The uttara kAnda of the rAmAyaNa is filled with delightful stories of the origins of the rAkshasas and their rise to power. According to Sage agastya, there were several rAkshasas much more hardy than rAvaNa himself. They descended directly from brahma. One of their kings, sukesha, was given a boon by shiva – he, and all the rAkshasas after him, will be born instantly and will attain adulthood immediately.
But it was sukesha’s three mighty sons, mAli, sumAli and mAlyavAn who were destined to attain great strength. mAlyavAn, the oldest, and king of the rAkshasas, followed the path of dharma. sumAli, the second, though a worthy warrior, was an astute political strategist. And mAli, the most valiant, was the leader of the rAkshasa army. The rise of the rAkshasas begins with the exploits of the three brothers, spurred on by the boons they received from brahma himself – guaranteed victory on the battlefield and unerring dedication to each other.
At the entrance to the inner sanctum of any Hindu (Shiva/ Vishnu) temple are the mighty dwArapAlakas (dwAra = gate, pAlaka = protector) or gate keepers. The keepers of a Vishnu temple and those of a Shiva temple are distinct and over the millennia they’ve come to feature in many a mythological story.
This particular one is from the thyAgarajar kovil (a Shiva temple) in the little town of Thiruvarur in South India. Sculpted in brass and standing over 4 feet tall, it simply had to be recorded in a sketchbook.
Painted in gouache over a gesso primed, green tinted 300 gm watercolor paper in a sketchbook 7″x10″.
Location: thyAgaraja temple, Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, India