Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Shiva slaying Gajasura

Shiva slaying Gajasura carved on the exterior wall surrounding the garbhagriha of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Gajasura carved on the exterior wall

Slaying of Gajasura
The relief shown in the image depicts Gajasurasamhara, which means the slaying of a demon named Gajasura. In Sanskrit, gaja means elephant, asura means demon, and samhara means slaying.

The Gajasura story is described in two ancient Indian texts, Kurma Purana and Varaha Purana. Here is the story in brief:
Gajasura wants to take revenge for the slaying of his father Mahishausura by Shiva’s consort Durga. To fulfill his wish, he goes the Himalayas and performs tapasu. Brahma pleased with his tapasu, gives a vara (boon), which makes him very powerful. With this boon, he thinks he is invincible and starts tormenting people of Kashi (present-day Varanasi, India). When they complain to Shiva, he confronts Gajasura, and after a prolonged fight, he kills Gajasura with his trishula (trident).

As you can see from the image, Shiva with a dancing pose is standing on an elephant head and with his numerous hands carrying a variety of objects that include trishula (trident), shula (sharp knife), kapala danda (staff with a skullcup), ghanta (bell), and damaru (drum-like musical instrument). Shiva ganas (ghoulish attendants of Shiva are on the bottom left. Several musicians are playing the dolu (drum) near the head of the elephant.

This relief is carved on a pillar on the south side of the exterior wall surrounding the garbhagriha of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple in Karnataka, India.

Related Images
Bhairava – An Incarnation of Shiva
Bhairava inside a mini shrine at the main entrance

Shilabalikes – Bracket figures located below the eaves
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhasini, Naatya Sundari, Gaana Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapala Durga, Koravanji, Naatya Mohini, Betegarthi

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Magnificent Temple Dedicated to Vishnu

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