Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Shiva slaying Gajasura

Belur Chennakeshava Temple - Shiva slaying Gajasura carved on the exterior wall

Gajasura carved on the exterior wall

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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 (goulish attendants of Shiva are on the bottom left. Several musicians are playing the dolu (drum) near the head of the elephant.

Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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