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Posts Tagged ‘thiruvilaiyaadal ’

Today, we are seeing another interesting pillar from Tiruparankundram - two natural enemies coming together in a show of tender motherly affection and care. Thankfully, the authorities haven’t tried their hand at exhibiting their ignorance and tried to decipher this legend and instead have just simply named it as Shiva and Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam. ( unlike the previous one where they named Shiva as Varaahi !!). The mindless iron railing, anchored on a priceless piece of art and to add insult to injury the thick coir ropes, make you retch. Isn’t there anyone who can campaign their cause at all !!

tirupparankundram+pillar

This is such a rare depiction, maybe the only one of its kind - a sculpture relating to a very lovely act of Lord Shiva, from the Tiruvilayadal Puranam of Vembathur Nambi.

For starters, how do we confirm that this is indeed Shiva? Simple, look for his attributes.

closeup+shiva
shiva+axe
shiva+deer

Pretty simple ahh. You cant miss the Axe and the deer !! ( unless ofcourse you are the temple authorities - naming shiva as varaahi!!)

axe and deer on the hands 1
tiruparankundram shiva 1

But then what is so unique about this pillar sculpture? Check out what is in Shiva’s hands.

whats+this

This does look like a tiger. See how Shiva is holding it like an infant on his hip!!

tiger

But then this, is a stunner.

fawn+suckling

His other hand carries a fawn and it seems to be suckling from the tiger’s udder!!

Yes, its correct. The legend goes that a lactating mother deer, comes to a lake to quench its thirst, when its felled by a hunter. As it breathes its last, the mother languishes at the plight of its just born fawn. Overcome but its motherly love, Lord Shiva , comes to the rescue of the fawn by having it suckle from a tiger that was nearby.

We have seen many poses of shiva, his role as a destoryer, his fiery dance - but here in this unique pillar sculptures - of Shiva - himself taking the form of a mother pig to suckle piglets and now - having a tiger suckle the fawn - natural enemies but then mysterious are his ways. Such a poetic way of expressing the infinite grace of Shiva, his tender heart and wonderful depiction.

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An interesting discussion in Agathiar forum by Dr Jaybee set me up on this post. Thanks to his expert guidance we could understand this much misunderstood sculpture. He had mentioned about this sculpture of Shiva feeding piglets - an interesting episode from the 64 acts of Shiva, which was (is) wrongly depicted as Varahi ( one of the seven mothers in the saptha matrikas). So we had our antennas out for this sculpture in Madurai and Tirupparankundram. But we got a chance glimse of this episode,couple of days before we reached Madurai and tiruparankundram, n a relief panel in Chidambaram just as completed our darshan there.

thillai  - feeding piglets

The interesting part of this sculpture is the line of praying pigs to the left of the panel ( your right as you view it). We will see this as the post progresses.

Ok, the puranam aka story first.

There was once a farmer named Sugalan in a small village called Athimanimaadamuthoor near Madurai. He and his good natured wife were pious and led a astute life. In sharp contrast were their 12 sons. They did all sorts of irresponsible and bad stuff including neglecting their farming duties, teaming up with the hunters in the forest and hunting for sport. During the pursuit of one such hunting expedition, they came across a shrub in which a ascetic was doing penance. They disturbed him for fun, pelting him with stones and hitting him with their arrows. Enraged the ascetic cursed them to born as piglets and to loose their parents at a young age and lead a miserable life. Realising their folly, the misguided youth fell at the ascetic’s feet and begged for his forgiveness and a way out of their curse. Seeing them repenting, the ascetic relented and told them that Lord Shiva himself will redeem them from their curse.

In due course, they were born as piglets and the Pandyan king who had ventured into the forest felled their parents. The piglets were left at the mercy of the elements and devoid of even nursing at their mother’s breasts. Taking pity on them, the loving shiva in his infinite mercy, himself took the form of a pig, sprouted breasts and nursed them and redeemed them from their curse. .

So, armed with the knowledge, we set on our search to find this pillar. It was not inside the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple precincts ( remember this was after our sojourn with the Bronze gallery) - when we were directed to the Pudhu Mandabam. We were sufficiently warned that it was taken over by commercial establishments and spotting anything lest alone searching for a sculpture would be impossible, better to return early in the morning and request the watchman to open up !! But we stood our ground and went for a quick run, scouting for anything that resembled the legend. As luck could have it, we spotted it at exactly the opposite end of the Pudhu (new) mandabam. A few requests for the friendly shop keeper to resettle his wares and we could take our shots. ( we did return the next day for some more of the bottom panels )

madurai pudhu mandabam
madurai shiva

Is it Shiva or Varahi?

axe on right hand and left hand damaged
lovingly embracing the piglets and feeding

Well its definitely shiva for you can clearly see the Axe blade being held in his right hand, the left hand has unfortunately broken off.

But some interesting panels in the foot of the pillar tell the full story

The hunter felling the mother pig.

hunter slaying the mother pig

There were piglets allover, clamoring to be fed. Its the same episode for sure

piglets clamoring up
piglets waiting in line to be fed

The clincher - our line of grown ups ( pardon the angle - the steel chairs didn’t make life easier for us!)

piglets now grown up

Armed with this knowledge, we headed to tiruparankundram and were pleasantly surprised to see an exact replica ( ok, some important differences at the base) - but the basic composition was the same, but sadly named as Vaarahi and anointed with turmeric allover !!!

tiruparankundram shiva 1

Another angle showing the same styling of the sculpture as the one from Madurai

side view tiruparankundram

Including the line of impatient piglets

piglets

Again , is he Shiva? Can you spot his attributes.

axe and deer on the hands
axe and deer on the hands 1

I did mention a difference, didn’t I, the hunter is shown here shooting down the mother pig from the side of the panel and the carcass is shown inside the main sculpture.

hunter, slain mother pig and grownups.jpg and grown ups

By the way, did you notice the line of grown ups just coming into frame in the bottom of the last picture….a common factor in all three !!

Whats more interesting is a paired pillar to this - which contains an even more interesting aka rare depiction of Shiva from the Thiruvilaiyaadal Puranam. We shall see that is a subsequent post. But with all this clinching evidence, hopefully someone will restore the rightful name for this sculpture in Thiruparankundram.

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