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ARJUNA’S PENANCE

 This rock bas-relief was built by king Narasimha I. This rock is shaped like that of a huge wale. The sculpture is carved at the back portion of the whale shaped stone. It measures 27 meters in length and 9 meters in height with a crack in the middle of the rock. Arjuna is the great here of the great epic Mahabharata. On either sides of the rock one can fin d the God’s of the triple world, demi-gods, or gods of men, birds and beasts, the Nagas, the Nymphs all found mingling into the theme of Arjuna’s penance.

        The figures are carved in such a way as one can see that these figures hurry to see the miracle happened or which is about to happen. Figures of Sun and Moon are also seen. The other celestial (heavenly beings) of the race are the Yakshas, Gandharvas, Vidyadhars and attendants of Gods who can sing, dance and perform other fine arts. The other figures are Siddhas, Charnas, Kimpurushas, Kinnara (half-man and half-bind) with musical instruments like cymbals veena in their hands.

        The other carving of a dense forest, the tribal and animals are seen. Influencing figures of a bid sitting on the tree, a black monkey staring the spectators and an iguana climbing a tree can be seen. Carvings of hunters with bow and arrows, rabbits, deer, tiger and a herd of elephants are also seen. There is also a figure of a saint standing on one leg, meditating with folded hands above his head and eyes closed. To its right is the figure of Lord Shiva. Another portrait of a shrine where Lord Vishnu and four saints are seated. The head of three saints have eroded due to the waves. There is a portrait of a river bank, a man standing on a bank praying to the sun, Nagas from underworld coming up with folded arms and sculptures of monkeys are also seen.

        There is confusion whether this rock sculpture is the story of Mahabharata, where Arjuna undergoes meditation to be favored by Lord Shiva on the side of River Krishna or the meditation of Bhagiratha, an ancestor to Lord Rama who was sent to redeem the souls of his ancestors as inscribed in the Ramayana. Whatever the case may be, the skill and the talent of the artists are brilliant and to be applauded. They look realistic as well as humorous. This Arjuna’s penance is really a wonderful portrayal of art.

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