Samarangana-sutradhara (Summary)

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 15,592 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes The Altar (Vedi-lakshana) which is chapter 21 English summary of the Samarangana-Sutradhara by Bhoja. This work in Sanskrit representing a voluminous treatise on Vastu-Shastra (the science of Architecture), encompassing a broad range of subjects, such as Architecture, Shilpa-shastra (Iconography, Arts and Crafts) but also deals with Creation-theory, Geography, Philosophu, etc.

Chapter 21 - The Altar (Vedī-lakṣaṇa)

[Note: This chapter corresponds to Chapter 47 of the original Samarāṅgaṇa-Sūtradhāra]

The seventh limb of the Aṣṭāṅga architecture (cf. Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra 45.) is the knowledge of the planning of the Yajamāna-śālā, its altar and the architectural process of the Koṭihoma. Its utility in the civil architecture is not very much but in the performance of the rituals, sacrifices, ceremonies (marriage etc.) in connection with installation of the deities, Nīrājanas, Homas, coronations of kings and the rising of Indra’s flag the construction of the altars is obligatory.

The Altar admits of four classifications and their names and properties are laid down hereunder:

Name Dimensions Shape Use
1. Caturaśra 9 Hastas Square Sacrifice
2. Subhadra 8 Hastas Octagonal (Decorated on all sides or corners). Installation of a deity.
3. Śrīdharī 7 Hastas With 2 corners Marriage
4. Padminī 6 Hastas As name indicates in the shape of a lotus. Nīrājanā, Homa, & coronation of kings.


Then follow their building elaborations. We know that the Vedic altar was the precursor of Temple-architecture in India. The laying of the brick (cf. altar) and its attendant paraphernalia gave rise to what is called the religious architecture, the Pujā-Vāstu—the temples and shrines (especially the sanctuary, the Garbhagṛha). Iṣṭikā-cayana, reminiscent of the Vedic altar, is prescribed here with the chants of hymns. Therefore, the building of sheds upon these altars on the columns specially built and well decorated is a rule. Stairs arc also to be made.

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