Posts Tagged ‘Raja Raja Chola’

The greatness of the Chola sculptor seems to have brought the Lord of Dance to be confined into the niches of his creation. This magnificent creation in stone in the Tanjore Big Temple…is a splendid work of the artist on his favorite subject…if it was the Shiva Gangadhara or Somaskanda for the Pallava sculpture it was the Nataraja for the Chola artist.


See how the swirling nature of Shiva’s cosmic dance is brought into the composition…the serpent which garlands Shiva has been upset by the speed of the dance movement and it has slipped to his wrist, desperately clinging on to his beloved. The waist cloth too is not spared…its flowing movement beautifully depicts the lords twirling dance… the grace of the lifted feet, the strength of his other leg, the beauty of his upper torso, combined with the divine benevolence of his face…its difficult to put the emotion into words….you are truly spell bound.


“How many various dances of Shiva are known to His worshipers”, says Ananda Coomaraswamy, “I cannot say. No doubt the root idea behind all of these dances is more or less one and the same, the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy.” Continues Coomaraswamy, “Whatever the origins of Shiva’s dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.”


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Well i am sure you have heard of many weird stories about India and its legends. One of them is Parasurama who raised his hand against his mother…the other is little known but most worshipped chandesa….he occupies a very important place in shiva temples…and is the only credited with almost seperate shrine ( as you circambulate …he is to the main deities left….most of you would see people going and clapping in front of him) It all started with my delightful ( and knowledgeable) American friend Ms. kathie, sending me this picture from the tanjore big temple and asking what it depicted…was it krishna leela (krishna killed kamsa…) ..nope kamsa was torn into two halves…well we will see that too shortly in another post..


Well the story goes like this… Chandesa was a young boy, initiated into shiva worship at a very young age… as a young boy he witnesses a cow herd hitting the cows left with him to fend….so he offers to tend to them…he loves them so much and takes care of them so well, that they produce more than double the normal quantity of produce….so that after giving to the owners ( cow owners buy cows in india and leave them with boys to take out to pasture and bring back for a monthly fee….its even now less than a dollar for a month…can’t image how much it was those days)…incidentally one such famous cowherd was kalidasa…. ok, we come back to subject what to do with the excess milk…the young boy went to the river bed, created an icon of shiva in sand and used the milk to anoint it. Some jealous person went and complained that the kid had gone nuts and that he was stealing milk or wasting it to chandesa’s father…the father decided to spy on the son the next day…deep in devotion when candesa was offering the milk to the lord, the father tried to stop him by beating him with a stick on his back…which had no effect on the boy who was immersed in his faith…the infuriated father kicked the pot of milk in disgust….and chandesa in his anger, took his shepherds staff and threw it at his dad…magically it turned into an ax and chopped of his father’s legs…..shiva appeared then and pleased with his devotion threw his own flower garland on his head and took him into his fold….

Just as i posted this, i got one of our viewers Mr. Srivatsan contributing with the entire panel. He was kind enough to allow me to publish his picture her as well ( which is one of our key visions for this site - to have lot of people contributing from their collections, so that we can collectively build and share a virtual database of images).

Chandesa compete panel from bigtemple thanks to Srivatsan.jpg

The panel has to be read bottom up- you can see the cows tended by chandesa, and then chandesa has hit his father, who is on the ground, and then chandesa standing in front of shiva. Sadly the images are worn out.

what grace.jpg
bestowing flowers.jpg

This scene is beautifully depicted in Rajendra Cholas Gangai Konda cholapuram….such aesthetic beauty…such obedience of chandesa, benevolence radiating in the face of shiva and such motherly affection in the face of parvathi…one of the very best and my fav sculptures….Chandesa anugraha murthy.


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