No Nrisimha image during Pallava reign
  • Dear Friends,
    Just getting curious that there were two prominent kings with name
    Narasimhavarman in Pallava dynasty, one Mamalla and another Rajasimha. Both were
    highly involved in construction activities, however there is no Nrisimha image
    seen in all Pallava creation, or if it exists then its not in my knowledge. The
    name Narasimhavarman suggests influence from Nrisimha Vishnu and hence I am
    curious why no image to show this influence. Its hard to believe that Nrisimha
    was not known at the time of these kings, or it is not? Any ideas on this?
  • singa perumal koil?

    it is a cave narasimha temple between tambaram and chengalpattu.

    is there any inscriptions there?
  • Is it a narasimha temple? If I am correct, its a 'perumal' temple...but the
    unique feature is, this moorthi has third eye on the forehead, which is
    found only for Shiva.
  • dear saurabh

    Are you talking of only rock cut shrines. dating of sudhai images is tough.
    the vishnu cave in malaiyadipatti has a wonderful narasimhar image ( with
    two srivatsam marks on either chest !!) - the utiramerur sudnarvadhana
    perumal temple also has a yoga narasimhar image - but no photography

    “*Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man*” – Nobel
    laureate, Rabindranath Tagore
  • rajasimha's kailasanahar and paremasvara vinnagar - vaigunda perumal temple have narasimha images

    Dear Vj/aravind

    what is the period of singaperumal koil?
  • Hi vj,

    I am looking for any kind of construction (structural/cave or monolith) where
    Nrisimha image can be found and that structure should be assigned to the time of
    Mamalla or Rajasimha. As both the kings derived the name from this icon hence
    there must be representation of this icon in their creations. So if we can find
    such an image of their time it will support the theory that the name has some
    relation with Nrisimha. However till now I have not seen any such image which
    can be assigned to these two kings.

    Another thing, is this ok to assume that the name Narasimhavarman has anything
    to do with Nrisimha Vishnu? Or there is some other derivation for this? Also
    Rajasimha erected most of his temple in honor of Shiva however his coronation
    name is Narasimhavarman. Though the divide between Vaishnava and Shaiva at that
    time was not very distinct however I assume that there should be some
    representation of this kind somewhere.
  • Hi Saurabh,
  • I have the images of

    1. Narasimha in Kailasantha temple

    2. Narasimha in vaigunda perumal temple

    arvind also once gave these images.

    3. The Singaperumal temple - one more to be decided where the main cave itself is for Narasimha.
  • simple mahendra, mamalla no structural temple.

    structural temples start with the olakkaneshwara and shore temple - kanchi
    kailasanatha of rajasimha. kailasantha / vaikunta - all have narasimha

    the doubts come on singa perumal koil - date is unclear.
  • Hi vj,
    yes you are quite correct about the structural temples however we have many cave
    temples, rathas and bas reliefs of Mahabalipuram. As most of the scholars now
    accept that these structures were started in Mamalla's time, may be completed by
    his successors. Vaikunta Perumal Kanchi is very late temple, in the reign of
    Nandivarman Pallavamalla. Kailasanatha can be taken in the later period of
    Rajasima. Olakkaneshwara, Shore temple and Panamalai can be taken as early
    creation of Rajasimha.

    We have elaborate Varaha Mandapa at Mahabalipuram where Trivikrama and Varaha is
    shown, but Nrisimha missing. In Adi-Varaha cave, Varaha is only shown. If
    Mamalla is seen as a great creator of all these structures, does it not seem
    strange that Nrisimha image is missing. This all is based upon the name of the
    king, if we accept that yes Narasimhavarman was derived out of Nrisimha Vishnu.
    If this is true then yes the king would surely like to eulogize this icon in his
    structures. Am I correct?
  • One more thing, as Mamalla conquered Vatapi (Badami), hence Vatapikonda, and it
    is also assumed that he took some of the ideas from the bas reliefs of the caves
    there. There is a Nrisimha panel in one of the cave, dated 6th century, at
    Badami. Hence Mamalla would surely have seen this image there. Still in his
    constructions, this particular icon is missing.
  • hi saurabh

    interesting question - but just having a name doesnt point towards religious
    bearings. Check out where all this inscription is there in mallai ( you will
    defn be surprised at one location)

    Six times cursed be those, in whose hearts does not dwell Rudra (Siva), the
    deliverer from the walking on the evil path! The temple of Atyantakama

    read this from Dr RN ( the entire paper is interesting but was written in
    1967 and refuted by Dr Gift and Mr Lockwood in 1972!!!) but its interesting
    to paint a picture of the great king.

    Inscriptions of Rajasimha
    Let us take the inscriptions of Rajasimha about whom we are absolutely on
    safe grounds. Rajasimha was a great monarch, an ambious king and was a
    prolific builder. In his celebrated Kailasanatha (21. S. I. I. Vol. I. 24.)
    temple he has left us about three hundred titles, ever assumed by any
    monarch of India. His titles are very valuable in understanding his
    personality. Of his birth, Rajasimha says that "He took birth from
    Paramesvara, the destroyer of the city of Ranarasika just as Guha took birth
    from Paramesvara". He was proud of his race and of his noble birth and hence
    assumed such titles as. He was a prince of great beauty and elegance and was
    conscious of it when he assumed such title as etc. His great love for
    Vaidika marga, viz. sruti, smrti and purana is reflected in his titles, as
    etc. His devotion to Siva and Saivasiddhanta is unparallelled in the history
    of South India. All his inscriptions and the inscriptions of his successors,
    speak of him as a great Siva-bhakta. He was Sivacudamani and styled himself
    as etc. We could only compare Raja Raja-I as an equal in his devotion to
    Siva and who rightly assumed the title of Sivapadasekhara. Rajasimha himself
    had the title of Raiaraja. He was the very abode of. He was. He was afraid
    of only unrighteousness. He had unlimited desires and his ideals were lofty.
    His ideals were mostly fulfiled, etc. He had great love for all the fine
    arts, and was himself a great master of all arts,. In fact he was the very
    ocean of all fine arts. Such a king was never moved to anger and once roused
    he was terrible; but his angers were always reasonable. He was severe in
    inflicting punishments and upholding justice,. He was a great statesman, and
    was the only Pallava monarch who could maintain friendly relations with his
    neighbours and give some peace to his subjects. He was not at the same time
    weak. He was a great warrior etc. He was very fond of his subjects. The very
    idea of poverty made him shiver, and hence poured forth gifts and presents.
    In short he is a true Hindu monarch, in whom we find all the qualities of
    warrior, statesman, poet and above all a lover of peace as described in our
    “*Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man*” – Nobel
    laureate, Rabindranath Tagore
  • Singaperumal koil is a pallava temple, currently assigned to period of Narashimavarman and Parameswaravarman. Earliest inscriptions are from Rajaraja chola period.
    Yes, as KS has said, there are Narashimamurthi in Kailasanatha and Vaikundaperumal koil.

    Varhamandapam inscription definitely includes narashima avathar as one of the avathar.
  • there is one small icon which you should not miss in almost all pallava temples, it is a lion with a human face. What did this icon signify?
  • Hi Arvind,
    Yes, the icon is there however can this be considered as Nrisimha Vishnu is in
    doubt. This icon is mostly seen as pillar base, I would suggest not a very good
    place to put the royal icon, if we can take it as royal icon being derived from
    Nrisimha. Suppose if Nrisimha is your main deity or having considerable
    influence over the pantheon then having this as a pillar base does not seem ok.
    Also when you put this pillar among the large panels of Varaha, Trivikrama or
    any other deity, this also does not look good. Correct? Also can this icon be
    taken as lion, the mount of Durga as we see many panels dedicated to this
    goddess and some dedicated temples as well?
    Just to make it clear, I have no special attachment with Nrisimha or in sense
    any other icon, its just that Mamalla's coronation was Narasimhavarman and I am
    not able to find this icon in his structures hence this doubt.
  • Other Narasimha temples refered in Divya prabandams:

    a. Alwars belong to Pallava period
    b. Chola and south andhraterritories wereunder Pallavas during alwar period.

    1. Ahobilam 2. Sholingar 3. Thiruvali 4. Kanchipuram Velukkai

    reference also have been made by alwars on the narasimha of

    1. Thiruvallikeni 2. Thiruneermalai

    if we say thirumangai as post danidi varma period then
    Thiruvelukkai in kanchipuram sung by Pei alwar and Sholingar by bhoodathu alwar can be considered as early pallava temples.
  • Dear Saurabh,
    I suppose you've seen this earliest known Narasimha, from the Krishna
    We don't yet seem to know the dynasty there, building Undavalli Caves,
    Mogulrajapuram, etc. This frieze is from Kondamotu, Guntur Dt., too.
    Doris Srinivasan dates it 4th century.
    Some have thought Pallavas were up there, style is very N. Indian, tho.

    Any connection?
  • amazing

    who are the others? Rama and othe forms of vishnu?
  • Dear Arvind,
    You mean this kind of image, don't you?

  • Dear Sankar,
    Those are the Vrisni, the heroes, all later simply becoming forms of
    Vishnu --
    but at one time individuals of the Yadava clan. Vasudeva became
    Krishna [not His father], Samkarsana,
    Pradyumna, Aniruddha & Samba. I've never seen another representation
    of them from
    so far south. Note that Narasmimha is Urdhvalinga!
    Don't think Rama is here. Samkarsana = Balarama, perhaps the one
    holding the cup.
    Other panels, Subhadra is often included as their sister. Wish I knew
    more about them.
  • Dear Madam

    I have no words to speak.

    Our salutes to you
  • Very very Interesting ..

    Dear Saurab & Vijay - that is an interesting query.

    let me also look for some more details.

    warm rgds / sps

  • Did not read the long chain of this thread - but just answering the original question raised.

    The association of Nrisimha with Pallava goes back to "Simhavishnu' period - simha vishnu denotes Nrisimha.

    Silappathikaram vividly captures Nrisimha in Aaychiyar Kuravai. The Namakkal caves - the biggest cave temple dedicated to Nrishima - and the ONLY CAVE TEMPLE IN WHICH SHIVA IS SEEN WORSHIPING LORD VISHNU (Nrisimha) is 7th Century. Work of Adiyamans.

    Nrisimhavarman period temples are very limited & hence difficult to see Nrisimha.
  • hmmm, quite interesting, did not notice it before, would surely talk about this
    in my article while covering Krishna Mandapa. Just thinking if something related
    to Goverdhana episode of Mahabharata, need to check more on this as I do not
    remember anything like this. One more thing to notice is that a vyala (yali) is
    also shown in front of this human-lion figure, were the artists trying to
    display various aspects of lion forms?

    Be whatever it may, but this surely not represent Nrisimha or Narasimha king as
    placement of this among other animals does not fit, correct?
  • good god, what an image, never seen this before, very interesting indeed. The
    clothing and headdresses are very different from Pallava style. Anatomy of the
    bodies is also very different as Pallava style is of slender legs/arms however
    here we can see proper muscles. More related to north India, specially with
    Sanchi/Bharhut or Gandhara kind.
    Yes some scholars do believe that structures in Krishna valley are of Pallavas
    (e.g. L H Longhurst, Percy Brown) however this would be little far fetched idea
    in my opinion.

    But your pictures are generating my interest in Andhra region, I need to see
    when I can plan visit to these places.
  • Dear saurabh
    while planning to visit - please take help from officials.
    most of the time - they are clsoed -except undavalli.
    Mogalirajapuram, another one asi cave close by all are closed.
    Intrestingly krishna basin has many narasimhar temple like - mattapalli, mangalagiri etc
  • Hi

    Raja Dikshithar of Chidambaram has collected a wonderful gallery of what he calls as "Purushamirga" or Indian Sphinx. It is worth a look. The collections are from India and SEA.

    Raj Mutharasan
  • Dear Gokul-

    Any idea on singap perumal koil?
  • Given that panel w the PanchaViras, how early it is, I am of the
    theory that Narasimha originated
    around Andhra.
  • Hi,
    Excerpts from Pallava Antiquities by Dubreuil about SingaPerumal temple:
    1. Nearest railway station is Chingleput
    2. Inside the main complex, on south is temple of "Agopala Valli" and in north
    the temple of "Andal"
    3. Main building has three chambers which needs to be crossed to reach the rock
    4. first chamber has an image of Hanuman and on northern wall is a line of
    5. second chamber has two dvarpalas but no image
    6. Third chamber has an icon of Vishnu
    7. The rock face has an inscription however the priests did not allow the
    scholar to examine from near. Dubreuil wrote that it was very dark hence he
    could not see anything clearly, however from people he came to know that there
    is an image of Nrisimha.
    8. He wrote that this rock face surely belongs to Pallavas

    Anybody has epigraphy details of this temple?
  • Thanks sir, will surely try to get help from officials, however unfortunately I
    do not know anyone. But will write a mail to them and will be lucky if they
    reply to that.
  • No mail. Take some local people who has contacts. I went to many places and returned w.o seeing
  • can anyone confirm about the inscription on the rock face?

    Is it a vadakalai temple? ( should be). In that case we can do something in reading it.
  • Kathie,
    Vaikundaperumal koil's main deity is Vasudeva, He is flanked on the outer walls of the inner prakara by Samkarsana, Aniruddha and Pradyumna. Samba has not been sculpted anywhere.
  • Thanks Kathie, This was the image I had stated.
  • hi Raj

    Sri Raja is no more. I am in touch with his family, to translate a few of
    his articles and get them published
  • Not yet. I have'nt visited the temple and hence unable to comment
  • Dear all,Just now seeing this email--Singaperumal Temple is a Tenkalai
    temple;the moolavar has been carved as part of the hill itself and is a
    wonderful piece of Pallava architecture.Regards P.NArasimhan
  • What date will you give this cave temple and were the divisions in
    place at that time itself ?
  • I just wanted check the affliation because , wanted to try through elders the mutt head for help in reading the said epigraph near the moolavar ( is the presence of that epigraph confirmed?)
  • Vijay,The kalai and property divisions came much later, perhaps from the
    time of Sri Pillailokachariyar/Vedanta Desikar; so this issue will not
    be of any help in dating.Sampath
  • Hi sampath

    That was exactly my question : cave temple being a tenkalai temple ?
  • The question araised because of the reference to an epigraph - close to the moolamoorti and the bhatacharya not allowing to read.

    In that case - we can approach some mutt heads for help as three Acharyas are very much intrested in the study of epigraphs and can be approached for helping out.

    Pillayarpatti epigraph was read because of the intervention of Kanchi Mahaswami. Similarly if the presence of the mentioned epigraph is confirmed - we can approach some acharyas who can help us in this.
  • Dear friend

    A camp was set up to facilitate movement of people to Sri Lanka, and that place was called Sinhalapet, which eventually became Chengalpet. Pallavas were friendly towards the Buddhists.

    Singaperumal koil should have been a Pallava creation as it is in a hilly area.

    R. Narasimhan
  • Thenkalai, Vadakali were later day inventions to suit the needs of the people to assert their identity. This should not be a factor at all in determining the origin of the singaperumal temple.
    R Narasimhan
  • Dear Mr.Narasimhan,

    I fear the difference is more ideological than what you have presumed.. Vadakalai school gave supremacy to Veda and Sanskrit. The Thenkalai school insisted that 'Nalaayira divyaprapantham should be given equal regard and respect as that given to Vedas.

    It was Sri Raghavendra SwamikaL who settled the dispute by declaring that Granthas like Divyaprabantham written in "Dravidian languages" should be considered as sacred as Vedas in Sanskrit. So the intrigue should have begun much before the Manthralaya Guru Raghavenra.

    t is also important to note that the term " Draida languag e" was used by Manthralaya swamikaL.

    V.Kothanda Raman
  • My question was to get permission to read the inscription - which is supposed to be near the moolavar. I wanted to check the kalai, so that we can approach the respective Acharya for permission. That was the intention and nothing more than that.

    It is not right that Vadakalai use sanskrit and Tenkalai use Tamil.

    Both temples use both.

    Both Give high imporatnce to charanagathi but with a mild difference.

    Vadakalai charanagathi is like a kid monkey clinging to mother monkey.  The mother monkey jumps across and the kid has to cling ( surrender) ,We have to surrender to the lord.

    Thenkalai charanagathi is like a kitten surrendering to mother cat. Where the Cat carries the kitten everywhere and kitten is not taking any effort and depends on mother cat.. Thenkalai calls for even surrendering the surrender.

    That is the main difference. Vadakalai temples like Kanchi, Tirumala do give equal imporatance to Nalayiram.

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