Bharat: Advancement of earth’s earliest civilization

Glorious Vedic Architecture and Temple

Architecture in India was an extremely rich form of expression and highly developed science, with a deep heritage of spirituality in it. #FreeHinduTemple

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The centre of all architectural development was the temple and temple or Mandir was the earthly home of God, and like the launching pad for the devotee’s consciousness to soar toward the Divine and the spiritual world.

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The murti or deity of the Divine would be placed in the temple sanctum, around which all temple activity would revolve.

Such buildings were often elaborately decorated with stone, wood, plaster, etc. and carved or cut to depict the stories from the Puranas or other sacred texts

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Temples were always the centre of religious, social and educational activities, practically more so in
ancient times than today.

During a span of more than two thousand years, various dynasties were known for constructing glorious temples,

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some of which include the Mauryan, Ashoka, Gupta, Satavahana, Chedi, Chandella, Chalukya, Solanki, Pallava, Shola, Hoysala, Vijayanagar, and others.

Many of these temples remain beautiful architectural wonders today.

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The Mandirs were composed of various parts, which included the Garbhagriha or sanctum; the Sukanasi or nose of the structure; the Antarala or adjoining passages; the Mandapa or main hall; the Dhwaja sthambha or flag post; and the Bali peeth, or the pedestal for the offerings.

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The temples played a most prominent centre of village and community life.

Along with the place of worship, they were also places of preserving and teaching basic education along with the culture by which the community thrived.

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They also utilized and employed many 85 artists, musicians, dancers, cooks, architects, priests, carpenters, weavers, florists, etc., for maintaining the temple and participating in festivities on the holy days.

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Farmers and landowners would also donate food and produce to the temple, which would be used for offering to the deities and then distributed to the devotees and pilgrims.

Temple construction was more specific because of the higher purpose involved.

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The science of construction goes all the way back to the time of the Atharva Veda, which contains several hymns on
the topic in its Shala-nirmana-sukta.

Other hymns that discuss the ways of testing soil for construction,

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what should be avoided, or what materials to use are also found in the Matsya Purana (Adhyayah 253, verse 11), Vastu Shastra (verse 5), Bhrigu-samhita (Adhyayah 4), and Kashyapashilpah (Adhyayah 4).

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Additional Sanskrit literature that contained references to architecture included Agni Purana, the Brihat Samhita and Arthashastra, and the Vastu Sashtra texts like the Maya-Mata, Manasara, and Samarangana-sutradhara.

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These all included such points as the selection of stone, soil testing, making of bricks, mortar, the carving of the deities, and even the use of chisels and carving tools.

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The references in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata mention the two great architects, namely Visvakarma of the gods and Maya Danava.

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The existence of Maya in the Khandara forest and his building the Sabha of the Pandavas and his knowledge of the city near Kailasha is because of his expertise in this subject.

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The Ramayana also explains different kinds of architects used in house construction, according to the Silpa Shastra.

These include the Sthapati, Vardhaki, Takshaka, and Sutradhara. The different houses were called Prasada, Saudha, Vimana, Harmmya, Sabha, and so on.

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The Mahabharata describes six kinds of forts, as also found in the Silpa Shastra.

From the information of Vastu as also found in Kautilya’s Arthashastra, which is known to have been in existence no later than the 1st century CE or even by the 4th century BCE,

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we can understand that all of such knowledge would have been developed before then.

Other information from ancient times included the use of timber, bricks and stones, the foundation and picking the proper sites, the shape of the land, soil condition,

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and then the construction of the building.

If Indian culture is to find its natural place in world processes, temples need to be freed of government control.

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This will facilitate the development of temple universities devoted not only to the artistic and religious traditions of India but also to contemporary problems of science, technology, and society.

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