Structure and Symbolism
The Shilpa Shāstras, sacred Hindu texts that prescribe the canons of traditional architecture, narrate how the structure of a shikharbaddha mandir symbolically represents the body of Purusha, or Cosmic Man. The mandir is constructed in the layout of the Vastu Purusha Mandala, which is a metaphysical blueprint depicting personified Vedic cosmology. From the foundations of the mandir to the flags (dvajā) waving atop the pinnacles (shikhar), each major external feature symbolizes parts of the form of the Purusha deity, and the enshrined murtis embody the soul of the structure. This gives rise to certain rules of etiquette for worshippers, such as removing one’s shoes when entering a temple.
The structure of shikharbaddha mandir also reflects deep-rooted undertones of spiritual aspiration and enlightenment. For instance, the pinnacle (shikhar), similar in shape to a mountain, symbolizes upward aspiration. Scholar Raymond Williams describes the domes and spires as serving to “remind devotees that at the sacred place of the residence of the gods, the plane between the earthly and the divine is broken. Thus they are reminded that the purpose of their visit is to aid their own spiritual ascent. One layman remarked that the temples are constructed in the shape of the summit of the mountains with the highest spires suggesting the world of the sky; a touch of the infinite is brought into the mundane world.” The inner sanctum (garbhagruha), where the Deity resides, serves as the metaphorical embryo of the temple; accordingly, devotees are said to attain new spiritual life while worshipping here.
Read more about this topic: Shikharbaddha Mandir
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