Wednesday, June 8, 2011


'Shakti' - with a lot of resemblance to the imagery of 'Bhairava'. She has fangs, holds trident and 'akshamala in her right hands. Left hands hold a snake and a 'bhanda' - a small vessel .A skull prominent in her head gear.
Parvati temple inside the main complex of SriMukhalingam.

When we embarked on our visit to SriMukhalingam/Hampi/Badami/Aihole/Pattdakal in February,11, we had some idea about the wonderful 'MahishasuraMardini' wall-reliefs that await us. This imagery of 'Shakti' , we found, was quite popular among the builders of temples - oldest being @ Badami, newest being @ Hampi.

Parvati sits on the left thigh of Siva. Nandi the bull and Shakti's lion ( the sculptor could not 
bring out the shape well !) rest at the respective master's foot.
SriMukhalingam temple.

Hindu religion , through centuries, have worshiped 'Shakti' - the female power. Female power have power to vanquish enemies - as in 'MahishasuraMardini' and 'SaptaMatrika'. Female power has potential  of creation, fertility - as in 'LajjaGouri'. She is the consort of  Siva - 'Uma/Parvati' .This 'relationship' has been viewed and interpreted  in Hindu religion from  many angles. Some are quite complex with 'tantrik' innuendos - like 'Sati's corpse on Siva's shoulder and conversely, Kali on a corpse-like Siva.

'ArdhaNaareeswara' - Siva in right half. Shakti in left.Siva holds trident.
Shakti holds a mirror.Nandi the bull on the right side whereas the lion is on the left.
East-side alcove in Someswara temple,SriMukhalingam.

A major imagery of 'Shakti' is  embodied in 'ArdhaNaareeswara' - Androgynous Siva. It has a complexity which  cannot be stated in simple terms. The 'concept' of  'ArdhaNaareeswara' is linked with birth and propagation of mankind. Sages and architects of our scripture and mythology have interpreted the 'concept' in various Puranas . It is not possible for common people like us to fathom the same . I read 'Presence of Siva' by Stella Kramrisch  to understand the 'concept'.'ArdhaNaareeswara' was born from 'Brahma'. He agreed to let 'Shakti' be released from this embodiment to the world with her full power.Release of 'Shakti' in the Universe  led to birth of 'Sati' whose parent was  'Daksha'. Siva married 'Sati' and then  lost her in a tumultuous event.

 Close-up of  'ArdhaNaareeswara'.
Ravana Gudi Cave.Aihole.

The release of 'Shakti' from the embodiment of 'ArdhaNaareeswara' brought the female sex into this world. Manu , born from Brahma and his consort 'Satarupa' - the hundred beings - gave birth to mankind, through the process of sexual intercourse. This is when sensual pleasure and sexual urge originated in the Universe. Having accomplished her mission,'Shakti' returned to the embodiment of 'ArdhaNaareeswara' . In words of  Stella Kramrisch,'the timeless,changeless image was a seal that comprised, in its paradoxical unity, the simultaneous and equivalent existence of opposite entities.' 

I shall present photographs of  'SinghaBahini' , 'MahisasuraMardini' and 'SaptaMatrika' in Part -II of this series.

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