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|

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