Sayana Ramar

Well, this was an eye-opener. I almost blogged this Vigraha as Anantasai (reclining Vishnu). Two things continued to bother me.

One is it is a two-armed deity without attributes. That got settled quickly when I saw Ranganathaswamy in Sri Rangam is two-armed and does not carry the attributes.

The second aspect that bothered me was the single Goddess massaging his feet. I have seen and have Vishnu accompanied by only one consort. Examples include Vishnu and Lakshmi from Himachal, Vishnu with Lakshmi at his feet. In those two cases, Vishnu is four-armed and carries his attributes. I decided to continue the search, to find a reclining two-armed Vishnu with only one consort.

Then I came across a little-known form of Rama, Ananta Sayana Ramar at Vengadampettai near Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. Further research led me to another example/temple, Darbha Sayana Ramar at Thirupullani.

Photos of the deities are included here for reference.

Courtesy Ananatasayana Ramar Vengadampettai.

Courtesy Darbha Sayana Ramar, Thirupullani.

Now, to me, it is certain that the Vigraha is Sayana Ramar, reclining pose, two arms, the absence of Vishnu’s attributes and a single consort. The form may not be very rare but is seldom recognized as such.

The two Ananatasai, reclining Vshnu, with me are four-armed with attributes Shankha and Chakra and accompanied by his two consorts.

The features to note include the headrest (cylindrical pillow), which we started seeing with the establishment of the Vijayanagara empire, and the lotus on which his feet are resting. Normally you see the Lotus supporting seated deities’ feet or the deities standing on the lotus.

The Vigraha is 9.5 cm in length. It is from Tamil Nadu. There is significant wear suggesting the eighteenth century or earlier as the date.

PS: Refererred the deity as Ramar rather than Rama, in deference to the local, Tamil Nadu, customs. The ‘R’ is added at the end as a mark of respect.


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