The Garuda Purana
Chapter XLVII - Essential features of a divine temple or of a palace
Suta said:—O Saunaka, hear me describe the essential features of a divine temple or palace. A plot of ground should be divided into sixty-four equal rectangular divisions occupying all the points of the compass. The Chatuskon or the inner court of the adytum should be comprised of four such rectangular divisions, and the doors of the temple should be made to number twelve in all. The walls of the edifice should be raised upon such forty-eight quadrilateral divisions. In height the plinth should be made commensurate with the length of the platform at the top of the ground elevation and twice that measure above that. The inner cavity of the vault should be made co-extensive with the entire length of the adytum. The indents on both sides should measure a third or a fifth part of the chord of the inner vault, which should be so arched as to rise up to the half of the entire height of the pinnacle. The height of the terrace or the pinnacle part of the divine edifice should be divided into four equal parts over the third part, from the bottom of which the Vedi or the top of the platform should be constructed; and on the top of the fourth part the ornamental figure should be placed which is generally made to edge the entire height of the temple from the bottom.
In the alternative, the homestead land should be divided into sixteen equal parts over the four central parts of which the adytum of the temple should be raised. The walls of the edifice should be raised upon twelve such rectangular divisions or chambers, and the height of the walls should be made commensurate with the length of four such parts as are compatible with the laws of proportion. The height of the terrace or the pinnacle should be made to measure twice the height of the wall, and the open verandah or the platform all around the temple should be made of a quarter part of the height of the terrace in breadth. The indents on both sides of the temple should be of a fifth part of the length of the adytum in breadth. Again an indent should be left out which would measure such a fifth part. The essentials described above are what should be complied with in building divine edifices in general.
Now I shall deal with another class of divine structures which are usually constructed in proportion to the lengths of the images of their inmate deities. The Peetha or the pedestal of the image should be made commensurate with the length of the latter and the adytum should be made, O Saunaka, of twice that length. The walls should be of equal length with the latter, while the plinth should be made half as much broad as the adytum. O Saunaka, the pinnacle should have twice the height of the plinth and the vault of the temple should be made so as to cover the entire space occupied by the pedestal and the adytum combined, the indents having been left aside to the measure previously directed.
O Saunaka, I have described the characteristic measures of temples which are built in proportion to the dimensions of images of their inmate deities. I shall presently deal with a class of divine edifices which are constructed in measures proportionate to those of their door-frames. A measure of four forearms should be divided into eight equal parts which would be the measure for the breadth of the door, or the same might be made of twice that breadth. The upper part of the door, like the upper part of the pedestal, should be perforated with holes, as the upper part of the door would be taken in by the wall to the length of a pada measure. The plinth should be made twice as much broad as the door and the terrace or the pinnacle part of the temple should be made of twice that measure. The vault should be arched from the spring line as before laid down on the regions of indents at the top of the walls of the temple.
I have already described the essential traits of a divine temple built proportionate to its mandap; now I shall describe one of a different structure. The ground, on which the image of the deity would be installed, should be tripled in measure, which would thus give the dimensions of the exterior; the area of the temple must be less than that of the ground on which the same should be erected by a pada in all directions, and the area of the adytum should be made half of that of the latter. The walls should be made equal in height to the length of the adytum or the space enclosed within them, and the pinnacle should be twice as much high as the height of the wall.
Now I shall describe the different classes of temples according to their respective measure and origin. The different forms of divine edifices are mainly grouped under five heads such as the Bairaja, the Puspakāksa, the Kailasa, the Malikahvaya and the Tripistapam, which should be looked upon as the abode of all deities and in which their images might be safely installed. The first of the above classes of temple is characterised by a rectangular shape; the second class is marked in a quadrilateral shape; the third class has a circular shape, the fourth class of temples has a shape which appertains to the different segments of spheres; while the fifth class of temple is octagonal.
These five classes of temples, which are the proper abodes for all forms of divine manifestations, admit of being divided into various sub-divisions as it were, thus giving rise to forty-five different shapes of temples which are
- the Meru,
- the Mandara,
- the Vimana,
- the Vadraka
- the Sarvatovadra,
- the Ruchaka,
- the the Nandana,
- the Nandivardana
- and the Shrivatsa,
these nine arising out of the class of the rectangular Vairaja form of the temple.
The nine temples which owe their origin to the genus Puspaka are known as the
- the Griharaja,
- the Shalagriha,
- the Mandira,
- the Vimana,
- the Brahmamindara,
- the Vavana,
- and the Shivikāveshma.
The names of the nine circle temples which appertain to, and proceed out of, the genus Kailasa are the
The class Malakahvaya has fathered the nine spheriodical temples which are called the
- and the Prithividhara
- and the Hansa.
The nine octagonshaped temples, which fall under the genus Tripistapa, are named as
- and Vijaya which is also known as Vijaya Sveta.
Now I shall describe the situations of the triangular, lotusshaped, crescent-shaped, rectangular and the octagonal divine edifices, and narrate the purposes for which they should be built in those shapes. A temple, built in the shape of a triangle, imparts wealth and sovereignity, increases the duration of life and gives wives and male offsprings to the consecrator. The consecrator should plant a banner on the top of the temple, and build the Garbha Griha or the entrance chamber just in front of the door; and the mandap or the sanctuary of the temple should be built with an equal number of lines with the latter, one full window and a half having been opened therein. The mandap should be commensurate with the measure of a wall and a half should be made to measure twice the thickness of the walls in length. The ornamental cornices should be laid down so as to include spaces of unequal measure between them, the intervening spaces having been filled in with horizontal lines of unequal thickness. A divine edifice, of the Meru class, should be provided with doors and furnished with four sheds or top chambers over them, while the terrace should be decorated with a hundred turrets. The mandapas or the top chambers of the above edifice should be so constructed as to have three arches differing from each other, both as regards their shape and dimension. In some of the temples the bullocks are carved out in relief while in others they are carved into the body of the top chambers. Thus the temples differ from each other in appearance, shape and size which vary in construction according as the character of the image residing therein varies. No hard and fast rule can be laid down for constructing temples for the gods who are self-originated, and accordingly they should be built according to the measures stated before, of rectangular shape and possessing courts and turrets and top-chambers over their terraces; and the hall for musical entertainments should be built contaguous to the door of the temple. The celestial warders of the gods should be sculptured on the various angular quarters of the divine mansion, and a little remote therefrom the houses for monks should be built. The ground should be washed with water containing fruits and flowers. The consecrator should previously worship the gods about to be installed in the temple. Vasudeva is the god of gods, and a person, who consecrates a temple to him, attains all merit.
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