hAlAsyapurANa and hAlAsyarahasya

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 8 13:01:27 UTC 1999

 >>I have concluded that the earliest extant work on Ziva's games in
 >>Madurai is the work by Nampi...

Dr. M. Rabe writes
 >prompting me to hope you can tell me whether or not any of the
 >various recitations of Ziva's games in Madurai include reference to
 >slaying an elephant demon.  Approaching the question from another
 >direction, are there any sthala puranic explanations for how the
 >mountain Anaimalai, just northeast of the city, came to have this

  Slaying of the elephant took place at a place called "vazhuvUr"
in Tanjore dt. Tamil textual tradition is unanimous in that;
I have read and heard from Ki. Vaa. Jagannathan, editor of Kalaimakal
and the prime disciple of UVS, that UVS said "vazhuvUr"
comes from "vazhuvaiyUr" where vazhuvai = elephant.
Michael, you must be familiar with the famous Chola gajasamharamurti
from vazhuvUr. Technically very complex and difficult to create
than Natarajas. In this G. bronze from vazhuvur, gaNas
are playing cymbols, With an elephant being slayed and kept upside
down, 'Siva extricates himself out of the carcass in a
spiralling fashion and while dancing. This event is celebrated
in vazhuvuur as an annual festival. There is a huge, hollow elephant
made out of reeds, bamboo, leaves etc., This elephant is
carried in a "uurvalam" from the opposite side of the temple,
The famous Gajasamhara, all decorated and in splendour, comes only
on this day out of the temple.  Around 10 P.M, the utsavamUrti
enters the belly of the man-made elephant. That is the climax,
all lights go out for 10 minutes or so, crackers explode: all due to
'Siva fighting the demon. After that an elaborate puja and
feasting. van Buitenan has an one or two page article on
gajasamhara in Kalidasa. Tevaram has 100s of references,
"panaikkai mummata vEzam urittavan, anaittum vETamaam
ampalak kUttan" -appar (7th century CE). Traditionally
'Siva has performed 8 heroic acts, supposed to have
taken place at 8 places. aTTa vIraTTam in Tamil,
to perform each heroic act, he performs a specific dance
at each site. These different dances performed once a year
at that particular vIraTTam, the sculptures associated with
them, tamil/sanskrit relevant passages must be the subject of
a good research topic.

On the other hand:
Madurai's Anai malai has NO connection to the gajasamhara
legend. Cellinakar PerumpaRRap PuliyUr Nampi (fl. 1228 CE,
acc. to UVS) wrote the first tiruviLaiyADal (NT).
Nampi's tiruviLaiyADal (NT) episode number 36:
The refers to the naming of Madurai because 'Siva converted the
river of poison from a giant cobra into sweet nectar.
The poison was let upon the city by the magic of Jainas.
NT episode no. 26:
The Jaina heretics sent an elephant against the City.
Sundaresvarar petrified the beast as Anaimalai hill.

This 13th century legend of explaining the name Anaimalai
is the earliest I could find so far. I think
Anaimalai is so named because it resembles a lying

Have a good weekend,
N. Ganesan

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