Thursday, April 21, 2016

Temple Architects of Ancient India By Sunny Narang

Just as thousands of years ago , temples and Sanatan icons are still being sculpted , carved , casted according to texts and skills that are ancient . Many times using contemporary tools and technology too.
And not only on Indian soil. From Malaysia to Hawaii .
Anywhere where the Sanatan Spirit overcomes a being/s.
The San Marga Iraivan Temple is a white granite stone Hindu temple sculpted in India and currently under construction on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. "Iraivan" means "He who is worshipped," and is one of the oldest words for God in the Tamil language. The Iraivan Temple is located next to the Wailua River and 5 miles (8 km) from Mount Waialeale. It is the first all-stone temple to be built in the United States. It is maintained by the Saiva Siddhanta Church, also known as Kauai Aadheenam and Kauai's Hindu Monastery.
Iraivan Temple was inspired by a vision of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami ( who was born in California in 1927 as Robert Hansen ) in which he saw Lord Shiva walking on the land where the temple is now located.
It is intended as a place of pilgrimage for Hindus worldwide. Subramuniyaswami set three parameters for its design and construction:
that it follow traditional design according to the Saiva Agamas
that it be designed to last 1,000 years
that it be entirely carved by hand, without the use of any machinery.
The temple design was completed by V. Ganapati Sthapati in the late 1980s. Carving of the 3,000-plus blocks of granite commenced in 1990 at a worksite in Bangalore, India. Beginning in 2001, the stone were shipped to Kauai and assembly begun by a team of silpi temple carvers under the direction of a master architect or sthapati.
Vaidyanatha Ganapati Sthapati (1927 – 5 September 2011) was a Sthapati ( temple architect and builder ) and head of the College of Architecture and Sculpture in the Vastu Shastra tradition ascribed to the sage Mamuni Mayan. Sthapati has earned a number of titles and awards, including Padma Bhushan in 2009.
The temple possesses a number of rare architectural features. The first is that it is being carved entirely by hand. Craftsmen follow and preserve traditional methods, shaping the stone with small hammers and utilizing over 70 types of chisels.
Hindu 2002: Temple architecture and the Agamas:
"Were our ancient temples built according to liturgical texts or according to the fancy of our architects (sthapatis) and their patrons? Researching on the Vaikunta Perumal Temple built by the Pallavas at their capital city Kanchipuram, Dr. Dennis Hudson discovered that it was a visual manifestation of the Pancharatra Agama and Bhagavata Purana theology. He explained the significance of the temple and its relation to the Purana.
The temple was built in 770 C.E. by Nandivarman II Pallavamalla (731-796 C.E.) and since he was given the name Parameshwara at the time of his coronation it came to be known as "Parameshwara-Vinnagaram" (the abode of Vishnu) as sung by the Vaishnava saint, Tirumangai Azhwar. Its architecture is unique, with three sanctums on the three floors one over the other and a concealed staircase leading to the upper floors. The three sanctums enshrine Vishnu in three postures - seated, reclining and standing. The walls are adorned with more than 50 sculptures, besides the panels depicting the history of the Pallavas, leading to the coronation of Nandivarman.
According to Prof. Hudson, the temple reveals a visual theology, the doctrine of the `four formations' (chatur-vyuha) and the vimana as three-dimensional Mandala and its divisions into exoteric and esoteric dimensions. He identifies the central figure in the sanctum of the ground floor as Vasudeva facing west, i.e. the Earth, Sankarshana facing north, the realm of human life, Pradyumna facing east towards heaven and Aniruddha facing south, the realm of ancestors. The sculptural scheme matches the Pancharatra concept, representing the six `glorious excellences' and the 12 murthis (dwadasa-namas). The six excellences are: the omniscient knowledge (jnana), power (bala), sovereignty (aishwarya), action (virya), brilliance (tejas) and potency (sakthi). The sanctum of the third floor represents the realm of space-time, depicting Vasudeva as he appeared in the human form of Krishna. The temple per se signifies the `body of God.'"
In 2005 the Chief Architect of the renowned Thanjavur Big Temple, K. Mohanraj Stapathi, spoke to the Hindu on art , architecture , iconography , religion , spirituality and his family's 600 year lineage:
" "An elderly woman gave information and the Government traced our family tree. There are 60 descendent families who still live in Swamimalai. All of them are into our family trade."
The 38-year-old sculptor, who became an assistant to his father, Karunanidhi, at the age of 10, has a son and a daughter. He says they will become his assistants when they turn 15.
With brother Kuberan, the three sculptors run a workshop in Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu, where they employ 20 men and two women and train youngsters. Women do the wax moulds, filing and polishing of the idols.
The Kuberan Icon Industries receives orders from temples and cultural centres from around the world.
It has supplied idols to a New Jersey temple; the navagrahas to a temple in England; silver and gold covers for idols of Ganesha and Punnai Nallur Mariamman; cradles, puja platforms and flag posts for temples in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The sculptors have made Ayyappa, Jesus and Buddha idols too.
That's not all. Mr. Mohanraj is a research scholar at the Tamil University's Department of Sculpture in Thanjavur.
"When a sculptor decides to make the wax model, the idol is infused with a spark of jeevan (life); when it is cast in metal it is half alive. When we draw the eyes it is three-quarters live but when it is placed in a temple and pujas are performed becomes a live being," the stapathi quotes a Sanskrit shloka."
From the website of Kuberan Icon Industries:
"Mr. K.Mohanraj Sthapathy M.A (P.hd) - Department of Sculpture
He is second son of S. Karunanithi Sthapathy. He is also very talented person of bronze idols work and kavasam work. He is doing PhD(Iconography) in Tamil University, Thanjavur. He is founder of Sirpa Kalakshetram. Swamimalai & Branches in Chennai & Malaysia. He is expert in all Silpa Sastra text, iconography and iconomatric. He is in the research Co-ordinator for the reseaarch scholars from all universities around the world. His name is recommended to UNESCO."
"The Big Temple in Thanjavur, with its architectural elegance was built by a sculptor Veerachola Kunjaramalla Perunthagan.
Thousands of other sculptors were brought from Gingee in North Arcot to work with him to produce this marvel. These sculptors and architects gave shape to the spiritual dream of Emperor Raja Raja Chola.
The thousands of sculptures in stone temples, bronze idols, temple cars and other artistically created items speak of the greatness of a bygone era. After the work on the Big temple was complete these sculptors and architects proceeded to Gangaikonda Cholapuram where they built temples. They also built the Tharasuram temple and the one at Swamimalai.
In keeping with the belief that civilization sprouted on the banks of rivers, the rich alluvial soil of River cauvery which was available in abundance at Swamimalai attracted sculptors to this shrine town.
It is the descendants of these sculptors, who have made this tradition art form famous through out the world. Many of them are also descendants of Veerachola Kunjaramalla Pernuthatchan who built the Thanjavur Big Temple.
His descendants fourteenth in line are now upholding this tradition and are making this art form known worldwide. They are experts in creating exquisite models out of bronze and granite. They have also been invited to build temples and their stamp is clear in all their works. Even though there are any number of modern equipment which could make their task easy, they still resort to the ancient instruments like chisel and hammer to turn out their idols and other works of art."
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