Arjuna's Penance, Mamallapuram

The hero of the story is performing a difficult and painful yoga posture: standing one-legged, arms above his head. Such positions had to be held, without moving, for great lengths of time; even years, according to the legends. His protruding rib-cage indicates the austerity of self-starvation as well.

To the left, four-armed Shiva looks on approvingly, his left hand extended in varada mudra, the gesture of granting a blessing. Below, an antelope bounds from ledge to ledge. The scene includes flying celestials (photo lower right and upper left), a gana below Shiva's hand, and a pair of birds near Arjuna's left elbow.