Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Badami cave temples.

Natraj ( Lord Shiva Dancing )

Cave No. 1 at Badami Cave, 6th Century CE,Bhagalkot District,Karnataka, India.
Badami has four cave temples which were excavated during the Chalukyan period ( 6th- 8th Century CE ). These cave temples were carved after the Ajanta Caves. They may not be as elaborate as the Ajanta Caves, but they continued the same traditions. In fact, the Badami caves are influenced by the Ajanta Caves. But compared to the Ajanta, these caves are modest in size, and in complexity. But nonetheless, this is the beginning of Hindu art as compared to the Buddhist art of Ajanta.
We do not know the chronological order in which the caves were carved. But Cave No. 1 being the simplest may have been carved as the first cave. Although the Chalukyan Royalty were Vaishnavites, but Cave No. 1 is a Shaivite cave. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
On the outer wall of the Cave is this over life size sculpture of Lord Shiva as a dancer or Natraj. The most famous Natrajs are of course the Chola Bronze ones. But here we see Natraj depicted for the first time. He has eighteen arms, he stands on a pedestal, while Lord Ganesh, like a child, tries to imitate His father. Nandi, the bull, stands quietly as though nothing is happening. A drummer beats the rhythmic patterns of the music.
It is said that the eighteen arms capture different postures of Bharatnatyam. It is not that the God has eighteen arms, He could have just two arms. But the arms are shown in motion. It is a continuous narrative, as it were. But the image is a dynamic one. The flaying arms capture the fast movement, the rhythm ofthe dance.
It is dance which represents the whirling universe: it turns and twists, it moves and swirls. It is still yet in movement. The universe dances to Time ( the drummer). But a sense of calmness pervades with a sense of wisdom ( Lord Ganesh). However, through life, through its ups and downs, Nature is unmoved (Nandi, the bull ). The over lifesize sculpture is not about a God who is merely dancing; it is an existentialist statement. It is full of philosophy.

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