The goat headed attendants of Karthikeya ( Ellora)

The caves of Ellora are a sculpture enthusiasts delight. Not only for the sheer effort but also the detailing for the relief sculptures. Today we are going to see a very unique sculpture from Ellora Cave 21.

Its that of Karthikeya

Photo credits:

This is a fantasitc sculpture of Karthikeya – he is depicted standing in Samabhanga ( straight profile) with his right hand resting on his hip ( a pose that is called Katyavalambita )

Originally the sculpture was four armed, but has sufferred much damage. The second right hand ( upper) is totally gone. While the second left hand ( upper) is gently holding his peacock mount. The lower left hand seems to be holding a kind of pot or vessel. He wears the Yagnopavitha and some heavy jewellery across his neck – his elaborate crown is also a sight to watch.

His mount the peacock has lost its head to time, but identification is easy with its wings clearly being displayed, though the legs are a bit stout ( to be strong enough to carry his Lord ??)

There are two sets of Clesestial couples depicted flying above the panel on its two sides. The couple to the left of the image seem to be in awe of the splendor of Karthikeya ( both their right hands held up in vismaya pose), while the male on the right is holding his hands in prayer ( anjalai pose) – the lady seems to be quite non chalant !!

Now, we come to the two attendants. Very unique to see two Goat headed attendants.

The one to the left of the image, is a bit feminine in its stance and general build ( sadly the sculpture is much worn) and is smelling a flower ( lotus?) in its right hand while left hand is resting on its ( sorry for the usage – dont know if i can use his or her) hip. There is a certain shyness associated with the twist of the head etc, so i would take it as a her.

The right side attendant is definitely a male, but his hand pose is quite unique. If you notice closely, the right hand is coming into an angali pose but the left hand is holding his right elbow – almost like how a Kung Fo student will salute his master ( master – teach me Kungfo type !!!)

Who could these two represent. There is one eligible candidate for the lady goat head – Ajamukhi, the sister of the Surabadman and the daughter of Maya and sage Kasyapa ( they are said to have taken the form of goats and gave birth to Ajamukhi)

For more read here on this legend.

That leaves the right side attendant. The only other Goat headed person ( though not directly associated) is Dhaksha whom we had seen earlier in the panel in tanjore. Could it be he ?

Leaving on a two week break – with big plans of covering Chidambaram, Tanjore, trichy, madurai and coimbatore – to bring you more rare beauties. Till then we bid adieu and wish all readers a Merry Xmas and a happy, prosperous and rewarding new year 2010.

12 thoughts on “The goat headed attendants of Karthikeya ( Ellora)

  1. எல்லோராவில் கார்த்திகேயன் பார்த்தேன்.
    படமும் விளக்கமும் நன்று.
    பணி தொடர்க.

  2. Happy 2010 to you, too. Daksha’s hand
    position certainly is unusual, at first I thought he had 3 hands. What’s he doing with Kumara? K’s torso is awfully short isn’t it. Do you have the date of cave 21?
    Celestial lady on proper rt. is hitting her forehead in wonder,perhaps? proper lft. celestials seem to have pots on their heads

  3. the Goat heads may well be Agni and Angaraka (mars).
    In the northern version, sooran does not show prominence ( so ajamukhi is neither).
    In Jain domination (Ellora), it is very logical and customary to have the planetary influence for Skanda. Agni and Angaraka both represent goats (one Ram and other Goat).
    Hope this is in the right direction!

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