A Heron swallows Krishna !

Today we are going to see one more from the innumerable antics of Baby Krishna superbly portrayed in miniature in Tirumalpuram. The episode is one more chapter of the colorful life led by Baby krishna and the vain attempts by Kamsa to get rid of him. He sends the powerful demon Baksura in the guise of a Heron.

Before we step in closer to view the sculpture, lets read the story behind it.

Once the shepherds of Ayarpadi, the abode of Krishna, led their cows to drink water from the Yamuna. After quenching their thirst they let them graze for a while as they rested on the banks. At that moment a monstrous Heron, the size of a small hill, with sharp talons and beak charged at them. The moment they looked at it, they knew that is was a demon, but he quickly picked up Baby Krishna and gulped him down his throat. The inhabitants were filled with dread on seeing this.

However, Krisha emanated so much heat inside the throat of Bakasura that he could not hold him inside. He spat him out and the next instant set himself to peck and claw the Child to death. Krishna caught his two massive beaks and as though they were a mere blade of grass, or how a child would split a blade of grass for sport, he split the two fronds of his beak apart. The demon was thus slain !

Now take a look at this scene

The sculptor has beautifully shown a baby Krishna tearing the beak of the Heron demon Bakasura.

That he could do so in such a miniature scale is amazing and to see the story boards stay and tell their tale for a 1000 years is incredible.

Compare with today!


( photo courtesy: http://www.annecy.org/annecy-2011/festival:en/official-selection)

The post should have ended with that, but then sometime back Kathie , knowing our infatuation with Ganas, had sent us some amazing panels – of Ganas sporting with Cranes. The vibrant humour that is sculpted in these are truly stunning.

Krishna as a Matador

The weekend has been buzz with news of youths exhibiting their skills in the various bull rings across Tamil Nadu – Jalikkattu as its more popularly known, has had a lot of coverage in the press during the recent years with animal rights activists and also public safety calls.


( image courtesy – wiki)

While respecting their sentiments and also the age old traditions associated with this sport, we present to you an early ( Chola) sculpture depicting this sport and who else to play Matador than the Stud Krishna himself !! This is another miniature from Tirumalpuram.

Before we proceed with a closeup of the sculpture, some quick references. There are two such episodes that are referred to in the brave acts of Krishna ( his leela) – one is the taming of the bull Hastin and the other slaying of the demon Aritasura who took the form of a bull. After close inspection of the panel under question, we believe that it depicts more a taming than a slaying.

The story is a simple one. In brindavan, the abode of Krishna, among the cattle was a prize bull named Hastin. It was massive and had quite an attitude and temper. So it was always tied to a tree and it would go round and round in rage never allowing anyone to come near. If anyone did dare, he would scour the earth with his hoofs and horns and try to gore them.

Such was his display of aggression that once even the fearless Balarama was apprehensive of going near. Around this time, the youth of the village challenge Krishna to a bet – and Krishna accepts to tame Hastin and ride on him.

Krishna tries to take good care of the Bull, giving it choice feed to eat, yet his temper doesn’t improve and he cannot even go near. Finally Krishna takes his flute and plays such a wonderful tune, that the fierce bull is mesmerized and calms down to allow him to pet it and finally mount it and ride it.

On the contrary the story of Arishtasura is that Kamsan sends his assistant to kill Krishna. Arishta takes the form of a massive bull and charges at Krishna. Unperturbed Krishna caught him by his horns, threw him long and far. Then he picked him up like a wet cloth and twisted him, finally impaling him on his own horns !!

The point to note in the sculpture, is the majestic countenance of the bull, the slightly upturned charge of the head and the ease with which Krishna seems to be riding it !!

Thanks to Mrs Parvadha for help and Geetha Madam’s blogs for content http://sivamgss.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post.html
http://sivamgss.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post_10.html

Baby Krishna restrained by his mother – Tirumalpuram

Friends, today we are going to see an interesting guest post – by Mrs. Parvadha Vardhini Murali Krishnan. She continues to amaze us with her talents and a recent addition is her wonderful blog Ponniyin selvi . One way it was the blog posts that made me seek her help to write about two very interesting miniature sculptures from Tirumalpuram ruined Vishnu temple. Her she goes..

I am a Chartered Accountant, living in Kuwait. Currently I am a fulltime homemaker. Just like many of our friends here, I was also impressed very much by the great novel Ponniyin Selvan written by Amarar Kalki. Out of interest, when I searched in the internet, I found the yahoo group Ponniyin Selvan Varalatru Peravai and joined in it. Through the group, I got introduced to many of our friends. Same way, I got introduced to this site “Poetry in Stone” and Mr. Vijay. From then on, I am a regular reader of this site.

Our friend Mr. Vijay sent me a photograph of a sculpture and asked me if I can do a guest post on it. I was very hesitant and I told him, I do not know about sculpture, what do I write? He said, let me send you the picture, have a look at it and then decide. But once I saw the picture of the sculpture I was very impressed. All of us like children; just imagine if the Lord Almighty is in the form of a child, as Krishna, who wouldn’t love him? Taking this as the willingness of Lord Krishna himself, I write this post.

I am only going to say a story; a story well known to all of us. Yes, it is the story which comes to our mind seeing the sculpture.

Krishna is a mischievous boy. Even though he was in a flourishing house of Nandagopa, with the pots and vessels filled with butter, he always went to others’ house to eat them. The ladies of Gokulam complained about this to Yasodha. Yasodha got furious. Seeing that she’s angry, Krishna wouldn’t come in front of her. Then she calls him with affection, saying that she would feed him with milk. And when he came nearby, she caught hold of him and tied him with a rope to a mortar. Since he was tied in his belly with the rope, he’s called as Damodhara (Thambu + Udharan)

adhirum kadal niRa vaNNanai Aychchi
madhuramulaiyUtti vanjsiththu vaiththu
padhaRappadAmE pazhandhAm pAl Arththa
udharam irundhavA kANIrE
oLivaLaiyIr vandhu kANIrE

(Periyazhwar Thirumozhi – Mudhar pathu – Irandam Thirumozhi – Verse 9)

Yasodha who called Krishna, the mischievous boy like the waves of the ocean, and who was of the same colour of the sea, saying that she would feed him with sweet milk, tied him with an old rope found nearby. See the beauty of Krishna’s belly which has a scar due to tying him with the rope. Oh maiden, who are wearing the twinkling bangles, come over and see the beauty of Krishna’s belly with a scar.

Guess Children will always be children and parents will always be parents. Lets take a look at the depiction in stone now.

Now, we go to act 2. What happened next. Yasodha after tying him in a mortar went inside the house. Krishna was silent for a while. But then, he couldn’t stay quiet anymore. He pulled the mortar and came out of the house. He got an idea to come out of the rope. He saw two big Arjuna trees outside his house. He thought to himself, If only I go in between these trees, then the mortar cannot come to the other side and the rope will get cut on its own and then I can be freed. So, he pulled the mortar and went in between the trees and pulled the mortar with all his strength! But amazingly, the two Arjuna trees, unable to withstand the strength of Krishna, fell on the ground. And two Devakumaras emerged from the fallen trees.

NalakUbara and MaNigriiva were the Devakumaras; they were the sons of Kubera. Out of pride on the matchless prosperity they had, they went to a pond along with Kandharva ladies to play in the water. The sage Naradha, was passing the way. Seeing the sage, the Kandharva ladies were scared and immediately wore their robes and saluted him. Whereas the sons of Kubera, since they had drunk extremely and out of pride, neither did they notice the presence of the sage Naradha nor did they bother to wear their robes. The sage grew angry on their activities and cursed them to become Arjuna trees in the earth. The sons of Kubera realized their position and apologized to the sage and requested for the way out of the curse. Naradha took pity on them and said that when Lord Narayana takes the incarnation of Krishna, their curse will end and they can return to their abodes.

Krishna, knowing all this, pushed the trees to the ground and released the sons of Kubera out of their curse. Nalakoopa and Manikreeva, prayed to the Lord and returned to their abodes.

perumAvuralil piNippuNdirundhu ang
kirumAmarudham iRuththavippiLLai
kurumAmaNippUN kulAvith thigazhum
thirumArvirundhavA kANIrE
seeyizhaiyIr vandhu kANIrE .

(Periyazhwar Thirumozhi – Mudhar pathu – Irandam Thirumozhi – Verse 10)

Tied by Yasodha on to a mortar, due to his mischievous activities, Krishna crawled between the two huge Arjuna trees and broke them. Oh Ladies wearing bright jewels, come and see the radiant chest of Krishna which has Lakshmi, Kowsthubam and the Tulsi Mala adorned.

Arunagiri Nathar, in his Thirupughazh recites as

parivoduma kizhnthi Rainju maruthidaitha vazhnthu ninRa
paramapatha naNpa ranpin marukOnE

He, as a child, crawled in between the Arjuna trees that worshiped Him with love and ecstasy; He is the great friendly Lord residing in the blissful heaven; and You are the love-filled nephew of that Lord VishNu!

Look at the beautiful Krishna who is tethered to the mortar and is pulling it. Also look at the sons of Kubera, Nalakoopa and Manikreeva, who stood as Arjuna trees and were relieved out of their curse.

Look at the beauty of the miniature sculptures which narrates the divine stories for us. The fun in spotting these beauties.

Try to decipher them

That’s the size and see how the trees have been depicting with faces at the bottom.

Weren’t the Silpis so great that they could bring such creativity in such a restrained space and continue to impart divinity in their work!

Not 1, Not 2, Not 3 but…..Meeting old friends – Our Tiger Belly Ganas, in Tirumalpuram

Read this as a prelude to the previous post on Pullalur…

It was well past lunch time, but Shankar showed no signs of even vaguely harboring any thoughts of lunch !! We had been in touch for quite sometime, ever since he sent some wonderful miniatures my Mondays have been filled with anticipation – of where Shankar would be visiting that weekend and what new beauties he will unearth. Such is the enthusiasm of this wonderful heritage enthusiast from Chennai. So it was a quick exchange of pleasantries over phone and we drew a short program – the highlight would be to get to the famed early Chola temple – vaguely mentioned in ASI references as ” North Arcot District. Walajapet Taluk, Tirumalpuram, Ruined Vishnu Temple”

With no further references for the actual location, but confident that we are in the right locality thanks to the train station with the same name, we started our ride on what could at best be called a cart track. The Landscape suddenly turned greener and we saw the familiar ASI green fence. Must have been repaired recently for it was in very good condition ( the fence n gate i mean) and it was locked. At a distance, we could see a very small central shrine bereft of any towering Vimanas. We chanced our luck and placing our bets on the ASI contractor’s ` work’ went around the site, but looks like the ASI picks its contractors well. There was not a inch hole ( not that we could squeeze through a ` hole’). There were quite a few village folk working the farms around the site and we tried our luck if anyone had the keys ( as is the case with many ASI sites). Finally, our patience ran out and having driven in motorcross fashion from Kanchipuram to here, we decided to rough it up. Somehow scaling gates was so easy when you were young and a ` few’ stones lighter. I made it much to delight of a group of young girls and a crowd had already gathered to witness our circus. ( I was quite taken aback at the vocabulary of these children especially with the choice tamil unspeakables they uttered. Always thought Kathi overdid it in Ayirathil oruvan !!). Some good Samaritan produced a cycle with which shankar too jumped in ( the cyclist was gone and then Shankar asks how do we go out ?? – thankfully someone produced a stool later)

Ok, back to the site. as we walked the long walk to the Shrine – the manicured lawns showed us a very very simple structure from a distance. We approached from the rear side.

Not too impressive and how soon we jump to such conclusions ! We walked up to the front and stepped in closer.

Now, the Inscriptions references were so many right from Parantaka Chola times ( 907 – 955 CE) and even our beloved Sri Raja Raja as well.

http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_22/part_2/parantaka.html
http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_22/part_2/rajaraja_1.html

The simplicity of the shrine defied the sheer volume of gifts and endowments given to it. So we decided to go near and see – every inch was covered with scripts !!

There was some cheer for me as well – we did find many miniature sculptures , two splendid thoranas and some real rare gems ( warrants a sequel post), but to me the greatest interest was finding the Boota gana row lining the lintel.

Could i get lucky and spot our favorite Tiger belly in this row, i scanned each of the charming dwarfs for the familiar one..

Towards the center of the side wall, for a second i thought i had got him

No, it was a false alarm. it was actually one of the guys turned upside down !!

But then, towards the extreme left, yes, we were in luck. Jackpot

Not one but two Tiger belly ganas.


Maybe, if we had seen only one, we could have stopped, but since we found two of this ( which is by the way a first – we have never seen more than one of these guys in one site so far !) , we went around to try and see if we can spot more. The back wall didn’t disappoint.

a jiving Tiger belly specially for us.

Three so far, can we find a fourth ? yes on the other side, we spotted a fourth tiger belly. A rich Haul for the day.

The indulgence in Tiger belly ganas finally getting over, we can focus on the main items in part two of the post shortly.