Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (study)

by K. Vidyuta | 2019 | 33,520 words

This page relates ‘Definition and Etymology of Gopura (gate-house)’ of the study on the Kashyapa Shilpa-shastra (in English) with special reference to the characteristics of Prakara (temple-components), Mandapa (pavilions) and Gopura (gate-house). The Silpa-Sastras refers to the ancient Indian science of arts and crafts, such as sculpture, architecture and iconography. This study demonstrates the correlatation between ancient Indian monuments (such as temples and sculptures) and the variety of Sanskrit scriptures dealing with their construction.

1. Definition and Etymology of Gopura (gate-house)

Gopura darśanam pāpavināśanam” is an old saying meaning that the mere sight of a gopura eradicates all the sins. This proverbial saying, to some extent, reflects the sanctity attached to the gopuras in our tradition. A gopura in the temple is regarded as the sthūla-śarīra of the Lord. Hence getting the sight of the gopura is considered as efficacious as being near the sanctum sanctorum itself.

The text Kāśyapa Śilpaśāstra, deals with the Gopura Lakṣaṇa in the forty-fifth chapter or the final chapter of its pūrvabhāga. Here the five types of gopuras, their measurements and their speciality are discussed at length.

The Gopura is a gate-house or a door in general, forming entrance to a city, temple, palace, etc.

The Amarakośa (II. 2. 16cd; III. 3. 182cd) mentions that a gopura is nothing but a door to a city or merely an entrance:

......... puradvāraṃ tu gopuram ||
......... dvāramātre tu gopuram ||

Etymologically, the Amarapadapārijāta[1], commentary on the Amarakośa (II. 2. 16) states that the doorways or the entrance to the city or any place gets the gopura since they get protected by the people:

... gopyate paurairiti gopuram | ‘gupū rakṣaṇe’ | puradvāranāma ||

Footnotes and references:


Amarakośa, 1971, p. 205.

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