The Parasurameswar temple at Bhubaneswar on its front facade sports a Nataraja (dance lord) medallion offers various bhangis (pose), mudras (expression), vastra (dress), gahana (ornaments), vadya (musical instruments) & sangeeta (vocal music) as noted in Oddisi classical dance performance. The chitra bhasa (art dialect) offers homology with the narration as noted in Koyili purana, which is the sthala purana attributed to Nataraja shrine at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Mardala tala & Vairava raga as accompaniment is indicated. Nidarsana (indication) of the chitra bhasa is loaded with possessiveness & nativity with local geomorphology.

Key Words

Parasurameswar, Nataraja medallion, Koyili purana, oddisi, mudra, bhangi, mardala, Chidambaram,.


The Parasurameswar temple at Bhubaneswar dt. to 650 AD is the best preserved, extant specimen of ancient Hindu religious structure in Orissa 1, it is a rich store house of decorative art 2. The repertoire represents numerous dance pictures involving males, females & Hindu deities. Ekamra (monotonous mango groove) alias present Bhubaneswar (lord of Universe) was the erstwhile capital of Kalinga 3. The term Kalinga means ‘ clever ’ 4. Modern scientific research indicates this shrine to be central & having astral connection 5, 6. From ecclesiastical angle, after Lingaraj this is the second most important shrine. On its front facade 7 is a Nataraja of immaculate workmanship, termed as Parasuram Nataraja (P N) fig 1. Similarly, Badami Nataraja (B N) of late 6th AD in S W India 8, 9 Ellora Nataraja (E N) of 9th AD in W India 10 Chola Nataraja (C N) 11 dt. to 11th AD and the Chennai museum specimen dt. to 13th A D in S India 12 are comparable, immaculate, authentic, specimens.

* Studio Building, Kedar Gouri Road, Bhubaneswar – 751002 INDIA. [email protected]

Since Nataraja is held as the fountain head of shastriya nritya (classical dance) 15, nritya aspects therefore becomes central to this study, comparative art motifs are co-linear members associated & supplementary items are co-lateral referrals. The non Hindu dance panels of Bharut-Sanchi pillars (BSP) art of 2nd -1st BC in N India 13, 14 is also taken as a collateral item because of its nritya component and antiquity.

Figure 1
fig – 1

Many scholars have studied this monument, but non have exclusively focused on P N medallion pan India studies on Nataraja have missed it altogether.


The topic focuses on the peculiarities in the art of Kalingiya Nataraja. Discussions on individual components & items on a member to member juxtaposed basis provides positions for perspection. Interphasing articulated details (art & archaeology) with loric aspects (traditions), commonality, logical positions, variation from actuality, logic & scientific parameters is the methodology herein. The scope is limited to co-linear members (i.e. 4 iconic members as noted at 4 principal heritage sites – iconology schools ). Such select scope compacts histo-geographic span, makes the topic integrated, enables swivel perspection validated by methodology.

Kimbadanti [Tradition]

Parasuram alias Parasareswar is the rudra (terrific) aspect of Siva. The shrine is known by either names. The enshrined linga (gender pendent) is held as a swayambhu (self manifesting ). While astral connections & cosmic aspects have been imparted to Parasuram temple by modern researchers 16, cosmic connections have been related to the philosophy associated with Natraja murti in general & to C N in particular by ecclesiastical order 17.

T. Satyamurti 18 writes that Siva is said to have performed the blissful, glorious, victory, dance Nadanta (Nd) first at a place called Darukavana (Azadirachta indica (note – i), a bustling center of risis (hermitage ). Quoting Coomaraswami, Koily PuranaK P Tiruvachagam et.al texts T.G. Rao calls it Taraka forest. Coomaraswami, Rao & Satyamurti narrate that Nd performance was witnessed by Vishnu disguised as Mohinee. Vishnu Adishesa in due course did much penance to propiate Siva to re-perform Nd. A pleased Siva is said to have agreed to a re-performance in the forest of Tillai (Excocecaria agallochaGuan in Oriya the local lingua of Orissa). Adishesa is said to have taken rebirth as Patanjali. Meanwhile, the son of Madhyanadinasri (the lord of noon) who lived on the banks of Ganga had a son who was a ardent devotee of Siva. During pilgrimage the son found a swyambhu linga (self-manifesting Siva) under a banyan tree, near a pond. He started penance. His mode of penance was to pluck flowers in the wee hours before the bee’s would collect nectar and offer the flowers to the swyambhu linga. His penance was also to behold the glorious dance of Siva. This singari mali (flower plucker) was so adapt in climbing trees and locate flowers in the dark that he was called Byaghrapada (tiger footed ). Patanjali and Byaghrapada had their separate ashrams (hermitages), both worshipped the swyambhu of Tillai forest ! Both awaited upon Siva to present himself in Nd mode. As promised, Siva appeared with his consort Siva kama sundari, re-performed AT for the awaiting devotee duo in the presence of other gods 19, 20. K P is said to be a sthala purana (site specific) and a aupa purana (sub-epic lesser-epic) ascribed to the great shrine at Chidambaram in T N yet no art has so far been related with K P.

In Karnataka there is a river called Taraka. Archaeaology at Bhubaneswar (erstwhile capital of Kalinga) has been indicated to have a Taraka (giant star) pattern of lay out 21 Taraka also means falling star. Karnataka vrs TN and Karnataka vrs Orissa have been at politico-ethnic-cultural rivalry at least since Pulakesin &ndashII&rsquos time (7th AD) Orissa vrs TN rivalry has been since Kesari-I Chola era (10th AD). Das sites Manu the Hindu law giver (2nd BC) to indicate Kalinga as the land of the lowly, further quotes Matsya purana to indicate Odradesa (Orissa) as the land of the mlechas 22.Kalinga has been indicated as the land of the mlechhas 23, mlechha means non Sanskrit dialect speaker low person 24. Siva before commencing re-performance of Nd at Chidambaramis said to have subjugated the muyalaka apasmara purusha (dwarf lowly person) of Taraka forest 25.

Hindu texts of all hues are equivocal that Siva himself was a lowly person. His proposal to marry Gauri the daughter of the sovereign of the Himalayan territories was objected to by all concerned excluding the divine girl. Objection was on cast, colour & creed grounds. Dakshya (father of Gauri) had set up for Gauri’s marriage. Siva was not invited. On his uninvited arrival Siva was alluded to ‘ as the lowly ’ ! That led Siva to disrupt the Yajyan (holy fire) which Dakshya had set up for the ritual. In the Indian subcontinent fire has always been holy & specially held in extreme esteem primarily by the Vedic civilisation & in later times by the Zoroastrians (lineage). Again, when Gauri committed suicide by immolating herself Siva is said to have picked up her lifeless body & had performed RUDRA TANDAVA dance in mad rage & abundance [ Rudra tandava is loaded with violence while Ananda tandava reflects joy ]. Therefore, Nataraja’s Tandava has a strong integer of inter civilisation & inter-cultural contest with Tandava prevailing always with the victor. It is also due to inter region or inter society rivalry, regional peculiarities as associated with nritya also gets reflected in cognate specimens.Nataraja murti has been used by each society as a vehicle. In this paper, contest between parties in respect to time & place is further exfoliated. Nata-Tandava (tandava the dance) has never been presented in such perspective prior to this paper.

Golakara [The Medallion]

On the vajramastaka (thunder head) of the mukhasala (front porch) of Parasurameswar deula (shrine) is a Nataraja murti (dance-lord icon) inscribed within a golakara ( medallion) fig 1. It is central to the entire art scheme on the mukhasala fig 2. In this medallion a male and female figure can be seen sitting atop separate tree foils and watching Siva performing nritya fig 3 & 4. The two figures are of Byaghrapada and Sivakama sundari respectively. Similarly a female&rsquos face having a vaishnavait tilak peeps from beside Umma&rsquos left in Ravana-anugraha murti this is Vishnu in Mohinee rupa fig 5. All around are sculptured representation of various divinities from the Hindu pantheon as in K P.

Figure 2
fig – 2
Figure 3
fig – 3
Figure 4
fig – 4
Figure 5
fig – 5

Ethano-Archaeology & Geography

250 mts, to the W of Parasuram monument is Uttareswar complex. Tradition holds Vairava to have performed a victory dance here after devastating the irreligious occupants (most likely Hinayana &ndashBuddhist) 26 the site is a ex Hinayana site. 450 mts. further to SW is the compound of ancient Manibhadreswar (8-10th A.D.) it is called Bagha badi (Tiger&rsquos place). 400 mts. to SW is a sakta (goddess) shrine called Mohinee (8-10th A.D.). 150 mts. along SW line was the shrine ofPataleswar (note – ii ). Affront the temple to W was a pond (now filled up & encroached). To the S E at about 100 mts. is a natural spring called Guan jhara (agallocha spring). Guan or E. Agallocha is a poisonous plant (sap causes irreversible retinal damage), that grows in moist soil conditions. All around Parasurameswar spire are natural springs. Water of Guan jhara yet contains trace amounts of toxin. Siva has been associated with the flower of the poisonous plant Durdura (stromnium), Naja Naja a poisonous reptile. Guan has been held as the sthala vriksha at Chidambaram 27. Guan has not been reported from Chidambaram (center of Universe ). Byaghrapada&rsquos swayambhu was located beneath banyan tree. All around Parasurameswar are banyan (ficus religiosa) grooves, including one being adjacent to its south boundary. The groove to its N W is a ethnic heritage site called Dhun devi khala. The only meandering river that still flows by near, is the river of yore called Gangua alias Gandhabati.

Taraka means falling star 28. In Indian lingua, Star is nomenclatured as Tara. Top vertical view of individual monument and location plan of all monuments around indicate a giant star laid on ground composed of numerous stars, each being a shrine. The muyalaka apasmara purusha could well be the avaidic followers of mimansa who as per K P were subdued by the Southern Nataraja 29. The narration in K P offers closer inter-relation with ethono-archaeology & geography of Bhubaneswar than with Chidambaram interestingly both these nouns can be used as synonyms. The narrations in KP & Tiruvachagam offer strong internal evidence to enable co-relationing.

Co-linear Members

B N, E N, C N & BSP are dated art members on durable plastic. They being hailed as referral specimens by iconographers & dance exponents are taken as co-linear members as part of topical perspection methodology for better elucidation.

Co-lateral Aspects

Histo-Religio Perspective

Co-lateral aspects arise when co-linear members are juxtaposed. Between the co-linear members numerous divinities are noted as onlookers, co-participants, etc. B N, E N presents a crowd, later evolved C N is sans the crowd. P N presents as many members as B N & E N but in a Kalingiya (clever & marvelous) manner amidst prasphutana (inflorescence) of lalit kala (fine art) with nikhuna nidarsana (immaculate indication) in golakar (circumscribed). Three aspects may be noted from histo-religio perspective, (i) Ganesha-Bhringi jodi (combination) in santulita stiti (balanced state ) (ii ) assembled saiva member divinities are engaged in fighting & rejoicing as a result of battle, non saiva members are on-lookers (iii ) Victory & re-emergence of Hindu way of life by giving to Ravana five faces which represent pancharatna of Buddha&rsquos way fig 2. The beholders eye & mind roams about in circles (swivels) as does an oddisi performer & beholder&rsquos. Nataraja being bindu (center point ) such mindful roaming is in relation to bindu.

Kalinga was a non-Sanskrit territory. Patanjali was a Sanskrit grammarian 30. Vishnu, Mohinee, other Hindu divinities, Siva kama sundari, Bhygrapada & Patanjali are mentioned in K P. In P N medallion alone Patanjali is absent which may be nidarsana of possible conflict with Patanjali, his times, thought & territory.

Feet Position

In nritya & in nritya murtis, pada bhangi (feet position ) is the most important aspect. P N shows both his feet on ground in kumbha pada (pot position) mode. Chatura pada (intelligent) is noted in B N & E N [ note – iii, iv & v ] Bhumistita

kumbha pada is not encountered in cognate art of Mahar-Kannada-Tamil territory. In oddisi nritya, chatura pada pose are sub-classed as kunchita & ardha-kunchita pada (drawn & half drawn) 31. In the art of Parasurameswar & it&rsquos cognate group non divine figures do strike these poses fig 9. Feet pair in B N, E N & P N touch ground describing arcs at varied degrees in the vertical & horizontal plain in the overall class of bhumistita pada (grounded feet). C N describes utalita pada (uplift feet) thrown across the central line of the body. Utalita pada is not noted in the art of cognate group in Orissa, nor in B N & E N. Muyalaka apasmara purusha is trampled upon only in C N & its cognate school. Chatura may be conjectured as indigenous to Kannada-Mahar saili KMS kumbha may be conjectured as indigenous to Kalingiya sailiKS utalita as indigenous to Tamil saili – TS.

Suddha saivas invoke Siva in a kumbha (pot) 32. At Parasurameswar, a row of six kumbhas are sculptured as the base of Ravana anugraha murti on the mukhasala fig-6. Parasurameswar is a Pasupat shrine, pasupats have been referred to as siddhamtims & suddha saivas 33.

Figure 6
fig – 6

Nada (sound) emanates from vadya (musical instruments), both are intimately associated with the very term of Natraja. K P makes it very clear that Siva performed Nd first in the forest of Taraka & then again at Tillai (note – vi ]. Therefore nada aspect as associated with co-linear members needs to be discussed.


The percussions that are positioned on the floor beside B N are vadya jodi (percussion set ). Either have diagonal poly fasteners holding the two sides. One drum is placed horizontally, another vertically (right angle to each other). Either drum had to be played at a time is clearly indicated 34. The pair may be said to represent two different type of drums having two different range of acoustics i.e. sound waves from the horizontal vadya waft at floor level sound waves waft towards the ceiling from the vertically positioned vadya is the nidarsana. E N depicts only one vadya having a single strand of fastener running diagonally to each other, being played by a single person with both hands 35. This could be proto dholaka (drum ]. C N self holds the damaru (kettle drum) in one of his raised arms 36. P N medallion depicts vadya jodi, being played by another person having tri-netra (triple-eyed) fig – 7 who is well ornamented. P N is tri-netra fig 1. The vadya jodi appears to be more tapered towards the top, while they rest on circular muchula (rope coils) which absorb the vibrations, avoid direct contact with hard ground and give angular stability for player&rsquos convenience. The player is seated on a manchia (low footed stool ). In Mukteswar dasabhuja Nataraja murti 37 double drums are placed on muchala pair, while the player is perched on a manchia . Vadya jodi have a height upto the player&rsquos lower chest, which approx. works out to 24-30 inches of any avgerage Indian when seated in such posture. A oddisi mardala & Hindusthani pakhawaz measures 23-25 inches. Simultaneous play is indicated in P N medallion. Simultaneous play of vertically placed vadya jodi sans muchula & manchia is indicated in extra Orissan art 38.

Figure 7
fig – 7

Membranorgan alias percussion are also noted in BSP 39. Percussion that is associated with Indian classical dance is known as pakhawaz in north & west India and as mridamgam (subtler) in south and as mardala (intoxicating) in Orissa. Mardala & pakhawaz are similar but not identical. The instrument khol (hollow ) as in Bangla dialect is a different item and is used only in dance & music of Manupuri eitiology, in kirtans (hymns) & sugam sangeet (light music). Mardala & pakhawaz&rsquos acoustics is very rewaji (gorgeous), between the two, mardala&rsquos acoustics is more sonant, while khol&rsquos acoustics is mridu (subtle). Casual study of Sanskrit, Bangla & Tamil lexicons including Sabda Kalpa Druma, do not have the term mardala, whereas Oriya dictionary does have 40 . Mardala therefore could be a ancient Oriya term of original genealogy. The term mridangam in this study here-onwards denotes khol.

The vadya jodi has typical fasteners that is even to this date is noted on mardalas in Orissa. Genealogy of the term pakhawaj is from Sanskrit. It is therefore conjectured that the term pakhawaj could well have evolved out of philological decomposition of two Prakrit words namely pakha ( side) & awaz (sound) i.e. ‘ a instrument that produces sound from its sides &rsquo. Such vadya jodi as in fig – 7 may de-facto signify the two sides of a percussion. It could be the signature of proto mardala . Natyasastra terms drummers as mardangikas 41. Mardala & mardangika are inter homologus. Thus, in co-lateral domain of vadya as noted in ancient stone art of co-linear members K S offers interesting contrast with that of KMS, TS & BSP.

To the opposite of the divine drum player sits four arm, pasupat (thunder bolt) yielding, tri-netra Siva in sukhasana (pleasure pose), his lips are open, has mustache as alike aghora / vairava / viravadra et.al. The position of left arm is much alike shastriya (classical ) singer, as if the singer is straining himself or tapping his thigh in tandem with tala. Tandava nritya is related to Siva. The tandava has two formats [ a ] vairava (severe) and [ b ] lasya (harmonic) 42 later being performed by Vairava in late night . History of classical music has not indicated any raga (melody) to have Orissan genesis 43. There however is a ancient raga called Kalingada that is sung late at night, has close homology with vairava thata (severe platform), it is much simpler & more melodious than vairava raga 44. Two meanings can be attributed to the term Kalingada (i) fort of Kalinga (ii) Kalinga-[re]-gadha i.e. made in Kalinga. Fig – 2 and 8 could be the art signature of Tandavanritya & vocal rendering of tala or raga Kalingada by Vairava as accompaniment to Siva when he is

Nataraja. Both are tamasic (dark / severe) 45 in ethos, composition & performance. Tamasic countenance may be noted in fig – 1.

In script K P relates Nataraja exclusively with Nd, in chitra bhasa P N presents Nataraja + Siva in aksic forms as the producer of nritya, nada & tala i.e. nritya + nada + tala = nadanta (ultimate sonance). Satyamurti mentions the term Ananda Tandava 46 (joyous abundance ). Nadanta (ultimate sonance ) + ananda (joy ) = tandava (abundance). Each a product of the other & each within the other i.e. a syndrome, which is why golakar nidarsana (circular indication). A typical product of kalingiya saili (marvelous methodology).

Figure 8
fig – 8

P N medallion presents 3 divine performers, rendering in tandem three different ancient classical arts. Similarly, three prime human components are associated with oddisi nritya recital in current times, viz- nritya (dance), sangeeta (vocal recital) & vadya (instrument) respectively. Mardala being the prime item of vadya. The oddisi dancer neither plays music nor sing all accompanists are seated beside, the dancer is central to the scheme & faces the audience as in fig 1. Tri-netra accompanist , vertically placed mono face vadya jodi on muchula, simultaneous play, player perched on manchia, vairava, et.al, are not noted in B N, E N, C N & BSP.

In Hindu scholastic system vadya as alike nritya (dance) & sangeeta (vocal music) is learnt & performed in tune with well defined grammar. Raman & Palit have scientifically proven that without a pair of face of a mridangam (percussion) the range of sounds as needed in classical grammar is not possible. They use the term mridangam to denote pakhawaz and not khol. They prove, that, by varying the striking force & position, distinct & neat sounds of ultra wide spectrum are produced in very rapid manner, without internal & external echo, wave cancellation or jumbling in a mridangam as happens in Occidental instruments. They opine [ i ] “ the mridangam produces excellent acoustics &rdquo.long anusilan (practice) for the maker & the player being must [ ii ] &ldquosum total of mridangam making & mridangam playing is a learned discipline ” 47.

My study of a oddisi mardala and a mridangam (khol ) indicates that the mridangam has very distinct contrast in diameters between it&rsquos either faces than the mardala. Semi parabole body with marginally off center apogee gives to the mardala two faces of slightly variable diameter. Sound waves produced from either face gets internally squeezed & do not effectively reach the opposite membrane from within so as to set off delayed action mechanism, direct transponder cum repeater action is grossly reduced by a inner membrane of lesser tension. Hollowing technique is such that it helps in multi splitting of waves . Use of very hard, yet porous wood type such as Rakta chandan (Petrocarpus santalinus), Sisu (Dalbergia sissoo) and Daru alias Neem (Azadirachta indica) also helps in internal absorption. External propagation & echo have (i) differing frequency & pitch (ii ) opposite directed path (iii) maintain different levels (iv) notes, follow. Between the mridangam & the mardala , the master player is able to produce ultra wide range of notes having lower pitch & high decibel with the mardala. Adhering to strict norms (of playing), decibel can be altered while retaining or altering the pitch. A fast mixture of similar (non identical) notes is possible involving generation from either face produce high decible notes with one and inject notes of lower decibel with the other re-do with altering pitch. All this happens without cancellation or jumbling. The mridangam in contrast can produce higher pitch & wider bass from designate faces, no mix is possible. In other words the mardala operates within a narrower band. This exclusively makes the mardala&rsquos tala (intoxicating cadence ) stereophonic. Narrow frequencycovering only the sonant span of the audible acoustic band& stereophonic generation effects the whole of the human cochlea (inner ear), the brain picks up with ease the gamut of notes as ‘ surround effect ’, which is why the hearer sway.

Between either, playing in drut tala (fast cadence), mardala involves more ‘ strike & retention ’ of the fore-palm than ‘ free strikes ’ in absolute numbers & percentage terms. fig 7 shows the divine player using both his fore-palms, bainya (left) is coiled indicating geba kama (vertical tap by finger tips), which is said to be an indication of a master player. Elaborate treatment of the leatherine face, tout stretching of membrane, side binding technique & above all placing the gab (hard black topping) comprised of atomized quartz & cinders having residual iron, mixed with starch from cooked double boiled rice as the binder. The mixture is rubbed into either face to form a hard plaque (gab kiran). Combination of compaction, uniform thickness of membrane & plaque, radial accuracy & differential area cover between the either face enables generation of a variety of resonance with definition helps in demarcation of pitch finer control with finger work eliminate unwanted resonance production of gorgeous yet excellent acoustics i.e. mardala is capable of producing notes which is not possible with a khol mridangam or any mono face membrano-organ. Masterful play results in katha (narration) accentuating notes which emphasize tip-toeing, strolling, rolling, running, thumping, swiveling, waving, indicating (avinaya / drama), etc. among others. Mardala is the prime instrument of accompaniment in many classical dances and a must in any oddisi recital to this day.


In the domain of vastra (dress) B N & E N have angavastras. Similar angavastra (body dress) is seen on the body of a male exponent, possibly a nritya guru (dance teacher) which is a rare depiction fig 9 [ note – vii ]. The B N, E N and C N are well dressed, P N is ulanga (naked), with a very prominent urdha-linga (erect phallus) yet abhusita (ornamented) as do dancers. Jata is of low profile, tight, well set, back brushed with fine finish. Forehead has a ornamented band, which appears to tight-hold the hairdo. The band may be termed as a proto tiara [ note – viii ]. Apart ornamented kundala (ear ring), patra-kundala (leafy ear ring), hara (necklace), keyura (arm band), kankana (bracelets), mekhala (decorative hip wear ), rudrakshya make items are also worn by PN. Bengapatia which is worn as decorative west band cum ‘ dress press ’ by exponent of oddisi is not noted, however nritya-guru fig 9 wears a heavy band of interlocking rectangular grids around his waist as if a additional decorant or a status indicator cum dhoti (lion cloth) tightner. This could be proto bengapatia. Identical bands are worn by Umma & Nataraja. Abhusana in the art of P N comparatively is less than B N, E N & C N.

Urdha-linga marks the bindu of Nataraja&rsquos sarira (trunk) & of the golakara, when measured from any point of the arc fig 1. Urdha-linga stands out in bold contrast, is the apex signature of the series of fine tuned nidarsanas harvested within & around the golakara. Nritya with urdha-linga represents a philosophy, series members are products.

Figure 9
fig – 9

In the domain of anga-partyanga nidarsana ( body parts-biparts presentation) B N is sodsabhuja (16 arms) E N is astabhuja (8 arm ) P N is dasabhuja (10 arm) C N is chaturbhuja (4 arm). Anga-partyanga of co-linear members appear flexible and present mudras. Alike B N, E N & C N, each arm & leg of P N describes a angle of the arc of the golakara and as well a oddisi mudra. Notable being, vyala hasta, birodha, pataka, ardha pataka, lolita hasta, danda hasta & pasa hasta in birodha, etc.. B N, E N & P N demonstrate lolita hasta danda hasta wherein a arm is flung across the sarira. C N does so with one arm & one feet from opposite side of the sarira it counters the lines of thrusts enabling poise & balance as the sarira gets into druta nritya tala (fast dance cadence), this is a later evolutionary refinement. Sarira in B N & EN have sidereal swerve while P N has a forward bend at waist which indicates ardha chauka (half quadrant) pose which is so innate to oddisi. Feet describes dwi-mukha kumbha pada, which is a component of tandava. Eyes & countenance presents tamas bhava (severe expression) which is sudha abhinaya (pure act ) the hall mark of tandava.

B N & E N are cave members, C N & P N adore deula. B N, E N & P N are samuchita drishya (composite views). C N is kevala murti (only icon), is of brass alloy make datable to late medieval to modern period.

P N is nidarsana via chaiti vitika rudrakshya mandita golakar samuchita drishya [ indication via arch inscribed aleocarpus genitrus garlanded composite theme in medallion format ], others not, fig 2. Among other possibilities, lingakalingadeulanrityanataraja coalesce into one, may be the message, sought to be impressed upon the beholder via chitra bhasa.


Classical performing arts being scholastic in content & exercise, differing practice, levels of evolution become apparent on a histo-regional matrix. Apart regional contest there could have been differing governing philosophies. Bharata&rsquos Natya-Sastra (principles of drama) 48 is a treaties on theatrics and indicates Vedic super deity Brahma and Indra as its enunciator & inaugurator respectively, there is no Nataraja neither is dance. Therefore, natya-sastra is Vedic way of thought & life. The stone art of co-linear members presents the avaidik (non vedik ) school of nrityarchana (worship via dance) and also a successful attempt in projecting the alternative philosophy. Vedik Hindu&rsquos were not the sole. Avaidik Hindu society existed, possibly co-existed, so did a separate thought-culture & way of life 49. Nrityarchana emerges as a non-vedic component, Nataraja as it&rsquos highest refined model.

If one has to consider the Nataraja art on stone alongwith co-linear & co-lateral aspects, cognate archaeological members and art there on, then (1) act as material evidence (2) valid tool for good guidance which when applied (i) throw light on such popular socio-historical aspects, (ii) bare the evolutionary track of related thought, (iii ) migration and inter-relation, (iv) regional affinity or peculiarities. When such material is juxtaposed with kimbadanti (tradition mythic lore) a possibility arises of Ekamra being the ancient Darukavana alias the place of Taraka wherein dealt the followers of mimansa 50. In PN chaiti vitika rudrakshya mandita golakara nidarsana on deula&rsquos mukhasala underscores the inter relationship between dharma & nritya (religion & dance) resulting in nrityarchana. This study however is limited to few archaeological members while art of Nataraja proliferates in India. Application of such tool in a interdisciplinary route on the matrix of pan India panorama becomes more relevant, as because among the hue & mosaic of Hindu iconography many aspects stand in silence.


Prime frontal placement of P N underscores the fact that the then society as associated with this deula took pride in Nataraja performing publicly. The series of fine tuned nidarsanas marks out P N among co-linear members. Following conclussion emerge (i ) by 7th AD regional competition in the domain of performing arts was already in vogue [ ii ] incorporation of exclusive oddisi nritya bhangi could well have been a conscious decision (iii) existence of more than one school in pan India scenario (iv ) all schools used Nataraja variants as vehicle i.e. nritya, Nataraja & nrityarchana is more antique than 6th -7th AD. All co-linear members of the cognate group presents nritya-vadya-sangeeta (v ) P N presents to the beholder few nritya mudras, bhangis, vastra & abhusana which are exclusive to oddisi classical dance (vi ) Urdha linga may have something to do with the term Kalinga or linga worshiping sub-sect (vii ) Percussion pair may be proto mardala (viii ) P N embodies tandava while the tri-netra drum player and vairava alike vocal renderer are art signatures of nadanta & proto vairava raga or kalingada raga respectively (ix ) presents loka-katha (folk-lore) via chitra bhasa (x ) emphasizes inter-relation between sculptured members, between performing art & the patron society (xi ) centrality aspect & possessive feeling for the items contained therein (xii ) is a typical specimen of kalingiya saili (clever technique) typifies articulate brevity is a un-paralleled masterpiece. The monument is conserved by A S I and is considered as the best preserved member among the earliest cognate group of Hindu load structured monuments in India.


Dance poses were identified & terminologies validated by the doyen of Oddisi dance Padmabibhusan Padmabhusan, Padmashree the Late Kelu Charan Mahapatra. Director of ‘ SrjanOddisi nritya-basa (dance abode) and Mr. Ratikanta Mahapatra. Structure of various percussions & making of mardala & pakhawaz was studied in the workshop of Mr. Swapan Kumar Lal. Mardala & pakhawaz was played by Mr. Lal, Mr. G. Ramprasad, Mr. Sarat Das (Mahari gharana) & others for acoustic assessment. Lt. Col D. Bhattacharya of AMC facilitated visits to south Indian heritage sites. Pandit J V S Rao (Hindusthani vocal -Kala Vikas Kendra ) Mr. Pradeep Das (lecturer Orissa Sangeet Mahavidyalaya) Dr. P C Naik Ph.D (physicist) Prof. B P Chowdhury D.Sc (Botanist) of Utkal University participated in private discussions. Dr. S. Maiti Ph.D & Mr. P K Mahapatra of ASI facilitated repeat close observation of sculptures. Librarian of Orissa state Museum provided valuable references. Mr. T B Sahoo helped with computer works. Mrs Mamata Bhattacharya funded the study programme between 1996-2003. Assistance from these many people is acknowledged with deep gratitude.


  1. Orissa has a current tradition of making the trinity&rsquos icons of Jagannath shrine with log from Daru tree.
  2. There was a deity-less east facing sand stone temple of approx. 25-30 ft height made of good quality sand stone. It was disbandeld by Orissa State Archaeology dept in the sixties.
  3. In the art of Mukteswara (9th-10th AD) the feet position is that of chatura (intelligent ). This means that chatura style came to be associated with Orissan Nataraja almost two centuries later, kumbha pada preceding and being reflected in the most important specimen, being given the most important placement.
  4. The 3 feet high loose sculpture of Nataraja etched in bass relief on a 5 inch thick fine grained sandstone slab presently housed in a small later built south facing shrine located to the north of the world famous torana within Mukteswar precinct at Ekamra (Bhubaneswar ) offers near exact homology with the Badami specimen in every parameter of art & thematic content, except that this sculpture has the double drums (puskara drums) in vertical position. Nataraja is seen on the front fa&ccedilade on many Saiva shrines of Orissa datable upto 17th18th AD, few in medallion, few in rectangular formats.
  5. The medallion on south temple at Bharateswar complex also narrates similar chitra katha, feet position being kunchita, lalit kala is of lesser finish engraved on inferior plastic.
  6. Has been held as the center of Universe alias Chidambaram.
  7. Parasurameswar presents two such non divine male figures (secular) dressed differently can be said as great exponents of dance alias nritya-gurus.
  8. Has much similarity with the forehead Band on Damodar mukha – which is placed on Lingaraj&rsquos shakti every Kartik.


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  8. T G Rao Elements of Hindu Iconography, Vol – II, Part – II, PL – LXVI, fig – 1.
  9. J N Bannerjee Development of Hindu Iconography, PL – XXXVI, fig – 2.
  10. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 Pl – LXII & LXIII.
  11. O.f.c.i.t. – 9 Pl – XXXIV – 4.
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  13. K Krishana Murty Archaeology of Indian Musical Instruments, Sundeep Prakashan, Delhi, 1985.
  14. Marshall, Foucher & Majjumdar Sanchi, ASI, Vol I & II.
  15. P Bannerji Nataraja – The Dancing God, Cosmo Publication, New Delhi, 1985.
  16. O.f.c.i.t. – 5, 6 & 44.
  17. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 pp 231 – 240.
  18. T Satyamurti The Nataraja Temple – History Art & Architecture, Classical Publication, New Delhi, 1985, pp 3.
  19. I.b.i.d. pp – 2 & 3.
  20. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 pp 235.
  21. O.f.c.i.t. – 5 & 6.
  22. C R Das A Glimpse into Oriya Literature, Orissa Shitya Academy, Bhubaneswar, 1st ed, 1982, pp 10.
  23. Aloka Parasher Mlechhas in Early India – upto A D 600, Munshiram Manoharlal, ISBN-81-215-0259-X.
  24. O.f.c.i.t. – 4, Part – II, pp 1296.
  25. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 pp 235.
  26. R P Mahapatra Temple Legends at Orissa, Orissa State Museum.
  27. O.f.c.i.t. – 17 pp 3.
  28. O.f.c.i.t. – 4, Part – II, pp 769.
  29. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 pp 235 – 240.
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  31. D N Pattanaik Oddisi Nritya [ Oriya ] Orissa Sangeet Natak Academy, 3rd revised ed. 1988.
  32. O.f.c.i.t. – 8 pp 10.
  33. I.b.i.d pp 2 – 22.
  34. I.b.i.d Plate – LXVI, fig 1.
  35. I.b.i.d Plate – LXIII.
  36. I.b.i.d Plate – LVI.
  37. Swami Prajyananda A History of Indian Music Ramkrishna Vedanta Muth, 1963, Vol – I, Plate 17.
  38. O.f.c.i.t. – 15, pp 20.
  39. O.f.c.i.t. – 14.
  40. K C Kar Taruna Sabda Kosa [ Oriya dictionary ], Grantha Mandir, Cuttack, 1966, 2nd Ed. Part &ndashII, pp 166.
  41. Bharata Natyasastra (Varanasi Ed.), Ch – XXXIII, pp 206.
  42. I.b.i.d. ] Ch IV, pp 265-266.
  43. Swami Prajyananda A History of Indian Music Ramkrishna Muth, Andadha Prakashan, 1965.
  44. J S Kulashestra Sangeeta Sastra (Theory of Indian Music), Hindi, Sangeeta Karyalay, Hathras, U P, 9th Ed,1970, pp 35.
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  46. O.f.c.i.t. – 18, pp 2 – 4.
  47. C V Raman & T N Palit Acoustical Knowledge of the Hindus, Sir Asutosh Mookherjee Silver Jubilee, Vol-II, Cal. Uni. &ndash1922, pp 179 – 185.
  48. A Rangacharya Introduction to Bharata&rsquos Natya Sastra, Popular Prakashan, Bombay – 1988, (South India version).
  49. www.grahamhancock.com/forum/DBhattacharya2.php?p=7
  50. O.f.c.i.t. – 8, pp 235.