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Posts Tagged ‘Shore Temple’

Friends who would have been following the earlier posts know the influence Dr. Gift Siromoney on the genesis of this site.

The Mystery behind the horns of Pallava door guardians

I wrote thus

” Friends, i am writing about a man who changed the course my life’s pursuits. Its a tale of selfless service, the reach of the net, information sharing,knowledge assimilation, leaving a lasting impression on the generations to come. I read that Einstein once said ” If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants”, thereby acknowledging the contributions of the scholars before him.

To start with, i have never met this person. For, he passed away in 1988, long before i even knew where i was headed in life.

The posts he had graciously left behind on the net, quality content, absolutely free, easily accessible, spurred me, 20 years after his death, inspiring me to use the advances in technology, the power of the net and its networking capabilities to tap on the potential of friends, to create a site, with powerful content with an unique visual appeal, absolutely free - that even a chance encounter of a casual visitor, will make him sit up and take notice, of the treasures that our great land bore out of its intellect, help protect and preserve them for future generations. Like the legendary Ekalavya, i try to follow his effort. This effort, hopefully will outlast my human existence, and pray will inspire atleast a few like me, long after i am gone.”

Now i consider it my good fortune that a chance interaction with his wife Mrs. Rani Siromoney and her generous introduction to Dr Michael Lockwood, has given me chance to relive their discoveries. I was overjoyed when he started with the words ” It was Dr.Gift Siromoney who introduced me to the magic of the Mamallapuram monuments,”

We are grateful to Mr Lockwood for allowing us permissions to use his photographs and articles. So here we are seeing a young Mr Lockwood , as he sent me the picture with this footnote - The picture of me was taken in 1969 (when I was 36 years old!). As I said in my earlier e-mail to you, the picture was taken when Gift and I (and Prof. Dayanandan) visited Vallam (2 miles east of Chingleput).)

Mr+Lockwood+vallam+caves+1969

it registered that I wasn’t even born then !!

Read more of him in this Hindu article

Dr. Lockwood

I was overjoyed with the introduction and rushed out many of my Pallava posts to him and he patiently replied to all. One such post was an intriguing one about a visit to Tirukazhukundram in search of the Somaskanda for the Somaskanda evolution series.

Tracking the evolution of the Pallava somaskanda

There in the outside corridor we had found relief sculptures of Rajasimma and I had noted one as Shiva on Rishbavahanam, little realising that it was part of a larger debate many years earlier. Mr Lockwood pointed it out with his references and also advised that there were a mirror-set on the inside of the Sanctum, but photography was not allowed.

tirukazhugukundram+veenadari

It was while reading his references ( part of his work Pallava Art) that i realised that the debate considered a small relief sculpture in the shore temple cylindrical shrine.

shoretemple+cylindrical+shrine

The relief sculpture inside is identical to one in Tirukazhugukundram. Thanks to Ashok for the excellent photographs

sculpture+inside+cylindrical+shrine

Now, if someone had told me that it was not just Shiva , not just Rishabantika Shiva, but a Veenadara - ok, i would have accepted. But Dr Lockwood identified it as an Ardanari as well. Before, we go on, we need to know that Rajasimha had some stunning iconographic signature sculptures and most of his themes are repeated in either the Olakkaneshwara or shore temple or the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple.

Olakkaneshwara doesn’t have this and so we need to look in the shore temple and Kailasantha temple. We will return to the Shore temple shortly. The Kailasanthar temple has a Veenadara Ardhanari icon and another Veenadara.

Thanks to Saurabh and Krishnamurthy uncle for the photographs

kanchi+kailasanathar+veenadari+ardanari
kanchi+kailasanathar+venaadrai+ardhanari1
kanchi+kailasantha+veenadari

We have already seen in the post on Ardhanari evolution about how the two ` halves’ are differentiated.

Tracing the refinement of the Ardhanari Image

Now, lets study the sculpture in Kailasanthar more closely

closeup+veenadari+ardhanari+kanchi
differentiation
face+of+ardhanari

Now that we are sure that it is an Ardhanari image, lets focus on the Veena.

the+veena

The Veena is more like a fret but the thing to note is the resonator. It resembles an inverted cup and is held against the breast. This tradition seems to be very much in vogue , as we see examples in Pudukkottai - A Bhairva Shiva ( Image Courtesy - Kathie), Badami ( Ardhanari again - Image courtesy - Picasa albums), Nepal ( Saraswathi - Image courtesy- Kaladarshna)

Pudukkottai+museum+veenadari
badami+cave1+veenadari+ardhanari
closeup+badami
sarasvati1

Now, the current day Veena has made the top resonator redundant.

saraswati-veena

But would be interesting to find out if we do have a variant of the earlier Veena with the reverse cup. The player would have felt the music closer to his/her heart for sure !

Ok, back to our question of identification of the Icon as Veenadara Ardhanari rishabantika shiva - Mr Lockwood supports his with two more clinching evidences. Study these two sculptures.

photoA
photoB

I quote Dr Lockwood now

Photograph A is of a sandstone image which [was] found in the courtyard of the Kailasanatha temple, Kanchipuram, and is remarkably
similar to the one in the much larger Tirukkazhukkunram panel. The figure in this photograph, like those of Tirukkazhukkunram and
Mamallapuram, is also seated on Nandi.

Photograph B- Veenadhara Ardhanarisvara seated on a plain throne – not on Nandi. This panel, carved on one face of a four-sided block of granite, was,
at the time the picture was taken, in 1969, located in the forecourt of the Shore temple. The figure in this panel is almost identical in
attributes and pose to the Tirukkazhukkunram, Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram images. Yet, as there is no bull in this panel,
obviously, this figure cannot be called Vrishabhantika-Siva

Further he adds, on the Kailasanatha sculpture - it is of a figure of Veenadhara- Ardhanarisvara, also seated on a plain throne. It is carved on the west side of the outer wall of the vimana of the Kailasanatha temple, Kanchi.

Now, the proof rests with the three sculptures - one is inside the Garba Graha of the Tirukazhukundram shrine - maybe we can get an expert artist to visit and sketch insitu. or get some very closeup shots of the Photo A and Photo B. But then the post script

Postscript 1997:
Pallava Art Photograph A was taken by me in the late ’60s. ThisVïnädhara Ardhanärïvara carving has, at some later time, been removed from Kanchipuram and is presently being exhibited, along with the carved block (Photograph B), in the A.S.I.’s site museum at Mämallapuram!

Postscript current day: can someone help us find these two ?

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Wishing all viewers a very happy and prosperous new year 2009. A friend commented that over a 100 posts and not one dedicated to the Ganesha - the remover of obstacles. So today we see him, not just any post but one that poses a lot of questions into the origin of Ganesha worship in South India.

This is another of the puzzles of Mahabalipuram - there are almost over 50 representations of Shiva with his family - as Somaskanda ( Sou Uma skanda - With Uma and Skanda) - reminds me to a post on them. But conspicuous by his absence is Ganesha.

Shore temple - somasskanda

Hang on, i know some of you are already jumping - yes - the Ganesha Ratha is the only shrine still under worship in Mahabalipuram. But when it was sculpted it was sculpted as a shrine for Shiva. Why and how it got converted to a shrine for the Son is an interesting legend by itself. Lets see the chronology one by one:

Leaving aside the Pillayarpatti caves that are assigned to an earlier period, the earliest reference to Ganesha worship starts with the famous war of Vatapi. Those who have read Author Kalki’s Sivagamiyin Sabatham ( Sivagami’s Vow) would immediately recollect the scene. The trusted General of Narasimhavaraman II - Paranjothi helps him to avenge his father’s defeat at the hands of the Chalukya king, Pulakesi II in the year 642 CE. ( They prepared for the war for 12 years !!) - but standing on the dawn of the battle day, Paranjothi sees a Ganesha sculpture on the walls of Vatapi and prays to him for his success. On the victorious battle field he undergoes a change of heart and takes to life of a saint - as siruthondar becomes a Nayanmaar, takes back the statue of Ganesha to worship as Vatapi Ganesha. So is he the first instance of Ganesha in Pallava land.

Well, the story gets interesting now. Sambandar and Appar have sung the greatness of Ganesha. See below verse references:

Sambandar’s Verse

the supreme god in Valivalam where many people who are the incarnation of unbounded liberality, crowd.
when Umai assumed the form of a female elephant.
Civaṉ assuming the form of a strong male elephant.
was gracious enough to beget kaṇapati who destroys obstacles to devotees who worship his feet.
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

Appar’s Verse

the elephant faced god, Kaṇapati who wanders frightening in the minds of people who rise suffering intensely, having very many desires.the two lights which have the strength to dispel darkness and the great mountain, Kayilāyam.we are the kindred of the God who has Keṭilam having water which confers good on people who bathe on it.
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

So, its clear that Ganesha was worshipped and well known as the son of Shiva and Parvathi during their times itself.

There are lot of scholarly debates about the authorship of the Mahablipuram monuments, yet fortunately the Shore temple’s builder is clear - Rajasimha Pallava.

Ganesha ratha Ganesha.jpg
the ganesha ratha.jpg

We come back to the Ganesha Ratha. Yes, it does have a Ganesha Statue installed and under worship. But ( here i seek help from the masterly work of Sri. Swaminathan sir) - read below one of the earliest extracts of a foreigner accounts of Mahabalipuram - 1788 AD

The Ganesa Ratha had originally a linga in the sanctum, and seems to have been taken away by Lord Hobert, who was Governor of Madras from 1794 to 1798. A compensation of 20 pagodas was given to the villagers and took away to England. His successor, the second Lord Clive (1798-1803), took away the Nandi of this temple. Chambers: 1788

So, how did the Ganesha come - again a note, this time by a noted historian

When that linga was carried off by Bu…, the people of this place took an image of Vinayaka which was near and put it into the Garbagriha. On the wall to the south of the Garbagriha is some inscription written, the character of which is unknown.
—– (1803:Lakshmiah)

Ok, for the people who are still unconvinced - inscriptional evidence

This is a lengthy inscription of eleven verses in Sanskrit from the ` Ganesha Ratha’.. the fifth verse states, “This temple of Sambhu (Siva) was caused to be made by King Atyantakama, conqueror of his enemies’ territory and renowned by the title Ranajaya.” The name of the temple is then given: “Atyantakama-Pallavesvara-Griham” (”The Isvara (Siva) temple of the Pallava (king) Atyantakama”).
‘Atyantakama’ and ‘Ranajaya’ were titles of Pallava kings

So where does this lead us - in all of the cave temples, Bas reliefs and Free standing Rathas of Mahabalipuram there is not a single representation of Ganesha. He first comes in the shore temple. We have already carried a brief intro of the shore temple

Shore Temple Intro post

Now lets test your powers of observation once again. Can you spot him.

Shore temple - try and spot the ganesha.jpg
check the ganeshas
shore temple - other ganas.jpg
shore temple.jpg

You can see that there are various Ganas occupying similar positions. so what do we conclude ?

other ganas.jpg
shore temple - gana.jpg

Well, the objective of this site is to spread awareness and spur people to search for answers. So i just leave you with some closeups of Ganesha - may he remove all your obstacles and the new year usher a grand year of joy and prosperity.

ganeshshoretemp
shore temple Ganesha 2.jpg
shore temple ganesha.jpg

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