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.

1 Answer 1


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

  • Tell me you didn't know this of the top of your head.
    – Apoorv
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 11:18
  • 3
    @MonsterTruck: To be honest, all that was needed was to look up Ardhanarishvara. It's all there. Commented Aug 13, 2013 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
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 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. Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 6:48

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