Temples of North India

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Item Code: NAY093
Author: Krishna Deva
Publisher: National Book Trust, India
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788123719702
Pages: 88 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 180 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description
Symbolism of the Temple A Hindu temple is a symbol or rather a synthesis of various symbols. It is conceived in terms of the human organism which is the most evolved living form. The names of. the various limbs of the human body from the foot to the hair on the crown of the head are applied in architectural texts to different parts of the temple structure. Terms like feet, legs, thighs, neck and head denote the anatomical position and function of the structural parts corresponding to those of the human body, and are often used figuratively to emphasize the concept of organic unity in temple architecture.

Evidently, even the most perfect body seems lifeless with- out the resident soul. To the Hindu, the temple is the abode of God who is the spirit immanent in the universe. The temple, therefore, is known by such terms as devalaya, shivalaya and devayatana. Hence, worship constituting the living use of the temple starts with the installation of life in the form of the deity in the sanctum.

The deity dwelling in the temple symbolizes the king of kings and is consequently offered regal honor, consistent with the concept of God as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. Significantly enough, Prasad means both a palace and a temple. The deity is provided with the royal paraphernalia of a throne, umbrella and fly-whisk and the worship of the deity is attended by regal pageantry, together with music, dance and lighting of lamps. Just as the royal palace has a throne-room, a private audience-hall and a public audience-hall, the temple has a sanctum, an inner hall and at times an outer hall. In course of time, the temple came to possess many subsidiary structures for the various temple rites and ceremonials. In Orissa a hall of dance and a hall of offerings were added in front of the outer hall, while in south India the enclosures of the larger temples teem with accessory structures like the thousand-pillared hall, the hall of wedding and the hall of festivities and thus resemble a fortified palace.

While dance, music and public ceremonials are conducted in the accessory structures, the worship proper is offered to the deity in the sanctum sanctorum individually by each devotee, for the Hindu shrine is primarily a place for individual self-realization and is not intended for mass prayer or congregational worship. The sanctum is customarily a dark chamber enclosed by massive walls. Its somber interior is dimly lighted by flickering flames of a lamp. This suggests and simulates the mystery that envelopes the universe and the divine spirit that shines behind the veil of mystery and pervades and illumines the universe.

Just as the sanctum is a microcosm, so is the whole temple symbolic of the universe inhabited by gods, demi-gods, human beings and animals, which are figural represented on the temple facades. The same idea is expressed by the representation on the temple walls of the eight Regents of the cardinal points. Likewise an ambulation around the temple symbolically means a perambulation of the universe itself.

The architectural origins of the several parts of the temple are significant. The base is derived from the Vedic sacrificial altar, the plain cubical cell of the sanctum from the prehistoric dolmen, and the spire from the simple tabernacle made of bent bamboos tied together to a point.

The sanctum with its massive walls and the dark interior represents a cave, while the superstructure with its peak-like spire-the shikhara-represents a mountain and is frequently designated as the mythical Meru, Mandara; or Kailasa.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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