The Hindu temple like all other Hindu objects is symbolic, symbolizing the most refined knowledge that the ancient saints of India had codified. In this Talk by Pankaj Saxena, some symbolical aspects of the Hindu temple are discussed. The Hindu temple is built and perceived in the image of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain. Mount Meru represents ultimate knowledge and climbing it symbolizes attaining self-realization.
The Garbha-griha is so named because it is literally the womb of the temple. It is called the womb, because under the deity, the ‘seed’ of the temple is inseminated in a kalasha (pitcher) and buried. It is directly above this that the image of the deity is installed. This seed is believed to have sprouted upwards in the form of the temple vimana and branching out in various shoots, leaves and branches, it again coalesces at the top in one kalash, bearing fruit which again contains the seed from which it came, and thus directly above this, outside the temple, over the vimana, another kalash is installed which has the same ‘seed’, which is deposited in the kalash underground. The temple vimana is also imagined as the fire of a fire altar, of a Yajna vedi. The shape of the vimana, which tapers, recedes and coalesces into one point at the top with many of half-vimanas, or half-shikharas or miniature aedicular vimanas decorating the ascent of the vimana resembles the sacrificial fire of a fire altar.
To a Hindu, sankalpa (resolution) is of primary importance. It is believed that this universe is the result of the sankalpa of Brahma, or Shiva or the Supreme Consciousness. The symbolism of the temple, through its rituals, strengthens this resolve of the devotee, the resolve of seeking self-knowledge. All symbolism of the Hindu temple is geared towards this objective, the ultimate and final goal of anything Hindu or Sanatana.
This talk will cover beautiful Hindu Temples – Lakshmana Temple-Khajuraho and Kandariya Mahadev Temple-Khajuraho.