Nalagiri – Jataka Tales

Taming of Nalagiri - Amravati Gallery

Taming of Nalagiri – Amravati Gallery

The subjugation of  Nalagiri

The Amravati Gallery in Government Museum, Egmore has several pieces of art from Amravati. Most of these are sculpted on a variety of marble like limestone.

One of the important sculpture here is a medallion depicting the scene if subjugation of the elephant Nalagiri.

The Nalagiri jataka goes something like this:

Buddha’s cousin Devadatta also joins the Sangha and becomes influential.  He also acquires some supernatural powers. However, he becomes jealous of Buddha and his popularity. He wins over some elements with his supernatural powers and tries in several ways to kill Buddha. He is unsuccessful in all attempts.

Finally, he persuades the royal elephant keepers to get the fierce elephant Nalapada (also known as Dhanapala) drunk with intoxicants and sent out to the marketplace where Buddha is expected.

Seeing the enraged pachyderm, people run helter-skelter. Even those watching from the balcony are worried.  In the melee, a woman drops her baby near Buddha’s feet. As Nalagiri is about to trample the baby and charge at Buddha, he does not lose his composure. Instead, he touches the forehead of the elephant and gently strokes it. Nalagiri not only becomes calm but seems to be completely subdued. It bows before the Buddha. Buddha delivers a sermon on dhamma to it.

The two-and-a-half foot diameter medallion from Amravati exhibited at the Madras Museum in Egmore clearly depicts the charging Nalagiri and the subdued Nalagiri. The crowd is terrified while Buddha and his disciple (Ananda?) are composed.     The details of the people in the balcony are also clearly visible. (View full size for better details)


Circa 200 C.E.


Madras Museum, Egmore

Excuse the poor quality of the photograph.



Three-legged figure

Three-legged figure

Three-legged figure

Is this three-legged dancer a saint or a God?

From one of the pillars in the Eastern mandapam of Thirupporur temple.

Monolithic Stone Chain

monolithic stone chain

monolithic stone chain

The 100-pillar mandapam at Varadaraja Swami Temple was built around the 15th century by the Vijayanagar rulers. It is well known for the intricate carvings on the pillars. A well-known feature is the monolithic chains hanging from the corners of the mandapa. These chains form an integral part of the roof and have 12 links and an ornate pendant all carved out of a single granite piece.  A masterpiece in stone craft and an architectural marvel.

Muthheeswara Temple

Thirukurippu Thonda Naynar at Muthheswara Temple Kanchipuram

Thirukurippu Thonda Naynar at Muthheswara Temple Kanchipuram

Muthheswara Temple (not to be confused with Muktheswara Temple) is located in the busy Gandhi road of Kanchipuram famous for the Saree shops.

This is the place where Thirukurippu thonda nayanar who is the 19th in the line of 63 naayanars got Mukthi. He was a Vannar (dhobi) by profession and was a staunch devotee of Shiva. He used to wash the clothes of devotees as a service to Shiva. He was also well known for soothsaying based on face reading. Hence he got the title thirukurippu thondar.

To test his devotion and give him an opportunity for early mukthi, Lord Shiva appeared here in the form of an old devotee with dirty clothes. As was his wont, Nayanar offered to wash the clothes for him. The devotee warned him that he would need the clothes by nightfall as it was his only protection for the night. Due to clouds and rains, Nayanar could not deliver the dry clothes on time and was very agitated. To atone this, he tried to bang his head against a stone. Miraculously a hand appeared and supported him. Shiva appeared and blessed him.

This story was narrated to us by the temple priest.

Though the temple is in the middle of the bazaar, it is fairly big but a bit cluttered with structures. Fortunately, it is clean and the temple tank had some water.


Krishna stealing the clothes of Gopis


Krishna Vastraapaharan Kanchipuram

Krishna stealing clothes – Kanchipuram


The story of Krishna stealing the clothes of gopis is an interesting and a recurring theme in many temple sculptures. I have already posted a couple of blogs on these with photoes from different locations.

Vastraaharan: Krishna and Gopis

Krishna at it again

The two pictures in this post are from Kanchipuram but from different sources. The one above is from a mandapam in front of the West entrance to Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple.

The one below is a mural from a private house near the Varadraja Perumal temple. It belongs to one of the descendants of Prativadi Bhayamkaram Annangaracharya. The paintings were done around 1930 and are need of restoration. The helpful owners opened up the door and showed us around all the paintings.

90- year old Wall painting Vastrapaharan

90- year old Wall painting of Vastraharan Lila

More Stone Windows

Many of my readers like the theme Stone Windows. At their prompt, I went through my archives and found one more photograph., a stone window from the Dharmeswarar Siva temple from Manimangalam (near Tambaram) taken about 11 years ago.

A recent visit to the Thirupparuthikundram Jain Temple in Kanchipuram added another carved stone window.

A stone window, Dharmeswar Temple, Manimanagalam

A stone window, Dharmeswar Temple, Manimanagalam

Manimanagalam is about 10 Kms from Tambaram on the Mudichur Padappai route. This was the theatre of the Pallava- Chalukya war of 7th C CE. The temple is believed to have been built by the Chozhas.

Here is one from the Thiuruparuthikundram Jain Temple from Jina Kanchi, Kanchipuram. this temple resembles a Hindu temple in architecture but the murals and idols are definitely Jain.

A carved knotted stone window from Jain temple at Thiruparuthikundram, Jin Kanchi

A carved knotted and braided stone window from Jain temple at Thiruparuthikundram, Jina Kanchi

Mystery Blogger Award

It is always wonderful to be acknowledged and appreciated. For the power of appreciation creates positive intentions and further channelizes creativity to flow even more meaningfully for a larger purpose.
The reason is after the first wave of elation over having received an award nomination you start realizing the responsibility of every word you are putting out there and how it can actually carry the power to transform thoughts if you want it to! And that’s truly incredible!
I would like to especially thank Savvy Raj for nominating me for this award.
Truly grateful to receive this nomination from her.

Do check out the blog as she shares her engaging and empowering posts on styling, beauty amongst other interesting things.

What is a Mystery Blogger Award?

The creator of this award, Okoto Enigma, says “It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.

The Rules

Here are the rules for the award which I have to mention:

Put the award logo/image on your blog.

List the rules.

Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

Answer the questions you were asked.

Nominate 10 – 20 people & notify.

Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).

3 things about myself:

I am a senior citizen interested in Photography, heritage and travel.

I was a practicing senior management professional with 35 years in Industry and 10 years in academics.

Though a veteran, I consider myself a learner.

Here are brief answers to questions posed to me.

1: What does your perfect day look like?

Spending with friends and family.

2: If you had only one match and entered a Cold and Dark room, and there was an oil heater, an oil lamp and a candle, which would you light first?

The match, of course!

3: Can you adapt smoothly to changing realities and if so what is your biggest strength?Yes, I can. I take things as they are and see how I can make the best out of it rather than criticising.

4: Are you someone who works well on a team, or prefer to work on your own?

I think I work well in a team.

5: What ridiculously fun thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?

In school (5th grade?)I was tricked by friends into breaking my own slate. Still remember and laugh about this 60 year old episode. 

I would like to thank everyone who is reading, following and visiting my blog.



Now I would like to nominate the following excellent blogs for this Mystery Blogger Award. [what individuals like us can do for a sustainable world] [nostalgia of south Indian movies] [a daily photoblog on Chennai by the same author]

Here are some questions for you.

  1. What is your idea of a happy day well spent?
  2. What you want to be remembered for after your time?
  3. Why do you blog?
  4. Which do you think is the most useful tool for a blogger?
  5. How important are images/photographs on your blog?