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This is the 100th posting on this site. A century in a short span would not have been possible without the support of friends, philosophers and guides - but the seed for this effort was sown by a few guiding lights. One such guiding light, who continues to enthrall not only me, but anyone interested in varied subjects from trivia to research thesis - whose sheer propensity to generate articles of interest to a wide audience spanning pre sangam to contemporary living, makes you think if he is a walking encyclopedia - well, How do i introduce this truly multi faceted master of writing - or does he need an introduction at all : yes, its Dr.S. Jayabarathi whose writings (in Tamil and in English) on Tamil history and culture have earned him the respect and affection of enthusiasts world over. He has this amazing ability to judge individuals, an interesting thread or even a small post in some forum and he would call you - clearing your doubt or correcting an error, offering not the answer but show you the path - for the journey is half the pleasure of the goal ! he loves to inspire people to join on this search to understand what a great land we hail from.

( incase there is someone who don’t know him, this is for their benefit :
An introduction
)

I kind of wriggled this post from him, or technically hijacked from his site, but again since we have showcased most of the other sister sculptures of this group, i sought Dr . Jaybee’s kind permission to use his - and he graciously consented. Pray for his long life, so that he can inspire many more like me.


Dr. Jaybee’s site link

bheema vs dury

This frieze is a panel from the famous group of temples at Bantei Seri. Bantei Seri is 15 miles north-east of Ankor Wat in Cambodia. Bantei Seri is acclaimed as among the most beautiful pieces of sculpture in the world.

“The lacy setting is superbly executed and the balanced rhythm and harmony of the scene itself cannot be surpassed in any work of man” - Reginald le May.

The above piece shows a scene from Mahabharatha. Its the one of the last scenes in the Bharatha War. Duryodhana lay exhausted and wounded, alone after losing everything. The Pandavas wanted to finish the war decisively and came in search of Duryodhana.

Since Duryodhana was alone and the Pandavas were five, he is given the option of fighting with any one of them. Among the five, all the others, except Bhima, were no match for Duryodhana who possessed the strength of ten thousand elephants. Bhima was similarly strong.

Both of them were exponents of warfare with the Gatha aayudham. Though exhausted, Duryodhana had better training and skill in fighting. So a duel of gatha weapons took place. Gatha is a huge mace which is very heavy. It was used to crush opponents, break armour, wreck chariots and kill elephants.

The Pandavas, Krishna, and his elder brother Balarama were watching. Both Duryodhana and Bhima had learned the art of gatha warfare from Balarama. It was a dvantha yuddham which was a fight to the finish. As the fight proceeded, Bhima got tired and became unwary. But Duryodhana still retained his skill and fought a cautious, careful, and alert fight.

At one instance, Duryodhana jumped up high above the level of Bhima’s head. From that vantage position, he aimed and swung his gatha at the head of Bhima in a downward stroke. But at that time, Krishna gestured to Bhima to hit Duryodhana on his left thigh, which was now at level with Bhima’s swing. The left thigh is Duryodhana’s vulnerable part. Duryodhana can only be killed by crushing his left thigh. Krishna knew this and gave the cue to Bhima. Bhima dealt a death-dealing blow which crushed the left thigh of Duryodana. Duryodana fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

When balarama saw what was happening, he swung his Haalaayudham the plough weapon with fury at Bhima for this frank breach of duel code of honour. But Krishna prevented him from harming Bhima.

You can see in the panel, the scene embodying all the dynamism and feelings fully.

At the right, the four Pandavas are seated.

The rest of the Pandava brothers

In the centre, Bhima and Duryodhana are fighting. Duryodhana is aloft if the air with a swing and an unswerving aim.

Bhima Vs dhuryodhana 2
An airborne duryodhana
Bheema about to strike below the waist

At the left, Balarama is about to hit Bhima with his Haalaayudham. He is being held back by Krishna who is depicted wth four arms.

Krishna stopping Balarama ( armed with plough)

This is a wonderful piece of sculpture. What is more striking is that THEY have it THERE and we don’t have it here with us.

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Talk of abstract art, the sculptors of Mahabalipuram have for long captured my imagination. But despite breathing through all their works, i am still not able to comprehend their motives. For their class and perfection, why did they choose such subjects. Sculpting into the hardest stone and sculpting images of Gods is one thing - but take this little known Bas relief in Mahabalipuram - its right behind the Trimurthi cave, is purely a work of master art. The beauty of
this creation mimics the grace of nature.

Elephant panel long shot.jpg
mallai elephants closer.jpg
some more closer.jpg
another view.jpg
spectacular.jpg
the mail elephant.jpg
the baby elephant.jpg
the monkey.jpg
the peacock.jpg

From the bull elephant’s majestic grace, to its baby playing digging into the sand and its swirling trunk, the mother elephant’s head alone is shown above the Bull elephants body - Oh, such life. Sadly the bigger baby’s head is broken, but from the other three Elephants - look at the skill of the sculptor - the male elephant is shown with manly charm, majestic, the female with a loving almost motherly smile,while the baby is all mischief.

There is no parallel to Pallava sculptor when it comes to this - look at the graceful lines of the peacock. And to top it, the monkey - Oh, i am lost for words here. He seems to be alive and looking up at the viewer. Maybe the Pallava sculptors were alchemists or magicians who could turn living beings into stone by casting a spell or waving a wand. I cannot see these as hammered with chisel on stone, for they are breathed upon. A surreal experience.

The puzzle is as to why they toiled so hard on this panel - for it represents no God, no legend, no mythological scene. Almost like an elaborate florish of an artist on seeing a sunrise, an extempore speech by an orator on a hot debate, an outburst of poetry by a poet on seeing his lady love, the cheruby smile of an infant on seeing his mother - as if the sculpture wanted to capture a scene, just that this was not a mere brush stroke - but years of work! Why did he do it?

Images courtesy : Ponniyin Selvan egroup mallai trip - Mr. Shriram and Mr. Vinjamoor Venkatesh.

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