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The Five Sages Reach Shiva's Temple on Kedarnath

c. 1800-1825
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
This page illustrates the conclusion of the pilgrimage of the five sages. The now-emaciated sages appear five times: trudging through the mountains (above left), by a river bank (below), drinking at an icy pool (left), worshiping at a temple (center), and standing around a hot spring (right), all representing the final stages of a real pilgrimage to Kedarnath. The domed temple seen here, partially cut into the rock, remains an active shrine today. The rear of a standing bull appears through the door. Although the actual temple does have a prominent sculpture of Nandi in front, the bull in the painting is probably a literal depiction of the legend associated with the site--that the linga (pillarlike mark of Shiva) enshrined there was originally Nandi's nether regions, which fell on Kedarnath when the god and his mount were dismembered. At the upper right, the gods rain flowers on the sages, confirming that this is the completion of their journey.

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