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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Kanchipuram: Vaikuntha Perumal Temple: Photo 13

world pictures Peninsular India: Kanchipuram: Vaikuntha Perumal Temple

The walls of the vimana are elaborately sculpted with two dozen figures, two at each corner and four on the sides between. The figures are in poor shape and haven't been helped by repairs done in plaster. There's also the small matter of what the images mean and how they cohere as a set, which presumably they were once understood to be, at least by knowledgable visitors. Hudson helps here. He writes that at this northwest corner the sun god Surya flies at dawn over Plaksha, an outer continent surrounding the ocean that bounds the world we know. Plaksha is the home of Bhagavan, the Supreme Being, but it has other residents, including the lower figures. They are Idhmajihva and his seven sons. Idhmajihva is the nephew of Dhruva, the pole star and Brahma's great grandson. (If you think the names are hard to remember, fasten your seatbelt.)

(This panel is W5 in Hudson's scheme, meaning the fifth or next to the last image on the west side. That's counting from the perspective of someone walking around the temple in a clockwise direction.)

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