Abandoned Jyeshta Devi sculpture found

A stone sculpture of Jyeshta Devi belonging to the Chola period has been found in a state of neglect along the outer wall of Oppilla Ambikai-Anandeeswarar Temple at Adanjur in Thanjavur district by Mani.Maran, historian and Tamil Pandit, Saraswathi Mahal Library.

The abandoned partially buried relief stands about four feet in height and three feet in width. Jyestha Devi is flanked by her son Maanthan and daughter Maanthi. Above her are a crow and broom.

According to Mr. Maran, Jyeshta Devi was worshipped in Tamil Nadu in ancient days along with other female deities. However, in course of time, people started shunning the deity and she came to be considered inauspicious for humans. In some places, Jyeshta idols were buried with their face down.

There are references to Jyeshta in Thirukkural, Nandikalambakam, Kamba Ramayanam, Azhvar Prabhandam and Sangam literature. Several inscriptions also mention the deity.

“Worship of Jyeshta was in vogue in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka between 7th and 10th Century BC. Subsequently, the deity lost her glory,” Mr. Maran said and underlined the importance of preserving the sculpture, which represents ancient Tamil history and tradition.

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