Walking up the huge uneven steps, with the excitement sitting in the back of throat, I anticipate ancient greatness. I am not going to lie I was exhausted going up those stairs but it was great exercise. When I finally reach the top of the stairs, I see beautiful women in extravagant clothing, carrying the heaviest bolder on top of their heads. I sit back in awe because they walked those steps with the cut bolders on their head. WOW! When I entered the cave the Ardhanarishvara carving sits in the back left corner, rewarded with more light than the carvings that lie directing in the back of the cave down the middle.
Ardhanarishvara was the piece of work I decided to study at Elephanta. Ardhanarishvara represent Shiva as a half man and half God. While at the site, I was initially amazed by the size of the carving, compared to the size of the cave. While my understanding of the cave was not waiver, my ability to describe the cave definitely did. My main focus for the carving, to help understand the meaning of my research, lies in relation to other scholars, such as Betty Seid and Ellen Goldberg. I focused on whether or not the carving focused on balance and equality. Two subjects that were raised about Ardhanarishvara was the number of arms Shiva has compared to the woman side and the slight backward step of the woman’s foot. What does that signify if, anything? The number of arms vary depending on the location of the Ardhanarishvara and many researchers say that the number of arms signify a higher being or celestial creatures. I was able to show the students that the woman’s foot sags behind Shiva’s foot, while being at the sight better than when I was presenting through pictures in class.
As I reflect back on my presentation I believe I did a good job explaining the main points of my research with the support of the previous scholars. Below I have posted pictures while being at Elephanta.
Goldberg, Ellen. “Ardhanār?Śvara: What we Know and what we do Not.” Religion Compass 2, no. 3 (2008): 301-315
Seid, Betty. “The Lord Who is Half Woman (Ardhanarishvara).” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 30, no. 1 (2004): 48-95.