Monday, February 27, 2012



 Parasurameswar temple. 7th century AD.

 Bhubaneswar is a temple- town. Most of the temples are devoted to Siva.It is not him in 'samhara-murthy' - the divine annihilator - whom we find  here at Bhubaneswar. We see him as the divine source of energy of creation, symbolised by his 'linga' piercing the 'yonipatta'. Those who study temple architecture of India believe that Orissan temples' shape  has been developed imitating the shape of 'Siva Linga'  ++.

 'Koti Lingam', North court-yard,Parasurameswar temple.
Said to have 1001 'lingam' inscribed on the shaft.

Saivites of India  have evolved from sub-sects spread across this vast country through centuries and are of  much diverse origins than the followers of other Vedic gods Simply stated, Siva had his worshipers among various communities of  non-Aryans . Numerous tales of his deeds, which contribute to his characteristics and his imageries, have sources  across this vast country, recounted through the ages. Historians of Art have written pages about the same and will continue to do so. I submit here  in what I little I viewed through the lenses of my camera.

Eight-armed  Nataraja . Ithyphallic.
Partly damaged lower portion depicts torso of Bhringee
and legs of Nandi.

 To appreciate  the iconography of Parasurameswar temple, it is relevant to  understand the  timeline  of Saiva architecture of the centuries of 1st millennium AD * :
  • Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal was constructed by Queen Lokamahadevi in 745 AD.
  • Kailashanatha temple , Ellora caves was  started by King  Krishna I of Rastrakuta dynasty - his rule was between 757 - 773 AD.
  •  Mamallapuram - developed during 7th century AD.
  • Parasurameswar temple -  developed during 7th century AD.
 These years are important to understand  what I shall state in the next two paragraphs.

 Parvati embraces Siva as Ravana shakes Kailash.
Unperturbed Siva's right-hand is in 'Abhaya mudra'.

 Parasurameswar temple  is the oldest among the surviving temples of Bhubaneswar. Its style is remarkable. The temple faces the west, its Jagomohan has a second door which is south-facing , the  door to inner sanctum has 'Asta Graha'( Eight Planets) inscribed on it . The ninth planet - Ketu - made its appearance in later-day temples.North-west side of the temple's court-yard has a 'Koti Lingam'** installed.

A close-up of 'Siva-Parvati in Kailash'. Parvati sitting on 
left-thigh of Siva. Siva ithyphallic.

To me . more important is that this temple is iconography. On the western wall of its 'deul', just above the roof of 'Jagomohan', we see Ravana disturbing the union of Siva and Parvati @ Kailasa. There are Ganesa, Kartikeya, Bhringee and other characters around. Siva is unperturbed but Parvati is not. Now - if we refer to the timeline above, we shall find that 'Ravana lifting Kailasa' of Ellora and Pattadakal - so very well-known - have their predecessor here.

 Revelry of Siva  and his followers
Top row : Siva dancing. Lower row : Musicians among his followers.

Parvati getting ready for marriage

This temple's eastern wall has a big wall-relief of Kartikeya , on its top the scene of Siva's marriage, thus bringing in the memory of 'Kumarsambhamam' - 'Birth of Kumar (Kartikeya'), written by the famous poet of Gupta era, Kalidasa,  during 4th century AD. The 'energy of creation' - represented by union of Siva and Parvati -  manifests in  their embrace on the west wall and again on the southern wall , in their marriage scene  and Kartikeya on the eastern wall, in 'Koti Lingam' of the court-yard and the shape of the 'deul'.

Very elegant wall-relief of Kartikeya.
On the top band, marriage scene  of Siva and Parvati.
Surya and Brahma on right-side of Siva, 
while Himalaya and Menoka flank Parvati.

Parvati snugs close to Siva - ithyphallic.
 Their respective  mounts,bull and lion, are depicted in the wall-relief too.

 The 'Andhakasura' episode of Siva's mythology was prominent on the mind of  the Savite artists of this temple. We find Nataraja and Bhringee on the south and western walls, 'SaptaMatrika' on the Northern wall. There are other 'Parsa Devata' - gods depicted on the outer walls of the temple. But, significant are  : the marriage procession of Siva-Parvati on the west -face of Jagomohan and Siva - Annapurna on on the southern wall of 'deul'.I have not come across any Siva-Annapurna  during my visit to the temples of SriMukhalingam,Aihole and Pattadakal in February'2011 - I consider this wall-relief quite special.

Siva  holds out an empty pot to Annapurna.

NOTES on Sources : 
++1. A Bengali book on ''Mithuna' Iconography by Late Narayan Sanyal

* 2. Quoted from WIKIPEDIA.
**3. 'KOTI LINGAM' -  Literal meaning  - 10 million 'Lingam'. I have been told by the priest of this temple that there are 1001 'lingam' inscribed. According to a source, stones with Buddhist inscriptions have been converted to 'Koti Lingam'. This is, however, is an unverified staement and not meant to offend any religious sentiment.
I have seen another 'KOTI LINGAM' shaft @ Mahakuta (    near Badami) , Karnataka.


Sukanya C said...

Well I am so glad I came by your site. I have been to Bhubaneswar many times but havenot seen the temples, this way. Many thanks....


Glad that you found my blog useful. Pl stay in touch w/my blog-site.I have plan to write a few more blogs based on the inputs collected during this month's visit.

Mahjongg Instructor Sushila Singh said...

Dear Sir,
Enjoyed your Blog very much Thank You. I was fascinated by the Koti Lingam in Kalinjar many years ago. Please do visit Ajaygarh & Kalinjar if you have not already.
Sushila Singh