The merging of Vrishabhavana and Ardhanarishwara

This is indeed an extremely interesting sculpture. What typically is known as the Ardhanarishwara has been treated differently here at Elephanta. With the introduction of Nandi and the pose of Shiva, this sculpture brings together two aspects of Lord Shiva.

Vrishbhavana is the name given to Lord Shiva with his bull Nandi, a casual pose with his right arm resting on the bull.
Ardhanarishwara is the merger of Shiva and Parvati described in an earlier posting. This sculpture truely unique and maybe the only one of its kind is found here at Elephanta.
The over all theme gives an idea of attendants at the bottom of the panel, flying celestial figures to depict the heavens and the abode of the Lord at the Kailasa peak. The central definitely being the imposing sculpture of Lord Shiva in a combination of Vrishabhavana and Ardhanarishwara. The bull is realistically sculptured and almost larger than life as if to almost walk out of the panel. Parvati is depicted in the tribhanga pose (the S shaped twist to the body in three parts). This pose is followed in most of the sculptures of the goddesses in the south during the later Chola period.

Photo courtesy: www.colby.edu/art/AsianArt

1 comment:

Soundar said...

Dear Kavitha-ji,

I have just returned from a long longed for visit to the Thanjavur Art Gallery in the palace premises where I went specifically to see the Rishabha Vahana murthy and the amman.

This image had been haunting me since I last saw it about ten years ago and I went specifically to see this image alone.

I had a long and useful discussion with the curator, following which I travelled to Swamimalai to see if I could obtain a replica of the Rishabhavahanar.

The sthapathy I was directed to is very busy with commissions for temples all over the world and as such advised I would have to wait for over 12 months.

Would you know of any private collector who might be interested in disposing of his/her Rishabhavahanar?

BTW, we corresponded some time ago about the pen and ink drawings of 'Sirpi' if you remember.