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Story Of Kirtimukha Head Placed Above Doorways Of Hindu Homes To Ward Of Evil Spirits

The Kirtimukha, often referred to as the "face of glory" or "face of fame," is a prominent and powerful symbol in Hindu architecture and iconography, particularly known for its role in warding off evil spirits and protecting against the evil eye. This fierce, lion-faced creature is typically placed above doorways of Hindu homes, under construction buildings and temples, ensuring protection and auspiciousness for those within.

The Story Of Placing Fierce Head With No Body

The origin story of Kirtimukha is deeply rooted in Hindu mythology and involves a fascinating interplay between deities and demons. According to the myth, the demon king Jalandhara sent his messenger, Rahu, to deliver a demand to the gods. Rahu’s message was audacious: he demanded the beautiful Goddess Parvati for Jalandhara.

Enraged by this insolent demand, Lord Shiva, the supreme deity known for his power and wrath, created a terrifying being to confront Rahu. This being, with a lion-like face, flaming eyes, and long, powerful arms, was a fierce gana (attendant) of Shiva. The creature rushed out to capture and devour Rahu. Overwhelmed by fear, Rahu begged for mercy, prompting Shiva to show compassion and order the creature to release him.

However, this left the creature without a target for its hunger. When the creature expressed its plight of being deprived of food, Shiva commanded it to consume its own flesh. The creature obeyed and began devouring itself, starting with its limbs. This act of self-consumption continued until only its head remained.

Impressed by the creature’s obedience and fierceness, Shiva named it Kirtimukha, which translates to "face of glory" or "face of fame." Shiva then assigned Kirtimukha a prestigious role: to guard the thresholds of temples and homes. The visage of Kirtimukha, fierce and daunting, was to serve as a powerful protector, scaring away evil spirits and ensuring the sanctity of sacred spaces.

Symbolism and Placement

The Kirtimukha’s presence above doorways carries profound symbolic meaning:

  • Protection: The fierce expression of Kirtimukha is believed to frighten away evil spirits and negative energies, thereby safeguarding the inhabitants and maintaining the purity of the space.
  • Auspiciousness: By warding off the evil eye and other malevolent forces, Kirtimukha ensures that the home or temple remains a place of positive energy and divine blessings.
  • Obedience and Devotion: The story of Kirtimukha’s creation and self-devouring act exemplifies unwavering obedience and devotion to Lord Shiva, highlighting the values of loyalty and faithfulness in service to the divine.

Architectural Significance

In Hindu temple architecture, Kirtimukha is a common motif found in various forms, including stone carvings, woodwork, and metal decorations. It is often placed:

  • Above the main doorway (lintel) of temples and homes.
  • On temple towers (shikharas) and gateways (gopurams).
  • On pillars and arches within temple complexes.

This placement is not only for protection but also to remind devotees of the story’s moral teachings and the divine power of Shiva.

The Kirtimukha is more than just an ornamental design; it is a powerful guardian symbol with a rich mythological background. Its fierce visage serves as a constant reminder of the divine protection over homes and temples, ensuring that these spaces remain free from negative influences and filled with positive, spiritual energy.