Friday, February 24, 2017

The Divine Beggar - Bhikshatana Story of Lord Shiva

Bhikshatana, one of the forms of Lord Shiva is depicted as a naked beggar accompanied by a dwarf who carries an alms bowl (bhikshapatra), and animals like the deer and dog. Bhikshatana murti or form is also considered to be a gentler phase of Bhairava between his two horrific forms of Brahmashirascheda murti (form assumed when  Lord Shiva severs the head of Lord Brahma) and Kankala murti (form assumed when Lord Shiva kills the door-keeper of Lord Vishnu). There are various legends associated with the origin of the Bhikshatana form of Lord Shiva, the most common being that Lord Shiva had an argument with Lord Brahma regarding the supreme creator of the Universe and with both being equally adamant about their superiority, the anger only built up on both sides. This fiercely debate provoked Lord Shiva to decapitate Brahma's fifth head (facing upwards) with his left thumb nail, after which the head of Brahma stuck to Shiva's left palm due to the sin he committed. In order to compensate for this heinous crime of Brahmahatya, he had to turn into mendicancy and hence assumed the form of a naked beggar and wandered the world begging for alms for twelve years. Sometimes his hair is arranged in a jatabhara (matted hair) or is seen standing on end and a bell is tied to his right leg, indicating that he is outside the Vedic religion. He is seen with four hands, carrying a staff with the bones of Brahma and Visvaksena (Lord Vishnu's door-keeper) attached to the top, a skull-cap and a drum. A snake is also seen encircling his body which is adorned with a few ornaments. An interesting feature distinguishing Bhikshatana from other forms of Shiva is that he is often seen wearing  Padukas (footwear) or wooden sandals which is rarely seen in the iconography of other forms of Shiva. The fierce form of Kankalamurti is seen wearing a necklace of skeletons (kankala). Sometimes he has a long staff topped by Brahma's skull, or a trident with the corpse of Visvaksena fixed to it.
Someshwara temple, Kunigal
Bhikshatana, Someshwara Temple, Kunigal

Banashankari Temple , Amargol

Malleshwara Temple Aghalaya
Bhikshatana - Malleswara Temple Aghalaya

Lakshmi Narashima Temple Nuggenahalli
Kankalamurti, Lakshmi Narashima Temple, Nuggehalli, Hassan

Bhikshatana - Veerabhadraswamy Temple Lepakshi 
1. The Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Iconography - by Margaret Stutley
2. Wikipedia

Sunday, February 19, 2017

MP Diaries - Bhojpur, The Never Finished Edifice

Bhojpur is home to the magnificent temple of Bhojeshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhojadeva of Paramara Dynasty during 11th century AD. The temple lies incomplete due to unknown reasons. Though there are various hypotheses with regards to the unfinishedness of this massive structure, the truth behind it being incomplete is still a mystery. It is hard to digest the fact that this temple was never finished, considering the efforts, planning and the resources that have been put in for the construction. The most accepted principle in temple construction is that the installation of the idol in the garbagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is carried out only after the temple is wholly constructed. Thus, to declare this temple was never finished itself seems a myth. Another angle to this could be that the Shiva Linga was installed here much before the Paramara period and Raja Bhojadeva only decided to built a grander temple than the already existing one. As per traditional belief, the huge Shivalinga here is associated with the Pandavas and this surely speaks about the antiqueness of the Linga.  Somehow we still remain skeptical about the temple being incomplete. There is a possibility that the temple was damaged due to an unexpected natural catastrophe or even the angle of enemies of the Paramaras such as the Chalukyas, Kalachuris or the Sultans of Delhi/ Gujarat having successfully attempted to destroy the temple cannot be discarded. Whatever the case may be or whichever theory we may adopt to give a rational explanation of this temple, the Shiv temple at Bhojpur today is a standing example portraying the exemplary architectural skills and techniques the Medieval Indians  possessed.
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Nandi Mandapa 
Bhojpur Shiva Temple
The Mighty Shiva Linga 
As we continued from Ashapuri towards Bhojpur, the mighty Bhojeshwar temple was visible from far and seemed inviting. We were awestruck to witness this colossal edifice. As we entered the temple, the only intriguing thought that arose in our minds was that of the excellent execution and workmanship, considering the enormity of this structure. There are various evidences found here that give us a general idea about the temple construction. The ramp attached at the rear of the temple is one such, along with the line drawings exhibiting the plan of the temple with its various parts. The Bhojeshwar Linga is a gigantic one, sitting pretty on a huge platform. The Linga is considered to be one among the tallest and the grandest of all. Unlike other temples built by the Paramaras, this temple is devoid of a mandapa in front of the Garbhagriha (Sanctum) and houses a rectilinear roof instead of a curvilinear Shikara, again raising more questions about the purpose of this temple.
Sculptures on the Door Jamb
Shiva Parvati 
Shaiva Dwarapala
The Ceiling 
Bhojeshwar temple is square in plan and built on a platform with a grand door jamb. The walls of the temple lack any kind of ornamentation and is window less, comprising three balconies on its three sides. The balconies are beautifully carved and supported by massive brackets. The ceiling of the temple rests on four monstrous pillars, of which the damaged one was replaced by an alternate pillar by the ASI during its restoration. Thanks to their effort, we can today enjoy viewing this masterpiece. Hereon we moved towards the site close-by to the temple which carries the line drawings of the temple plan and its various segments. Though witnessing such line drawings was our first, they only left us wondering about how and why the temple construction was discontinued (if so) as the drawings go on to depict the temple details very meticulously.   
Line Drawings Bhojpur
Map Depicting the Line Drawing Spots 
Line Drawing of the Pillar
The Unfinished Glory
 Distance from major town: 28 km from Bhopal
Accommodation: The best option would be to stay at Bhopal and plan the journey towards Bhojpur.
Where to eat: There are few road side eateries serving Poha and Jalebi with hot Chai.
1. RBS Visitors Guide India -  "Madhya Pradesh"
2. Wikipedia
3. Temples of Madhya Pradesh - K K Chakravarty
4. Just tripping 

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