Yogishvara And Nataraja

Elephanta Caves

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Yogishvara And Nataraja Overview

Ranked 8 of 10 sightseeing in Elephanta Caves

To the east of the north portico, the panel depicts Shiva in a Yogic position known as Yogishvara, Dharmaraja, Mahayogi and Lakulish. The image depicts Shiva to be seated in a cross-legged yogic posture called padmasana, on a lotus that is carried by two Nagas. This image resembles the image of Buddha with the eyes of Shiva half-closed and his face calm in meditation. Presently, the image is in a dilapidated state.

Lord Shiva is depicted to be sitting in penance amidst the Himalayan Mountains, after the death of Sati, his first wife, who was later born as Parvathi. In this image, Shiva is surrounded by attendants below and divinities in the sky. Two attendants flank a sunflower blossom and a plantain with three leaves already open and one opening. From a study, it has been revealed that the other broken figures in the image are that of Sun-god Surya riding a fully saddled horse, Vishnu riding Garuda on a plantain leaf, faceless figure of moon with water container, Brahma riding a swan and others.

The carving of Nataraja is situated opposite Yogishvara and depicts Lord Shiva performing the cosmic dance or ‘Tandava’. The sculpture is set low in the wall and its height is about 11 ft and width is about 13 ft. The image depicts Shiva with ten arms and well-decorated headgear. Though the image is in a ruined state, the elaborate armlets are well preserved and with a ribbon, the skirt around the waist is tied. To the left of Shiva, a tall and ornamented figurine of Goddess Parvathi is placed. The other figures present in this image are an airborne female figure behind Parvathi, Indra riding his elephant, Bhringi, Vishnu riding a Garuda, the elephant-headed Ganesha, Kartikeya and the sages and attendants.

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