The Mystery of the Lion, the Elephant and Man

Everyone who has been to Konark would have seen the two stone guards.

Stone Guards or dwarpala at Konark
Stone Guards or dwarpala at Konark

It is a lion crushing an elephant which in turn is crushing a man. I have often wondered what is the significance of this three layered crushing. Searching the web, I get two main leads.

Gajasimha: This is a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head of an elephant. But nothing more seems to be known about it.

There is one theory that the lion signifies power, the elephant signifies wealth and the man stands for justice. If this is so, then this sculpture makes for an example of satire where power is on top of wealth which is crushing justice.

However, a more plausible story which is also narrated by some of the official guides on the spot refers to the lion and the elephant represents two ends of the power spectrum – darkness and light.But as this thread suggests it is open to debate.

The mystery still remains.


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