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   India > Mumbai > Elephanta Caves > Shiva slaying Andhaka
Shiva slaying Andhaka
Shiva slaying Andhaka
Section 7 on 10

Elephanta Caves

approx. between the Vth and the VIIIth century

Area related : Mumbai

Open daily excepted monday

UNESCO World Heritage Site (Définitif) : 1987

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The engraved panel in considered to be a unique sculpture in the north end of the aisle, and shows Bhairava, or Virabhadra, a frightful form of Shiva.

79 Ko
A large sculpture in Ravana-Ki-Khai cave in Ellora depicts the same story.

In Hinduism, Andhaka (अंधक) often refers to a malevolent demon.

After birth, Andhaka was given to the demon Hiranyaksha to be raised, as Hiranyaksha had no sons. Later, Andhaka became the king of Hiranyaksha's kingdom.

Shortly after becoming king Andhaka discovered that his cousins were plotting to overthrow him, so he retreated to the forest to meditate. He fasted and stood upon one leg for more than one million years, chopping off parts of his body as a sacrifice to Brahma as he waited.

Brahma finally appeared and Andhaka asked that he be allowed to see, and become immortal — to be able to be killed by no-one. Brahma agreed so long as Andhaka named the circumstances of his own death, to which Andhaka said he would die if he ever chose to marry a woman who is like a mother to him.

Andhaka returned to his kingdom and quickly calmed the problems with his cousins.

Some millions of years later, three of Andhaka's generals (Duryodhana [This is not the Duryodhana from the Mahabharata], Vighasa and Hasti) happened upon Shiva and Parvati in a cave, but did not recognise them. They thought that the woman was beautiful enough for their king, and so hurried back to tell him the good news.

Andhaka asked them to return and ask for the woman in marriage. Shiva refused and Andhaka rushed to the cave to do battle.

There then followed a battle that lasted for hundreds of years and involved many other gods and demons, but finally Shiva killed Andhaka by thrusting his trident through his son's chest.

From Wikipedia
Text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation
In the carved panel Shiva's consort is seen sitting next to him, looking terrified. A female attendant is next to her. The central figure, which is much ruined below the waist, is measured at 11.5 feet (3.5 m) high, is posed as if running. His headgear has a ruff on the back, a skull and cobra over the forehead, and the crescent high on the right. His facial expression is of intense anger discerned from his furrowed brow, swollen eyes, and tusks. The legs and five of the eight arms are broken, attributed to Portuguese vandalism. The smaller broken image Andhaka is seen below Bhairava's image. It is interpreted that Shiva is spearing him with the front right hand, as conjectured by the spear seen hanging with out any hold. Also seen is the back hand lifted up and holding an elephant's skin as a cover; the elephant's head, carved tusk, and trunk are seen hanging from the left hand. The second left hand depicts a snake coiled round it. The hand holds a bowl to collect the blood dripping from the slain Andhaka.

Furthermore, pieces of a male and two female forms, figures of two ascetics, a small figure in front, a female figure, and two dwarfs are also seen in the carved panel. An unusual sculpture seen above the head of the main figure of Shiva is of a "very wide bottle with a curved groove in the middle of it", which can interpreted.
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Shiva slaying Andhaka