A STORY OF POWER,LUST AND ……REDEMPTION
Andhakasura pierced by Siva's trident and held up in the air.
Siva defeated Andhakasura after a prolonged battle,with help of SaptaMatrika.
ANDHAKAUSURA’s lineage is not clear to me. It is said :
Siva and Parvati were enjoying a very pleasant day at Mandara parvat. Parvati closed the eyes of Siva playfully and darkness descended on the universe. Parvati was perplexed and her palms were wet with perspiration. As she removed her hands from the eyes of Siva, the universe emerged out of darkness. Yet, from the droplets of sweat of Parvati that fell on ground, a child was born and he was blind. He was noticed by the divine couple when he roared .
Siva gave away this blind child to Hiranyaksha, the Daitya king who was childless and was doing tapas for a son. This child, very much unwanted among the gods, would one day rule the world as Andhakasura.
What do we learn from the beginning of this story ? Andhakasura was perhaps from an unknown lineage whom Parvati did not find worthy of her compassion and blessing. Did this child have an easy and normal childhood ? The story-tellers have not told us anything about that. We know that Andhakasura grew to be a competent warrior, faced jealousy in the palace and did rigorous tapas to earn attention of Lord Brahma. He asked for a life of victories . And a life without death. The second part was not granted. Andhakasura was to die when he would try to grab the unattainable.
Andhakasura conquered the universe. Nothing wrong in that. Devas were inconvenienced. So what ! The universe belongs to the hero – Devas lost their ’kingdom’ to Daityas and Asuras on umpteen occasions.
Vishnu , who vanquished Andhaka’s foster father Hiranyaksha and his brother Hiranyakashipu, was not successful in his battle against Andhaka. The pendulum of success in battle with Devas - the gods – swung in favour of this hero.
At this point, Andhaka committed the error that would ruin his life and throw him into the jaws of death. He went to Mandar with his friends and possibly a pose’ of soldiers. He heard from his friends about a Yogi and his beautiful wife. His fate , which took Andhaka from a give-away blind child’s position to pinnacle of success, did a volute-face .Andhakasura wanted to possess the beautiful woman of Mandara – did he know the woman he coveted was Parvati ? Who could have been his mother !
Now, Siva was drawn into a fierce battle against Andhakasura. He , according to one account, had to go for a long tapas to augment his vigour to the level required while Brahma, Vishnu,Varahamurty, Indra, Kartikeya and Yama held fort. Siva, on his return from his tapas, joined the battle. But he found killing Andhakasura was not possible as each drop of blood from his body that fell on the ground gave birth to another Andhakasura. In this battle, Andhakasura was helped by Shukracharya , the guru of the Daityas.
Siva stands in the centre of this wall-relief,surrounded by Yogeswari and SaptaMatrikas.He holds his trident on his right shoulder.A Matrika bends herself to drink blood from a 'Kapala' in his left hand. Siva is ithyphallic.Gajasura is seen on the upper right-side of this relief.Many figures crowd the relief too.
Temple at SriMukhalingam,A.P.*
* NOTE :- This wall-relief, which sets the theme of this great temple, is nearly invisible from the view of the devotees and pilgrims.It is at the centre of the principal temple, just at the merging point of the Mandapa and the Garbhagriha. One needs a binocular to view the details.I shall analyse a blow-up this wall-relief later if I can add more interesting and important details.
Siva then created a Devi by his divine power – Devi Yogeswari – who was joined by Matrikas created by the warring seven gods. Each of these Matrikas was identically endowed as the god she was representing. Yogeswari and the Matrikas would drink each droplet of blood of Andhakasura, thus stopping him from multiplying.At the same time, Siva subdued Shukracharya too.
Sapta Matrika. Collection at Museum , Aihole, Karnataka.
Gradually, Andhakasura was cornered. He could not multiply further and his retinue's strength started getting depleted.Siva , then, struck his final blow. He pierced Andhakasura's chest with his trident and held him up. After ‘a thousand years’ in the suspended position, Andhakasura realised his mistake and prayed for forgiveness. Siva blessed him to lead a reformed life among the Pramathas and Ganas who accompany Siva. Andhakasura was rechristened ‘Bhringee’ and has been depicted as a human with a skeletal form.
Siva dances with Devi on his left and Bhringee - transformed Andhakasura - on his right.Nataraja touches Devi's cheek.Skeletal Bhringee imitates dance pose of Nataraja - watch his 'Gajahasta' posture.Siva is ithyphallic, with Nandi looking upwards.
Andhakasura’s story is the story of a tragic hero, of a very successful person of obscure lineage, of lust for unattainable , of persistence against divine onslaught and finally, of realisation of his misdeeds and redemption. Perhaps, in another level, the mythological tale is reminder of darkness within us, that multiplies to engulf our wisdom - only a divine intervention , a big conflict brings light back to our mind and life . Much has not been written about Andhakasura in our mythology , much less from his view point. If I were Amish Tripathy, I would have written about Andhaka’s rise , fall and redemption. And his life as Bhringee – in servitude of his parents-like Siva-Parvati – one of whom he challenged and the other whom he coveted.
A view of the gallery showing 'Dance of Nataraja' at RavanPhadi,Aihole Karnataka.Here we find three Matrkas placed at right angle of the main wall-relief. Here, we have a limited view of Ganesha,Yogeswari and right knee of Nataraja. Skeletal Bhringee in the corner strikes a pose too with his right hand in 'Gajahasta' posture.
A lot of what I have narrated here has come from various sources in the internet. A few questions arose in my mind :
- Did Andhakasura, in the darkest hour of his lust, know that Parvati was like her mother ?
- Was his attraction for Parvati laced with Oedipus complex ?
- Did Andhaka have a resentment against her ?
- If Karna and Andhaka would come face-to-face, how would they relate to each other’s destiny, actions, beliefs and regrets ?