Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pudu Mandapam, Madurai

"Pudu Mandapam" in front of the Eastern Tower of Meenakshi Temple, Madurai is known for splendid sculptures. Some of them narrate the Purana related to Madurai.A huge Nandi on the middle of the road faces the 17th century Mandapam built by Thirumalai Nayak. An unfinished Entrance with well carved wall is is there behind the Nandi. The Mandapam has become the house of various shops which sell miscellaneous items. Hence it will be difficult for the visitor to see the beauty of the Hall in full . Some sculptures are hidden behind the shops denying a close look at them.

As soon as we enter the Mandapam, we can see a huge sculpture of Lord Shiva on our right , in the form of a Mother Pig , embracing the little pigs on both sides close to Her (Him?) . The story goes that there lived a group of Pigs in a forest near a place called Guruvirundha Thurai (now known as Kuruvithurai, some 15 miles west of Madurai) when Raja Raja Pandya ruled the Pandya Empire. There lived a woman, Sukalai, who had twelve sons. The children wandered in the forest after the demise of their parents and chose to hunting as their profession. On seeing Brahaspathi, the Deva Guru, they bagan throwing mud and stones on him. The sage became angry and cursed them to become pigs and suffer in the forest after losing their parents(pigs). When the boys felt sorry for their act, the sage pardoned them and said that Lord Somasundara Shiva Himself will show compassion towards them and take the form of Mother pig and feed them with milk. Hence the boys had to take birth as pigs in that forest. When Raja Raja Pandya went for hunting in that forest, the King pig and the Queen Pig, parents of the twelve pigs fought bravely against the Pandya. Finally the King Pig was killed by the Pandya and the Queen pig also died after a tough fight with the Pandya's commander. The place where the two pigs died is called "Panri Malai". The twelve little pigs therefore became orphans after losing their parents in the battlefield. On seeing the suffering of the tiny pigs, Lord Sundareswara took the form of Mother pig as He is The Mother of all living beings.The little ones greeted the arrival of their "Mother" by embracing "Her". The Lord fed them with milk and blessed them to become humans but retained their original face of the pig. This story is narrated in stone at two places in Madurai , one at Pudu Mandapam and the other one in Thirupparankunram, about 5 km from Madurai Vandals have disfigured the one at Pudu Mandapam, the Lord' s Pig face is damaged but the remaining portion of the sculpture is in order.

Similarly, another great piece of Art, Shiva as "Hunter" has also been damaged by anti social elements.Two hands are broken. One hand holds the bow the other arm holds the weapon, "Parasu" .The workmanship can be admired when we look at the ornaments on His chest and waist which are crafted precisely.The crown on His head proves testimony to the skill of the artisan.

Luckily, some sculptures are left in good shape-- those of Vallabha Ganapathi, Meenakshi Kalyanam, Urdhva Thandava Murthi, Kali,Eka patha Murthi, Gaja samhara Murthi, to name a few.Ganapathi, in sitting posture, with ten hands, faces East. He is seen seated on his vehicle, the Mouse along with His Shakthi. His Trunk is turned towards His right and hands holding different weapons.

The sculpture showing the celestial marriage of The Divine Couple is a marvellous one. Some one has applied sandal wood paste on the face of Meenakshi. Lord Vishnu conducts the marriage of The Goddess. Similar sculpture can also be seen inside Meenakshi Temple.

The magnificent statues of UrdhvaThandava Murthi and Kali are adorned with clothes , possibly by some shop owners who have occupied the Mandapam. The "prabai" (arch) behind Urdhva Thandava murthi is a fantastic piece of work where we can see gaps. Karaikkal Ammaiyar, His devotee is seen near His feet. On the other side, Vishnu plays the musical instrument for the Great Dance. Muyalakan at the feet of the Lord tries to lift his face up to enjoy the dance.

Goddesss Kali with eight hands holds many weapons in Her hands and Her face is full of anger. Teeth protruding and hair lifting up ("Jwala kesam"), the distinct features are neatly shown in the statue. People have garlanded her with Lemon .

Gajasamharamurthi, on the pillar facing the road is also a treat to watch. He holds the skin of the Elephant with two hands. The other hands hold ,Trishul, Kapal,bow, arrow, deer and parasu. Anger is shown on his face clearly. The ornaments on his chest and the Jata baram are carved exceedingly well.

Ekapathamurthi is on the other pilar facing the road. Vishnu and Brahma are seen emerging from Lord Shiva and people have attempted to adorn it in their own way.

Some sections of the public have expressed their desire to relocate the shops that hinder the beauty of the Mandapam, a Heritage site. It is a good news that the collector of Madurai has visited the site recently and assured to take suitable action. He should also intervene to instruct the Temple authorities who cemented the floor of the Tank (which is regarded as SivaGangai, a Holy one in the Purana) to restore the Tank with water as it was originally seen before. The authorities have shown utter disregard at the moment by making the Tank a dry one, the move that disappoints everybody.