Sri Dakhinmurthy is the form of Shiva that depicts Him as cosmic guru, imparting wisdom which enlightens and enriches. The iconographic depiction of the form though not consistent mostly illustrates Shiva in a seating posture, under a Vat Vriksha, His right leg stretching down resting on a dwarfish demon.This demon symbolically represents lack of knowledge. In the fresco at Lepakshi though Shiva’s foot does not rest on demon but he can be seen near His foot. As Dakhinmurthy extolls Shiva in supreme teacher form, His one hand is shown in gyan mudra. Normally Rishis, munis are seen sitting on the ground near Him imbibing the divine words.But in this mural at Lepakshi the artists have mingled the prevelent local cultural influences. On Shiva’s head rests a cap like Sufi saints. Jana receiving/ arriving to receive the Gyan are seen dressed like Sultans and Muslim saints. Creatures from Hindu mythology too can be seen and near the demon is perhaps standing goddess Parvati. The creative liberty mixed in right dozes with mythological references makes this mural an interesting document of history, culture, spiritual beliefs and interpretation.




Kiratharjuniyam is a sanskrit Mahakavya composed by Bhairavi narrating the story of severe penance by Arjun to obtain weapon Pashupatha from Lord Shiva in order to defeat Kaurava in the battle and the in between incidents till he finally becomes successful in his mission.

Fresco below depicts one of the scenes from Kiratharjuniyam.Perhaps a scene from the very beginning of the story where Vyas muni advises Arjuna to obtain weapon Pashupatha. Though fresco has suffered a lot through ages yet muni can be seen clearly.The lady in black can be Draupadi and the figure next to her one of the Pandavas.Or may be it depicts Arjuna asking permission of Yudhisthara to leave to forest for doing penance.Whatever it might be despite the damage due to vagaries of time the intricacies of human features, ornaments etc is very endearing.



This one is the boar hunt scene from Kiratharjuniyam — Arjun tried to attack boar from one side while Lord Shiva, disguised as  Kirath attacked from other side. During hunt Arjun realized that it is not any ordinary Kirath and Shiva appeared before him in His real form and later on granted the boon of weapon Pashupatha.


Below are the scenes of Draupadi’s svayamvara. On leftmost side is shown Kala-Bhairava  with eight arms holding a severed human head and a bowl and His vahana dog is depicted nearby. Two persons, one short and another tall are shown in front of him, one of them would be Drupad worshiping his tutelary God. Next on right is King Drupad , Draupadi, his daughter is shown seated on his lap.This made me remember a ritual of marriages in South India being carried out till date, where the bride sits on the lap of father while the bride groom ties the Thali [ Mangalsutra} and Kanyadan is performed. How deeply rooted and connected are our rituals, customs etc. Next on right, in front of Drupad, Arjuna is shown shooting the matsya-yantra (fish dial) with an arrow looking its reflection in the water below the dial. This follows by the marriage of Arjuna with Draupadi.


lepakshee (6)_1 Draupadi swayamvara

lepakshee (1)_1

Draupadi Swayamvara.

Here are shown Virupanna and Viranna  worshiping their tutelary deity, Veerbhadra, with their family members.As per a legend, the Veerbhadra temple was constructed by Virupanna using the state treasury. The king came to know about it and announced the punishment that Virupanna  be blinded. When Virupanna heard this order, he executed it on his own on the same spot. Local guides will show you the place inside the temple where they say Virupanna threw his eyes.


lepakshee (2)_1

Virupannas retinue

Here is Goddess Parvati with her friends and attendants. May be a scene before marriage of Shiva – Parvati. It is a lively piece of painting. The attires, the hair styles…variety is astonishing and reflects the skill of artist to capture trends of the time beautifully.


lepakshee (3)_1

Parvati with friends and attendants.

This one next to the above one depicts the most favourite theme of the artists of yester years India….Shiva – Parvati marriage


lepakshee (5)_1

There are many others mythological anecdotes painted there —a mural depicting King Muchukunda, the monkey-faced legendary Chola king who is attributed to have established Lord Thyagaraja at the Tiruvarur temple from the heavens,   Shiva and Parvati playing Chess, coronation of Rama,Nataraja dancing while other demi- Gods played various musical instruments and a large panel depicting the story of the legendary just king Manunidhi Cholan etc.

Veerbhadreshwara temple at Lepakshi is one of the greatest treasure of murals and frescos .These jewels of art not only depict the mythological themes but also documents the prevalent trends of social life of that time.


All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.
















Madhubani paintings , also known as Mithila paintings.have their origin at  Mithilanchal or Mithila region of state of Bihar. Traditionally these paintings were done by women of Madhubani and the nearby areas.The paintings were originally done on the kachcha walls ,mud walls of huts but now they have found expressions on various bases–handmade paper,pulp and even fabric.
 Unlike other folk paintings Madhubani is found in various styles and traditionally each of these styles belong to particular caste /strata of society.Such as Bharni style was practiced by Brahmin community while Kachni was prevalent among business community or vaishya.Godana style was popular among the lower strata of society.
Themes of these folk paintings are basically religious.Various Hindu God ,Goddesses,anecdotes from their lives are the popular subject matters.Besides these images from nature such as sun,moon ,trees ,birds and animals also find their places in the paintings.Scenes from royal courts,social occasions like marriages/weddings are also depicted .
Traditionally only  basic colors -red ,yellow,green ,blue,black and white were used.Even now Madhubani paintings set themselves apart due to their vibrant colors.Only herbal colors are used in these paintings.Different colors are obtained by different plants and trees.

Black color is made by adding soot to cow dung/burnt jwar /kajal.
Blue is obtained from indigo
Source of red color is Kusuma flower or sometimes red sandalwood.
Yellow is made by combining termuric and some times pollen grains with banana milk.
leaves of wood apple tree leaves,bilv leaf,saim creeper are used to extract green color.
Palash flowers are used for orange .
Rice flour provides the white color.

Twigs with cotton wrapped on the tips were used as brushes.

Few prominent characteristics of Madhubani paintings are that generally no empty space is left in whole of the frame. Space left after drawing the images is filled with leaves,flowers,birds or even various geometric designs and forms.
No shading of colors is displayed in these paintings.
Double line is drawn as border and the gap is filled with small horizontal lines or sometimes with small dots.

I have tried to make few paintings of Madhubani styles on my computer screen by using the basic paint and brush tool.Let us see how have I fared



This one id done in Kachni style—-fine lines and subdued hues are the distinguishing points of this style.

Below are two paintings made in Bharani style—- Bright colors and filling of spaces with bright splashes are the prominent features of this style.