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Badami caves are a series of cave-temples built between 6th and 8th century. In the first cave, dedicated to hindu god Lord Shiva, there is an image of "Ardha-Naarishvara".

I was intrigued by the figure to the left of the deity - it shows a starved man with long ears. I could not help but think of starved Buddha image seen elsewhere. If it is indeed Buddha, it seems to me a gentle put-down of buddhism - buddha himself praying to hindu deity.

When I asked the local guide he told me that it is not Buddha but a male-chauvinist devotee of Shiva cursed by Shiva's consort Gauri, but I am not too convinced.

So my question: do we know what the temple builders intended by the starving figure? Opinion of experts of that era would be useful.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The figure is Bringhi, who refused to worship Parvati/Gauri and is an important part in the legend of Ardhanarishvara, and is often depicted with Shiva:

Bringhi Bringhi

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Tell me you didn't know this of the top of your head. –  Monster Truck Aug 13 '13 at 11:18
3  
@MonsterTruck: To be honest, all that was needed was to look up Ardhanarishvara. It's all there. –  Lennart Regebro Aug 13 '13 at 12:23
    
@Lennart - Thanks for your answer. I had a couple of related follow up questions. Do we know for sure that "Bringhi" predates 6th century i.e. is not a mythical story born after the cave temples were built/carved? Why does he look eerily like starving Buddha? –  Abhilash Aug 14 '13 at 5:37
    
@Abhilash He looks like a starving Buddha, because the curse on him removed his flesh and blood, so he is literally just skin and bones. This is explained in the linked article, I suggest you read it. –  Lennart Regebro Aug 14 '13 at 6:48

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