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Perfect geometry

Huge faces of goddesses and finely sculpted figurines of yoginis greet visitors at the entrance.  

It is a vast palette of blue, green and brown – in that order. The clear and azure blue sky appears punctuated by greens in enchanting hues as they spike heavenwards from atop the mountain ranges they inhabit. A tier below the emerald vegetation, it is all a monochrome in brown, a stupendous structure rising out of a basin-like valley.

The Maha Meru Sri Yantra Temple is encircled by forest on two sides, the ancient and sacred Batte Krishna Kund, a pond on its western side, and a water reservoir to its north. The temple is constructed in the middle of the Maikal, Satpuda and Vindhyachal range of mountains, 3500 ft. above sea level in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh. Amarkantak enjoys the distinction of being the source of three rivers – the Juhila, the Sonbhadra and the Narmada. The borderline dividing north and south India also passes through this spot.

The entrance to the sprawling temple precincts is through an impressive, sculpturally rich towering gate, the four sides of which are crowned with the faces of goddesses Saraswati, Kali, Bhuvaneshwari and Lakshmi.

The lower segments of these sides are embellished with finely sculpted figurines of the 64 yoginis associated with the Tantrik cult, 16 on each side. In addition, Ganesh and Kartik are also featured on one of the sides.

Elevated platform

The temple is constructed on an elevated square platform measuring 90,000 sq.ft. and is structured in the form of a mandal of uniform length, breadth and height, each measuring 52 feet. The temple, we are told, has been built on the tenets of temple architecture as laid down by sage Agasthya.

The design, layout and plan of the temple adhere to ancient traditional knowledge and methods and are aligned with astrological aspects. The construction is in sync with stellar and planetary movements as per tantrik calendar. In keeping with this style of architecture, the Padambandh or foundation of the temple gives solid protection to the edifice. The next stage, the Sarpbandh, features a pair of sculpted sarps or serpents with tails entwined in each other.

The serpents rise from the base of the outer walls of the temple and run through its perimeter in a circumambulatory mode till they appear with their hoods raised, at the entrance to the temple.

Above the Devbandh, where one would normally see the tower or shikhar, is the Maha Meru Sri Yantra. Images of Goddess Maha Tripura Sundari with her consorts are sculpted on all its four sides.

Three-dimensional projection

The Maha Meru temple is the three-dimensional projection of the two-dimensional Sri Yantra or Sri Chakra which forms the core of Sri Vidya worship in Hinduism.

The temple with its complicated architectural pattern that requires perfect mathematical calculations and accurately proportioned dimensions, is perhaps the first of its kind to be built anywhere in the world. It is formed by nine interlocking isosceles triangles of varying dimensions that surround and radiate from a focal or central point that is referred to as the bindu.

The triangles are so interfaced as to form forty three smaller triangles in a maze that symbolises the cosmos with its multitude of creations. The triangles themselves are inscribed by two rows of lotus petals, eight and sixteen, respectively, and an earth square, symbolic of a temple with four doors.

Each of the levels of the Sri Chakra, also known as the nava chakra for its nine levels, is associated with a yogini, a mudra and a specific form of the principal deity Tripura Sundari who is worshipped by followers of the Sri Chakra.

The sanctum sanctorum has a 62-inch-tall idol of the Divine Mother made of ashtadhatu, an alloy of eight metals.

Dance of time

In keeping with the principles of Vaastu Shastra, Kaal Nritya or ‘the dance of time’ is portrayed on the external walls of the temple. On the four edges on top are four paws of a powerful lion, symbolising actions performed. Stuck in its paws are spherical balls, below which are depicted the poisonous serpents, symbolic of individuals trapped in the cycle of birth and death.

While construction of the main temple is complete, work is still in progress as several smaller shrines are slated to be added over a period of time.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 11:25:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/perfect-geometry-in-temple-architecture/article7210527.ece

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