Shiva stories from Badami 🔱

Spectacular sculpture of Shiva, the Lord of dance, in a cosmic dance pose, Cave 1 Badami

Cave 1 in Badami is dedicated to Lord Shiva; it consists of a an open verandah, a pillared hall and an inner sanctuary.

Our tour of Cave 1 in Badami began with the above spectacular sculpture of Shiva, the Lord of dance, in a cosmic dance pose. Shiva here is depicted with 18 arms, nine on each side and each hand portraying a unique gesture. “You can get many Bharatanatyam poses with the various permutations of Shiva’s hand gestures.” said Basavaraj. The sculpture is captivating, Ganesha in the sculpture also seem to be dancing; who’s on the drums? Gaze on this for some time and you can almost feel the drum beats !!

On the opposite side is a guardian figure with a trident. Above this figure our guide Basavaraj pointed out to Shiva and Parvati on a Nandi, the mount of Shiva.

A guardian figure holding a trident in Cave 1 Badami
Shiva and Parvati on a Nandi, the mount of Shiva

Below this figure is what the author George Michell called in his book on Badami – a visual pun, you’ll see !! Can you guess the two animals in the below sculpture ?

A two-in-one figure, can you guess the animals here ?

Inside the temple we first look up to see a magnificent sculpture of Nagaraja on the ceiling – with a coiled serpent body and a human torso. It looked amazing, one of my favourite images from Badami 😘

The sculpture of Nagaraja on the ceiling – with a coiled serpent body and a human torso in Cave 1 Badami

We turn our attention to the ornate pillars in the temple; the carvings are intricate and beautiful !!

Swans and jewellery designs on the pillars in Cave 1 Badami

Two more large sculptures of Shiva adorn the temple. One is that of Harihara – a revered combination of Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva) with their respective consorts on either side – Lakshmi and Parvati. Vishnu has the conch held up in his hand while Shiva has a snake coiled high above his hand. Also a crescent moon is seen on the side of Shiva’s head; “Vishnu has a diamond earring, while Shiva is an ascetic” says Basavaraj. Hard to see the earring, but the I believe him 😀.

Harihara – a revered combination of Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva) with their respective consorts on either side – Lakshmi and Parvati in Cave 1 Badami

The next mesmerizing sculpture is that of Ardhanarishvara “Lord Who is Half Woman”-  half-male and half-female form equally split down the middle, a combination of Shiva and Parvati . Shiva on the male side has the skeletal Bhringi and Nandi on his side and Parvati on the female side has a female servant carrying a jewel box. The top of this sculpture has a ferocious looking creatures on called makara or yali “considered guardians of gateways and thresholds, protecting throne rooms as well as entryways to temples; it is the most commonly recurring creature in Hindu and Buddhist temple iconography.” Something akin to a Gargoyle !? 👹

Ardhanarishvara – half-male and half-female form equally split down the middle, a combination of Shiva and Parvati . Shiva on the male side has the skeletal Bhringi and Nandi on his side and Parvati on the female side has a female servant carrying a jewel box in Cave 1 Badami

Basavaraj went onto narrate the story of Bhringi. He was a devotee of Shiva. It is customary that devotees paid homage to both Shiva and his consort Parvati; but Bhringi would worship only Shiva.

When Bhringi came to Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva, he expressed his desire to go around Shiva. As he was going around Shiva, Parvati said, “You cannot just go around him. You have to go around me too.” But Bhringi did not oblige. Seeing this, Parvati sat on Shiva’s lap, thus making it difficult for Bhringi to go around Shiva alone !!

But Bhringi, determined to go around Shiva took the form of a Bhring (Black Bee)🐝 and tried to slip in between the two. Amused by this, Shiva made Parvati one half of his body – resulting in the Ardhanarishvara form of Shiva . God whose one half is the Goddess. But Bhringi was still adamant. He would go around Shiva alone. So he took the form of a rat and tried to gnaw his way between the two🐀.

This annoyed Parvati so much that she said, “May Bhringi lose all parts of the body that comes from the mother.” It is believed that the rigid parts of the body, bones come from the father while the soft parts of the body such as flesh and blood come from the mother. Instantly, Bhringi lost all flesh and blood and collapsed as a heap of bones.

This annoyed Parvati so much that she said, “May Bhringi lose all parts of the body that come from the mother.” It is believed that the rigid parts of the body, bones come from the father while the soft parts of the body such as flesh and blood come from the mother. Instantly, Bhringi lost all flesh and blood and collapsed as a heap of bones

Bhringi realized his mistake and apologised. So lest the world never forget this lesson, Bhringi was denied flesh and blood forever !!

Dwarf Ganas, attendants to Lord Shiva, each is supposed to have a different expression Cave 1 Badami
Carvings of Vidyadhara couples (akin to the angels) who attend to Lord Shiva on the ceiling Cave 1 Badami
Lotus carved on the floor of Cave 1 Badami

There is a small sanctuary inside the temple. We are about done with the first cave😀 !!

Till next post, take care !!

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