelling and pointing towards the falling structure. The structure itself was a bit unique, and could find no parallel?. The second person depicted seemed to look like a King who was sculpted in a very pious pose.

Thankfully, with the help of Mr. N. Ganesan, who was kind enough to share an interesting paper of Prof. Marr, JR, titled “The Periya Puranam frieze at Taracuram: Episodes in the Lives of the Tamil Saiva Saints’ - we see that its a sculptural depiction of a very famous event in the life of Saint Sundarar.

The famous duo have quite a number of interesting legends among them - While on a pilgrimage, they pass through the temple town of Thirukandiyur and seeing the temple of Thiruvaiyaaru across the river, Cherman Perumal wishes to visit that temple as well. However, the river Cauvery is in spate. The flood is so great that boatmen have stopped plying - seeing the desire of his friend to see the Lord, Sundarar sings a series of heart rendering songs on shiva - hearing which the great river parts - allowing them a passage over her sandy bottom.

sundarar splitting kaveri 2

Now, see the panel - to the left ( as you view) is the Thirukadaiyur temple, Cherman Perumal even in his regal attire ( he was a Chera King) is full of devotion, while Sundarar cups his left hand so that his voice carries over the din of the river waters( see the waves depicted showing the spate) - and across is the holy temple at Thiruvaiyaaru.

A scene that instantly took me to back to Cecil De Mille ’s Ten Commandments - Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner…the famous parting of the Red Sea by Moses.

Parting Red Sea
charlton_heston_plays_moses

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