Bhikshatanar and Annapoorni at Lepakshi and Nanguneri

Bhikshatana murthy and Annapoorni


At Lepakshi one of the most exquisite carvings on pillar is the depiction of the Bhiskatana scene.

Lord shiva disguised as  bhikshatanar approaches Parvati and seeks alms. Parvati, rushes from her bath to offer the ‘mendicant’ some rice. To test her devotion, the Lord dislodges her attire. The steadfast Parvati, is unaffected and continues with her task. The Lord was highly impressed and Parvati came to be known as Annapoorneswari.

It is interesting to note that it is the mendicant Bhikshatanamurthy, also known as Kankala murthy, who wears the sandals. Are there any other aspects of the Gods which are depicted with a footwear? 

I located another tiny image depicting the same episode  from the roof beam of Nanguneri temple near Thirunelveli .


Bhikshaatana scene in Nanguneri temple roof panel

There is another version of the story of Bhishatanar.A group of leading sages were performing great yagna and other austerities. While doing this, they become very arrogant and egoistic. To teach them a lesson, Shiva appeared as an attractive naked mendicant. The wives of the sages while giving him alms, became enchanted and started following him. The sages realised what was happening and apologized to the Lord. The Nanguneri panel probably depicts this versions as there are more than one woman. 

I found this newly sculpted pillar with Bhikshatnar at Mahabalipuram school of craft. 


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