Salvation while being lynched – Ellora

We saw the sculpture of Gajasamharam previously, today we take Adhakasamharam. Since we saw a minitature last time around, lets take a massive one for a change – An amazing sculpture from Ellora.

As usual the story first, once while Shiva was in deep meditation, a sporting Paravathi playfully covered the three eyes of Shiva with her soft hands. Immediately the entire cosmos was bereft of light, became just an expanse of darkness. the heat from the third eye of shiva caused beads of sweat to form on Parvathi’s hands. Out of this came a ugly, angry baby who was blind with matted hair – Andhaka ( the blind one). He was given away to the demon Hiranyaksa ( who was childless and prayed for an offspring) . Hiranyaksha was killed by Vishnu and in due course Andhaka grew up to be no better. He did severe penance to strengthen himself – tearing his body flesh to offer – Brahma finally obliged with a boon – for Andhaka wanted vision and divine vision and deathlessness. Brahma couldnt oblige with this – and asked him to vary his. – There is a version that in his deep heart Andhaka wanted to see his mother, so he asked a boon that if every he lusted for his mother he would die but slowly. Having recd the boon, he harrassed every mortal and did not leave the celestial at peace either. He lusted after the divine women and chased them to the heavens. There he heard of the beauty of Parvathi and destiny drove him to his death. Shiva speared him and in that moment he hung there for eternity – atlast seeing his divine parents.

Now See the masterfull depiction in sculpture ( at a towering 15 feet – the proportions are immaculate) – Parvathi being scared of the approaching demon and the fight – holds her hand to her bosom to calm her heart beat. Shiva as usual is mad with rage, eye balls popping out, fangs bared – he painfully spears his own offspring – but the pinnacle of the sculpture is the depiction of the speared Andhaka, despite all his pain and impending miserable death – turns back with folded hands, offers respects to his beloved parents. Maybe the Lord is not fair at times, for what wrong did Andhaka do – to be born blind and as an ugly creature, because of a playful act of his parents, abandoned among demons in his infancy ………once you read the story, you are filled with pity for him, amazing that the sculptor managed to bring this emotion into his creation.

Baby Muruga is scared of Shiva- Pullamangai

Today we are going to see a fantastic miniature sculpture from Pullamangai ( Thanks chandra for the photo – more to come of yours shortly) – There is an equally majestic sculpture in tanjore museum – which is my favorite as well, which i fondly refer to as stone monalisa, but we will see that in a subsequent post. Am actually redoing this post, with further photos from Satheesh. We are in a real treat.

In order to truly appreciate this miniature, you got to understand the size of this creation and its location. We see the size at the end, just leaving it with ` miniature’ for now.

Well, need to use some software to brighten it up a bit and closeup for you.

Ok, recap the legend first.

Once upon a time there lived a demon called Gajamuhasura. As all demons are, he was cruel and ill treated all the good incl the devotees of shiva. Lord Shiva enraged at this decided to put an end to this and with his trident had a furious battle with the elephant bodied demon. The battle was so fierce and intense that Shiva was filled with rage and he caught the head of the elephant, crushed it with his foot and skinned him right there and wore it as his garment.

Now for the beauty – can you spot the characters – ofcourse Shiva – in his majestic, dynamic grace, almost dancing into the elephant hide – you can spot the elephant’s head way down to the left of the sculpture ( as you see it), under shiva’s trident – next to the shiva gana – who is up to his useful pranks – showing faces at the fallen asura. Amazing little characters these Ganas.


You can see shiva’s torso twisted in his effort to wrest the skin and is holding it like a blanket around him.


way down to the right, you can see his consort Parvati wanting nothing of this and rushing away, for she is scared and more scared is the young skanda – the portrayal of the baby is the master stroke of this sculpture – he wants to jump into the waiting hands of the lady helper, away from all this fearsome action …

Thats all the canvas that this master sculpture needed to sculpt this amazing microcosm of myriad emotions …Hats off for this splendid miniature. Well, did i say miniature?

The saint with Tiger Paws

Today we are going to see a very special pillar from the tanjore big temple. Who is this man depicted? Do you notice anything unusual ? Well the topic of this post does give it away !!

Its special because it portrays a very special person, who was so great a devote that the most sacred of towns is named after him – yes, we are talking of Puli Kaal Muni in tamil – puli ( tiger), Kaal ( legs), Muni ( saint) or Vyagrapadhar in sanskrit.

He was one of the earliest devotees of Lord Shiva of Thillai ( Chidambaram) which was called from time immemorial as Puliyur or Perumpatrup puliyur ( perum – great, patru – devotion – puli – tiger, ur – city or town)

The legend goes that the great saint, would go early into the forest to collect the choicest of flowers to offer the Lord of Dance. But however early he went, the bees and ants would still get to the blossoms, so he went even earlier – even before the sun rose to find the flowers before the insects. This gave him problems as the dew drops wouldn’t have evaporated yet and he found the branches slippery.

So great was his devotion and his intent to get the best for his Lord, that he prayed to the Lord to endow him tiger paws, so that he could climb the trees effortless – and the Lord obliged. With great delight, he went on to collect the flowers before the first rays of dawn, beating the insects to the race to find the most beautiful and aromatic flowers, that so delighted his Lord. There are many references to him in literature ( pl see tamil portion of this post to read the references)

Now see him beautifully sculpted in the pillars of the big temple, down to the last detail imbibed into the pillar.
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