Some ancient kumAra vigraha-s of North India

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

In the days of our childhood, which now seem like light-years away, our loving grandmother would perform offerings to kArttikeya and ShaShThIdevI on certain occasions, drawing their images near the gaushAlA by dipping her finger in turmeric and milk paste, and murmur some prayers for the wellbeing of us kids. Years later, we used to be reminded of it, when now living in the draviDa country we would flock to the lush hillock of the kongu-s and find ourselves at the ancient shrine of the fierce surasenApati. We would often wonder why the charming deity was almost forgotten by the hindU-s of North India, not knowing the answer. Still later, reading a hindI novel ‘jaya yaudheya’ written by the marxist scholar, we learnt how kumAra was indeed a very popular deity, a principal deity of North, in an era long gone by. But it is not until we read the encyclopedic essays by the AchArya of mAnasataraMgiNI that we learnt more about the kumAra traditions (Read several kumAra-related essays, starting with some discursion on skanda tantra-s and bAlagraha-s)

In our travels to rAjapUtAnA, mathurA and magadha in recent months, we have come across some ancient kumAra vigraha-s; posting here the pictures.

The following is a surprisingly intact and marvelous vigraha of skanda from abhanerI of dausA, datable to 700s:

This one has got to probably be the oldest available intact kumAra vigraha from anywhere in North India. From mathurA, 1st century of the CE, the age of the shu~Nga-s:

Also from mathurA, kept in the UP state museum there, is this 2nd century terracotta figure of ShaNmukha kumAra riding a flying mayUra, which has got broken into two pieces:

From the same age is this other figure where kumAra holds his shUla in the right hand and embraces his mayUra with left.

Our relatives settled in magadha country took us to this ancient temple on the shores of gaNDakI, at the meeting point of darabha~NgA and samastIpura, where true to his name skanda oozes out from shivali~Nga. There is no way to tell the date, but to us it seems like from roughly before the jehAd of bakhtiyAr khaljI.


6 Comments to “Some ancient kumAra vigraha-s of North India”

  1. The thing I specially like about Manasataramgini is the sanskritic vocabulary and terminology. I have to think about the words used and map it into my English mind. This should help me loosen the hold of anglicized thought patterns!

    But it is hard, and so I like to read Bharatendu’s posts, which do the same kind of thing but with a lighter touch.

    One problem that I faced with Manasataramgini was the difficulty of commenting on the posts. Commenting does not seem to work.

    However, it is not a great loss to either blog, since the posts here are far above my ability to respond at the same level!

    Thank you!

  2. “We would often wonder why the charming deity was almost forgotten by the hindU-s of North India.”
    Well considering what the Hindus of N India had to undergo, its not surprising that the worship of the “devsenapati” sort of faded out. Or in today’s parlance, maybe folks in the north thought he was not delivering !!!

    Just a thought.

  3. Naras, Thanks for your comment. I too believe mAnasataraMgiNI is an antidote.

    Raman, if there has to at all be a cause-effect connexion between the decline of the importance of kumAra and what NI Hindus suffered, then chronology would support the former to be the cause and not the effect.

  4. Namaste!

    I was googling for the song ‘maitrEm bhajata’ song By Smt.MSS and I chanced upon your blog! I was more than glad, for two reasons:
    1] This blog of yours is quite insightful and an interesting read- and this post on kUmAra reminded me of the ‘mAnasa-taraMgiNI’ blog, I used to follow.
    2] and now-the ‘mAnasa-taraMgiNI’ blog-phew, I was glad! I have been a regular follower of that blog (though i haven’t commented on the posts or anything) and this nov., I realized that this blog has been made ‘protected’ and only the ‘privileged’ few get to read it. I was supposing whether you have any mail contact with it’s author,so that I could possibly contact him to ‘allow’ to access that wonderful blog of his! I know this is quite far-fetched and that person might have reasons to make his blog ‘protected’- but I want to give it a try!I really miss his posts and insights and the rich flavour of language he uses!Please help!


  5. Aravindan, thanks for the comment. that blog has been hacked. Let us respect him and give him time to make it available again at that or some other blog address.

  6. Thanks for your instant reply! I hope so too- that he opens up his blog again!
    thanks once again!

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