Badami Cave – 1: Ardhanarishvara and Sage Bhringi

Sculptural relief depicting the story of Ardhanarishvara and sage Bhringi carved on the right side wall of the mukha mantapa in Cave - 1 located at Badami, Karnataka, India

Ardhanarishvara and sage Bhringi carved on the right side wall of the mukha mantapa in Cave – 1

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Ardhanarishvara and sage Bhringi
The image shows a sculptural relief depicting the story of Ardhanarisvara carved on the right-side wall of the mukhamantapa (verandah) of Cave – 1, the first of the four rock-cut caves located in Badami, Karnataka, India.

Standing with the Tribhanga stance (i.e., body bent in three places, neck, waist, and knee) is Ardhanarishvara with man-like features on the right half and woman-like features on the left half. Ardhanarishvara appears to be playing a musical instrument.

Standing behind with the folded hands (i.e., namaste gesture) is Bhringi, a sage appears like a skeleton with three legs, and Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle. To his right is an unidentified female figure carrying a bowl with her left hand. Flying above Ardhanarishvara are two Vidyadhara couples.

Here is the story of Ardhanarisvara and Bhringi:

Bhringi was a rishi (sage) who worshiped only Shiva, but not Shiva’s wife Parvati. While Shiva is sitting with Parvati on his lap in his abode in Mount Kailash, Bhringi approaches Shiva and expresses his desire to go around him. To which Parvati responds that he must go around both of them because they are the two halves of the same fact.

However, Bhringi refuses to listen to Parvati and shapeshifts himself into a bee and goes only around Shiva. To make Bhringi go around Parvati, Shiva manifests himself into Ardhanarishvara, a single entity made of himself in one half and Parvati in the other half.

Undeterred by the new manifestation of Shiva, Bhringi (as a bee) tries to pierce through the middle of Ardhanarisvara to avoid going around Parvati. Annoyed by this act, Parvati curses him to lose all his flesh and blood. As a result of this curse, Bhringi turns into a skeleton and falls on the floor. Realizing his mistake, Bhringi apologizes and begs Shiva and Parvati to restore him. They refuse to do so but give him the third leg to enable him to stand upright.

Cave – 1 Images
Facade and Entrance
Cave – 1 Ground Plan
Right side view: Nataraja performing Tandava Nritya
Left side view: Dwarapala, Shiva-Parvati, Vrishabha-Kunjara
Mukhamantapa left wall: Harihara – Fusion of Shiva and Vishnu
Mukhamantapa ceiling: Nagaraja
Interior view: Garbhagriha and pillars
Garbhagriha: Shivalinga

Related Pages
Badami
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4

Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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