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My first thought for 2006

I guess there is no better way to start the year for my blog than blogging on something religious (or something close to that topic). Ya, you heard me right – “religious”

More so, after I almost got into a fight (or rather a fist fight) with an idiot who double parked at a very congested parking area on the 1st day of 2006. I was not drunk but I was pissed off because parking lot was full and the guy had the cheek to park the car right in between 2 parking lots, came out, had a look at his parking and casually walked away. I quickly got down and confronted the guy.

Sanity (and my wife consistent pulling of my hands and arms) prevented a full blow up and possible injuries on the first day of 2006. Of course, in the end, that guy changed his mind and drove off (probably because I told him that he will find smashed windscreens & punctured tires when he comes back to his car). I did not dare to park on the empty spots either (I don’t mind taking blows to my body but never to my car).

Now for the religious part…

For those who have ventured into an Indian temple or at least passed by one, I am sure that you will find the following picture to be very familiar (this is in India – picture taken by my sister)

Many of us including me never thought about the science of an Indian Temple – I mean most temples looks the same and probably came from the same blueprint thousands years ago. That was until few weeks ago when I was at a local bookstore and read about the architecture of an Indian Temple by one Mat Salleh (strange? I would have expected an Indian to write about things like this but nonetheless we Indians sometimes don’t talk or write about obvious things)

The following text is extracted from here

The basic plan of a Hindu temple is an expression of sacred geometry where the temple is visualized as a grand “mandala”. Characteristically, a “mandala” is a sacred shape consisting of the intersection of a circle and a square.

The square shape is symbolic of earth, signifying the four directions which bind and define it. Indeed, in Hindu thought whatever concerns terrestrial life is governed by the number four (four castes; the four Vedas etc.). Similarly, the circle is logically the perfect metaphor for heaven since it is a perfect shape, without beginning or end, signifying timelessness and eternity, a characteristically divine attribute. Thus a “mandala” (and by extension the temple) is the meeting ground of heaven and earth.

Throughout all subsequent developments in temple architecture, however spectacular and grandiose, the main shrine room remains the small, dark cave that it has been from the beginning. Indeed it has been postulated (both by archaeology and legend), that the temple developed from the cave-shrine of the extremely remote past.

When the devotee enters a temple, he is actually entering into a mandala and therefore participating in a power-field. The field enclosures and pavilions through which he must pass to reach the sanctum are symbolic. They represent the phases of progress in a man’s journey towards divine beatitude. In accordance with this scheme of transition, architectural and sculptural details vary from phase to phase in the devotee’s onward movement, gradually preparing him for the ultimate, awesome experience, which awaits him in the shrine.

This process mirrors the four-phased spiritual evolution envisaged in yoga, namely the waking state (jagrat); dream state (swapna); the state of deep sleep (sushupti); and finally the highest state of awareness known in Sanskrit as turiya.

Mind boggling? One thing for sure – I am not going to look at a temple the same way that I used to see. More reading here

(Filed under Tag: Indians)

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