250th post. Someone has to swallow the bitter poison

It has been an extraordinary journey for me and must thank all those who have stood by me and traveled along with me on this incredible odyssey. Yes, we are coming up with the 250th post today. They are all in my hearts and though i mention only one today – each and everyone of them is dear to the cause. Sri Maravanpulavu K. Sachithananthan is the force behind the effort to see the Thevaram verses translated into so many languages via his site and many a times, have used his search engine to pickup verses to compliment posting here. So it was my honor to ask him to pen a few words about the spectacular event which is captured in the Bronze sculpture we are to see today.

In the previous post, we saw the churning of the Milk ocean. Such a massive operation akin to today’s multi billion dollar projects would not have gone without hindrances. One such instance was as the intensity of churning increased, the mountain going round back and forth, the Devas signifying all that is good pulling it on one side and the Asuras or demons pulling from the side of the bad. Though the mind yearns for oneness with God, the mortal pleasures pull you back into their midst. The mind never rests in peace permanently, as it is under the control of the senses and ego. We learn from a mistake and even before we repent, the next desire seems to engulf us. Such is the state of our lives as we swing from good and bad.

This is brilliantly captured in the Verses of Sri Abirami Battar in verse 7 of Abhirami Andadhi

Ruling my life, you always have,
Churn it like curd,
Birth after birth,
In miseries great,
And take me to salvation great,

This could be a divine game as well and the interplay gets repeated many a time. So too in the churning episode, instead of the immortal life giving portion, out came the deadliest venom, threatening to end all the worlds. So what does Shiva do ?

Lets look at this rare and magnificent bronze currently in the Chennai Museum. Its that of Vishapaharana and is stylistically dated to the 9th Century – Pallava change over phase to Chola.

We had earlier seen the Pallava Somaskanda bronze of a bronze that is dated older to this current one. we shall see as to why this is considered a later work.

The expression on the face of Siva is what makes this bronze such a beauty.

The contemplation on his face replaces the usual bliss and joy, as he is evaluating his next action. the third eye is clearly seen.

The formation of an almost conical head dress or jatamakuta gets this bronze a slightly later date than the somaskanda as do several other features. The Dathura flower and moon are present, as well as a new stylistic ornament – a king of multipronged lance in the center of the headdress is seen for the first time.

The Torso is delicately modeled with the slight curves of waist aesthetically captured. The yagnopavitha is beautifully knotted in the front and splits into three with one prominently passing over the right arm ( as per some scholars a definitive Pallava feature)
The Udrabanda is embellished with simple repeating motifs.

The upper part of arms is fashioned more like thick tubes and when compared to the lower part – which is splendidly crafted, shows the early nature where the craftsmen is battling the problem of multiple arms.

However, the lower part of the arms are exceptionally crafted and the arm bands ( keyuras) are matched to the crest jewel. We saw the rather plan looking ornaments of the Okkur Nataraja earlier. Compare that to this,

The two upper arms hold the Axe and the Deer respectively and see how the Axe is now held in the palm rather than with just the two fingers earlier.

The deer is quite a darling, clasping its front legs to pray to its Lord – is it asking him not to do the act that he is contemplating or knowing what he is about to do, praying to him for that ?

The artist has shown his masterly understanding of form, of skin, cloth, supple muscle with tender skin, its folds in the waist and legs. The right leg extended downwards is quite a masterly study.

We see a intricately carved ukramuka belt clasp with the edges of his dress flowing out of it. The image itself must have been cast for use as a processional deity,as you can see the strong base and attachments on the side to secure for ease of lifting.

The flowing tresses of Shiva fall beautifully over his shoulders and he has stylistically anointed himself with two flower on each.

The brilliance of the styling of the hair is seen more splendidly as we swing to the other side of the bronze.

Once again, the appearance of the Siras chakra – a later feature helps the craftsmen to ply the locks into a magical spread. He even make one lock of hair flow over the clasp of the neck chain.

They continue right up to his shoulder, beautifully curling up.

All that apart the most vital aspect of this bronze is shown in the two lower hands.

The left hand is holding a magnificent Cobra which has his huge hood open and is looking up at him.

Maybe signifying the potent nature of the poison which he is holding on the right hand.

The gravity of the situation warrants the serene calm of the whole composition.

He is ready to swallow the bitter poison for the good of all. He is Shiva as Vishapaharana. The blue poison is passing through his neck, coloring his tonsils. The Thevaram Hymns abound in the references to his blue colored neck.

What happened next, we will see in the next post.

Our salutations to the team behind the effort and do show your support for such noble efforts of Sri Maravanpulavu.

31 thoughts on “250th post. Someone has to swallow the bitter poison

    • @ Pankaja – Many thanks

      @ Venkat Rao – Yes it is a pronounced bulge.

      @ Anna Kannan. உங்கள் தமிழ் மயக்குகிறது

  1. one of many good posts good work u learn beauty of a poem through it commentators here we appreciate a work of art thru u r articles do u notice a bubble like formation on cobra s head can it be depiction of nagamani

  2. நுணுக்கமான விவரணை. கலையெழிலை விஜய் நோக்க, தத்துவப் பின்னணியையும் சச்சி ஐயா, அழகுற எடுத்துரைத்துள்ளார்.

    ‘கல்லிலே கலைவண்ணம் கண்டோம்’ தளம், மிகத் தரமான 250 இடுகைககளுடன், தமிழ்ச் சிற்பக் கலை, ஓவியக் கலை, கட்டடவியல்… எனப் பலவற்றின் புதிய தரிசனத்திற்கு வாய்ப்பு அளித்துள்ளது.

    அறிவியல்பூர்வமான அணுகுமுறை, கூர்மையான தொழில்நுட்பம், வரலாற்று அறிவு, கலையின் காலச் சூழல் குறித்த புரிதல், பொருத்தமான ஒப்பாய்வு… எனப் பலவும் ஒருங்கிணைந்து, அடர் இருளில் அமிழ்ந்திருந்த தமிழ்க் கலைகளின் மீது புதிய வெளிச்சம் பாய்ச்சியுள்ளன.

    மகத்தான இந்தப் பணிக்காகத் தம்மை அர்ப்பணித்துக்கொண்ட விஜய்க்குப் பாராட்டுகள். வாழ்த்துகள்.

  3. Vijay! Sacrifice means Shiva.

    More over the Sculpturist who must have read the incident in detail and he also understand clearly the feeling of Shiva who swiftly acted to save the human kind.

    Well, you have saved this sculpture for the right time and right post.

    Maravanpulavu Sachithanandam’s article is very nice.

    Overall, one among the best in your collections. Keep it up!!

  4. மிக அருமையான பதிவு ,

    *விஷபாஹரணர்* தவறு

    விஷ + அபஹரணர் – விஷாபஹரணர்


  5. வாசிக்க வாசிக்க மிகச் சுகம். உங்களுடைய இந்த சீரிய பணி மென்மேலும் தொடரவும் வளரவும், மனமார்ந்த வாழ்த்துகள்!

  6. வாசிக்க வாசிக்க மிகச் சுகம். உங்களுடைய இந்த சீரிய பணி மென்மேலும் தொடரவும் வளரவும் சிறக்கவும், மனமார்ந்த வாழ்த்துகள்!

  7. எப்போதும்போல் அற்புதமான சிற்பத்திற்கு அற்புதமான விவரணை. ஆலகாலத்தை உண்ணப் போகும் ஈசனின் முகபாவம் ஆச்சரியப்படத்தக்க விதத்தில் பதிவாகி உள்ளது. விவரிக்கத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்த நபரும் தகுந்த நபரே. மொத்தத்தில் 250-வது பதிவு உங்களுக்கு மட்டுமின்றி எங்களுக்கும் முக்கியமான ஒன்றாகிவிட்டது.

    வாழ்த்துகள், ஆசிகள். மேன்மேலும் உங்கள் பணி சிறக்க வாழ்த்துகிறேன்.

  8. @ Dhivakar sir….superb.

    @ Kathie..thanks…yes the jewel is distinct

    @Rhoda…keep them coming

    @கவிநயா – நன்றி

    @ Geetha madam…on the expression, i was thinking of my Son’s face when we force him to have a tablet….


  9. அற்புதமான சிற்பத்தை அணுவணுவாக அலசிச் சித்தரித்த விதம் அருமை! மிக்க நன்றி.


    • @ அனந்தநாராயணன் – பெருமை அனைத்தும் அணுஅணுவாக ரசித்து செதுக்கிய கலைஞனையே சேரும்

  10. Dear Vijay,
    Your tremendous journey explored many valuable treasures in the history world. My grateful thank to you and your team. Lord Siva gives you and your team mates long life and happy in your life.
    Ayyampet J.Balachandran

  11. ஒரு சிலை அல்லது சிற்பத்தைப் பார்த்ததும் ஓரிரு கணங்கள் மட்டும் அதன் மேல் பார்வையைச் செலுத்திவிட்டு அகன்றிடுவோம். ஆனால், இங்கே நீங்கள் செய்திருக்கும் பணி பிரமிக்க வைக்கிறது! அணு அணுவாக அதனை ரசித்து, ரசித்ததை எங்களுக்கும் விருந்து படைத்து, சொல்லால் மட்டுமின்றி படங்களாலும் அலங்கரித்து, ஒரு எல்லையில்லாத இறையனுபவத்தை எங்களுக்கும் தந்து பக்திப் பரவசத்தில் ஆழ்த்திவிட்டீர்கள். அன்புடன் வணங்குகிறேன்.

  12. i have never loved or admired a sculptor until i started reading about your blogs. I knew rocks (mallai) can be Rocking after i read Vijays blog on Mallai !!!

    Looking forward to 2500 th post !!!

  13. Simply amazing!! I have always enjoyed sculptures in our temples but never with such deep understanding… Thank you for this wonderful post and for opening my mind to delve for these deeper meaning.

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