Badami Cave – 3: Ashtabhuja (8-Armed) Vishnu

Sculptural relief depicting Ashtabhuja (Eight-Armed) Vishnu carved in Cave - 3, the third of the four rock-cut caves of Badami in Karnataka, India

Ashtabhuja (Eight-Armed) Vishnu carved in Cave – 3

Ashtabhuja (Eight-Armed) Vishnu
Carved into the left-side extension of Cave – 3, this beautiful sculptural relief of Vishnu portrays him with eight hands, each holding a symbolic object.

Vishnu, one of the Trimurti, is the supreme god who preserves order and maintains harmony in the universe.

The carvings of Vishnu with standard iconography show him with four arms, but in this relief, he has four additional arms. This feature indicates that he is Maha Vishnu (Great Vishnu) to whom Cave -3 is dedicated. Because of his role as the primary creator, i.e., the creator of the creator, Vishnu is known as Maha Vishnu.

Check the Vishnu page for a description of Vishnu’s standard iconography. Check the Maha Vishnu page for a description of Maha Vishnu.

As you can see from the image, Vishnu is wearing beautiful jewelry around his neck, arms, hands and waist, and a tall crown on his head. He is standing elegantly with a stern face. Each of his hands holds an object. Here are his four signature objects:
1. Chakra (A disc-like weapon) – right hand, first from the top
2. Gadā (Mace) – right hand, third from the top
3. Padma (Lotus) – missing, left hand, second from the top
4. Shanka (Conch shell) – left hand, first from the top

Here are objects in the other four hands:
1. Dhanush (Bow) – left hand, third from the top
2. Bāna (Arrow) – right hand, second from top
3. Sword (partly broken) – right hand in front
4. Rope – left hand in front

As the name suggests, Cave – 3 is the third of the four rock-cut caves carved out of a red sandstone hill near Badami, Karnataka, India.

Check the other Ashtabhuja Vishnu sculptures:
Ashtabhuja Vishnu in Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Ashtabhuja Vishnu mounted on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Related Pages
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave -4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall

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