Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Mohini Pillar

Mohini Pillar - Mohini carved into a pillar inside Navaranga

Mohini Pillar – Mohini carved into a pillar inside Navaranga

Mohini Pillar
The image shows Mohini, a female avatar of Vishnu, carved into a pillar located near the dance floor inside the Navaranga. This stunningly beautiful and intricately carved sculpture was made of black stone (locally known as Krishna Shile).

According to Hindu mythology, Mohini is a by-product of the Samudra Manthana (Churning of the Ocean of Milk), which was a collaborative effort by devas (demi-gods) and asuras (demons) to produce amrita, the nectar of immortality. Once the churning produced amrita, asuras cleverly stole all of it. When Vishnu realized that asuras have amrita, he appeared as a beautiful young woman, a femme fatale, who enticed asuras and successfully grabbed amrita back from them and gave it to the devas.

As you can see from the image, Mohini has a slender and well-proportioned body. She is standing with a graceful stance with her body slightly curved around the midriff. Her beautiful face has a calm and pleasant facial expression. A crown with an unusually tall cap adorns her head. She is wearing a variety of jewelry, including necklaces, anklets, and armbands. Above her long skirt, which has beautiful patterns, an udiyana(waistband) is wrapped around the waist.

Notice the looped thread hanging across the chest from the left shoulder to the waist. It is known as yajnopavita and is a symbol that indicates that the person wearing it – typically a man – has mastered the Vedas and undergone the Upanayana ceremony. Mohini wearing the yajnopavita does symbolize that she is indeed an avatar of Vishnu, generally depicted as a man.

If you look at Mohini’s toes, you will notice that her second toe is longer than the big toe. In modern medicine, it is considered a deformity suffered by 20% of the population. This deformity even has a name, i.e., Morton’s Toe. In ancient India, a woman with Morton’s Toes is highly sought after for marriage because of the belief that she would make an ideal wife.

Related Images
Narasimha Pillar
Narasimha Pillar – A Closeup View
Pillars on the northwest side of the navaranga
Mohiniavatara – Mounted on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple

Shilābālikes – Female Bracket Figures
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhasini, Nātya Sundari, Gāna Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapala Durga, Koravanji, Nātya Mohini, Betegārthi

Male Bracket Figures
Flute playing male musician
Narthaka – Davane playing male dancer
Davane playing male musician

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple Complex
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Magnificent Temple Dedicated to Vishnu
Durga Temple at Aihole
Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave -3 and Cave – 4 – Rock-cut cave temples of Badami

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