My friend Mr.Satheesh Kumar is an ardent sculpture lover like me and he offered to get me some nice photos of the tanjore big temple. Little did i realise that he will get me such a rich collection. We are going to see one interesting panel from his collection today.
As usual, we go for the story first:
Shiva’s consort Parvathi is born to Dhaksha – the king of mountains ( she is fondly called malai magal – in tamil – malai – mountain, magal – daughter). When she comes of age, she expresses desire to marry Shiva ( as is destined), but being a vain king, Dhaksha ( he himself being the son of Brahma) refuses to give his youngest daughter, whom he so lovingly brought up, in marriage to shiva – for he considers him uncouth, wearing animal hides and living in the cemetery, accompanied by ghouls/demons/ etc.But Shiva marries Parvathi and Dhaksha is not able to stand this insult.
He plots his revenge,and tries to insult Shiva, by organising a massive penance/sacrifice, but doesn’t invite Shiva, the foremost of Gods. However,hearing of this big event in her home, Parvathi’s heart and love for her family, makes her plead with shiva to let her go and attend the function. Shiva cautions her, that she will not be welcome and doesnt give her permission to go. However, love blinds the eyes of paravathi and despite the advise of Shiva, she lands us as an uninvited guest in Dhaksha’s palace. There she is not given any respect and is witness to all insults thrown at Shiva. Not being able to bear these and having acted against the advise of her husband, in anguish she kills herself in the sacrificial fire ( meaning, she gets rid of her material body which had affection to family there itself and takes her divine form). However, this enrages Shiva and he cuts the head of dhaksha and throws it into the sacrificial fire.
A bit later, Brahma and other rishis come and plead with Shiva, to forgive Dhaksha. Shiva obliges, but since the original head has already been consigned to flames,he cuts off the head of a sacrificial lamp and fits it on Dhaksha’s head ( inter species head transplant – how is it?)
Now lets look at the sculpture – Satheesh has masterfully taken the pictures to give you an idea size ( with ball pens for scale)
The story board is broke into two sides of the staircase – on one side is the beheading episode and on the other is the head transplant. wonderful depictions.
See the first part, the assembled guests are shown – towards the back of the composition against the wall. Then you see Shiva seated in a lovely pose, with Parvathi leaning non nonchalantly with one arm on nandhi. she is flanked by her assistant to her right.
The crucial scene kind of flow through the entire panel – Dhaksha’s severed torso is shown, fallen to the ground, with his wife lamenting with her hands towards the sky, and shiva is shown clutching the severed head by the hair and dropping into the sacrificial fire ( he has an evil looking sword in his hand – kind of reminds of the blade – neck cutting video’s we saw from iraq)…the priest who is next to the fire is turning away in disgust.
To the right of the composition, we see three ladies and three men – faces turned in aghast at the beheading and almost freezing to flee – their highly strung bodies about to run away – towards the end we see much mutilated but clearly – two beings running away from the scene ( note the size of the composition with the ball pen scale)
The other side – is a prettier picture – a beautiful standing depiction of Shiva, complete with his axe and deer, with a snake adorning his waist – being pleaded to by Brahma, looked on by three rishis. The final scene, we see a revived Dhaksha with a Ram’s head, in all humility,bowed along with the others – showing deep respect for shiva.
A delightful panel. Trust you enjoyed it as much as i did. i loved the depiction of shiva with the snake hanging by the waist.