Vastu-shastra (5): Temple Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 69,139 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Prasada Jagatis which is chapter 9 of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fifth part (Temple architecture). This part deals with This book deals with an outline history of Hindu Temple (the place of worship). It furtherr details on various religious buildings in India such as: shrines, temples, chapels, monasteries, pavilions, mandapas, jagatis, prakaras etc. etc.

Chapter 9 - Prāsāda Jagatīs

The term ‘Jagatī’ in relation to the temple-architecture or any sacred architecture denotes its base or socle. Even today we say the ‘kuven kī jagata’ thereby meaning the raised up platform of the well. This ‘Jagata’ is the corrupt form of ‘Jagatī’ as basement or terrace of the temple and is keeping with the tradition. But the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra has some innovation as explained ahead.

These Jagatīs have been dealt with in the text in two chapters (68 and 69). The very opening lines of the first chapter (68) give the highest praise to them:—

“Now I am going to describe in detail the Jagatīs. These Jagatīs add to the grandeur and the magnificence of the temple, to the beauty and ornamentation of the town. These are the places of congregational gathering and the fittest abodes for the celebrations of festivities and the only refuge for peace and tranquility—both Mukti and Bhukti are simply dancing on them. Aglow with the presence of and the constant communion with gods (these being their very abodes) these are the places where the four goals of life (caturvarga) are attained and fame, longivity and glory are added to doners who built them” (Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra 68.1-2½).

In the metaphysical symbolism the Jagatī is the Pīṭhikā—the base of the temple, the very epitome of all the three worlds. Prāsāda is the Liṅga—in the sense that the whole macrocosm of the three worlds gets absorbed (layanāt) in the micro-cosmic image of the Temple, Therefore, Jagatī, the wide and raised terrace on which the Prāsāda, the main shrine of the Hindu Temple rests, becomes the substratum, the Ādhāra. This imagery of iconographical import is a magnificent testimony to some added virtues and the architectural accompaniments of this class of buildings, introduced in the medieval period of architectural history in this country.

All possibile shapes of the temple proper have been provided here also. The text says (ibid 12) that after the planning of the temple with its ground-plan (saṃsthāna), vertical section (unmāna) and its special architectural form (lakṣaṇāni), the Jagatī should be devised correspondingly, i.e. it should carry the shape of the Prāsāda (tadākāravatīm). Its width is given in proportion to that of the Prāsāda, If the width of the Prāsāda is 8 padas, Jagatīs’ width would be 28 padas (Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra LIX, 41-42) or in another instance (ibid 52-53) 32 padas.

One of the chief characteristics of the Jagatī structure, as already indicated, is the planning of the śālās thereupon and they take as many as six types technically called after the place on which they are planned:—

  1. Karṇodbhavā,
  2. Bhramotthā,
  3. Bhadrajā,
  4. Garbhasambhavā,
  5. Madhyajā,
  6. Pārśvajā.

That is, those placed on the karṇas are called Karṇajā, the first type; on bhramas Bhramajā; on bhadras Bhadrajā (the 2nd and 3rd types). Now the Garbhajā Sālā is one which is placed in between these three (“trayamadhye ca garbhajā”) and that placed in the middle of all the five is called Madhyajā, and Pārśvaja as the name indicates is one, placed on sides.

As indicated, all the possible shapes: sqaure, rectangular, circular, elliptical, octagonal, etc. are the shapes of the Jagatīs too. Accordingly they may be tabulated as here under:—

Group A—The Square Jagatīs.

  1. Vasudhā,
  2. Vasudhārā,
  3. Vahantī,
  4. Śrīdharā,
  5. Bhadrikā,
  6. Ekabhadrā,
  7. Dvibhadrikā,
  8. Tribhadrikā,
  9. Bhadramālā,
  10. Vaimānī,
  11. Bhramarāvalī,
  12. Svastikā,
  13. Haramālā,
  14. Kulaśīlā,
  15. Mahīdharī,
  16. Mandāramālikā,
  17. Anaṅgalekhā,
  18. Utsavamālikā,
  19. Nagārāmā,
  20. Mārabhavya,
  21. Makaradhvajā,
  22. Nandyāvartā,
  23. Bhūpālā,
  24. Pāñjātaka-mañjarī,
  25. Cūḍāmaṇi-prabhā,
  26. Śravaṇa-mañjarī,
  27. Viśvarupā,
  28. Ādikamalā,
  29. Trailokya-sundarī,
  30. Gandharvabālikā,
  31. Vidyādharakumārikā,
  32. Subhadrā,
  33. Siṃhapañjarā,
  34. Gandharvanagarī,
  35. Amarāvatī,
  36. Ratnadhūmā,
  37. Tridaśendrasabhā,
  38. Devayantrika,
  39. ..................

Group B—Rectangular.

  1. Yamalā,
  2. Payodharā,
  3. Netrā,
  4. Dordaṇḍā,
  5. Ākhaṇḍalā,
  6. Sita,
  7. Vāruṇī,
  8. Māhendrī,
  9. Kulamodikā,
  10. Pallavā,
  11. Vidyādharī,
  12. Trikūṭā,
  13. Saraṇikūṭī,
  14. Upamā,
  15. Citrakūṭā,
  16. Trivikramā,
  17. Tripathā,
  18. Śaivī.

Group C—Circular.

  1. Valayā,
  2. Kalaśa [Kalaśā?],
  3. Karṇā,
  4. Karavīrā,
  5. Nalinī.

Group D Elliptical.

  1. Mātuliṅgī,
  2. Ghāṭī,
  3. Āyamatī,
  4. Kāliṅgī,
  5. —,
  6. —.

Group EOctagonal.

  1. Mātṛkā,
  2. Śekharā,
  3. Padmagṛhā,
  4. Aṃśumatī,
  5. Kamalā,
  6. Puṇḍarikā,
  7. Alapatrā,
  8. Cakravālī,
  9. Candramaṇḍalā.

N.B.—It may be noted that for the enumeration of the first group of 39 Jagatī types, the text is corrupt and chances are that some of the types might have remained unenumerated.

I have indicated before that the Jagatī as treated in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra are an innovation. Jagatī, strictly speaking, is not a pedestal alone here. It is different from Pīṭha. The verses 5-8 of 68th chapter (Jagatyaṅgasamudāyādhikāra) may be taken to support this thesis (cf. also T. Ganapati Sastri’s interpretation vide Contents “viṣayānukramaṇī” p. 9 under “65 jagatyaṅgasamudāyādhikārādhyāyo'ṣṭaṣaṣṭitamaḥ”—2nd line—“pīṭhāt pṛthank jagatī sambhave kāraṇam”. The import of this passage is that there are as many as six factors based on purely architectural matters like the shapes and measurement—Vistāra, Āyāma and height; parts and sub-parts and their mouldings; the expansion and deflection of the buttresses; the water-reservoirs and drains; the planning of the Śālās—the number, layout and the measurements etc.; the doors and stair-cases with their mouldings and arches as well as some of the shrines of the gods and goddeses (the Devadhiṣṇya) on the Jagatī (a part of course of the central shrine, the Prāsāda), all these technically are called by the text as the Aṅga-samudāya, which establish the Jagatī structure quite different from the pedestal, the pīṭha of the temple.

The S.S (ch. 35th verse ch. 68) says “brūmotha jagati-pīṭham”. According to the above thesis, thus its interpretation would be the pedestal of the jagatī and not the jagad-pedestal.

Dr. Kramrisch herself admits (cf. f.n.H.T. 148):

“In certain buildings the massively piled socle of the temple rests on a pedestal or subsocle (Upapīṭha) of considerable height and the walls of the temple are set on a double sub-structure; the socle projects from the Mānasūtra and gives a broad basis to the buildings”.

And the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra does assign pedestal of sub-socle to the jagatīs themselves (68.35). In a very beautiful image (68.47) it further likens these jagatī buildings, raised up wide terraces to the throne of a king meant for Prāsāda as a Puruṣa to sit upon as it were. An 1 as the thrones are carved and are studded with jewels, similarly these structures may also have the projections and mouldings thereof, for their ornamentation and grand look.

The manifold varieties of the jagatīs tabulated above result from the different devices of the aforesaid architectural members—the Aṅga-samudāya—the principal ones among them being the Śālā-sheds to serve as the rest houses for the pilgrims, devotees, the priests and the pundits reciting the kathā etc. The 69th chapter entitled ‘jagatī-lakṣaṇa’ describes all these jagatīs in this light.

A single illustration from the text would suffice for the character of the jagatī in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra:

caturaśrīkṛte kṣetre ṣaḍete sa vibhājite |
samaṃ vā cārdhayukte vā guṇo'tha mukhāyatām || 10 ||
maṇḍapenojjhite kuryājjagatīmanusārataḥ |
dvau bhāgau madhyadeśe syātprāsādo bhāgiko bhramaḥ || 11 ||
karṇādṛśāṃ samujya pārśvayorubhayoḥ puraḥ |
śrīkhaṇḍikā vidhātavyāḥ prāsādamaṃ --- mimām || 12 ||
mattavāraṇasaṃyuktā pratolyādivibhūṣitā |
prathame ca samākhyātā jagatī vasudhābhidhā || 13 ||

Again these śālās also used to serve the places of little shrines for the installations of the images of the different gods and goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon.

Further again these jagatī-like Prāsādas were favourite and dedicated structures to particular deities as is evident from the following statements, cf. the 69th ch. of the text:—

kulaśailā tadā jñeyā haṃsamālāgamāśrayā || 39 ||
sadā maheśvarasyeṣṭā skandasya tu viśeṣataḥ |
asyā eva yadā śālā purobhadre vidhīyate || 40 ||
tadā mahīdharī proktā mahīdharamanaḥpriyā | 41½ ||
..........................................
tayorapi ca śāle dve bhramakramavibhūṣite || 48 ||
kārye mandāraśālā syādevaṃ haramanaḥpriyā |
suṇḍikāyāṃ yadā tasyāḥ śālā sampadyate tadā || 49 ||
anaṅgalekhā bhavati jagatī pārvatīpriyā | 50½ ||

Thus the sum and substance of the thesis is that as the śāla-structure is an essential component of these jagatīs, their character more than a socle or base may be taken to be established. They are no doubt basements but basements with additional virtues and the structures thereof.

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