History or fiction? These Shiva sculptures look uncannily like Bahubali posters

Two identical sculptures have been discovered showing Lord Shiva carrying the Shivalingam.
History or fiction? These Shiva sculptures look uncannily like Bahubali posters
History or fiction? These Shiva sculptures look uncannily like Bahubali posters
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Whether you actually saw the multilingual blockbuster Bahubali or not, you definitely saw the poster of actor Prabhas carrying a giant Shivalingam. In the film, he carries the Shivalingam on his shoulders and places it under a waterfall to spare his mother the trouble of carrying water to the lingam for the abhishekam.

It now turns out that director SS Rajamouli may have got that poster more historically accurate than anyone expected, as a researcher in Thanjavur has found two sculptures in the Cauvery Delta districts, depicting Lord Shiva similarly lifting a Shivalingam.

The two sculptures have been found in Kodumbalur in Pudukottai District and in Melappazhuvar of Ariyalur District in Tamil Nadu.

The archaeologist responsible for the find, Dr ‘Kudavayil’ M Balasubramaniam, said, “These sculptures are very rare and unique. They cannot be found anywhere else in the state. These two sculptures belong to the early Chola period, from the 10th century.”

Describing the first sculpture, he said, “Lord Shiva is found reclining on a sitting bull.  He has one leg horizontally folded and the other vertically. Of his four arms, the front right arm is placed benevolently on the bull’s head. The front left arm shows the “Varadamudra”, symbolising grace. The rear left arm carries a deer. On the rear right arm’s shoulder, he is seen carrying a Shivalingam and clutching the top of the Shivalinga with that arm.”

According to Balasubramaniam, the Moovarkoil of Kodumbalur was built by Bhooti Vikramakesari of Irukku Velir dynasty, who was a tributary chief under Chola emperors. This chief established three temples in his name and in the names of his wives, Katrali and Varuguna. Of these, the temple on the northern side does not exist anymore.  The unique Shiva sculpture is found in the middle temple.

In Melappazhuvur, where the second Shiva sculpture was found, there are two Shiva shrines placed adjacently. “On the upper deck of the Southern shrine, a sculpture that is distinctly similar to the Shiva sculpture in Kodumbalur was found,” he said.

In this second sculpture, Shiva is holding a Rudraksha Mala in his rear left hand instead of the deer. On the right shoulder, he carries a Shivalingam as found in Kodumbalur.  This sculpture is the work of the tributary chiefs of Cholas belonging to the Pazhuvettarayar Clan.”

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