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L. Jibladze, T. Chigoshvili and L. Dzidziguri

The Quest for the Pāśupata Weapon

The Gateway of the Mahādeva Temple at Madhyamikā (Nagarī)

Hans T. Bakker and Peter C. Bisschop

This article offers a new iconographic reading of the sixth-century architrave of the gateway of the Mahādeva Temple at ancient Madhyamikā (Nagarī). It is argued that the eastern and western face of the architrave should be read in conjunction. The eastern face shows Śiva’s entry as a naked mendicant into the Devadāruvana, while the western face depicts the Kirātārjunīya, a story that is foreshadowed in the panels of the eastern face. The motif that ties both stories together is the Brahmaśiras or ‘Head of Brahmā,’ which is simultaneously the skull that forms Śiva’s begging bowl and the Pāśupata Weapon acquired by Arjuna. The theme of the winning of the Pāśupata Weapon may have had particular resonance for the Aulikara rulers in their troubled times.