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The Classical Hindu Temple: An Embodiment Of The Astronomical Knowledge Of The Time

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V.Balasubramani

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[h=1]This essay is part of a paper originally presented at the Kannada Vrinda Seminar Sangama 2005 held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on 19 November 2005.[/h]By Subhash Kak

Subhash Kak is Regents professor of electrical and computer engineering at Oklahoma State University and a vedic scholar.
[h=1]The Classical Hindu Temple: An Embodiment Of The Astronomical Knowledge Of The Time[/h]
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This is the first in a two-part essay which describes the basis for the dimensions of the axis and the perimeter of the classical Hindu temple.

Śāstric texts describing the plan of the Hindu temple allude to its astronomical basis, and in this, Indian sacred geometry is not different from the sacred geometry of other ancient cultures. If astronomical alignments characterise ancient temples of megalithic Europe, Egyptians, Maya, Aztecs, Javanese and Cambodians, they also characterise Indian temples. For example, the garbhagrihaof certain temples is illuminated by the setting sun only on a specific day of the year, or the temple may deviate from the canonical east-west axis and be aligned with a naksatra that has astrological significance for the patron or for the chosen deity of the temple.

A part of the astronomical knowledge coded in the temple layout and form is canonical or traditional, while the rest relates to the times when the temple was erected. The astronomy of the temple provides clues relevant not only to the architecture but also the time when it was built.

The Agnicayana altar, the centre of the great ritual of the Vedic times that forms a major portion of the narrative of the Yajurveda, is generally seen as the prototype of the Hindu temple and of Vāstu. The altar is first built of 1,000 bricks in five layers (that symbolically represent the five divisions of the year, the five physical elements, as well as five senses) to specific designs. The Agnicayana ritual is based upon the Vedic division of the universe into three parts, earth, atmosphere, and sky (Figure 1), which are assigned numbers 21, 78, and 261, respectively; these numbers add up to 360, which is a symbolic representation of the year. These triples are seen in all reality, and they enlarge to five elements and five senses in a further emanation.

Read more at: http://swarajyamag.com/culture/the-...ent-of-the-astronomical-knowledge-of-the-time
 
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