Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arjuna's Penance, Mahabalipuram

As described in Hindu epic, the Pandavas are fighting their battle against the evil forces. To win their battle Arjuna wants to gain a powerful weapon from Lord Shiva. These scene has been beautifully carved in the 7th century relief known as Arjuna's Penance at Mahabalipuram. Here, we will take a closer look at what we have seen in an earlier post.

The upper left of the relief has an setting of mountain with grazing animals, lions, humans, and celestial's. This part also has a pair of bird-like creature with human bodies. Lord Shiva attended by his ganas can be seen at the far rightmost side.

Arjuna is performing a extremely difficult yoga posture of standing one-legged with arms above his head to please the Lord. This posture held unmoved for months together. The protruding rib-cage is an indication of how long he stood in such a position without bothering about self-starvation.To the left of Arjuna is four-armed Lord Shiva. From the looks on his face he is pleased and his left hand extended to grant the blessings. In the other left hand is the weapon that probably Arjuna is seeking.

The other important features of the scene are at lower left, an antelope bounds from ledge to ledge, flying celestial's, and a pair of birds near Arjuna's left elbow.