Concept of Temples

Temple is a place, which is believed to be a divine and sacred place for worship of the almighty, where the sincere prayer bestows mental peace and divine comfort to the believer. It is a holy place where people surrender wealth, submit grievances for redress, pray for health, wealth, power, peace, renounces life etc. Literally, temple is the store house of life of the community.

The great idea behind a temple should be understood well. The interior darkness of the `Garbha Graha’ (inner chamber of sanctum sanctorum) symbolizes the mystery of the universe and the dim burning light there represents the spirit behind the veil of mystery.

The two concepts associated with the temple are the concepts behind the Sthoola Sarira (gross body) and Sooshma Sharira (subtle body). According to Viswakarmaneeyam, a famous treatise on architecture,

Garbha Graha corresponds to the head of the deity, the Arthamandala (the space where Bali Peetas of deities are located) His face, the Namaskara Mandapa (where Vedic chanting is done), His throat or neck, the inner Pradakshina Vazhi and Nalambalam together [inclusive of Yagasala (where vedic sacrifice is done) , Thidappalli (Temple kitchen) etc – otherwise known as Anthahara] His hands, the Vilakkumadam and the area within the outer Balikkallu (Madhyahara or third enclosure with a galaxy of lamps) His belly, the Maryaada or the outer wall as knees and ankles and the Gopura (tower at the entrance of a temple) His feet. In short, each space within the outer wall of the temple represents the body part of the Sthoola Sarira of the principal deity.

The Sooshma Sarira concept related to the idol is based on Aadhara Chakras mentioned in yogic literature. They are Mooladhara Chakra, Swadhishtana Chakra, Manipooraka Chakra, Anachatha Chakra, Aajna Chakra and Sahasrara Chakra. These Chakras are centers of vital force. The various units of the Prathista (idol) symbolize these Chakras. For eg. Aadharasila symbolises the Mooladhara and Swadhishtana Chakra, Nidhi Kumba symbolises Manipooraka Chakra, Padma represents Anaatha Chakra, Koorma represents Prana Sakthi, Yoga Nala symbolizes Visudhi Chakra and Napumsaka Sila symbolises the Aajana Chakra.

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