I.  Hindu temples (also widely known as Mandir or places of residence) form a place of       worship for followers of Hinduism.

 

            A.-Usually dedicated to one primary deity

                -Serve as a sort of Microcosm of the universe

                -Vimana is the sanctum of a temple where the deity is enshrined.

-The temples are places where the Gods make themselves visible, and from   where we can contact them (Darsan)

- Temples are built to replicate the dwelling places of gods such as the mountains, and caves.

 

B.-The priests perform the elaborate rituals including bathing to prepare     themselves for contact with the divine, and the rituals are performed on behalf of the community. (no need for community to be present)

-Those who desire extra benefit may be present

- Circumambulation clockwise around the temple or image is a way or showing   reverence/respect as well as a rite of bodily participation in prayer

 

II. Main components of a Temple

 

-Shikara is the highest peak of the temple where the sun disk (amalaka/s) resides representing the celestial axis.

-Garbha Griha or womb chamber which serves as the naval of Purusha. This is the center from which all else originates. When you are traveling through the temple you are moving from the external to the internal, and so the temple serves as a Tirtha or ford to Jnana. One is crossing over from the mundane to the celestial.

-Secondary shrines can be found throughout the temple, but the main/presiding deity is usually found in the Garbha Griha.

-Divine Axis – Through the highest peak down to the level of human beings, a center where they can meet. This Divine axis is represented as coming down through the Gopuram into the womb Chamber

-Temples actually serves as a receptacle place of the Gods.  There is always potential for the divine but only on occasions is the divine manifested, thus the importance of the Brahmin Priests

-Temple’s themselves may be seen as a receptacle for a deity itself, in some cases there are even Eyes etched on the temple so one may take Darsan just by viewing the temple.

 

III. The science of creating and constructing temples is included in the Vastu Shastras, ancient canonical texts on architecture. These various texts prescribe the parameters and significance of such things from the place, time of year, etc..

            -Shilpa Shastras-

 

A.    Mahapurusha (The cosmic man)

-          Mandala’s with the image of the Mahapurusha give specific formulations for creating the temple, with the naval in the center (where the Garbha Griha will be) and from which all else originates.

B.     Construction

-Special laborers, priests, and Shilpas (sort of temple architects) brought over to make sure the temple is built according to specifications. I.e. astrological signs, purity, special arithmetic, etc…

 

 

IV. Two main distinct types of Hindu temples that arise

            -Nagara or Northern Style Temple and Dravidian or Southern Style Temples.

            - Other styles such as Vesara exist as well, as hybrids between them.

            -Distinguishable by several features including their Gopuram/Shikara , mountain like towers on top the temple containing thousands of intricate images on it.

 

A. Nagara Style

-most temples are named after mountains, since they are meant to represent mountains. Your activity in the temple is representative of an ascent to the gods.

- The peaks (Shikara) are usually more rounded/curved and culminate into a more representative shape of a mountain. Tend to be smaller than the Dravidian Shikara’s.

           

B. Dravidian Style

- The peaks (Shikara) are more rectangular/square shaped and tend to be tiered.

- The Gopuram are visually almost exact to the Shikara, they are the large gateways from which one enters into the temple complex usually located on the walls surrounding the temple.  They tend to be as large if not larger than the tallest Shikara, and more prominent in Dravidian Style temples.

- Characterized by multiplicity of everything from shapes, statues, patterns (which is true of many and most classical temples) that are recessed into the walls.