Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Vishnu reclining on Adishesha – A beautifully carved relief on a Jalandhra

Vishnu reclining on Adishesha - A beautifully carved relief on a Jalandhra in the Belur Chennakeshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Vishnu reclining on Adishesha


Vishnu reclining on Sheshanaga
The image shows a relief carved on a jalandhra (perforated screen) depicting Vishnu reclining on Adishesha, the king of nagas (serpents) with seven heads floating on a cosmic ocean.

As you can see from the image, this jalandhra has several square holes surrounded by carvings that include beautiful patterns, figures from the Hindu epics, and the main sculptural relief, i.e., reclining Vishnu. The holes allow light and air into the interior of Navaranga.

The main relief is finely carved and detailed. Portrayed with four hands, Vishnu is wearing beautiful jewelry all over the body. He is lying down in a relaxed manner with Adishesha as his bed. His facial expression also shows his relaxed mood as his wife Lakshmi massages his left foot.

The relief is about Vishnu creating Brahma, who becomes the creator of the Universe in Hindu mythology, and is based on Vaishnava Purana. Vishnu is referred here as Maha Vishnu (Great Vishnu) because of his role as the primary creator. If you look closely at the relief, you can see the lotus flower with Brahma on top is emerging from Vishnu’s navel, symbolizing the birth of Brahma. The lotus flower acts as the umbilical cord.

Note: There are differing accounts of how Brahma is created in other Puranas. According to Shiva Purana, for example, Shiva created Vishnu and Brahma.

Adishesha is known by many names, including Shesha and Ananta. Interestingly, two mathematical concepts are buried under these names. In Sanskrit, Shesha means one that remains (i.e., remainder), and Ananta means endless (i.e., infinity). What this means is Shesha remains even after the end of the universe, and Ananta exists for eternity.

Carved on the square niches surrounding the main relief are some of Vishnu’s Dashavataras (Ten Avatars). Expand the image to full view to viw them. The avatars from left to right are: Matsyavatara (Fish), Kurmavatara (Turtle), Varahavatara (Wild Boar), Narasimhavatara (Man – Lion), Vamanavatara (Dwarf Brahmin), Parashurama (Sage holding an Ax), and Buddha.

Related Images
Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha – A beautiful sculpture carved in the mukhamantapha (veranda) of Cave – 3 of Badami caves
Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha – An intricately carved relief on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Buddha seated on Adishesha – A statue depicting Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu situated on the top level of the Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Dashavatara (Ten Incarnations of Vishnu) – A part Murals painted on ceiling of Hampi Virupaksha Temple
Court of Hoysala King Vishnuvardana, the builder of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Court of Hoysala King Vira Ballala III
Jalandhra and bracket figures on the left section of the northern entrance

Bracket Figures
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 Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art

Copyright © 2019 – 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.


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