Construction of the Guruvayurappan Temple of Brampton in the traditional Kerala style is progressing rapidly. The latest and perhaps the most important phase of the effort, “Shadadhara Prathishta”, is scheduled to take place between 15 and 18 April 2016.
The art of temple construction has evolved over thousands of years. The importance of philosophy, art, and literature in this evolution is also significant. Artisans and beneficiaries join hands together to make it a successful community event as well.
Many prominent ideas that evolved during the vedic period were incorporated into this art form. For example, the mantra “Sahasra Sheersha Purushaha” from Purusha Sooktam. The Purusha, Universal Being, has Thousand Heads, Thousand Eyes and Thousand Feet (Thousand signifies innumerable which points to the omnipresence of the Universal Being). The head, eyes and feet of, be it a King, Seeker, Hindu, people of all faith, elephant, grasshopper, asuras, Devas, trees, grass is a universal projection of the ultimate truth, “Purusha”.
This concept is embodied into the art of temple creation. A temple has many “Balikkallu’. The different “Balikkallu” signifies presiding Gods who are devas, rakshasas, knowledge, and wealth. These presiding Gods get their identity only after the main deity comes into existence just as the waves gain life only with the existence of ocean. However, these Gods have their own distinct forms and responsibilities. Truly, the forms and activities of the different devas, is a projection of the “Purusha” as illustrated in the Purusha Sookta hymn “Sahasra Sheersha Purushaha”. This is just one of the countless examples we could contemplate.
Shadadhara Prathishta covering the kriyas from Adharasila to Yoganalam. Video captured by Sreekumar & Seema
There existed a science and knowledge involving construction during the period when Yagnas were performed. This knowledge has been cleverly utilized in temple construction. Just as the Yagna sacrificial animal was tied to a wooden post (Yupam), the kotimaram represents the post to anchor jeevatma vehicle.
There is a heavy influence of Indian Philosophy in temple construction, but it is apt to state that not even a stone is installed in the temple that is not influenced by Indian Philosophy. This is very evident in the “Shadadhara Pratishta”, which is the first part of temple construction.
There are many schools of thoughts, agreements & disagreements in Indian Philosophy. However, it is universally accepted that everything originates, develops and finally dissolves into Brahman.
This idea is reminiscent in Shadadhara Prathishta during the temple construction. The adhara Shakti represents the universe that is stagnant and dissolved in Brahman. The urge of Adhara Shakti to grow and expand is called “Moola Prakrithy” (the root of nature). Subsequently this root develops “Chalanam” (mobility) and “Thrigunatmik” (three intrinsic or inherent properties) “Pranan” (Life force). “Chalanam” is “Pranan”. It is an undisputed fact that the movement in the atom sustains the same. There will be no existence without neither “Pranan” nor “Chalanam”.
“Chalanam” has a beginning, sustain and dissolve stage, which represents “Tamas” (Darkness), “Rajas” (Passion, motion) and “Satvam” (Light, bliss, goodness).
Subsequently the “Pancha Bhootas” manifests itself into Aakasham (Ether), Vayu (air), Agni (Fire), Jalam (Water), Bhoomi (Earth). Now let us connect the “Pancha Bhootas” to temple construction.
In the first stage of temple construction, stone made “Aadhara Sila” (foundation), “Nidhi Kumbham” (Treasure vessel), “Tamara” (Lotus), “Koormam” (Tortoise) is installed below the floor level of the sanctum sanctorum.
The “Aadhara Sila” that is initially installed represents inactive Shakti (Power). “Nidhi Kumbam” which is filled with seeds represents “Moola Prakrithy”, the urge to grow and expand. This growth and expansion represents “Tamara” (Lotus). The “Aama” (Tortoise) represents “Pranan” which personifies breathing just as displayed by the nature of a tortoise to pull its head in and out of its shell.
As explained earlier, “Pranan” has three “Gunas”. “Koormam” sits on top of “Tamara”. This is made out of three medium representing three “Gunas”. The stone, silver and gold represents “Tamas”, “Rajas” and “Satva” gunas respectively.
A “Yoganalam” (a long copper tapering hollow pipe) is installed on top of “Koormam”. Copper is a good conductor of “Pranan” (energy). Our rishis from the yore were well aware that copper is a good conductor of energy thousands of years back.
“Ananthan” (Infinite in the form of a serpent) is worshipped inside the hollow “Yoganalam”. Infinity and emptiness represents sky.
Finally, Napumsaka sila, which represents the infinite Brahmaanda, is installed later, at the time of Deva Prathishta. The congruence of “Yoganalam” (Sky) and “Napumsaka Sila” (Earth) naturally encompasses air, fire and water. The philosophical view of temple could be equated to the universal creation itself.
Having highlighted the role of philosophy in the construction of temple, it has to be overemphasised that the temple will not serve its purpose without true devotion. The ego and materialistic overtures of people will get dissolved with pure devotion. This is the first step towards realizing God.
The officials of the temple have organized the Shadadhara Pratishta which will enable the devotees to establish an emotional connection with the Lord which is very praiseworthy.
The “Nidhi Kumbam” is filled with grains that has been enshrined with “Narayana” nama japam by devotees who have touched the grains while chanting “Narayana” namam. This pious act is very special indeed.
In “Kali Yuga” the easiest path to attain the lotus feet of the Lord is to chant the namam. The realization that the sanctum sanctorum and the Lord is going to be seated on top of the grains touched and empowered by the Nama Japam of all the devotees is noteworthy.
Thousands of devotees have already attended Nama Japam ceremonies and attained a personal emotional connection with Lord Guruvayurappan. I will end the note by quoting Narayan Bhattathirippad who stated in Narayaneeyam “Hantha Bhagyam Janaanaam” (“It is the biggest fortune of this lifetime”). These are last words in the first sloka in Narayaneeyam.