by Bhagyashree Sarma | 2021 | 59,457 words
This page relates ‘Characteristic Features of Sarvatobhadra Temple’ of the study on the elements of Art and Architecture according to the Vishnudharmottara Purana: an ancient text whose third book deals with various artisan themes such as Architecture, Painting, Dance, Grammar, etc. Many chapters are devoted to Hindu Temple architecture and the iconography of Deities and their installation rites and ceremonies.
The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa narrates Sarvatobhadra type of temple very elaborately. The word sarvatobhadra is derived from two words viz., sarvata i.e., from every side and bhadra means auspicious. So it can be said that the temple characterized by all good qualities and auspiciousness can be called sarvatobhadra temple. The Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa gives a special importance on this particular type of temple and does not include this temple in the classification of hundred temples. Rather, it is described in a separate chapter i.e., in 87th chapter of the third part of the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa which shows its uniqueness. The Matsyapurāṇa also states about the sarvatobhadra type of temple in its 269th chapter and suggests that the sarvatobhadra type of temple should bear many śikharas.
According to the Bṛhatsaṃhitā, the sarvatobhadra temples should have four doors, many domes, many beautiful candraśālās, five storeys and they should be twenty six cubits in breadth. According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the sarvatobhadra temple bears four sided jagatī and twenty four garbhagṛhas on the jagatī. There would remain twenty four small temples around the main temple. Again there stay three temples in the both sides of every staircase on the platform.
Moreover, two other beautiful temples should be made at the bottom of every staircase. Another kind of temple called devakula should be built in the corner against the platform as notified in the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa. A prākāra i.e., an enclosure should be made behind the temple and the size of that enclosure should be higher than jagatī. Four flights of stairs should be placed in the four directions of the temple. The stairs of the temple should be one third of the length of the mekhalā. The Maṇḍapa seems to be the most integral part of a temple. The sarvatobhadra type of temple should have four maṇḍapas and each maṇḍapa should have three doors. There should be pillars in the entrance of those maṇḍapas. The existence of śikharas on the top of a temple makes it more charming and attractive. According to the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, the sarvatobhadra type of temple should have nine śikharas on the top. All the śikharas should be in same size except one which should be quite higher than others. Obviously it refers the principal dome. The śikharas should be designed on the basis of various figures and those should not be like skull-shaped or pointed as it has already been incorporated. The śikharas should be decorated with āmalasārakas, cakras, patākās and dvajas. Moreover, kuharas i.e., interior windows / should be placed to adorn the śikharas and those kuharas are attached with gavākṣas i.e., latticed windows and a jāla i.e., a lattice over those.
Thus it can be said that the sarvatobhadra type is a special kind of temple which is a great one and appears to be very sophisticated. Moreover, the sarvatobhadra temple belongs to the group having lots of chambers which obviously means temple with different porticos. The rājārāja variety from the list of hundred temples stated by the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa is noticed to have some qualities of sarvatobhadra temple. Thus the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa has offered a vast discussion on various points connected to temples. It narrates many subtle features of Hindu temple and thus the work justifies its importance in this regard.
Footnotes and references:
ṣoḍaśāstrasamāyukto nānārūpasamanvitaḥ/ anekaśikharastadvat sarvatobhadra ucyate// Matsyapurāṇa, 269.34
prāsādakā mahārājaścaturviṃśatireva ca/ Ibid., 3.87.4
sopānobhayato rājanprāsādāste trayastrayaḥ/ Ibid., 3.87.5
sopānamūle prāsāde dvedve kārye manorame/ Ibid., 3.87.7
catvāro maṇḍapāścātra…../ Ibid., 3.87.9
P.K Acharya, A Dictionary of Hindu Architecture, Vol 1, p.144
P.K Acharya, A Dictionary of Hindu Architecture, Vol 1, p.167
V.S Apte, The Student’s Sanskrit English Dictionary, p.220
śikharāstatra kartavyāḥ kuharānvitāḥ/ jālāgavākṣakopetaiḥ kuharairnṛpa bhūṣitāḥ// Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, 3.87.14-15