Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bhuleshwar on a Hill: Interior

Writing notes on historical events many millennia after they have occurred is like writing scientific papers on subjects like weather change. Boundary conditions play a very important role in the computational evolution of the weather (“butterfly effect”). You get one step wrong and you lose your path forever. Just as people have learnt not to trust weather forecasts there is, it seems, little to trust in the interpretation of history. A boundaried background affects interpretation of history. It helps sometimes in understanding identity crisis (“Main Aisa Kyon Hoon?”). As if it matters. Yet, although I may have been lost several times, every wrong path opens up new avenues of knowledge especially if you had confined your earlier life to some other “silly” pursuits, and have little extra-curricular knowledge. Every wrong step finds you a new life, a new elixir.

Bhuleshwar-on-the-hill is not even in the map of history books (as far as I know) so the interpretation may not matter. Yet that could be its very advantage to serious anthropology students. This article is long for this reason; perhaps because there seemed to be so much to report. It is a blog in four parts. So you can bring out your roasted peanuts or popped sorghum and burnt-mango-juice and read it slowly, one or two pictures a day. It took me more time to write it.

It would seem at the very outset (and after considerable hindsight) that one would require more than a smattering knowledge of Indian history and the way it is reflected in Indian temple sculpture, to understand what is within the dark interiors of the Bhuleshwar temple on the hill. That is, if you want to understand “correctly” (if that is possible) the sequence of events that led to the building and destruction/restruction of this structure. On the other hand, if you must enjoy life, you need not ask the whys and wherefores or reason with the therefores. One can just sit on the steps inside in the dark corridors or outside under the blue sky and let your soul and your pores soak in the stones and the stories for a later recollection in another context of the “herefore”s. In this case one may skip most of the text, as one would have done in any case, and look at the photos (Figs 2, 3, 5 and 6right, are from the internet; there are more than twenty photos each with three sub-photos on the average), if only because one does not require to make sense out of these historical things where you do not get first-hand account from the builder or the craftsmen.

I must add that the first part of this blog is the part I can speculate on. The second part is the one that would take more visits to write a proper story on. Part III is the part on the lady ganapathi. Part IV is a comment more to myself and has no moral in it.

Part I. Begin the Beguine.

It has been important for me that I did not know history (no wherefores and therefores) and had only a herefore image in my mind of placed I had visited or read about. The photographic images of places have been lost due computer “crashes”. As one climbs the steps to get into the temple there are some loose sculptures (Fig 1) fixed onto the walls of the steps. This is normal in older Indian temples. Wherever you go there will be some destruction. Some easily jump to the conclusion that it is the work of moghul invaders. Of which there is written moghul record to be found on the internet especially the Belgaum region of Mahrashtra. There has also been this conflict between Hoysala and early Chalukyan sculpture. These loose sculptures resemble the image of a loose sculpture found in Siddhesvar temple complex in Haveri (Fig 2 right, enlarge image by clicking) which is after Belgaum en route to Bangalore from Pune on NH4. The temple at Haveri is considered to be a 12th century style Chalukyan temple and the loose sculpture is from an earlier structure.

The loose sculpture at Haveri (Fig 2 right) is similar both in nature of ornaments or dress worn to the guard (dwarpalika) of the Jain figure (fig 2 left, taken from the internet Wikapedia) found in the Jain temple of Lakkundi. The fan in the left hand of the Belur dwarpalika (Fig 2 left) is broken in the loose sculpture at Haveri (Fig 2 right). The style of the habit/ornament of these figures in Figs 1 and 2 is similar suggesting that the craftsmen reflected the contemporary style of that time and which did not change with changes in the ruling class or “religion”. Because of this, the dwarpalika as well as Vishnu (Fig 2 centre taken from Wikapaedia) of the Lakkundi Jain temple would be attired similarly including the belt around the chest in all the three sculptures shown in Fig 2.

Such styles may have been reserved for an upper or a special class. These styles may also have been prevalent over several centuries. For example, there is this famous Ajanta cave painting of a figure holding a lotus known as Bodhistava (enlightened being) Padampani (Fig 3 left). It could be any aspiring Buddha if not a Buddha already. The crown and the positioning of the hands in the Ajanta Bodhistava painting (Fig 3 left) may be imagined to be similar to that of the loose sculpture in Fig 1 left.

Before I leave Fig 3 one has to examine the eyes. Much has been written about these eyes and the distinctive style of the Ajanta paintings. This style assumes that the face, without this “style” would have been of the normal Indo-Aryan type. The elongation of the eye has been deliberately done to give the face a serene look and the “spirit of the compassionate Buddha”. It is this “style” that is supposed to have eventually led to the miniatures of the Pala-Sena period (predating moghul miniatures) of West Bengal and to Kalighat’s patua painting and to Jamini Roy’s art. The mongoloid feature of the eyes in Ajanta cave paintings of the female form is also seen in the “brooding princess and maid” painting (from Kamat’s potpourri) before 6th century. The princess is seemingly unclothed (the boy or the maid would have said the princess is naked) as compared to her more prudish maid. They have the same kinds of eyes though.

For one like me, not educated in the finer art and history points I would have said that the eyes were like that of the mongoloid eastern Nepalese, Assamese, or Arunachal, Thai or Chinese people. The eyes of the sculpture (a shilabalika of Chennakesava temple in Belur, from Wikapaedia) in the centre of Fig 3 would also be mongoloid. Notice that the ornaments or “dress” in this sculpture resembles those in Figs 1 and 2. The easier (more spontaneous) viewpoint to take is that the indigeneous people who did the painting/sculpting were mongoloids themselves. Gautam the last Buddha, after all was a Nepali, if not a Tibetan. One may imagine that the elongated eyes of the tribe in the very pre-Ajanta paintings of Nibamun in Egypt 3500 years ago are to be associated with people that migrated from India as some suppose they have. After all, the so-called (to the westerner) inscrutable Mongoloid faces of the east may just have been due to the confusion arising from the ordinary human behavior of the easterners and their “serene”-looking faces.

The sculptures in Fig 1 are distinguished (Fig 4 for close-ups) by the halo or aurora around the head which would suggest that the sculptures could represent a Bodhisattva (and not Buddha owing to their necklace, bracelets, armbands, Fig 1). The nature of the halo itself is interesting. Buddha with an undecorated circular halo (as in those of, say, Christ the lord; as an aside I must add that this well-trained computer automatically changes “christ” to “Christ”) has been discovered (Fig 4, left) in the Gandhara (now better known as Taliban’s Kandahar) style in Afghanistan, the earliest of these perhaps being in the Bimaran casket in Jalalabad.

The sculpture on the left in Fig 5 is said to be the earliest stone image of Buddha. The toga and the hair style are supposed to clearly illustrate the Hellenistic or Greek influence. This might as well be but it simply shows the influence that the local craftsman has on depicting the habit of an historic figure, when he has no other imagery to fall back on. There are also the problems of historians who would like to endear themselves to the ruling classes by providing them with explanations they would like to hear. Thus, the Bimaran casket of 1st century BC showing Buddha in a non-hellenistic environment had to be suppressed from popular exposure and debunked by the historian. The point of interest is the decorations on the halo in Fig 4. In many Asian halos the light comes from flames formalized in some Chola bronzes of Siva as in the ring aureoles of the Nataraja in Fig 5, right. In this case, there is also the question of whether the sculptures in Fig 4 represent figures from the time when the Siva-Buddhism association was on.

In conventional early South-Indian history, the equivalent of Siva was Murugan. The other Siva is the one which many of the Aryan type would like to associate with Mount Kailash. It seems that somewhere around the sixth century when the Ajanta paintings were in the declining phase and the Ellora caves were becoming more prominent there was interest in a growth of Saivism. According to Sadasivan (S. N. Sadasivan, A Social History of India) “…Saivism was introduced to the world for easy popular acceptance as Siva-Buddhism…” Sadasivan further adds “A god engaged in meditation like the Buddha, Siva has his Himalayan retreat in Mount Kailssa but his abode in the plains is Varanasi which was one of the active centres of Buddhism. … He too is the universal teacher with his right hand in the gesture of explanation (Vyakhyana Mudra).” It was around this time that Murugan of the south was being united with Siva of the north by the Saivites.

The point that should be of some importance is that the oriental look may also be imagined (if not seen) in the sculptures of Fig 5. This oriental look may thus have nothing to do with the so-called Ajanta style since it appears in sculptures in Afghanistan as well as in the southern bronzes. It simply could simply mean that the people peopling those places at that time were oriental people! It could also mean that at some time later when another ethnic group (say Indo-Aryan) dominated the population, not necessarily by violence (invasion) but by uncontrolled immigration (as, say, in some parts of Indo-Pak dominated Bradford in England, where the installation of local football lad Gary Linekar’s statue was not preferred over that of an alien Gandhi), when tastes changed and some renovation/destruction took place.

When visiting temples around Belgaum, Gadag, Lakkundi, one is set aback by the extent of destruction of images in temples. At one temple (very amateurishly restored) in Gadag-Lakkundi one sees (Fig 6, left; click to enlarge) that only the faces have been disfigured around the eyes and nose. I imagine now that it could have been due to an ethnic conflict. When visiting these temples one is always remorseful and bitter about the extent of destruction. A very polished and scholarly Muslim honorary guide made a passing comment that not all the destruction was by Muslim invaders. One could also now understand why there is a tendency to attribute elongated eyes to a “sophisticated” artistic Ajanta style. Indeed one web site has computer “restored”(Fig 6 right, top) the Ajanta paintings (Fig 6 right below) of a king an his retinue (Cave 10). The implication is that the people in the retinue have features of present-day Indians (read western Indians especially) and it is only the style of painting that brought about the changes. That may not be true at all. The people in the painting in Fig 6 right bottom have Nepali-Assamese features; they are characteristic even now of most indigenous people in the south and east of India (go through most faces in the newspapers). The re-constructed people in Fig 6 right top are those of others in the North who have foreign influences (Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Gandhi, some “pure” Brahmins) and consider themselves to be of Aryan stock. I will write more on this later.

I took this complicated route to highlight a point that struck me as I climbed the steps to get into the temple. The eyes of the figure in Fig 4 right is made (I thought it was painted) white and big as compared to the one on the right of fig 4. Why? Was it some sort of ethnic cleansing made by later wide-eyed people of the Aryan type? Protruding eyes appear in Ellora and in the declining phase (around 6th century) in the Ajanta paintings. I don’t know when such a change was made. If it was deliberately made it was done well. A closer examination of the eye in the sculpture of Fig 4 left does not rule out a clever paint job. After all you don’t get such black and white eyes except for Jain saints; these saints do not wear anything (Fig 2 left of left). I don’t know what paint was used. The paint seems to be of good quality. It may have been done when the exterior stucco work was being finished. This maybe a point to remember if one sees the violence inside the temple. It is also of interest to note that in the declining phase (around 6th century AD) of the Ajanta paintings the eyes are full and wide (Fig 3, right inset)

Part II

After you have climbed the steps to enter the temple on the hill you see (Fig 7, left; click to expand) the remains of a Sivaji-time (?) Deepmala (see Blog on Pune Street Scenes) tower obviously showing very crude signs of cement and plaster (courtesy Archaeological Survey of India?). There is also a recent iron-framework supporting a recent brass bell and some more recent Jowar clusters. There is gap with a step going down which somebody said holds water. I was to learn later that the temple was built on a natural water reservoir. The deepmala had no place to hold lamps; probably they were broken off and maybe a broke piece is placed on the top. There is a broken slab near the iron frame (Fig 7, centre) perhaps from some pre-existing temple. The figure on this slab (there are a surfeit of legs in this figure) has little resemblance to those in Fig 1. It has perhaps seen more weathering but it is certainly of more primitive or less refined style which may have nothing to do with the chronology.

Below the steps to the entrance to the temple (Fig 7, right) there are some signs that are typical of sculptures of kalash (Fig 8e), the sacred pot, in the Hindu temple ruins in the Qutub Minar complex. This Hindu temple complex is supposed to be from the 5th to 6th century AD and of Rashtrakut origin. According to The items in Fig 8 are mainly from the Gadag-Lakkundi area and will be used for comparison purposes later.

You must remember that in this first visit to the temple we were driven by the search for the lady ganapathi. It is very dark in side the temple and it was difficult to adjust to the darkness coming from the brightness outside. As one enters the temple one sees a red figure (Fig 9a) which turned out to be a figure of hanuman, the faithful of Rama who is actually a vaishnavite god. The figure was roughly hewn out of a rock and placed in a niche on the wall which may have harboured some other sculpture. The marigolds always mean a recent worship. As one may have noticed marigolds and sindur (red powder for worship) were placed everywhere so that there is not much discrimination between gods for the ordinary worshipper.

The first stone sign of ganapathiji comes as one goes down the steps to the shrine. The figure (Fig 9b) is of uncertain pose (given the darkness) although the figure was perceivably dancing and had no sign of being female. I had decided not to use the flash which decision I maintained except once. The digital camera helped me to see what I did not clearly see with the naked eye. It also required a stand or a steady hand (which I did not have) for the required long exposures. This affected the quality of the pictures but it will suffice for present purposes. As can be seen from Figs 9c and 9d there is considerable cement work of the government civil work type that is used for filling potholes and creating rock boundaries. Apparently, there was much to be propped up and this was done in the crudest way possible. One got the impression that loose sculptures were placed arbitrarily and at the mason’s discretion. Siva’s trishul in fig 9d marked the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum.

There is a lingam at the sanctum sanctorum (Fig 10a) marking this temple to be of Siva origin. The marigold flowers are placed in profusion here around the lingam/yoni and must mark in some way the proximity of the marigold farms in this temple. There is a brass image of a moustached Siva monitoring the worship along with a brass five-headed snake protecting him. The Nandi (Fig 10b), made out of very black stone, is appropriately placed in front of the sanctum sanctorum and appropriately worshipped. There are other elements of worship outside the sanctum sanctorum including the lamp and incense sticks (Fig 10c) whose smoke mark out a sun beam (Fig 10d) which illuminate a grinding stone for sandalwood as well as a drum.

Just outside the sanctum sanctorum the only sign of a similarity with the sculpture in Fig 1 is the head of an elephant (Fig 11a) and the “lions” on the doorway (Fig 11b) which resemble in form if not in detail the column of animals decorating (fig 8b, fig 8c) of the Gadag-Lakkundi temples. The figure on top of the pillar (fig 11c, click to enlarge) is of another style. It is as if the Siva temple as it is seen today (the lingam and its accompaniments) is a later usurpation of another sanctuary.

From this sanctuary you stumble into another lit corridor with pillars (Fig 11d) which takes you into another world. It is difficult to describe with any confidence the scenes that were on the walls. I was actually not prepared for what I saw, motivated as I was in looking for lady ganapathi and in the circumstances in which she was present. There are other descriptions on the internet that provide better pictures (including at least one video). I shall quickly go through with what I saw before I saw the lady.

Most of the sculptures I describe below were in very dimly lit passages towards the centre of the structure. Your attention is drawn to the badly damaged figures of elephants (Fig 12a) including a man-elephant combat. Despite the damage, the style of the rows of elephants and other animals are certainly distinctive as compared to some similar displays in other temples (Fig 12c, see A Travel Blog of an Indian Backpacker on Belur-Chennakesava temple). There are other interesting murals including one of Arjuna’s matsyabheda (hitting the eye of a fish by looking at its reflection in the water; see Amol N. Bankar of ancientcoinsofindia 2006). The frieze in Fig 13b is certainly interesting. It is not a war-scene but looks like a scene prior to a war. It seems clear (to me) that one of the central figures (with a bow) is Arjuna by another sculptor. Knowing the mythology the other person could be Krishna although being of Bengali upbringing I am tempted to think it could be Kunti, mother of Arjuna as well as Karna. However, looking at the red yellow and green signs of worship the central figure in Fig 13b may be something else. I thought it was a couple offering water from a kundali to another person going off to war. Fig 13c has scenes of war using chariots and horses which seem rather small compared to the humans astride them.

I did not examine the plan of the inactive part of the temple at all. Photographs were taken quite randomly without on-the-spot analysis or discussion (one cannot discuss alone, especially in the darkness when your wife and your sister in law Sharada and her husband Shankar) are alive and kicking in a red glow in the sunlit part of the corridors.
Between the outer walls and the inner “hall” the plan of the temple base would seem to be similar to that of the Siddhesvara temple in Haveri except for the very different later style of the sculptures (Figs 14a and 14b, all ladies) which seem to be similar to that on top of the pillar in Fig 11c. This style is seen (Fig 14c from A Travel Blog of an Indian Backpacker) on the walls of the 12th century Hoysala style Chennakesava temple in Belur. There is one theory that the Chennakesava temple marks the conversion of its builder Vishnu Vardana from Jainism to Vaishnavism (Vishnu worship). The lady with a snake in Fig 14b is more likely to indicate a consolidation of Saivanism (Siva worship) from Vaishnavism or Buddhism. The presence of Arjuna’s Matsyaveda scene in both these temples (Fig 14a and Fig 14c) would suggest to a layman like that both were Vaishnavite temples. The style in Fig 14a (Bhuleshwar) seems to be older while those in Fig 14c (Belur) have haloes albeit of different type compared to those in Fig 4.

Sure signs of a Vaishnavite influence are found in a chamber which was so dark that neither I nor my digital camera could get any image. On using my flash we saw (Fig 15a) that there seemed to a badly damaged figure lying on a snake. It may have been Vishnu lying on the snake Anantha Sesha. That it was Vishnu could only be guessed by the presence of a conch to the left. There was diamond on the base which is typical of early Chalukyan temples (Bankapur, Siddheswar in Haveri). There were other curiosities such as the figure with an afro hair do next to this chamber. In another temple frieze which I did not see well with the naked eye there is a figure holding what seems to be a a single headed vajra or Tibetan Phurpa or dagger, so I guessed it must be Indra or Vajrapani often seen with Buddha (Fig 15c). On another wall frieze there is a figure carrying the damaru, a small double-sided hand drum, on a right hand. Other hands could not be seen. The damaru can be associated with siva, Buddhists ceremonies, or tantric (when made with human skull). It could be siva as there seems to be a snake on his left. He also wears a double shoulder-string that is characteristic of a warrior. Murugan, who is supposed by some to be a southern Indian version Siva, has been represented in a free-standing position (instead of in rock shrines) seemingly for the first time around 7th -9th century (courtesy French Institute, Pondicherry). He is a tribal seated on a lotus and carries a double-headed vajra (dorje to Tibetans) typical of Buddhists with a double shoulder-string. It is a moot point where a dorje to a Buddhist craftsman appears as a damaru to a Saivite

When one steps out into the open and looks up, one sees the “domes” with stucco work and paintings that is visible from outside. There are no surprises or new insights. The square or octagonal tower of the bigger “domes” have (Fig 16a) their stucco geometrical pattern till the base, while the smaller “domes” have (Fig 16b) no or little stucco decorations. Apparently, the top plaster work is carried out on a base made out of carved rock. The structure of the part built with rocks has some similarities with temples around Gadag-Lakkundi. The one element of surprise is the painstaking way bells have been carved out of the roof of the rock base (Fig 16). There are round bells alternating with bells (?) with “diamond”-shaped base resembling that on the base in Fig 15a. One can stand and look up admiringly at the “bell and diamond work” (Fig 16c inset) if you have the time simply because the pattern repeats itself well.

As one moves into the courtyard (by chance) one sees (Fig 17) a massacre of dancers and musicians in stone. That must have been termed a holocaust of the ethnic kind. There are very few surviving faces. A face that has survived (Fig 17b) is in a corner in the centre of the cluster in fig 17a is that of a man. He has distinctly oriental (Ajanta style?) features. The stones used for these sculptures seem to be different. The details are therefore dependent on the nature of the rock or stone; the stone on the two figures on the left in Fig 17c seem to be different from that on the right in Fig 17c. The inset of Fig 17 shows details from an early Chalukyan temple in Devgaon, near Kittur in Karnataka.

One of the more graceful figures that I saw there is the headless figure of Fig 18a. These figures resemble in some way other figures in other places. In Figs 18b and 18c there are two figures carved on different stones from the 16th century Ramalingasamy temple in Tadapatri, on the banks of the Pennar river near Anantapur in Hyderabad. It is said that there are two styles of sculptures in this temple. One of them is supposed to be under the direction of a master sculptor called Yellanchari from Varanasi. The other is said to be a later south Indian sculptor. Fig 18b belongs (I think) to the Varanasi style and that in Fig 18c to the south Indian (Vijayanagara?) style. A closer look at the eyes of the broken figures is possible in one the less damaged section (Fig 18d). The eyes (see inset of Fig 18d) of the male drummer and the female dancer does seem to be more of the east Asian type and mimics the so-called “Ajanta style”. It seems that with more recent styles the poses of the ladies become less graceful, the styles more awkward, the carvings coarser, the breasts more incroyable, and the eyes rounder. The other feature is the row of diamonds near the dancers (Figs 17a and 18c) which make the age of the sculpture around 11th-12th century.

Part III: Not only Lady Ganapathy

I finally found the kind of panel that I was looking for in the search of the internet of lady ganapathi. What we had in the internet was the figure of lady ganapathi (vinayaki) as in Figs 19c and 19d. There are three other panels (Figs 19a, 19b and 19e) sans vinayaki. There are some features of interest:-
19. 1) all the figures are ladies.
19. 2) There are vahanas for most of the figures (except in Fig 19b) so the figures are deities. Thus the lady ganapathi has the rat as her vahana. So it is indeed a lady ganapathi. But wait till 19. 7
19. 3.) The sculpture of the deity in Fig 19b resembles that in Fig 6d from the Gadag-Lakkundi temples.
19. 4) The deities in Fig 19a have a bell in their lower left hand sometimes said to indicate worshippers.
19. 5) Very few of the mudras are recognizable; most of them hold a bead in one of their hands.
19. 6) Most of the deities have halos on their heads; the halo on the heads of Fig 19a, right, and Fig 19 f left have a halos similar to those in Fig 4. These figures also carry a damaru (Fig 19 f1) in their top right hand.
19. 7) There are the recognizable iconic Vahanas, objects in hand and mudras. These are discussed in more detail below. The surprising part is that not only is there a female ganapathi, but all the male gods seem to be depicted as female as discussed below in longer detail than one would (19. 7a) have liked perhaps.
19. 7a) There is the swan (Fig 19e right and possibly Fig 19c right) so that the deity could be Saraswathi or Varuna. Saraswathi does not always have to have a veena in her hand. I have not seen many early (before 11th century?) sculptures with veena although there is this lovely (6th century?) Badami sculpture of Nataraja holding what could be a veena or an ektara or dotara with one hand and playing it with another. Sheer madness! Thank god! The fig in 19c has her top right hand fingers placed as if playing a stringed instrument (veena?) and her bottom left hand seem to hold a book which would make the deity Saraswathi. the bull is seen as the vahana of the deity in fig 19e, left, as well as that of the deity in fig 19e, centre, which has the sign of a chakra on its upper right hand (Vishnu?). A man is the vahana of the fig 19a, left which, otherwise, has the characteristics of Siva. A man could be the vahana of Kubera closely associated with Siva as his worshipper. Kubera (half-brother of Ravana) is supposed to be a dwarf, deformed and three-legged. He is the god of wealth who lent Vishnu money for his marriage to Padmavati for which devotees will continue to go till the end of Kaliyug to Tirupathi to donate money to pay back Vishnu’s (Venkateshwara’s) debts. They are paying only the interest now. The human vahana (Fig 19a) has a cramped look as if the weight is on the shoulder; the human vahana in Fig 19d has the normal look of a person holding something up with two hands. The pose of these two human vahanas seem to be that of the mithuna couple that are below a caitya arch in the Buddhist caves at Karle near Pune (Fig 19 f3). The elephant as a vahana is seen in Fig 19a, centre and right. Murugan, Saman (more associated with Buddhists; holds a lotus by his left hand and accompanied by an elephant), Brihaspathi (grandson of Brahma through Angiras; taught gods to fight demons; identified with Jupiter) and Harihar putra (Dravidian and associated with Buddha or bodhisattva) are among the gods associated with elephant as a vahana. The vahana bird in Fig 19d, right, seems to be a peacock so that the deity seems to be Skanda who reins in the vahanas vanity by having its tail folded.

The lion-like face at the apex of the arch (Gavaksa, Sukanasa) is variously known as Kirttimukhis (such as in fig 8f from Gadag-Lakkundi) or vyalis in the Karnataka region. The arch of the Gavaksa which is “beset with curly carvings; foam, flames and wings…” which extend to the elephant-like mouth of the so-called mythical Makaras. This combination of lion-face, arch and makara is (probably) known as Kala Makara (Face of Glory). The Kirttimukhi in Fig 8d has no makara while that in Fig 8f has no arch. The style of the Kirttimukhi/makara complex is indicative of something (which is not saying much, I guess) about the time when it was made. The “curly” part of the arch actually consists of rings within which Buddha-like (male?) figures are seated with their hand held in various mudra positions. There thus seems to be support for a Siva-Buddha association which has been the continuous theme in the Bhuleshwar-on-the-hill description. A more detailed analysis of the Kala Makara complexes in Fig 19 could probably throw more insights which I will have to delay till more hindsights are obtained from future visits and study. In passing, one could make the (unrefereed) comment that the lion-faced Kirtti mukhi (fig 8f) may have come out of the earlier faces of the kalash (fig 8e).

The makara is associated with Buddhist sculpture beginning from old Buddhist caves (Fig 19 f2; vihara 15 at Nadsur; from Vidya Dewhejia, Early Buddhist Rock temples). An item on the internet of interest is that the makara may be associated with a 1922 sighting from Margate Beach on the (Indian Ocean side of South Africa) of a bizarre sighting of a furry polar-bear-like fish with elephant-like trunk (therefore named Trunko) and lobster-like tail fighting two killer whales. Its carcass (~ 50’x10’x5’) was presumably lying on the beach for 10 days. Sceptics say that the “fur” was actually rotting flesh, and the whale were not fighting but feasting off the carcass of some dead giant whale.

Part IV: Is there an Ending?

It is difficult to imagine that one can ever find an end to this story. I had no idea that I will end up writing such a lengthy blog on a subject I did not know anything about. I did not take any trouble to study th plan or the temple architecture. I must leave it to the next trip which I plan to do during the monsoon. It is after one comes out that one is left wondering what the temple is all about. So one could explore much more and one also has to go to other places. As I said in the first part there are two parts to the temple. One is within a walled-enclosure which is separated from another part through which one enters. There is a small gap (Fig 20a) between these two enclosures where one can sit and chat and meditate. It is here, in this gap, that one finds the stucco sculpture of the lady ganapathi that I mentioned in the earlier blog on the exterior of Bhleshwar-on-the-hill.

Through one of these window-like openings, one would be able to look into (Fig 20b) the place where Nandi the bull is placed facing the sanctum sanctorum. The image that lingers on is the time you spent inside amidst the sculptures of a strange time trying to find your spot in the sun (Fig 20c).

As you walk in the small corridor you come across some sculptures of another race or another class than those inside. You could say they are having an orgy which sun temples in India encourage although it could be of the inhibited kind; it is not clear whether they were ladies having a gay time. This would justify the temple as a lady deity temple. They could have also been advertising for some fine underwear which the skill of the sculptor has managed to bring out.

The installation of these slabs has been very clumsy in terms of the cement work which has spilt onto the sculptures. The ethnicity of the people in these slabs could be the same as those of the dancers. They seem to be different from those inside (Fig 19c) who constitute part of the war scene in Fig 13a.

As the trip ends and one looks at the temple from other angles (Fig 22a, from under a ficus tree), and the shadows lengthen on the outer platform (fig 22b), you wonder what people and what civilization show signs of what had existed on the hill. You wonder what ruins or damged sculpture you will find below the hill or, say, under the trees to the left of Fig 22b. As you drive away towards Saswad wondering what temples adorn distant hills (Fig 22c) you notice that times change and cultures grown from modern times would have temple sculptures with gods holding cricket bats instead of maces, and veenas, and chakras, or even lotus flowers.

I imagine I belong to that tribe who like to ask why; this can be quite painful to the other listeners as Aristotle found out. You are irritating if you ask why. You are also damned if you should claim to know the answers, especially if it is like revealing the ending of a thriller. Fortunately, Bhuleshwar on the hill has no learned authority to guide you. As decided on the internet Bhuleshwar is a temple from the 13th century. This is quite late into the development of Indian temple architecture. I think there is sufficient reason to believe otherwise. Some sites insist that it is from the era of the pandavas of the Mahabharata and 13th century in the same breath. In the absence of any first hand statement from people who actually worked on this structure, as well as in the absence of any bias, there can be no authoritative report on Indian ethnic groups or caste systems (despite Louis Dumont’s brave effort in Homo Hierarchicus).

One may ask, who is an, if not the, authority on such topics? The study of history as we know it today is something based on scholarship of the western kind with a religious background of good and evil and white and black. It is also based on the notion that there is homogeneity of people through space and time (compared to several generations) and that there is an evolution. There is therefore this attempt to systematize and classify. From what I see around me the peopling of India is least homogeneous. The ethnic changes in the people are perhaps the slowest when ruling classes change. These ethnic changes seem to me to be independent of what has been proscribed in religious or vedic texts. Any scholarly analysis of such changes must be confined to scholarship and may not be in any related to people living outside this confinement. Such westwardly oriented books (by westerners and their trained counterparts in India) have little chance to represent the excitement and the living vibrancy of the Indian craftsman.

In many books on Indian temples, the architecture of the temple is emphasized. This is a proper subject to study if one wants a cold blooded precise statement. Temples have been built and they have survived over centuries and millennia, just like palaces and forts. One wants to know what principles were involved. But that is not all there is to the temples. After going through the internet for much more than a little while I finally came upon a 1991 book titled “Indian Temple Architecture” by one Adam Hardy on the development of the forms of shrine between the 7th and 13th centuries,. Hardy is a good surname to have in the context of discovering Indian genius considering that a mathematician Hardy “discovered” the genius (at least for the Western world) of Ramanujan. It seems that Andy Hardy, a scholar of considerable repute, was a Ph. D. student when he wrote his thesis on this subject in the early 1990s. He is a Reader in Cardiff University now. If he is Welsh I should like him because of the built in music of our spoke language.

Adam Hardy took considerable pains to sketch out the details of the evolution of temple styles in his book (available on Google books to some extent). Introducing his work to an audience, it has been written about his contribution “Hindu temples embodied structured patterns of movement in their architectural compositions. Compositional elements are made to appear to multiply, to emerge and expand out from the body of the shrine, and out from one another, as interpenetrating elements differentiate themselves and come apart. As well as a spatial structure, a temple has a temporal one, of which a given spatial arrangement is a momentary glimpse, or rather, a succession of such glimpses.” I think Adam Hardy has come to the most important point of the vibrant life built into a temple as it evolves with the different generations of craftsmen with changing environmental influences. They have been instructed to execute something. They work on the basic global plan and execute them in their own way. So the kirtti mukhis and the makaras and the kala makaras or the kalash is there but each of them on the same temple are different in some way.

Writing about Adam Hardy, Giles Tillotson (another European Historian of recent vintage) writes about Hardy’s distinctive theory of kinetic force of temple design: “Temple forms unfold and multiply; each form has emerged from within another and in turn becomes the source of the next. This process can be observed on two levels. It can be seen within any given regional tradition over a period of time, wherein a sequence of temples displays increasing elaboration and splitting of forms. But any individual temple can also be seen as representing the processes at a single arrested moment, as if it were a depiction of something organic and growing, like a still photograph of an opening flower bud.”

It seems to me that the Bhuleshwar temple on the hill has many of these arrested moments. I have paid attention here to the ethnic features even I had been motivated by understanding a lady ganapathi and finding that in parts that she occupies all gods are ladies. From the way the figures change as detailed in the two blogs on Bhuleshwar-on-the-hill one sees a possible continuity from the sixth century to 16th century. I have sort of focused on the oriental nature of the eyes and also of the possible influence of saiva-buddhist unions, as well as saivite-vaishnavite transformations. There is a possibility of influences from Rashtrakuta temples and kings with Nepalese wives who built Kailash temple in Ellora. It has been over time and with considerable damage and possible current indifference. This need not continue to be so.

There is more to study.

Next time, it will be during the monsoon. I will take a torch. I have not looked at the ceilings. I will take a compass to see how we are oriented. I will also take a tape and measure out the plan of the temple. I will have the scholarly answers. I will miss out on the life and the vibrancy of the temple.