Ravana shaking Mount Kailash

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Ravana shaking Mount Kailash
Circa A.D. 1790-1800

Place of Origin: Mandi, Pahari
Dimensions: L: 30 W: 16 cm
Acc. No. 60.1662

The theme Ravana trying to uproot Mount Kailash and carry it to his kingdom Lanka that this miniature represents is one of the legends often represented in different mediums, sculpture in particular of which an early 9th century example is seen at Kailash temple, Ellora in Maharashtra. As the legend has it, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, was Shiva's great devotee, though as he always was he was as much arrogant and claimed to be the greatest, not just great, and hence expected special treatment from Shiva even in preference to his sons Karttikeya and Ganesha and claimed daily 'Darshana' of his Lord.

As he could not indefinitely camp at Mount Kailash he prayed Lord Shiva to shift along his family from Kailash to Lanka and when Shiva did not agree to his prayer to shift he decided to uproot the Mount itself and carry it, along Shiva and his family, to his kingdom. With such evil design in mind he descended down to the root of the Mount and for uprooting it began shaking it. Karttikeya and Ganesha realised that their abode was shaking and were a bit confused as to its reason however Lord Shiva knew its reason and for mitigating Ravana's arrogance pressed the thumb of his left foot that not only settled the Mount in its place but also suppressed arrogant Ravana. Realising his error Ravana cried for mercy and for being forgiven which the most benign Shiva granted. Under another tradition Ravana is said to shake Mount Kailash for trying his strength against Shiva himself.

As the painting portrays, Shiva and Parvati are seated on a lion skin under a tree on the top of Mount Kailash and his bull Nandi and Parvati's lion, close-by. Sudden shaking of Kailash disturbs Parvati and for securing her she holds Shiva's shoulder. Sporting around Karttikeya and Ganesha felt that Mount Kailash was shaking and a bit confused they reached its edge and looked below for finding its reason. However, before they found arrogant Ravana putting his entire strength to uproot Kailash Shiva knew everything and pressed the thumb of his uplifted left foot settling Kailash in its place and redeeming Ravana of his arrogance. The rolling clouds and fluttering ends of Ganesha's dhoti indicate the blowing of strong winds caused by of the shaking of the Mount. Parvati's ensemble consisting of lion-skin and a typical headdress is curious. Ravana's figure has been modeled with usual ten heads and twenty arms.

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