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Shiva as Kalarimurti

Shiva as Kalarimurti is associated with Him attacking Kala, the god of death. Kala is popularly known as Yama. The story of the manifestation of Kalarimurti is associated with Shiva appearing to save his ardent devotee Markandeya.

Legend has it that Sage Mrikandu was long without a son. He offered prayers for an offspring. Brahma appeared before him and asked whether he would like a large number of foolish children or only one intelligent child but with a short span of 16 years of life.

The Rishi chose the latter and Markandeya was born to him. Markandeya was an intelligent boy and soon he came to know about his short lifespan.

He performed intense austerities to overcome Yama and when his time on earth was up, he was intensely absorbed in worshipping of Shiva. The attendants of Yama who arrived to capture Markandeya could not carry the soul of young Markandeya.

Then, Yama himself arrived to capture the soul of Markandeya. When he was getting ready to take the soul, Shiva burst out of the Shivling and kicked Yama on his chest. Yama realized his folly and left the place.

Shiva in the act of admonishing Yama is known as Kalari Murti.

The murti of Shiva as Kalarimurti is depicted in human form with his right foot placed upon a padma pitha and the left leg being lifted up so far high as to reach the chest of the Yama. Shiva is with three eyes and four arms in this murti form.

The right hand carries trishul lifted up as far as the ear; the next right hand carries parashu or is in varada posture. The left hands are in suchi and vismaya pose.

A small murti of Markandeya is depicted as offering prayers to a Shivling.

Complete images of Kalarimurti are found in the Dashavatara cave in Ellora, Kailasa Temple in Ellora and in Pattishvaram.