Dvarapala

This is Dvarapala (Gatekeeper) and his position is standing next to the door or gateway of Hindu temples. Normally there is a pair for each gateway.

Dvarapalas tend to take the attributes of the main deity. Despite the attributes, Dvarapalas are just protectors and not Gods. Some have classified them as demi-Gods. But I have not seen anyone worshipping them or offering them anything.

Here given that the rear hands are holding Chakra and Shankha and his forehead is sporting Namam (the vertical religious mark), this Dvarapala is from a Vaishnavite shrine. The lower right hand is in Tarjani mudra. This warning mudra goes with the job of Dvarapala, which is protecting the deity from ‘intruders’.

The iconography of Dvarapala or Dvarapalika varies by the gender of the main deity, the deity, the direction of the doorway and the Prakara (the circumambulatory path) the gateway is located. Please refer to Elements of Hindu Iconography by T A G Rao for a full discussion.

Comments from a Facebook follower Ashutosh Prabhu: “Similar kind of 8 Dwarapalakas are usually found in 4 doors of Vaishnava temples. Jaya-Vijaya, Nanda-Sunanda, Kumuda-Kumudaksha and Bala-Prabala. Names of these Dwarapalas can slightly differ in various Vaishnava Samhitas

One feature to note is the way the body is rotated to the left as his right leg is crossed over. See the left side tassel. Keen observation and realistic depiction by the artist.

It did surprise me to see a Dvarapala Vigraha of this dimension (9 cm) as the size suggests it may have been used in a home shrine. It would have been a part of an elaborate set.

This Vigraha is from Karnataka, going by the spurring and the raised lotus petals. This may date to the nineteenth century.

Note: There is possibly another Dvarapala on this site. That was identified as Visvakesana. Examples of standing Visvakesana are rarer. Difficult to decide and it is left to the readers.

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