Kirti Mukha – The Essence of Time.
“Change is the only constant in life”
Above the main entrance of any Hindu temple or in some Hindu houses one can see a ferocious looking head of a monster called “Kirti Mukha”, literally meaning “the face-of-glory” and it represents the principle of all-consuming Time.
Origin of Kirti Mukha
Jalandhara, the powerful King of the Daityas wanted to marry Parvathy, the consort of Lord Siva. He sent ‘Rahu’ to Lord Shiva with a proposal to part with Parvati. On hearing the demand from Rahu that he should part with Parvathy so that Jalandhara can marry her, Lord Shiva became extremely furious. His anger resulted into the manifestation of a ferocious creature, which ran towards ‘Rahu’ to devour him. Rahu had no option but to take the refuge in Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva protected the life of ‘Rahu’. The hungry creature, asked Shiva as to what should he eat to satisfy his hunger. Lord Shiva instructed the monster to appease its hunger by devouring its own body commencing from its tail. The monster finished eating its own body leaving only its face intact. The monster’s face with sanguinary appearance impressed Lord Shiva and preferred to call it as Kirti Muka or ‘Face of Glory.’ Lord Shiva ordained to represent ‘Kirtimukha’ at the lintel of the sanctum of the Lord. The Lord also noted that whosoever worship the Kirtimukha would acquire the benevolent grace of the Lord.
Kirti Mukha, the face of glory is normally framed above the main entrance of the sanctum of Hindu temples and also at the entrances of some houses. Kirti Mukha represents the principle of all-consuming Time. Since Time is the great destroyer and takes from us all that is precious and separates us from our loved ones and objects it is shown as being wrathful and terrifying. It serves to remind the contemplator that everything is conditioned by time and space and all things in the universe including the deity depicted are all subjected to appearance and disappearance. Everything is impermanent and subject to constant change.
Time creates and Time destroys all creatures. It is Time that burns creatures and it is Time that extinguishes the fire. All states, the good and the evil, are caused by Time. Time cut short all things and creates them anew. Time alone is awake when all things are asleep: indeed, Time is incapable of being overcome. Know that all things past and future and all that exist at the present moment are the offspring of Time.
Do not be too proud of your health, wealth, youth, beauty, strength, position or power, for sure all those will change with time. Do not lament on your sufferings, sadness or misfortune, for they will also change and better times will come in your way. Therefore beware of time and that is the most important message one should take on seeing the Kiti Mukha upon visiting a Hindu temple.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
“Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.”
― Stephen King, The Green Mile