Dynasty : Chola, Tamil Nadu
Period : Late Medieval 1100 CE
Material : Stone
Location : National Museum
Current Location : National Museum
Bhikshatana-murti is an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva as the "Supreme mendicant" or the "Supreme Beggar". When Shiva cut off one of the heads of Brahma he incurred the sin of killing a brahmana and the skull of Brahma it is stated stuck to Shiva’s palm and would not drop down. In order to get rid of the sin and this incriminating skull, Shiva had to wander around as a naked beggar (Bhikshatana) until he reached the place still known as brahma-kapalam on the slopes of the Himalayas, where he was released from the sin and the skull fell down of its ownaccord. The Chola dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in history. The Cholas continued the temple-building traditions of the Pallava dynasty and contributed significantly to the Dravidian temple design. They built a number of Shiva temples along the banks of the river Kaveri. The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes. Among the existing specimens in museums around the world and in the temples of South India may be seen many fine figures of Siva in various forms. Made in granite stone, this is a Bhikshatana murti of Siva standing nude on a circular pedestal. His upper hands carry a bell and a fly-whisk above the shoulders; the lower right hand is hanging along the side, while the lower left forearm is damaged. He wears a necklace, sacred-thread, armlets and bracelets. A gana is shown near the left leg and a dog with its head raised is seen under the lower right hand. It is damaged at places.