S 152


S 152


There was some controversy about the identification of this image. Shri Hirananda Shastri is mainly guided by a few decipherable letters of a much later inscription on its pedestal identified as an image of Sadashiva. This pedestal was found lying just in front of the image of Brahma. The reading of the inscription, however, is not certain as the letters are not quite legible. Also one cannot ignore the fact that Shiva, who is a yogi is unlikely to be carved a pot-bellied figure as represented in this image. The possibility of it being an image of Brahma is also strengthened by the presence of the paw of a swan, the mount of Brahma, on this fragmented pedestal.
Only the four faces and the bust of this life-size image have survived. He is adorned with various ornaments, a necklace, hollow-cast earrings, a torque, and a thick necklace and also wears the skin of an antelope and yajnopavita on his shoulder. The design of his moulded earrings has continued till today. Similar earrings are occasionally seen worn by some Koli women of this area who still prefer traditional ornamentation.
The image is carved in the round only up to the lower part of the neck of the rear side. The artist has carved a smooth vertical slab at the back, probably to fix the image on vertical support. This is the only known figure from Elephanta which is carved in the round and is to be seen from all four sides. Hence, it is probable that the sculpture was installed in the shrine for the devotees to do pradakshina or circumambulation.
There are diverse opinions on the original placement of this image at Elephanta. Evidence indicate that it was installed in the main shrine which is occupied at present by a Shiva linga. There are reasons to believe that this could have been a well-known shrine of Brahma at Elephanta. The shrine of Brahma at Puri (Gharapuri) must have been so important and sacred that King Dantidurga refers to his pilgrimage to the Brahma temple at Puri, among one his important religious acts in the Manor inscription. The inscription records the grant of a village Tambasahika (modern Tamsahi near Manor) in favour of a temple at Sripura. Sripura near Manor is identified by scholars as Puri or Gharapuri.



Object Type









Mid 6th century CE


Elephanta, Maharashtra


110 x 57 x 45 cms.