Pallava period (Social and Cultural History)

by S. Krishnamurthy | 2017 | 143,765 words

This study examines the Social and Cultural History of the Pallava period (as gleaned through the Sculptural Art). The Pallavas (6th-9th century A.D.) mainly ruled over the Tondaimandalam (Tondai Nadu) region in the Northern part of Tamil Nadu (South-India). The Pallava dynasty ensured a golden age of architecture, arts, and spirituality and while ...

Nayanmars during the Pallava period

[Full title: Religious Beliefs (during the Pallava period): Nayanmars]

Even though the practice of deifying and worshiping the nayanmars gained popularity only from the period of the Cholas, yet, some of the sculptural representations in the various temples built in this period can be regarded as those of the nayanmars. The clearest identification among is Sankaracharya sculptured in the temple of Iravatanesvara at Kanchipuram. He was depicted in the form of an ascetic with a staff held in his hand (fig. 52). C. Sivaramamurti identified it as representing juvenile Sankara in the company of Vyasa Jaimini[1]. Another nayanmar, who found way into the sculptural art of the Pallavas is Kannappa-nayanar (fig. 34) found carved along with other ganas on the vallabhi course of the apsidal temple (Tirumulasthanattup-perumanadigal) within the Bhaktavatsala temple complex in Tirukkalukunram.

On an architectural member from Kaverippakkam dated to the 9th century A.D. (now preserved in Government Museum, Chennai) is seen the depiction of Karaikkal-ammaiyar, who is shown walking topsy-turvy using her hands, towards the image of Umasahitamurti (fig. 38). According to the popular legend, she, respecting the sancity of the Himalayas as an abode of Siva, climbed up the hills using her hands. Thus, these sculptural representations of the nayanmars show that even though the people have not began to worship them by installing separate idols, as in the subsequent times, yet they came to be revered and represented in the artistic medium.

Footnotes and references:


V. A. Devasenapati, Kamakottam Nayanmars and Adi Sankara, Madras, 1993, pp. 61 and 64–5.

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