Garbhagriha, aka: Garbhagṛha, Garbha-griha; 13 Definition(s)


Garbhagriha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Garbhagṛha can be transliterated into English as Garbhagrha or Garbhagriha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Shilpashastra (iconography)

Garbhagriha in Shilpashastra glossary... « previous · [G] · next »

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) refers to the “vainnermost sanctuary” of the Hindu temple.—The Hindu temple displays sculptures on the outer surface, the maṇḍapas (the various columned halls) and the prāsāda (a three-storeyed palace, a complete solid mass, on whose multi-buttressed walls the images are displayed), in which the innermost sanctuary or the garbhagṛha is located. The garbhagṛha or the womb cell is a small, dark, cubical chamber even in the largest temples. The divine symbol or the deity, invariably carved out of stone, is installed in the garbhagṛha. The door of this cell usually faces the east. In front of the doorway is the rectangular chamber which is called the antarāla or vestibule. The vestibule is the intermediate chamber between the garbhagṛha and the pillared hall called the maṇḍapa. Entrance to the maṇḍapa is by a porch called the ardha-maṇḍapa (the hall leading to the inner sanctum sanctorum).

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

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Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) refers to the “sanctum” of a temple.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह, “sanctum”) is the nucleus of the temple. It is the place where the main deity of the temple is installed. The Canons prescribe that the shape of the garbhagṛha may be (on plan):

  1. caturaśra (square),
  2. āyata (rectangular),
  3. vṛtta (cicular),
  4. āyatavṛtta (elliptical)
  5. or vṛttāyata (ovoid).

The square and circular garbhagṛhas are constructed for the installation of the deities in sthāṇaka (standing) or āsīna (seated) postures. While in the other varieties, deities in śayana (reclining) posture or group of deities standing or sitting in a row are to be installed.

Mānasāra mentions that if the plan of the garbhagṛha is square or circular, it is called puruṣa (Male) and if it is rectangular it is called vanitā (Female). Male deities can be installed in a square, circular or rectangular garbhagṛha, while the female deity should always be installed in a rectangular garbhagṛha.

Source: Shodhganga: Temples of Salem region Up to 1336 AD

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह, “womb-house”).—When combined the two words [garbha (womb) and gṛha (accommodation)] become garbhagṛha (womb-house). It denotes the sanctum sanctorum, or shrine of a sacred space, especially that of a Hindu temples. The sanctum sanctorum is the most central and fundamental component of any sacred architecture. What garbha (womb) is to the human body gṛha (accommodation) and guhā (cave) are to the world of habitation. What gṛha is to the world of habitation garbhagṛha is to the sacred architecture. In garbha resides the foetus, the genesis of a being. In gṛha, resides the gṛhastha, the family man—the microcosm, a unit, of which the multiples make a society, and which is opposed to the macrocosmic sphere of civilization. In the microcosmic sphere of the garbhagṛha, the God resides, who is referred to as the macrocosm in religions, the omnipresent, all-pervading entity.

Source: Shodhganga: Ajanta’s antiquity (vastu)

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) refers to the “sanctum sanctorum”, a common concept found in the ancient Indian “science of architecture” (vāstuvidyā).—Garbhagṛha is the sanctum sanctorum, where the presiding deity is installed.

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Architecture (1): Early and Classical Architecture

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) or Mūlasthāna sanctum-sanctorum of the Hindu Temple.—Each temple has a mūlasthāna or garbhagṛha (sanctum-sanctorum) and many subsidiary sanctums. The temples here selected for the study of the mūla beras are temples specially dedicated to Śiva, Viṣṇu, Subrahmaṇya, and Pārvatī. In these garbhagṛhas, there are icons of gods and goddesses, namely, Śiva and His manifestations like Naṭarāja; Pārvatī and the Śakti avatāras; Viṣṇu and His other forms and incarnations; Brahmā, Lakṣmī, Sarasvatī, Subrahmaṇya, Valli, Deivāṇai (also known as Deviyāni or Devasena), and Gaṇapati.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (vastu)
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

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Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) is only the physical structure. It is transformed into sannidhi after the invoking of the Lord. This explains why, in the Śaiva Siddhānta tradition, the temple is conceived as a space where the deity is invited to reside in the garbhagṛha. The temple’s spiritual energy can be sustained only if the deity’s sāniddhya remains unsullied. Therefore the most important dharma of the Ādiśaiva priest is to maintain the “presence” and sanctity of the deity by offering regular pūjā as prescribed. Only then can the temple be a storehouse of energy for the public. Only then can the devotees find their God in the sanctum. This he does through pūjā.

Source: Shodhganga: Temple management in the Āgamas
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

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Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह).—Inner sanctuary or altar room that contains the main Deity of the temple. The literal meaning is “womb chamber.”

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह).—The garbhagṛha (the location in the temple where the primary form of a deity resides) is only the physical structure. It is transformed into sannidhi (Sanctum Sanctorum) after the invoking of the Lord. This explains why, in the Śaiva Siddhānta tradition, the temple is conceived as a space where the deity is a special guest invited to reside in the garbhagṛha .

Source: ruthaavaree: Overview of Śaivāgamas in Temple Worship

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

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Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह) refers to a type of gṛha located in the vyantara cities of Jambūdvīpa, according to Jain cosmological texts, such as the Tiloyapannatti. The vyantaras represent a class of Gods (devas) comprising eight groups of deities that wander about the three worlds (adhaloka, madhyaloka and ūrdhvaloka). Jambūdvīpa sits at the centre of madhyaloka (‘middle world’) is the most important of all continents and it is here where human beings reside.

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Garbhagriha in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [G] · next »

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह).—n.

1) an inner apartment, the body of a house; Mb.5.118.19; R.19.42.

2) a lying-in-chamber.

3) the sanctuary or body of a temple; निर्गत्य गर्भभवनात् (nirgatya garbhabhavanāt) Māl.1.

Derivable forms: garbhagṛham (गर्भगृहम्).

Garbhagṛha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms garbha and gṛha (गृह). See also (synonyms): garbhabhavana, garbhaveśman.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Garbhagṛha (गर्भगृह).—n.

(-haṃ) 1. An inner chamber. 2. A lying-in chamber. 3. The sanctuary or adytum of a temple. E. garbha and gṛha a house.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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