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PAGODAS AND TEMPLES

The East is famed for many of its architectural marvels, some being the pagodas of China, Burma, Singapore and Indonesia and the magnificent temples of India. Both, Pagodas as well as temples have their significance in shape, size, uniqueness and both look majestic and enchanting.

Temples

Tourists to India are as enamored by her magnificent temples, as by her palaces and titanic mountains. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to West Bengal, to the pagodas of the seven sister states, India is a tapestry of myriad kinds of architecture.

Apart from Hindus temples, Jains and Buddhists have left their indelible mark too. While the Hindu temples are carved out of ancient stones, Jain temples look alluring in pure white marble. While North Indian temples have a slightly cylindrical tower, South Indian temples have a conical, trapezium like shape to their towers. In south Indian temples, one usually finds the entire epic translated in colorful sculpture on the towers.

Erotica in temples

Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra comes alive in the beautiful, tantalizing walls of Kahjuraho and Konarak. A trip to both Madya Pradesh and Orissa can be an exciting adventure to honeymooners, as they discover the wonders of nature in the most unabashed manner they are portrayed.

In days of yore, temples were grounds where wisdom was meant to be absorbed. Love as a way of life was symbolized on stone carvings. Also, Hinduism has always been of the view that there are various ways in realizing God. The religion never has imposed a regimented way of attaining salvation. Thus, Bhakti yoga (salvation through devotion, Karma yoga( salvation through the performance of duties and Kaama Yoga (salvation through love) are many paths through which man can realize God. Isn’t it true that whane you in love, the whole world seems alive and beautiful? You’d then never fail to notice the beauty in the ugliest duckling, and suddenly yesterday’s enemies become your friends and your purse strings suddenly loosen, as you generously give away your booties to the unfortunates around you.  Certainly, love has the potential to make the world go round and has the potential to enable you to realize God!

Temples of Kerala

God’s own country has another unique style, where the towers are shaped like a pyramid and are made of wood. 

Well, whether South Indian or North Indian, all Hindu temples have a step like tower, converging towards the sky, yet not piercing the heavens like a church. The idea behind having a tower is mainly to point out the fact that all our energies need to converge towards the one spirit of God.

Again, if you notice, in all cultures of society, when we pray, the hands are joined together, with the fingers touching each other to form a cone. This again, suggests the convergence of body, mind, emotions, intellect and senses. The temples of Kerala are slightly different from other South Indian temples in that, the towers are triangular and sloping and made of wood. The slope is the feature, bearing in mind the heavy rainfall the state is subject to.

Ancient temples that have been existing since centuries were built by pious Rishis (sages), who after years of penance selected the spots meant for the edifice and installed the idol too.

The importance of the 7 chakras

It’s an interesting fact that the several important temples dotting the length and breath of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari were erected in spots representing the seven chakras of the human body!

At the tip of India, where three mighty oceans the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, is the famous Kanyakumari temple, dedicated to the Virgin Goddess-the consort of Lord Shiva. And at the base of the human spine, lies the coiled Kundalini, which in common man, lies dormant, but when awakened, is the seat of divine consciousness! The virgin Goddess represents the splendor of this divine energy when awakened.

In the extreme North, atop Mount Kailas, is the Siva temple, which is akin to the point in the brain that’s called Sahasra Padma or the lotus with a thousand petals. Between these two points lie all the other energy fields. Through spiritual perseverance alone can man reach the state of unblocking all the seven energy fields and attaining enlightenment and merging with the Almighty!      

Not only the several temples dotting India, but also the sanctum sanctorum of every temple, has areas representing the seven chakras. From the temple courtyard, to the kumbh tower made of copper, to the steps inscribed with the tortoise, to the actual garbagriha or the sanctum sanctorum, everything represents the seven chakras of the human body. When you enter the actual sanctum sanctorum, where the idol is installed, you get to see the deity and worship. This is akin to the feeling one gets when the final chakra in the brain is free of blockages.

The idol

A line must be mentioned about the beautiful image of the deity that is installed in every temple. Although, ancient deities were carved by master sculptors in stone, many images are also made of Panchaloha or the alloy of 5 metals-Gold, silver, brass, iron and copper. The image made of these 5 important metals, is supposed to have curative properties and the holy water that is poured on the idol, is given to devotees to consume.

The importance of temples

Man has through eons sought the God within, by worshipping the God without. We, as humans need to place our faith in someone or something. Thus, the image of God, in paper or stone is held in great sanctity and sacredness. In a temple, when thousands worship daily, the vibrations of each, is absorbed by the idol made of stone or metal and is reflected back. Thus, along with our supplications, special yearnings and prayers, verses of hymns sung in praise of the deity is extremely imperative, so that whatever is reflected is also positive. Thus, a temple throbs with positive and crystal clear vibrations, which are numerically strung in meter, to infuse the worshippers with hope, peace and enlightenment. 

Pagodas

The term Pagoda as many think does not have any Chinese or Japanese roots, but has an Indian origin! These look so picturesque, that every western tourist who happens to come across one, will find the beautiful roof tweaked on both sides, like a moustache of a man! Many pagodas are situated in the middle of a pond. 

The tweaked roofs

Even a child can spot a Pagoda, owing to the roofs tweaked majestically! Ever wondered why? The Chinese and Japanese believe that when any structure is angular and points at something or someone, it emits destructive energies. In order to avoid this situation, all pagodas are tilted upwards! This belief has its roots in Chinese Feng Shui, where the roof or terrace top of your neighbor’s when pointing at your house, can emit sha qi (killing energies).

Also, unlike the church spires, that directly point heavenwards, the pagoda does not aim at the heavens. The belief is, you emit no poison arrows down towards earth, towards other living creatures or even at the heavens! Between two roofs of the pagodas, are portrayed many folklores and the life of Buddha.


 

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