Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Thevaram ’


The recent bird hit on flight 1549 of US Airways and its subsequent ditching or expert crash into the Hudson river caught the world’s attention. From the time planes have been invented we have had many such bird strikes and not all have had a happy ending as the one above. But what we are going to see today is possibly the earliest account of a bird strike.

Jataayu - the son of Garuda’s elder brother Aruna ( the charioteer to the Sun god), his valiant battle with Ravana as he is abducting Sita on his Pushpaka Vimana ( aerial chariot aka plane) is stuff of legends.

There are not many sculptural depictions of this battle, the most famous and often shown depiction is the painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

Ravi_Varma-Ravana_Sita_Jathayu

However, there are two sculptural depictions of this battle - one in Ellora Kailasantha ( thanks to flickr friend Mr Murali) and the other in Parambanan, Indonesia. We will visit the Indonesian one a bit later. But of most interest to us is the Ellora panel.

ravana jatayu

The mighty King Ravana is shown just as he is about to strike at the vulture Jatayu with a sword. Its no ordinary sword as we will see shortly. To the upper right we are just shown a piece of the flying machine.

Who is this Jatayu. We had read when we saw the Garuda story that his elder brother Aruna, who due to his mother’s hastiness is born premature - leaves to serve the Sun God as his charioteer. Well Jatayu and his brother Sampathi are the sons of Aruna.
garudanin-kathai-thirukurungudi

Once while both the brothers were playing, they tried to fly higher and higher - when Jatayu trying to outsmart his brother flew too high, he went dangerously close to the hot sun ( sounds vaguely familiar - Greek - Icarus ) Well the plot changes a bit here. Sampathi protectively covered his brother with his extended wingspan - while the sun burnt off his wings he fell to the ground while Jatayu was saved. ( Sampathi does get healed but at a much later stage - just by chanting the name of Rama!!)

Ok, back to the bird strike. So great is the resistance shown by Jatayu and his valor in battling Ravana, that the Thevaram verse actually credits him with victory over Ravana. Why so ?
www.shaivam.org


The place where the Lord, Who elucidated the shivadharma
with virtue as the basis freeing the capable devotees from

the disease of bad karma, sits is thiruppuLLirukkuvELUr
of jaTAyu who defeated the rAvaNa who came aggressive
counting his power!

It all comes down to the sword. Chandrahas, Shiva’s invincible sword - Moonblade, a divine gift. How did Ravana come in possession of such a weapon. Again an interesting story.

We have seen Ravana being humbled once before - by Vaali
ravana-humbled-yet-again-by-who

There is another one by the 20 armed kaarthveeryarjunan ( not found a sculpture for this yet) - but there is another instance - by Siva when Ravana attempted to lift Kailash - we have seen it at many places.
ravana-shakes-mount-kailash
mallai-olakkaneswara-temple
cambodia

if-pride-goes-before-the-fall-this-is-the-lowest-it-can-fall

Well after he went through the Ordeal and pleased Shiva by playing his ” hand” crafted veena - Shiva cured his wounds and along with his blessings, gave him his special sword. Chandrahas ( moon blade)

So by saying that Jatayu defeated Ravana - but for the divine weapon, Jatayu had valiantly fought and defeated Ravana. His powerful wings, claws and beak had wrecked havoc, while at the very edge of losing, Ravana not being a match for Jatayu with his powers, had used the divine weapon to clinch victory and slay Jatayu.

That my friends, that is the earliest recorded bird strike.
(Thanks to Murali again for the rare snap of Ellora. On content indebted to Sri Subramaniam, Mrs. Geetha Sambasivam and Dhivakar sir ofcourse)

Leave a comment »


This is an amazing sculpture of Shiva as Gajasamhara murthy ( gaja - elephant), samhara ( vanquish) ins sanskrit or Yaani uri porthia murthy ( yaani - elephant, uri - skin, porthia - cover or clad in) in Tamil. This beauty was brought from Darasuram to Tanjore museum.

yaanaiuri4

We have seen many sculptures of this episode before, so whats so great about this one? you might ask. Well when i met one of my mentors Shri. Kudavoil Balasurbramaniam, i asked him about his favorite pieces. ( incidentally the same one was picked up by master sculptor Sri Umapathy in our recent interview - will post it - he is trying out a new form of showcasing these beauties in plates !!)

sir umapathy's plate

Well, K Balu Sir explained to me the splendor of this creation. At first glance, i did not pick the amazing details of this sculpture. There are many repetitions of this pose in later chola temples and also in other places, but the chola style is unique. Here is one from Chidambaram.

yaanaiuri chidrambaram

Chandra of course will pick the Pullamangai sculpture we saw earlier as his pick - since its a miniature and the delightful baby skanda jumping off parvathi’s hands.

pullamangai yaaniuri.jpg

But the beauty of this creation - standing at almost 6 feet, the sculptor really used the proportions to bring out at sculptural marvel.

Inorder to fully appreciate the greatness of this magnificent piece, i requested my good friend Mrs. Lakshmi Sharath who was going to Tanjore to get me some closeup pictures. ( Kathie also helped with her snaps!!!)

We have already seen the episode in detail in the earlier post, however the dynamic post, quote from Sri Vidya Dehejia’s book - Art of the Imperial Cholas

Also from Darasuram is a dynamic relief carving of Siva’s jubilant dance of triumph after killing the elephant demon Gajasura. Having flayed the elephant, Shiva held its skin in his outstretched hands and danced a tempestuous dance. The exaggerated twist of his body dramatically conveys his frenzied movement. One cannot but appreciate the sentiment of Saint Manikkavachakar, who described Shiva as a madman:

i shall call you
madman draped in elephant skin
poison throated madman,
madman dancing
amid the trees
of the burning ground,
madman clad in tiger skin,
madman who enslaved
even me.

But the beauty of the piece needs more elaboration. He has four hands on each side - look at how his fingers have torn into the elephant hide and protrude out. Oh! such splendid detailing.

Darasuram yaani uriporthia murthy
darasram yaanai uri sculpture

Look at the ornamentation on the hands, legs, neck. The elaborate headdress, flowing locks forming a crown held back by a Skull shaped diadem, his knotted waist cloth swaying in the power of his dance. Exemplary art. But what is his lower left hand doing, its pointing the viewer towards the extreme left of the sculpture ( right as you view it).

yaanaiuri2

Well well well, we see Parvathi in a kind of sidewards stance - her right shoulder is slightly pushed up, as though she is shielding someone, Oh!, there he is, baby skanda, cocooned by his mother, who doesn’t want him to witness the gory scene.

Paravathi with skanda

Here lies the magnificence of this sculpture. As you bend down and look upwards from the position of baby skanda, parvathi’s body would block the action of Shiva totally. But we return to the face of Shiva now, for the final flair of the artist, as a singer would finish off his masterful composition with a delightful alapana. Look closely at the face of shiva.

single fang
yaanaiuri1
closeup of Shiva
angry side
normal shiva

The side facing away from Paravathi and Skanda - the right side ( left as you view it) - eyes brows are arched in anger, while the other side is more gentle


Leave a comment »

 Page 2 of 7 « 1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »