Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘veenadhara’

We come across many interesting things that pass by before our eyes without registering - until someone draws our attention to it ! Similarly today Shashwath is asking us to study the Veena or more closely the head of a Veena.

29_SM_VEENA_1066376g

The Hindu article is titled Lion - headed legacy ! But is it a Lion??

It is definitely a Yazhi as this illustration marks it ( source the internet). Over to Shash for part 2 of Esalam n the Yazhi head of the Veena.

sarasvati_veena-300x176

In the last part about this temple, I had merely left a hint about this wonderful Dakshinamurthy, and stopped with the layout of the temple and some of the other sculpture around it. Today, we will look at this Veenadhara.

1

Dakshinamurthy is Shiva acting as the supreme teacher - the guru of all gurus. T. A. Gopinatha Rao, who was himself the guru of all who study Indian iconography, has this to say about the Dakshinamurthy form:

“We have already stated that Shiva is a great master of yoga, music and dancing… As a teacher of Yoga, music and other sciences he is known by the name of Dakshinamurthy. (…) This aspect of Shiva is always invoked by students of science and arts.”

According to Gopinatha Rao, there are four aspects of Dakshinamurthy - the teacher of Yoga, of Vina, of Jnana and as an “expounder of other Shastras”, or Vyakhyanamurti. It is the last form that we see most commonly in temples, in the southern niche of the central Garbagriha. At Esalam, too, there’s a Vyakhyanamurti in this location.

2
3

Unfortunately, it’s broken, so somebody decided to install a modern one, hiding the original from view!

Veenadhara Dakshinamurthy is the teacher of music. This is not as common as the Vyakhyana, but it’s not a rare form either. There are several instances of this form - at Gangaikondacholapuram

4

An older version at Keezhaiyur

5

Standing versions at Kodumbalur and Lalgudi,

6
7

And at Esalam…

8

According to the Agamas, this form is identical to the Vyakhyana form, except for the Veena in his hands, the gourd resting on his right thigh. Essentially, matted locks with a band holding them together, the Datura flower, kapala and crescent moon, right leg hanging down and left leg bent and rested on the right thigh, and so on. The upper hands hold either an Aksharamala, a snake, fire, or a
deer - this is a teacher, after all, so he doesn’t hold any weapons.

As I described in my last post, the Veenadhara is up in the Vimana, above the Vyakhyana. Space is limited up there, so many of the usual attributes are missing - there is no tree, and I can barely make out a single devotee below him and to the right. The dwarf he’s stepping on seems either incomplete or badly worn out.

To me, it’s the face and the Veena that are the most intriguing.

9

You can just look at it for a while - I don’t have to explain too much!

He’s wearing a decorated band as a crown around his head, keeping the locks away from his face. There are the usual earrings and the moon on his right.

On his shoulders, you can see the cords of the necklaces hanging down. A yagnopavita completes the ensemble There are details here that you can’t really see from the ground. And I’m sure that if we were to get a shot from above, we’d see a tiger belt, too! That dedication to detail - even detail that nobody would actually go up there and see - is what distinguishes our ancient sculptors.

Now, look at the Veena - The gourd is a bit rough on the bottom right, but it’s definitely resting on the right thigh. It’s projecting out a bit outside to the right (something the Agamas prescribe), and the bottom hand is strumming it.

10

What I really liked was the other side - the head of the instrument is straight, unlike the modern Veena (which is bent downwards) and carved in the form of a Yazhi’s head.

The date of this Dakshinamurthy is quite certain - Rajendra Chola left enough inscriptional evidence to go by. This temple is probably co-equal with Gangaikondacholapuram (probably, because we don’t know GKC’s date). Look at the one from there:

11

Very similar to the one at Esalam! Gourd’s at the bottom right, Yazhi-head to top left. But now, look at the others that I’d posted earlier:

12
13

These are older ones – both Early Chola, from Aditya’s time, maybe a hundred or more years before Esalam and GKC. And here are some older Veena players – Kanchi Kailasanatha:

14

Narasamangala, in Karnataka

15

These all seem to be inverted - the gourd is at the top! In an earlier Poetry in Stone post on the similar Veenadhari Ardhanari, we saw similar top-resonating Veenas.

Was the Veena itself originally only with a top-resonator? If so, when was the bottom resonator introduced? If both forms existed since ancient times, why did the sculptors of Rajendra’s time alone start using the bottom-resonator instead of the traditional top resonating Veena?

Maybe answering this, we will understand the evolution of music in medieval India a bit better. Sculpture and music converge, and Dakshinamurthy is still teaching us!

Now, another taste of things to come! Remember that we talked about how details of this icon couldn’t be seen from the ground? How did I manage to take those shots, then?

It turns out that, since this temple was under a mound of sand, the ground level of the surrounding village is higher now than when it was built. Walking around the outside of the shrine, you can climb a small stone, and be at eye-level with the Dakshinamurthy.

When we went around to do this, we found two of the guardian deities of the village - the grama devatas. These are both extremely ancient. I will take them up later.

16
17

Leave a comment »

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 ?

Leave a comment »

 Page 1 of 1  1