One toe!

“इति श्रीरावण-कृतम्

“Thus ends the Shiva Tandava Stotram, written by Sri Raavan.”

You subjugate all nine planets (navaghrah), all three worlds – heaven, earth and underworld, and all living beings. You are master of such knowledge that even your worst enemies would seek your presence to consecrate yagyas and offer prayers on their behalf. Things like all the wealth of the world is yours for the taking (albeit by force from your half-blood brother). When you are the strongest, the most knowledgeable and the most intelligent being alive, you would have some pride, wouldn’t you? Raavan did.

Was anything impossible for Raavan? Virtually no! Apparently, Naarad once told him that if could impress Lord Shiva somehow, He would grant Raavan boons that would make him invincible. As nothing was impossible for Raavan, he marched to Mount Kailash the adobe of Lord Shiva. Upon reaching, he did penance for many years but Lord Shiva was unimpressed. Angry with ignorance, Raavan sat down on one knee and picked up Mount Kailash on his shoulders, Mount Kailash with Lord Shiva and His family on it.

When He felt the tremors, Lord Shiva understood what was happening. To teach Raavan a lesson, while sitting on top of Mount Kailash He pushed it down with one toe. Raavan, the strongest, the most knowledgeable and the most intelligent being alive, was pinned down, and cried out loud in pain (and hence Lord Shiva gave him the name Raavan, from its Sanskrit root word “Ru”, which means to cry, bewail, roar, scream).

Lord Shiva was unmoved by Raavan’s cries. Raavan’s pain was compounded by the agony of not being able to impress Him, so he decided to do the unthinkable. Still pinned down under Mount Kailash, he ripped apart one of his heads (he had ten!) and one of his hands, took out his intestines and used them as strings to make a makeshift Veena, and started singing praises of Lord Shiva, which would go on to become known as Shiva Tandava Stotram (click here), which is still sung by devotees of Lord Shiva.

Raavan, the strongest, the most knowledgeable and the most intelligent being to have ever lived – fixed with one toe!

In the mortal world, nothing comes closer to depiction of Mount Kailash and the many stories associated with, than Kailash Temple in Ellora, Maharashtra, India. A World Heritage Site and commissioned by the Rashtrakutas, built in 8th century AD, Kailash (also known as cave no. 16) measuring 82m X 46m, is a megalith, i.e. built from one single rock. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

Kailash Temple
Kailash Temple is a World Heritage Site and was dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Kailash Temple was built top down (unlike other temples which are built bottom up) from a single rock mountain. It is estimated that in the process of building this temple, 400,000 tonnes of rock must have been scooped out, yet there is no large deposit of excavated rock to be seen nearby.

The temple is filled with depictions of many stories from the mythologies, and also includes full depiction of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The elephants carved at the base of the main temple give an impression as if they are holding the temple aloft. The ground floor of the main temple is solid rock, and takes the weight of the huge Shivling in the sanctum on the first floor. If looked closely, one can also see a painting on the ceiling in the first floor, and the painting has stayed intact more than a millenium.

The courtyard is surrounded by an arcade three stories high and depicting stories related mainly to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu through lively sculptures, complete with even facial expressions.

All of it, from one freakin’ rock, which was freakin’ ‘uge!

In frame: Front view of the Kailash Temple, in Ellora, Maharashtra, India. A World Heritage Site, Kailash Temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva and built in 8th century AD. It is a megalith i.e. built top down from a single rock mountain.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.


Published by

Amrit Panigrahy

Amrit is a freelance photographer and a storyteller.

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