Saiva Art in Odisha
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Saiva Art in Odisha

Item Code: NAL588
Author: Dr. Bhagabat Tripathy
Publisher: Aravali Books International Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788181501691
Pages: 340 (163 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch x 7 inch
Weight 780 gm
About the Book

While much has been written about the temple architecture of Odisha in general there have been until now few studies which focus on the art of any single sect of Brahmanical religion. Yet such studies are great importance not only in contributing to an understanding of stylistic development, But for th proper assessment of the iconographical and architectural features of a major branch of Brahmanical religious structures.

The art of Saiva, a dominant section of Hindu religion is the focus of the present book. In assessing the art of Saiva, the author traces its formal antecedents discussing the Saiva art in Pan Indian context and the features of the Odishan art in particular. It has highlighted the originality of the Saiva art of Odisha, which is a buffer state between north and south. He has also put forth the iconographic injunctions of different Silpa Texts and compared them with the extant Art forms in Odisha proper and some of the artifacts in its adjoining areas. The whole documentation has been done in a scientific and lucid manner.

About the Author

The author (born in 1952) has devoted more than two decades of his service career to the study of Odishan art and architecture. He has done Ph. D under the able guidance of a renowned scholar Dr. H.C. Das, Former Superintendent of Odisha State Museum. He has served as a Lecturer, Sr. Lecturer and Reader in many colleges of Odisha. His contributions such as THE Archaeological Treasures of Northern Odisha and ltihasa Katha Kahe (in Odia) and some of his edited books have established him as a scholar of repute. After retirement from active service he has been awarded Senior Academic Fellowship from ICHR, New Delhi. He has published more than forty articles in reputed journals and has presented research papers in different national and state level seminars.


Siva, the auspicious god of Indian tradition was conceived both as benevolent (in Saumya and Anugraha form) and malevolent (Samhara forms) deity, whose representation in the art Odisha on different parts of the temples is an important area of research. This has been taken up adequately by Dr. Bhagabat Tripathy in his book entitled “SAIVA Art in Odisha”. As we all know Odisha has a number of prolific centres of Indian art and architrcture belonging to Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jaina art. Dr. Tripathy in nine chapters has discussed about the icons of not only different forms of Siva from 6th -7th century CE to 12th century CE, but also about his Parivara-Devatas namely-Parvati, Karttikeya and Ganesa. The rendering of Parvati, Karttikeya and Ganesa respectively in the north, west and southern Bhadra-Rathikas of the SAIVA temples of Bhubaneswar is a unique feature of the SAIVA art of Odisha. Dr. Tripathy has discussed about the architectural features, motifs and designs of SAIVA temples as well as the iconographic features of the SAIVA images at Bhubaneswar, Jajpur, Hirapur, Ranipur-Jharial, Khiching, Khaira, Simhanath, Baidyanath and several other places. The discussion in the book is not merely concerned with the iconographic details, but their placement and comparison of examples of different places have also been dealt with seriously. The book undoubtedly reveals the enormous efforts of the author in presenting a comprehensive and analytical study of SAIVA art of Odisha, which reached its culmination under the Soma-vanshiya rulers when the best of Siva temples at Bhubaneswar namely-Muktesvara, Rajarani and Lingaraja were constructed. The book also raises several questions and problems and offer answers to them.

I am sure the book will be received with appreciation both by scholars and researchers as an authentic work on this subject.

However, the mention of Uma-Maheshvara and Kalyana-Sundara images in the chapter of ‘Composite Images’ is t be reconsidered by the author in the next edition. And also a few references like “Silpa-Prakash” composed in Odisha and the books, “Madhyakalina Bharatiya Pratimalaksana” (by M.N.P. Tiwari) and “Bhubaneswar ki Deva Murtiyan” (by Rekha Pandey) should also be consulted and mentioned in bibliography. With these words I again record my appreciation for the efforts and hope more works from Dr. Triparhy in future.


Odisha (formerly spelled Orissa) is widely known throughout the world for its art and architecture. Odisha is particularly proud of having Magnificent and massive temples. Saivite temples are much more in number than Vaisnavite and Sakta temples. After the downfall of Buddhism and Jainism Saivism emerged in Odisha from 6th-7th century onwards and it continued to flourish up to twelfth century C.E. till the rise of Vaisnava faith. During this long span of about six hundred years or more Saivism dominated over other faiths though Buddhism, Jainism, Vaisnavism and Saure cult co-existed in some form or other as reflected in Odishan as well as Indian art and architecture. Saivism still remains a main religious thought of Hindu India.

Though Odisha is devoid of any Jyotirlinga as mentioned in Siva Purana still from numerous Siva lingas, Siva temples, Saivite sculptures proliferated throughout the length and breadth of the province in general and Bhubaneswar in particular no one can think that Odisha was lagging behind in the rise of Saiva art, Bhubaneswar, as the potential centre of Saivism and with hundreds of Siva temples along with their exquisite workmanship, attracts the visitors and researchers alike.

While the history of Odishan architecture has been outlined in several general works, there exists at present no monograph on the Saivite shrine though majority of the Odishan temples are Saivite temples. Of course, all the stone temples of Odisha have common architectural features except the presiding deities in the sanctum, their parsvadevatas and the ayudhas on the mastakas. The exceptions are noticeable in the Sakta shrines which are different from the Saiva and Vaisnava temples and are known as khakhara temples from the architectural point of view. Most of the scholars dealing with temple architecture of Odisha have been emphasizing its architectural features neglecting its cohesive sculptural and decorative entities which are indispensable part of the temple. Hitherto, no systematic study has been done on the iconography of Saiva pantheon of Odisha till now. In this context the monumental work Archaeological Remains at Bhubaneswar by K.C. Panigrahi and the voluminous work ‘Hindu temple Art of Orissa by T.E. Donaldson are exception. Of course, both of them have taken the general approach to the archaeology of Odisha. Till now no research work has been done on the thrust area of Saivite Art though Dr. L.K. Panda has authored Saivism in Orissa. A deep systematic study on Saiva art has not been done yet. Hence, it became necessary to carry out a thorough study on the Saivite art in Odisha. Therefore, I have intended to undertake this unattended work to satisfy my cravings which got further boost during my cravings which got further boost during my survey of archaeological sites in northern Odisha. The outcome of my research work was the publication of ‘The Archaeological Treasures of Northern Odisha’ which was published by Aravali Books International, New Delhi obtaining publication grant from ICHR.

This monograph is the outcome of my Senior Academic Fellowship awarded by ICHR and is a humble attempt to highlight the art of Saiva, a major section of Hinduism. It is an attempt to bring into focus the Saive temples and their sculptural art with their decorative details. I have surveyed the known Saivite temples and in course of my survey I have explored little known sites which provided ample data for my dissertation. In this study both the literary and sculptural have been used. I have procured more typical and attractive specimens to bring to light the unknown phase of early medieval and medieval Saivite art of Odisha marking their sculptural features, similarities and differences.


In Hinduism God is worshipped under various names and forms and also in his absolute formless aspect. He is conceived as Hindu Trinity and Mahesvara of Siva is the last deity of the Trinity. Saivism or the worship of the god Siva is a very important cult in the Hindu pantheon. He is specially associated with the act of Samhara (destruction) or pralaya (absorption) in the concept of Trinity. He is also associated with Sristi (creation) and Sthiti (preservation), which are generally attributed to Brahma and Visnu respectively. In this sense, Brahma and Visnu are also Siva. Siva is also conceived as the creator of all being and often described as Pasupati, Bhutapati and Bhutanatha. He is also conceived as the God of all Gods (Mahadeva or Mahesvara).

Saivism is the oldest religious system of India. It had its origin in the pre-Vedic society. It still occupies in the present-day religious life of the people. Innumerable Saivite shrines in working order distributed throughout India evince its popularity. The worship of Siva-linga or the phallus and observance of Saiva festivals are common religious practices in every Hindu village. Siva enjoys the distinction of being adored by all irrespective of castes and creed.

It is be noted here that the most popular and important aspect of Siva cult is the worship of phallus. It is an established fact that the linga worship is fully associated with Saivism till to-day. The tree worship had first given way to the worship of Siva linga. The worship of Rudra-Siva in the phallic form is proved by the seals from Mohenjodaro and other sites and the process continued up to pre and post-Christian ages. In the Puranic age phallic worship was marked by mystic and philosophical imports and was recognized as an inseparable part of the Saiva religion. In later times, the linga was enshrined in the sanctum while his human representations were placed as accessories in different parts of the temple. Thus it has assumed an enormous importance in the cult of Saivism.

Another aspect of Siva cult the worship of the Sakti. Siva and Sakti are inseparable from each other. Saivism can not be thought of without Saktism. Parvatl, the consort of Siva symbolizes Sakti. Even Iinga form the circular seat of the linga symbolizes Uma. The male and the female principles are inseparable and are ever found together in cosmic evolution and it is the real import of the Ardhanarisvara forms Siva. The same idea is also conveyed, in a brief way by the symbols of the linga and the yoni.

In Satarudriya text of Vajasaneyi Samhita, various epithets, used for Rudra, have closeness with different attributed to Siva in Epics and Puranas. The Vajasaneyi Samhita gives him epithets of Sitikantha (blue throated), Vyomakesa (shaven-headed). Vamana and Varsiyas (old).Taitiriya Samhita distinguishes his benevolent features from malevolent ones. Similarly the various names used for Rudra in Rg-veda, Atharvaveda Vajasaneyisamhita are also identical to the names of Puranic Siva. The Atharva Veda describes the benign (Bhaba) and malignant characters of Rudra providing the ayudha of thunderbolt. He is described as thousand eyed and as the killer of Vritra. He is identical with the Gods like Aryaman, Varuna and Mahadeve. We learn from the Vedic description that Rudras assumed all the powers, forms and attributes of a Virata purusa, that pervades the entire universe.

During Upanisadic period He is regarded as Rudra-Siva. In Svetasvetaropanisada Siva is one of the various names of Rudra and Rudra and Siva are Regarded as omnipresent or all pervading. In Atharvasiraupanisada Rudra has different epithets like lsana, Bhagavata, Mahesvara and Mahadeva.

During the period of the Brahmanas the old polytheism was in a condition of decline and the new faith Saivism was gaining ground. By reaching down to the Epic period, Siva has gained the position of the Supreme god. The Mahabharata is replete with stories of exploits of Siva. In the Astadhyayi of Panini we find references to Rudra. In the Mahabhashya of Patanjali there is mention of different names of Rudra-Siva and use of the world Saiva’ under which the sectarian Siva worshippers are generally known. A sect of ‘Saiva’ were known as Sivabhgavatas, or devotees of Siva, the Bhagavata.

The Puranas, which became popular after the epic period upheld the glory of Siva in a more sectarian fashion. The Siva Purana coined interesting legends to highlight the importance of Siva. The stories of the Puranas indicate that the custom of Linga worship, which was originated in the pre-Vedic society, was well established during the Puranic period with its own independent philosophy.


Abbreviation Listxviii
Chapter-IIOrigin and Growth of Saiva Art11
Chapter-IIILinga Forms (Linga Vigrahas)27
Chapter-IVVarious Forms (Pratima Vigrahas)41
Chapter-VComposite Forms (Mishra Vigrahas)71
Chapter-VIIDecorative Motifs and Scenes121
Chapter-VIIISome Selected Siva Temples159

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