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When Satheesh told me that he was planning to go to Darasuram, I immediately asked him to take some pictures of the amazing pillar sculptures in the pillared hall. He obliged with some delightful pictures. They depict some lovely scenes from the birth of Lord Murugan. Though the Sanskrit work of Kalidasa ( Kumarsambhava) deals with this in epic proportions we searched for an authentic south Indian version. With help from Vairam (who runs the popular Karka nirka blog) we chanced on the rare work of Kachchiyappa Sivaachaaryar in Project Madurai Archives - Kandhapuranam.

The background is thus - We have earlier seen the stories of Dhaksha - wherein disgusted with the insults heaped on her beloved by her own father Dhaksha, Dhakshayini the consort of Shiva - jumps into the sacrificial fire to rid herself of all ties with Dhaksha. Stricken with grief, Shiva leads the life of an hermit. The demon Surapadhman meantime uses this opportunity to occupy the three worlds and causes innumerable hardship to all - he too is aided by a boon of Brahma - wherein he seeks his end only from an offspring of Shiva -cunningly sought knowing the demise of Shiva’s consort and his life of penance. The Devas use this loophole and to get Shiva interested in the reborn Parvathi - get Kama to shoot his love arrow ( we saw this sculpture as well in Tanjore Big temple) - he being burnt in the process.

The scene now shifts to Parvathi who is reborn as the daughter to the Mountain Himavan and his wife Menaa.

( since we cover the verses in tamil in the tamil version of this post - am giving the sanskrit references here)

http://www.geocities.com/desirajuhrao/ks/sarga1/kssans1.htm

*****Not able to display the sanskrit font right now - am working on it *******

1-21. atha= then; dakShasya kanyaa= Daksha’s, daughter; bhava puurva patnii= Bhava’s [Shiva's,] former, wife; satii= husband devout wife; satii= Sati Devi named; pituH avamaanena prayuktaa= by father’s, dishonouring, incited; yoga visR^iShTa dehaa= through yoga, discarded, body; janmane= to birth - to take rebirth; taam shaila vadhuum prapede= her, mountain’s, wife, reached.

Then Shiva’s former wife and Daksha Prajaapati’s daughter Sati Devi, being a husband devout wife but incited at her father’s dishonouring discarded her body through yoga, and to take a rebirth she made her appearance before Mena Devi, the wife of the king of mountains. [1-21]

From a very young age she realises her mission and her only goal is to marry Shiva. She undergoes severe penance to attain her goal , the intensity of her penance amazes all the people around, to the extent that they pray to her to stop her penance - which is too strenuous for a 6 year old!!

Finally her penance gets the attention of Shiva, who as is his style, decides to test her resolve. As the tamil text mentioned above, he mockingly comes dressed as a old ascetic and advises Parvathi against such a penance. He ridicules her effort, saying will such acts get her shiva.

But Parvathi stays steadfast in her resolve.

Lets now look at the sculpture. A lovely intricate pillar sculpture from Darasuram. The panel probably read from bottom up - The last two rows, we see all people being amazed at Parvathi’s resolve. Next shows her deep in devotion to Shiva - depicted in Linga form -with three of her friends, with raised hands - maybe praying to her to stop.

darasuram parvathi penance panle.jpg

The top most shows her - deep in penance, standing on one leg - fire raging both sides. What happened next ..well the rains came and ….to be continued.


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There are many myths surrounding the Big temple - from the claim that its shadow never falls on the ground ( it does!!), to that its top is made of single block of stone weighing XX tonnes ( its multiple blocks), that its builder Raja Raja built it to get cured of black leprosy etc.

In my intro post on the tanjore big temple, i had mentioned about this particular picture in this lovely site ( but my views slightly differ from what is shown in this picture alone)
http://www.kumbakonam.info/kumbakonam/thanjavur/images/arcpho/arph31.jpg

is this correct.jpg

I take the above for a critical analysis, with some help from friends - Sri Kudavoil Balsubramaniam sir, gracefully allowed me to share these pictures ( for those of you who have not met him in person, here is a chance to see him) and also Mr. Shriram - shared his excellent closeup of the replaced nandhi and the Vimanam Nandhi’s

Lets first look at the claim on the size of the vimaanam nandhi in the site above. The Nandhi thats on the side corridor is actually the original nandhi installed by Raja Raja. This was later replaced during Nayak times with the now signature black one. ( why was it replaced ! maybe it suffered some damage during Malik Kafur’s infamous raids) - but why is it still retained - need to check. The person next to it is the great man himself - Balu sir. Am putting it not only this, but for you to judge the size of the Nandhi.

Expert Sri Kudavoil Balasubramaniam with the nandhi.jpg
The original nandhi.jpg

Now lets, look at the Vimanam. One is the closeup from Shriram and another is a long shot and a very important one for this post - from Balu sir - taken during the consecration ceremony. It clearly shows us the comparison against the person on the scaffolding.

the Top of vimanam with the nandhi.jpg
vimanam during kumbabhishegam ceremony.jpg

Lets just zoom in on the pictures and analyse them to scale with the person standing below on the scaffolding as a guide.

Closeup of the vimanam nandhi.JPG
height of the vimanam nandhi.JPG
how big is the nandhi.JPG

Its clear that the Nandhi on the corridor is atleast a foot taller and different stylistically to the one on the vimana. However, it doesnt take any credit away from the size of Raja Raja pinnacle - giving you an idea of its massive dimensions. Just take a minute to sequentially view these amazing captures of the Maha Meru.

the big temple at a distance towering.jpg
a centered front view.JPG
watch the seated people - u get an idea of the size.jpg
dakshina meru.jpg
the maha meru - vimaanam.JPG
the top filial - see the gold coated kalasam (pot) there is an importance to it.jpg
the Top of vimanam with the nandhi.jpg
Closeup of the vimanam nandhi.JPG

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