Today we are going to see a bronze - not any bronze, but a spectacular Chola bronze. They are world famous for their beauty but its not just beauty that sets them apart. What is it in a Chola bronze that makes them so special?
Is it the craftsmanship, the artistic work, pleasing lines, attention to detail, expressions - no, its all of this put together plus something more. Maybe once you finish this post you will be able to understand what i am trying to convey.
To start with, lets take a look at the bronze, it stands in the Delhi Museum.
Vishnu - the protector. We have seen various forms of stone sculptures, but working in bronze, frees up the craftsmen to really pour out his heart. We have already seen in the earlier post on Bronze Umai of Singapore Museum, about the Lost wax method. But here is a beautiful verse from a unique Devotee, one who fell in love with the Lord, or rather who made the Lord fall in love with her!! Aandal
( A chance search yielded a ref to the verse in English
My beautiful lover, it is as if he has put clay around me and
poured molten metal into my heart.
and thanks to Sri Dhivakar we have the actual verse below)
The verse in transliterated Tamil with meanings below
mazhaiyE! mazhaiyE! maN puRam pUSi uLLAi ninRa
mezhugu URRinARpOl URRu nal vE’nkaTattuL ninRa
azhagap pirAnAr tammai en ne’njattu agappaDat
tazhuva ninRu ennai tagaittuk koNDu URRavum vallaiyE
Oh rainy clouds! like the clay which embraces the wax mold, which on being fried in the oven melts the wax, The azhagar of tiruvenkatam has embraced me outside, and is melting me inside out and destroying me. Wont you first unite me with Him so that I can embrace Him closely just as I am imagining in my mind, and then shower your rains.
The protector that he is, how does the craftsmen bring the benevolence and love in his face. A face that should be so radiant that it can charm every devotee.
Not only that, he is Alankara Priya. Meaning, loves being dressed up.
Now, we have seen the beauty, but the detailing ( hey i am coming to the topic just now)
Watch carefully. A test to your observation skills as usual.
Ok, a hint, watch closely, just above the right breast.
What is that. Not a barcode or a casting defect. Its the birth mark or mole of Vishnu. Read this sanskrit verse to know what it is ( thanks to Geetha Amma)
durdAntha daithya visikha ksahtha-pathrabhangam
veerasya tE VibudhanAyaka baahumadhyam |
SrIvathsa Kousthubha RamA VanamAlikAnkam
chinthAnubhUya labhathE charithArTathAm na: ||
Oh Dhaiva NaayakA! The unrighteous asurAs fight with You in battles and
wound Your chest with their arrows. You destroy them and yet bear the welt
originating from those arrows of the asurAs like a reminder of those
victorious battles. These arrow marks criss crossing each other on your chest
appear like a varNakkOlam (geometric patterns with different hues). On the
same Chest are seen the blue birth mark (maRu) celebrated as SrIvathsam,
the red gem known as Kousthubham, the wild flower garland revered as
VanamAlai (garland made up of wild flowers) and on top of every thing adorning
Your chest is golden-hued MahA LakshmI, who defines your auspicious
svabhAvam and Svaroopam. All of these special adornments on your chest shed
multiple reflections on the VarNakkOlam caused by the asurA’s arrows.
adiyEn’s mind enjoys the sevai of that valorous chest marked by so many
auspicious lakshaNams and considers itself as the most fortunate among all chethanams.
Now ladies and Gentlemen, thats how you enjoy a Chola Bronze.