Kalamukha Temples of Karnataka ? Art and Cultural Legacy

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Item Code: NAC745
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts, D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Vasundhara FilliozatPierre-Sylvain Filliozat
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 8124606056
Pages: 680 (121 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.8 Inch X 7.5 Inch
Weight 2.33 kg
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Book Description
From the Jacket

The Kalamukha temples in Karnataka are associated with the Lakulasaiva movement especially the beliefs and practices of the Kalamukha Saivites and the jakkanacari style of temples in Karnataka. This volume is a study of two of the best examples of Kalamukha shrines in the region. It focuses on the Somanathesvara temple at HaralahalIi and Kadambesvara temple at Rattihalli, splendid examples of conversion of single-cell shrines into triple sancta. With numerous illustrations of the temples including their plans and sculptures and referring to and quoting from the Agamas, the Puranas and other ancient works, it studies the architecture of the temples along with their history, the general plans of the temples, their interior including pillars, lintel and entrances, their external structure, and their iconography, particularly the main deities in the temples. It makes a unique effort to study the inscriptions associated with the temples which are in Kannada interlaced with Sanskrit verses and containing Sanskrit words, presenting their Roman transliteration and translation into English. The inscriptions include one on renovation of Somesvara temple by King Joma (CE 1181), one on the foundation of a temple of Dasesvara laid by Dasiraja (CE 1188) and one that eulogises the Kadambas and minister Soma(CE I 44).

The volume, with extensive notes that explain terms in a simple manner, will prove invaluable to scholars and students of Indology, especially those interested in early medieval religion, culture and architecture in South India.

Vasundhara Filliozat Daughter of Pandit Chennabasavappa Kavalis, born in Haveri, Karnataka, south India, brought up in an environment soaked in Sanskrit and Kannada culture, is a historian of art and an epigraphist. She works alternatively in India to explore the archaeological and literary past of her country and in France to encourage knowledge and appreciation of the Indian civilization, still insufficiently known in the West. Her works on Hampi-Vijayanagara have been acknowledged in 2003, when she was honoured with the Award of the Government of Karnataka. She has been elected President of the 22nd Congress of the Karnataka History Academy. She has published about twenty books and numerous articles in Kannada, English and French.

Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, born in 1936 in France, is Professor of Sanskrit (emeritus) and Member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres in Paris. He conducts research in several fields of Indology, Sanskrit grammar (Vyakarana), poetry and poetics, Tantra, especially the Sanskrit literature of Saivasiddhanta school, history of Indian architecture and temples in French, English and Sanskrit on Panini’s grammar, Patanjali’s Mahabhasya, Saivagamas, temple architecture in Hampi, etc.


THE Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (JGNCA) since its inception has brought out a considerable number of published volumes through a variety of research programmes. The programmes, which culminate in published volumes, have strong foundations laid union a well-thought-out conception that brings out the nuances of Indian art and culture 31 various levels and under a unified Indian world view. This involves investigation of sastras, their regional variations, various lifestyles and overall day-to-thy practices. These volumes have been received very well by the community of scholars over the globe.

The Kalasamalocana series brought out from the Kalakosa Division was conceived for bringing out the critical literature which either re-evaluates theoretical foundations of the arts or investigates the interface of the arts with other disciplines such as science, metaphysics or cultural history. Under the series, IGNCA has already brought out the editions of the work of eminent scholars who have dwelt upon the fundamental concepts, identified perennial sources and created bridges of communication by juxtaposing diverse traditions. The programme of The Collected Works of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy within this series is very significant in this respect. IGNCA has till date brought out the works of this illustrious scholar in seventeen volumes, which are thematically arranged and reedited while incorporating the author’s copious notes in most of the cases. Amongst these volumes of Coomaraswamy, there are two volumes on architecture. His Essays in Early Indian Architecture published in 1992 identifies the pragmatic and the functional approach to Indian architecture. And, his Essays in Architectural Theory published in 1995 represents the author’s rapidly developing thinking on the hermeneutics of architecture. Besides, there are another thirty plus volumes which were brought out on various aspects of Indian art and aesthetics under the same series. These volumes facilitate very interesting readings of contemporary relevance and validity as their search is for the roots and for a comprehensive perception. In this set of volumes, there is some dealing with architecture too. Ellora, the monument, and the analysis of its sculptures presented by late Alice Boner were published as the Principles of Composition in Hindu Sculpture in the year 1990.

Carmel Berkson’s work Ellora: Concept and Style came out thereafter in 1992. Then followed two volumes and both of them centred on Karnataka temples. Indian Temple Architecture: Form and Transformation by Adam Hardy published in 1995 is based on the Karnataka tradition (seventh to thirteenth century) belonging largely to Calukyan and Rastrakuta dynasties. The work evolves a conceptual base for examining the composition, the meaning and the formed values of the group of temples that were taken up for study in this volume. The author observes that the composition, evolution and meaning need to be understood together. For, the tradition of Indian Temple Architecture is a perfect example of a reciprocal relationship of idea and image and form and meaning.

The Temple of Muktesvara at Caudadanapura prepared by Vasundhara and Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat was also published in the same year (1995). Situated in Dharwar district of Karnataka, Muktesvara is a living shrine associated with the Virasaivas. It preserves a long-standing tradition of rites and rituals. The volume presents an integrated and detailed study on this little-known shrine. The available epigraphical material from the temple complex composed in literary medieval Kannada provides interesting information on some Saiva traditions besides throwing light on the history, patronage, donations, etc. to the temple complex. The epigraphs also contain interesting data on the development of Kannada language during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the area. The volume provides significant discussion on theological concepts and the iconography.

As a result of notable acceptance of such initiatives, scholars got motivation for undertaking such comprehensive studies in respect of other remarkable temple complexes. Some efforts fructified in a few more publications. The fain Temples of Rajasthan by Sehdev Kumar published in 2001 explores somewhat impressionistically the iconographic and architectural details of two sets of Jam Temples of Rajasthan — one at Dilwara in Mount Abu and the other dating 500 years later at Ranakpur. There is observed an unbroken continuity of temple icons and images of these temples that is part of a still larger continuous tradition of temple architecture. The other volume published in 2008 as the Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar: Art and Cultural Legacy was the outcome of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Fellowship awarded to K.S. Behera for the period 1999-2001. The temple complex of Lingaraja — Tribhuvanesvara in Bhuvaneshwar represents the best of the north Indian Rekha style of temple architecture belonging to the eleventh century. It was originally conceived as a Siva temple. But, in course of time, it became a temple for both Siva and Visnu. In this way, the temple complex united the followers of Siva, Sakti and Visnu and thus fostered a spirit of harmony among the communities. It is for the first time that an in-depth study of this temple complex has been made in all aspects, viz, its history, architecture, sculpture, mode of worship, festivals, organization of service, etc. to understand the temple in its totality.

Meanwhile, Vasundhara and Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat were inspired through their earlier works to further their studies on the Saiva temples of Karnataka. For this, they got a nod from IGNCA too. They identified two temples of the region as the best examples of Kalamukha shrines. The first was the Somanathesvara temple at Haralahalli and the second one the Kadambesvara at Rattihalli belonging to the twelfth and thirteenth century respectively. Filliozats took some time to complete their studies on the present project and thereby prepare the same in a concise volume to be submitted to IGNCA for its publication. And, IGNCA is grateful to both of them for their remarkable effort in this direction. It is now with great pleasure we present the same work here under the title Kalamukha Temples of Karnataka: Art and Cultural Legacy. The study notices that Kalamukha temples were associated with Lakulasaivas — a movement of Saivas that is believed was founded on the preachings of one Lakulisa in Karnataka. They were also known as Pasupata. There are many legends and stories associated with the origin and development of this movement in Karnataka. One of them associates this movement having been introduced into Karnataka from Kashmir in the far north and the other, that they followed both Vedas as well as the Agamas. On the epigraphical evidences, the existence of Lkulasaiva style of temples goes back to the eighth century CE and later on, the same style is believed to have come to be known as Jakkanacarya style of temple architecture.

The two temples taken up for study under the present volume belong to this style. These temples are the best examples of conversion of single-cell Saiva shrines into triple sanctum by accommodating the triad, i.e. Rudra, Visnu and Brahma. The study has been carried out on the architectural style and iconography of the temples while attempting to identify their correspondences with the texts from an Agama, Puranas and a few seminal texts on the arts. Another remarkable endeavour taken up here is the evaluation of the epigraphical materials found in these temples that throws significant light on the history, socio-political and religious developments that took place during the contemporary period.

These poetic compositions forming the data of the Kannada inscriptions are reproduced here along with Roman transliteration, English translation and a considerable number of plates. The publication is hoped to be another valuable addition to the study on Indian temple architecture in its totality. It seems very important to add here that amongst a variety of fundamental texts brought out in the Kalamulasastra series on various arts with their critical edition and English translation, three are on architecture. Mayamatam dealing with both temple and civil architecture has already gone through two reprints since it was first published in 1994, for its popularity and utility amongst the experts and scholars. The other two texts are on the temple architecture of Orissa. Silpa Prakasa published in 2005 is considered the early text that describes various temple types of Orissa under a pan-Indian tradition. Silparatnakosa published in 1994, attributed to a considerably later period, much later than the temples described in it, reflects the still living tradition.

Finally, these efforts are finding meaning only because of the initial efforts of the investigative eye combined with a farsight of the conceiver of these programmes. We cherish the guidance of Dr. (Mrs.) Kapila Vatsyayan for providing continuous inspiration, strength and direction in taking further these programmes in a meaningful way.


Is the northern part of Karnataka State there is a stretch of land along the Tungabhadra River and its tributaries, which possesses a rich legacy of monuments built in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It was the flourishing period of the Calukya kings of Kalyana, when they ruled an empire extending from Godavari to Kaveri. It was a time when Saiva religion was the predominant creed, especially in the form of the Pasupata and Kalamukha movements, which paved the way to the Virasaiva religion of later periods. These religious movements were well organised under the direction of lineages of learned gums, who ran Sanskrit schools, and who, being preceptors of kings and chieftains, advised them to build temples.

Their faith was directed towards Siva as a supreme entity submitting Himself to multiple stages of manifestation: the five-headed Sadasiva with a body made of mantra, then in hierarchical manner Mahesvara, Rudra, Visnu, Brahma. Mahesvara, in his turn, manifests himself under a high number of murti (forms), serene or fearful, in which the God displays his greatness and power. No form displays the specific nature of Siva in a more impressive manner than his dancing poses. Siva dances, when he creates, maintains and destroys the world, when he creates speech with the sounds of his drum, when he tramples down the apasmara devil of oblivion and ignorance, when he conquers demons, even when he expiates his crime of severing a head of Brahma at the time of establishing his supremacy.

These Saiva theology and rituals have been expounded at length in Saivagamas, the mythology in Saiva Puranas. To conduct rituals, the followers of this faith conceived an original style of temples. Their architecture belongs to the mainstream of temple styles of South India, but admits a strong influence of northern streams. Refinement, even at the cost of complexity, was their motto. Their iconography emphasised the dancing forms of the god Richness and elegance was their constant goal. They followed the right path of the religion, called daksina marga. Popular imagination has made these daksinacaryas into the legendary figure of a sculptor, named Jakkanacarya, to whom are ascribed more than two hundred temples of this particular style and period.

Two acaryas belonging to a lineage of pontiffs called Kittagavi Samtati have attached their name to the foundation of two little-known monuments, the temple of Somesvara at Hara1ahali and the temple of Kadambesvara at Rattihalli, in twelfth and thirteenth centuries respectively. On the basis of theological schemes of their faith, the specific characters of each of the five faces of Sadasiva and the triad of the three main manifestations of the supreme entity, i.e. Rudra, Visnu, Brahma, they conceived a three shrine structure and an outward iconography organised around through images of forms of these deities, or of forms of Siva displaying characters of the triad.

These two temples have also a kind of dedication to the art of dance. Both celebrate this art, but each in a different manner. At Haralahalli long series of icons in small reliefs all along the walls and cornices depict celestial and even terrestrial beings celebrating the god by music and dance. At Rattihalli the iconography is almost entirely dedicated to dancing images of Siva. With a few exceptions, these icons are the creations of one sculptor of the highest rank, considering their unity of style, their high quality of workmanship, their impressive beauty and grandeur.

These exceptional monuments are documented by long inscriptions, which bring information on the reigning kings and chieftains, on the lineages of guru in the Pasupata or Kalamukha movements, and which are at the same time masterpieces of medieval Kannada poetry. Their calligraphy matches the beauty of the sculpture. Their style brings a literary experience to the reader, as intense as the aesthetic experience of the observer.

Epigraphy is the resourceful source for bringing history to light. The literary source for the understanding of the background culture imbibing the architecture and iconography is the immense literature of Agama or Tantra and the equally vast corpus of Purana and stotra.


Preface - Advaitavadini Kaulv
Acknowledgements xiii
List of Illustrations xvi
Introduction 1
Situation 2
The Dedication to Sadasiva 3
The Trikuta Temple 5
The Mythology of Sadasiva’s Manifestations 12
A Note on the Dance Pose of Natesa at Haralahalli and Rattihalli 15
1. History of Lakulasaiva Movement and Jakkanacari Style of Temples in Karnataka 29
The Advent of Lakulasaivism in Karnataka 30
The Glory of the Pasupatavrata 47
Mystic Diagram and Installation of Gods 52
Kalamukha Saivites of Lakulasaiva Community 56
History of the Kittagavi Santati 67
The Gutta Chieftains of Guttavolal 71
Socio-Politico-Religious Conditions 74
History of the two Feudatory Families: The 88
Gutta of Guttavolal and the Kadamba of Rattihalli the Gutta Chieftains 88
The Kadamba Rulers of Rattihalli 94
2. The Temple of Somanatha at Haralahalli 99
Architecture 99
The Complex and Its History 99
The Somanatha Temple, General Plan 100
Interior 101
Cellas and Antechambers 101
The Rangamandapa 102
The Porch 108
Exterior 110
The Base of the External Wall 110
The Wall 111
The Sikhara 111
The Sukanasi 112
The Aedicules (Pratikrti) 112
Composition of Architectural Elements on the Vimana Wall 114
State of Conservation 116
Iconography 117
Interior Iconography 119
Exterior Iconography 122
The Main Deities: Images of Siva 122
Images of the Goddess 126
Images of Visnu 127
Entourage 130
Demi-gods, Worshippers, Glorifiers 132
Epigraphy 136
Inscription I: Renovation of Somesvara Temple into a Three-celled Temple by King Joma, 1181. Donations, 1188 136
Inscription II: Foundation of a Temple of Dasesvara by Dasiraja, 1188 218
Inscription III: Hero-stone on the River Bank, CE 1206 267
Inscription IV: 1213, Foundation of the Temple of Cikkesvara by Bica (Period of Yadava King Singana) 269
Inscription VI: Copperplates, 1259 323
3. The Temple of Kadambesvara at Rattihalli 345
Architecture 345
The Architectural Concept and Its History 345
Interior 347
Cellas and Antechambers 347
The Rangamandapa 348
The Latamandapa 350
The Internal ways of Access 352
Exterior 353
The Base 353
The Wall 353
The Sukanasi 353
The Sikhara 354
Aedicules 355
Composition of Architectural Elements on the Vimana Wall 356
State of Conservation 357
Iconography 358
The Iconographic Programme 358
Interior Icons 359
Linga 359
Ganesa 361
Nandin 361
Saptamatrka and Other Stray Icons 362
Icons on Door Frames 363
Icons on Rangamandapa Pillars 366
Dvarapala 368
Exterior Iconography 369
West Kadambesvara Tower, South Side 370
West Tower, West Side 372
West Tower, North Side 374
Sukanasi 378
North Rajesvara Tower 380
North Tower, West Side 380
North Tower, North Side 380
North Tower, East Side 381
South Mallesvara Tower 383
South Twoer, East Side 383
South Tower, South Side 386
South Tower, West Side 392
Epigraphy 395
Inscription 1: Eulogy of Kadambas and Minister Soma, c. CE 1144 395
Inscription 2: Donation of Pandyadeva and Hadavala Caunda, 1 June CE 1174 422
Inscription 3: Donation of Gubbiya Kalla to Murujavideva, 28 June CE 1238 465
Inscription 4: Donation of Honnabommisetti, 8 December 1238 Installation of Mallesvara and Rajesvara by Murujavideva 473
Inscription 5: Donation by Karanada Kallarasa to Mallinathadeva, 27 November 1239 511
Inscription 6: Memorial Stone in the Time of Ramacandra, 1290 or 1299 516
Inscription 7: Sadasivaraya 519
Figures and Plates 525
Select Bibliography and Abbreviations645
Index 649
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