Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This page describes installation of idols in temples (pratima-pratishthapana) which is the sixtieth Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 60 - Installation of Idols in Temples (pratimā-pratiṣṭhāpana)

1. Either on the northern or eastern part of the temple, the person learned in the matter shall erect a shed with archways on all sides and adorn it with plantains and festoons.

2-3. The eastern part of the shed shall be adorned with garlands of flowers and with flags of various colours. The south-eastern side shall be adorned with garlands and flags of red colour. The southern and south-western sides shall be adorned with those of black colour. Garlands and flags on the western side shall be white; those on the north-western side shall be white-red; those on the northern side shall be of bright colour, and those on the north-eastern side shall be of yellow colour.

4. Images made from wood or earth will give the master long life, wealth, strength and success. Images made of gems or precious stones will do good to the world at large. Images made of gold will give the master good health.

5. Images of silver will increase the master’s fame. Images of copper will increase his family. Images of stone or the Liṅga will bring him much lands.

6. If a pike is seen driven into an image, the master will perish with his family; if there be holes in images, the master will suffer from diseases and never ending troubles.

7. The platform in the centre of the shed shall be washed with cow-dung; it shall then be covered with sand and over it shall be spread the Kuśa grass; and the image shall be placed in it in the Bhadrāsana posture, with a leg resting on the ground and the other bent up horizontally at the knee.

8. The image shall be bathed with the milk of the Plakṣa, Aśvatha, Udumbara, Śirīṣa and Vaṭa, and with water mixed with the Kuśa grass and the like sacred plants.

9. It shall also be rubbed with earth taken from place trodden over by elephants and bulls, from the neighbourhood of mountains, from ant-hills, from the junction of rivers and lotus tanks. It shall also be bathed with sacred waters and with Pañcagavya.[1]

10. It shall be bathed in fragrant waters in jars in which shall be thrown gold and gems attended with various music and with the chanting of Vedic hymns; while bathing, the image shall be placed to face the east.

11. While the image is being bathed, the Brāhmaṇas shall chant the mantras sacred to Indra on the eastern side; and on the south-eastern side shall be chanted mantras sacred to Agni. The master shall pay the Brāhmaṇas well and show them due honours.

12. The Brāhmaṇas shall throw Ahūtis into the fire, chanting hymns sacred to the particular Deva whose image is before them. The indications, together with their interpretations, connected with the Homa have already been stated by me in the chapter on Indra Dhvaja.

13. If the flame should be attended with smokes and sparks, and if it should whirl from right to left, it indicates evil. If the officiating priest should be of forgetful memory or begin to quote a wrong portion of the Vedic text, it indicates evil.

14. After bathing the image, it shall be dressed in a new cloth and adorned with flowers and sandal and shall be laid by the master on a well-spread bed.

15. The night shall be spent by the side of the image in music and dance by persons that do not sleep, and the fixing ceremony shall be done at the hour mentioned by the astrologer.

16. The next day the image shall again be adorned with flowers, cloth and sandal, and shall be taken round the temple attended with the music of the conch-shell and other instruments.

17. A large quantity of cooked rice shall be presented to the image; learned Brāhmaṇas shall be duly honoured and pieces of gold shall be thrown into the central pit of the pedastal.

18. Special honors shall be paid to the officiating priest, the astrologer, the Brāhmaṇas, learned men and artists. The master will enjoy prosperity in this world as well as in the next.

19. The Bhāgavatas are the worshippers of Viṣṇu; the Magas are the worshippers of the Sun; Brāhmaṇas wearing ashes are the worshippers of Śiva. Persons possessed of a knowledge of the Devas attendant on the Mātṛ Devas are the worshippers of the Mātṛ Devas. The Brāhmaṇas generally are the worshippers of Brahmā. The Śākyas are the worshipers of the God of the Arhats. The Bauddhas are the worshippers of Buddha. The ceremony of fixing the images and the like ceremonies shall be performed by the respective worshippers of the several images.

20-21. The ceremony of fixing the image shall be performed in the Uttarāyaṇa—when the Sun’s course is towards the north,—in the light half of a month, when the Moon occupies the house, the Navāṃśa, the Triṃsāṃśa, the Drekkāṇa or the Dvādaśāṃśa of Jupiter; when the rising sign and the rising Navāṃśa are fixed, when benefic planets occupy the Kendra or the Trikoṇa houses, and the malefic planets occupy the 3rd, 6th and 11th houses, when the Moon passes either through any of the fixed asterisms or the soft asterisms, or through the asterism of Śravaṇa, Puṣya or Svāti, on any week day excepting Tuesday, and on a day suited to the master’s star.

22. Thus have I treated briefly of the subject of fixing the Images in Temples, for the benefit of the people at large. Sūrya has, in his work, treated at full length of matters connected with Adhivāsana (watching the image at night with music and dance) and with fixing the image in its pedestal.

Footnotes and references:


Pañcagavya: a mixture of the cow’s milk, coagulated or sour milk, ghee, urine and dung.