Happy Durga Pooja to all.

The depiction of Mahishasura vadham is front of the Shiva temple in the Tiger Cave complex, Salavankuppam, near Mahabalipuram. (Pallava circa 6-8 century CE) 
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Cow feeding an anthill

Figure of a two-headed cow feeding a shivalinga – a pillar carving at Talakadu, Karnataka (45 Kms from Mysore)

One has heard the story of a cow feeding an anthill several times and in several contexts.This time we heard it from a guide in Talakadu as the legend associated with this town and temple.

The story goes thus: The local chief had a cow which never yielded him any milk after grazing in the forest, eventhough it had a full udder before entering the forest. The chief sent two of his hunter assistants, Tala and Kada to investigate. They found the cow feeding an anthill in the forest. The hunters struck a blow on the anthill with an axe. The shivalingam which was inside split into 5 lingams and Lord shiva emerged with a bleeding cut on his body. The bewildered hunters pleaded to the Lord to forgive them. Shiv pardoned them and ordered them to bring some herbs from nearby plants and healed himself. Since he healed himself, the Lord here is known as Vaidyanatheswara. The other four temples nearby are called, Pathaleswara, Maruleswara , Arkeswara and Mallikarjuna. Devotees worship the panchalingas on specific days.

Another legend of Talakadu revolves round a curse of a noble lady. That story can wait for another day.

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Shiva rescuing Markandeya from death – from a pillar in Sree Mallikeswara Swami Temple, Linghi Chetty Street, Mannadi, Madras (Chennai)

Mrikandu Rishi and his wife, Marudmati were devotees of Lord Shiva. They were childless for many years and prayed to Shiv to bless them with a son. Shiva offered them a choice of a virtuous and accomplished son who will have short life span or a dunce who will have long life. Mrikandu and wife opted for the former. Soon they were blessed with a son, who was named Markandeya.
Markandeya, too was a great devotee of Shiva. At the age of 16, Yama’s messengers came to take away Markandeya. Undaunted, Markandeya hugged the shivlinga and continued his prayers to shiva. As the messenger was unable to fulfil his task, Yama himself came to take away Markandeya. He threw his lasso to capture the boy. The rope looped around the shiva lingam. Shiva came out of the lingam in all his fury and smote Yama down. Shiva is also referred to as ‘Kaalaantaka’ (destroyer of death) for this reason and this episode is referred as Kaala Samhara.
Realising that there won’t be the natural cycle of life and death without Yama, Shiva revived him on the condition that the boy will live on in his youthful glory as if he is always 16.
The episode is belived to have taken place in Tirukkadayur. (Thirukkadavur). People celebrate their birthdays, shashtiabdapoorthi, Bheema santhi, Shatabhishekam etc in this place to bestow longevity and good health.

Another pillar carving of the Markandeya and Yama episode from  Sree Vaidhyanatheswara Temple, Talakad, Karnataka

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Vastraaharan: Krishna and Gopis

This image is from Kheta Pai Narayana Temple, Bhatkal,Karnataka 
circa 1550 CE (click image for larger view)

This image of Krishna and Gopis (Vastraapaharan) is from a pillar in Chenna Kesava swami temple, Devaraja Mudali Street, George Town,Chennai. 

The temple was originally on the site where the High Court now stands.The temple was destroyed during the construction of the Highcourt. Sensing the mood of the people the British authorities agreed to fund the reconstruction of the temple elsewhere. The current temple  on Devaraja Mudali street along with its twin Chenna Malleeswara temple were built by the then Dubash, Muthukrishna Mudaliar in 1762, with assistance from the British.

The above image represents the episode of Vastra apaharan. While the gopis were bathing in the river, Krishna steals their garment left on the shore.He climbs on a tree and refuses to return them despite the fervent appeal by the gopis. Many interpretations are given for this act.
1. It was just a boyish prank.
2. The gopis used to pray to have Krishna as their husband. Krishna knew this and this was a symbolic way of fulfilling their desire.
3. The garments represent ego and attachment. To attain the Lord one should forsake ego and attachment.

You may choose any of the above interpretations or have your own version depending on your religious / spiritual perspective.
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The above image is from a sculpture on the pillars of the Cheluva Narayan temple, Melkote, Karnataka. 

Hayagriva, the god with a horse face is considered as an avatar of Vishnu. The Lord took this form to rescue the vedas from the demons, Madhu and Kaitabha. Therefore, Hayagriva is considered the God of wisdom and knowledge. Marichi, is the consort of Hayagreeva.

Krishna tied to a grindstone

A pillar carving at Cheluvanaryana temple, Melukote, Karnataka

Yashoda loses her motherly patience after a very naughty prank by Krishna. She ties him up in a heavy grindstone in the courtyard. Krishna appeals for mercy with fear and tears in his eyes. Unable to bear the sight, Yashoda goes inside to attend to her domestic chores. Left alone, Krishna happily and effortlessly drags the grindstone and passes through the gap between two large trees. The grindstone gets stuck in between. With one yank, Krishna brings down the trees. The trees transform into two Gandharvas, the sons of Kubera, who were cursed by Narada. The gandharvas, having been released from the curse thank Krishna (seen above ). Yashoda, not aware of the full story, was shocked at seeing the fallen trees but was relieved that her son was not hurt.

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Narasimha – Melukote, Karnataka

This image of Narasimha killing Hiranyakasipu is on a pillar at the Cheluvanarayana temple at Melukote (Melkote) in Karnataka. In the same town there is a hill on which stands a majestic temple of Yoga narasimha.

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