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This, a very graceful Chola bronze sculpture of Shiva is in his form of Tripurasura Samhara. Shiva took this form to destroy three demons with their three cities.
In the days of the yore there were three asuras (demons) called Tarkaksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali. These were sons of the asura Taraka who was slain by Kartikeya (warrior son of Shiva).
These asuras did great penance and obtained from Brahma (one who manifests the worlds) three space-cities in boon, which could only be destroyed when they aligned in one straight line. Their position and speed was such that they could align only for an infinitesimal moment of time. Moreover these asuras could not be destroyed so long as they remained in their cities.
Their cities were called Tripura (three cities) and Tarkaksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali were feared as the Tripurasuras.
When they started harassing the worlds, the devas (gods) requested Shiva to put an end to these demons as he alone was capable of meeting the condition of their death.
Shiva then mounted a celestial chariot driven by Brahma himself. Sun and Moon became its wheels. Mount Meru became Shiva’s bow and Vishnu himself entered the arrow Shiva aimed at Tripura at the exact point in time and destroyed the three cities in one go.
This bronze statue is of that form of Shiva. He is seen four-armed. He holds Parashu (axe) and Mriga (deer) in right and left upper-hands respectively. His lower left hand is curled as if holding a bow and right holding an arrow.
It may be noted that it is customary to create statues with just the gesture of fingers around objects the statue might have held. So another version of this statue could be holding a bow and an arrow, which is missing in this version.
Also, notice that Shiva has his left foot placed on the head of Apsamara (ignorance personified). In other statues of Shiva such as Natarja, Dakshinamurti, Natesha etc. he has Apasmara lying under his foot. This indicates Shiva’s eternal victory on ignorance and this is one of Shiva’s attributes like Parashu (axe) and Mriga (deer), Trishula (trident), Chandrakala (crescent moon) and many more.
Shiva is seen a handsome youth with strong limbs, smiling serenly. He wears his hair as a crown studded with jewels and Dhatura flower.
Tripurasura Samhara Murti wears male and female earrings in his right and left ears respectively, symbolizing his completeness.
The sculpture stands on a beautiful, solid lotus base.