Chronicles of a lone blogger - 4
A temple's metaphysical architectural significance needs mention here. A temple is designed based on the Upanishadic perspective, in which the Eternal soul is analogized to an embryo within a womb. Befittingly thus, this inner sanctum sanctorum is technically known as the garba-graham. A temple's praharams and mandapams through which a devotee passes to reach the inner sanctum or the garba-graham are symbolic. They symbolize the phases of progress in a man’s journey towards divine sanctification. If you notice carefully, the architectural and sculptural details vary as we progress through to the inner sanctum. These architectural details gradually prepare the devotee to face the ultimate truth awaiting in the inner sanctum sanctorum. The mental transition that happens while we progress through to the inner shrine, mirrors the four-phased spiritual evolution envisaged in yoga, namely the waking state, dream state, the state of deep sleep, and finally the highest state of cosmic awareness known as the turiya state.
Before we enter a temple, we bend down and touch the main gateway. This initiates the devotee to start his spiritual transition from his worldly life towards divine beatitude. As we enter the temple, we see sculptures of secular figures on the outer walls. These secular images symbolizes the mortal manifestations of the divinity that is enshrined inside the garba-graham. One such eg., is the sculptures in Khajuraho. These secular images awaken the devotee to a state of mortal existence. This is the waken state. As you proceed, you would see carvings of mythological themes, mythical animals and birds etc. These carvings uplift the devotee from the waken state to the dream state. The foyer before the garba-graham, is restrained in sculptural decorations, and the darkness that prevails suggest the sleeping state. Finally the small garba-graham with no air and light, and devoid of any ornamentation, leads the devotee to a state of semi-tranquility. This state is considered to be the highest achievable state of consciousness, known as the Turiya state. This state of bliss is the pinnacle of all spiritual activity.
With a special entrance fee of Rs 2/- (if I am remember right), we get the privilege of having a private audience with Divinity. The garba graham has no pillars, windows or ventilators. In addition to the metaphysical representation of the dark womb, this shutting of light and air was meant to preserve the icon from the ill effects of weathering.
Inside the garba-graham, lies the primordial form of the Divine, the Lingam, standing in all its perpetual glory.
(The journey continues..)