Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha

Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha - A relief carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha

Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha
Seated majestically on a cushion formed by Adishesha, a seven-headed mythical serpent, is Maha Vishnu, a form of Vishnu represented as a supreme being. This beautifully carved sculpture is mounted on the outer wall surrounding the south garbhagriha (inner sanctum) of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India.

As you can see from the image, Maha Vishnu is sitting on a throne created by Adishesha, who stacked up his soft coils to form a cushion, and raised the seven-headed hood to form a canopy. One of Maha Vishnu’s left hands is gently resting on the knee of his left leg that is raised above the coils. His body is slightly leaning to his right, and supporting his weight is one of the right hands that is firmly resting on the coils. This informal way of sitting along with his pleasant facial expression indicates that Maha Vishnu is in a relaxed mood. The sculptor has captured this mood perfectly.

Adishesha is known by many names, including Shesha, Sheshanaga and Ananta. Interestingly, two mathematical concepts are buried in 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.

Related Images
Maha Vishnu seated on Adishesha – A beautiful sculpture carved in the mukhamantapha (veranda) of Cave – 3 of Badami caves
Maha Vishnu reclining on Adishesha – An intricately carved relief on the outer wall of the Belur Chennakeshava 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

Related Pages
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4

Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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