Q. “Two and a half century of the Rashtrakuta rule witnessed a very high achievements in the fields of sculpture and architecture.” Explain.
A. Elephanta caves
• The sculptural art of the Rashtrakutas reached its zenith at elephanta cave. It is a rock cut cave temple dedicated to lord Shiva (linga). The important features of Ellora are :
• The interior of the cave is decorated with a dozen large relief sculptures of Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara and Somaskanda.
• The linga shrine is unusual in having four entrances, one at each compass point. Each entrance was guarded by impressive dwarapalas.
• The most imposing figure of this temple is the twenty – foot high trimurthi stature called Maheshamurthi. This three heads in the image represent Shiva as Aghori, Ardhanarishavara and Mahayogi. It symbolize the fierce, feminine and meditative aspects of Shiva respectively.
• Other Sculptures in these caves depict Shiva’s cosmic dance of primordial creation and destruction and his marriage to Parvati and Shiva as half man/half – woman.
• Among Rashtrakuta rulers some had Shiva as their Titular deity, some had Vishnu and Amogavarsha Nrupatunga was a devout Jain. Yet we observe construction and coexistence of structures from three religions/sects which serve as a splendid visual representation of the great long Indian tradition of religious tolerance.