The tradition of the simian (ape-faced) appearance of nandi,His identity with shiva and His incarnation of hanumAn

768px-Lord_Hanuman_statue

Image of hanumAn from Coimbatore(source:Wikimedia Commons)

This is from the eight chapter of the kedAra khaNDa of the mAheshvara khaNDa of the skanda purANa,the verses are noted as below(Nag Publishers edition)

shloka 59:
shailAdo hi mahAtejA gaNashreShTha purAtanaH|
buddhimAnniti nipuNo mahAbala parAkrami||

Here he is one who is aged(purAtanaH),of great splendour(mahAteja),the chief of the gaNas(gaNashreShTha),intelligent,powerful and valorous.

shloka 66:

tadA brahmAdayo devAH R^iShayashcha vipashchitaH|
praNamya nanindaM prAhuH kasmAttvaM vAnarAnanaH||

Then brahmA and the other deities and the sages bowed to nandin and asked him why he had the face of an ape

shloka 76-77:

shivena datta sArupyaM na gR^ihitaM mayA tadA||
yAchitaM cha mayA shambhorvadanaM vAnarasya cha|

Where nandin recounted that as the son of the sage Shilada,he refused sArupya-mukti and requested the face of an ape,and this wish was granted.

shloka 93(recording viShNu’s instructions to the devas):

he devAH shruyatAM vAkyaM prastAvasadR^ishaM mahat|
shailAdiM cha puraskR^itya sarvaM yuyaM tvarAnvitAH||
avatArAnprakurvantu vAnarIM tanumAshritAH||

Here he instructs the devas,with shailAdi(nandin) as their head to take the bodies of vAnaras.

shloka 97-99:

vAlI chendrAMshasaMbhUtaH sugrIvoMshumataH sutaH|
tathA brahmAMshasambhUto jAmbavAnR^ikShaku~njaraH||
shIlAdatanayo nandi shivasyAnucharaH priyaH|
yo vai chaikAdasho rudro hanumAn sa mahAkapiH|
avatIrNa sahAyArthaM viShNoramitatejasaH||

vAli incarnated as a portion of indra,sugriva incarnated as the son of the sun(aMshumAn is a name of sUrya in the Aditya hR^idaya),the leading bear jAmbavAn was born as an aMsha(portion) of brahmA,and the son of shIladA,the rudragaNa nandin,the fond attendant(anucharaH) of shiva,the great monkey hanumAn,the 11th rudra incarnated to give aid to the splendorous viShNu.

 

 

The backdrop to puruShottama:shrI nIlamAdhava [A very brief note]

[I am summarizing HV Stietencorn’s work over here]. I am also assuming that the readers are familiar with the legends and lore surrounding indradyumna and puri

The indradyumna legends,like a lot of other ones of our plays and purANas is a stellar example of telescoping of multiple rulers into the activity of a single figure. Here,the activities of three rulers are telescoped into this indrdadyumna period:

  • A conqueror who builds a temple(yayAti I)
  • Settles down with his ministers in coastal Odisha(yayAti II)
  • Decay of the temple of puruShottama/nIlamAdhava(late somavaMshi period)
  • A [new] conqueror comes,finds this tradition decayed and builds a new temple for puruShottama(anantavarman choDagA~Ngadeva)

About this first temple(build between 949-959CE),we now discuss on the possibilities of the mUrti installed,which are:

  • A shilAmaya(sculpted in stone) image of nIlamAdhava standing(mostly) alone
  • A shIlAmaya image of kamalA-puruShottama(also occasionally called nIlamAdhava)
  • A dAru-rUpi(wooden) vigraha of puruShottama alone
  • A dAru-rUpi vigraha of puruShottama and shrI
  • A dAru-rUpi vigraha of puruShottama,balabhadra and subhadrA

It is found that the deities described as dAru-rUpi start appearing in literary descriptions around ga~NgA period from the 1200s onwards(passages in the skAnda and brahma purANa,tantrayAmala and mAdaLA pA~njI),which leaves us with the first two as possibilities. And out of the first two,it is the first image which is the image most likely to have been established in the first puruShottama temple of Puri,as it is the image of this type which is noted in literary sources(and plastic evidence of such images carved in bluish-black muguni stone also exist). This original nIlamAdhava is described in the brahma purANa thus

pItavastram chaturbAhuM sha~NkhachakragadAdharaM||
vanamAlAvR^itoraskaM padmapattrAyetekShaNam|
shrIvatsoraHsamAyuktam mukuTA~Ngadashobhitam||

He’s also described in the padma purANa as 4 armed,with attendants,but without any brother or sister.

An example of such an image,as in the general template above has been given from that same work to illustrate of a template to concieve of the original nIlamAdhava in the first temple to puruShottama at Puri.

shrIchakrapANaye namaH|