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Shiv Lings at Tanjore

The city of Tanjore is not big geographically. In a single day it is possible to visit the 2 important world heritage sites.

But to look at everything that those sites contain, one must set aside at least one whole lifetime.

The heat did everything it could to dampen my excitement – but the energy to see as much as I could got me out there morning, noon and night. Again and again I went to each of the two sites. And yet I remain hungry for more.

Unlike in other large cities, where one gets these delights only in a museum, in many many cities in India and in South East Asia, the sites themselves are living and thriving museums. Complete. Whole.

Here, every pillar, every statue is alive with meaning, surrounded by people who value the meaning and understand it with their souls.

And so, I take delight in not only the art and architecture that I see, but also in the observable culture that I see being practiced by the local residents. This final element brings it all together and adds soul to the experience.

The only lament is my lack of knowledge of the local language – for there were so many questions and so much yet to be understood – that every passerby would have known the answers to, but I did not have the words for the questions.

But never mind what I missed – I will focus on what I did enjoy thoroughly.

**

The Tanjore Big Temple has no deity – just a very very very very large Shivling – a representation of the union of Shiva and Parvati.

Outside the main temple in the compound border, there are chambers. The Shiv Lings are in one section of the chambers and the walls are painted with murals. Though I cannot be sure, the paintings appear to be those of the Nayanar saints – that I will present in the next note.

Here are some images:

***

The subject of Shiv Ling is life itself.

It embodies the union that creates life – the union of the Male and the Female – Shiva & Parvati.

In Bali – where the essence of Hinduism is unadulterated and intact, this is called the Lingam-Yoni – where both segments are mentioned and given equal importance.

As these topics are sensitive, do look up Google, Wikipedia and Quora to find out what the ling-yoni represents.

But once again, I am convinced that the construct of the Shiv ling and the worship thereof is directed at the celebration of “Life”.

I am no theosophy scholar nor am I driven by faith. But elegant concepts and ideas attract & captivate me. And THIS is one of those ideas.

***

Jaina Mishra

wovensouls.com

2 comments on “Shiv Lings at Tanjore

  1. Pingback: Tanjore Diaries | The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM

  2. Stephanie Miller
    August 17, 2022

    I read your articles as much for your insightful, personal, intelligent commentary as for the wonderful images and information.

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2022 by in Culture Kaleidoscope and tagged , , , , , , , .

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