The sheer structure of Konark is mammoth, but what’s even more intriguing is the depth of philosophy into its architecture buried in every stone. It not just covers the ancient Surya cult but also has traces of the roots of deep Tantricism as well as Naga cult in its form. Buried in the rocks that build up the platform of the temple are scenes from life in Orissa as it was among the nobles, and the people with royal screens scattered across the walls. Inter-spaced with this world is the stark presence of the netherworld where the Nagas ruled. Naga lords endowed with the 7 hooded serpent are inter-spaced with nobles and maithuna couples all across the platform. These worlds of manushas and the Nagas are occasionally broken by the great Konark wheels that draw the great chariot of Lord Surya.
The presence of the Naga cult draws our attention to this strange world which is otherwise not as obvious on the sculptural panels of other temples around India. Could these snake hooded mystical beings belong to the netherworld of the Nagas or is it representations of Rahu and Ketu of the Navagraha pantheon of stars associated with Surya?
The mystery gets even deeper as we walk onto the main platform of the temple and are faced with explicit poses of maithuna visually describing the Kamasutra. It amazes me that while the maithuna depictions of Konark are yelling, yet the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho seem to grab the delight of the average tourist when they can hardly be found on the walls.
These sculptural panels depict the deep philosophy of Vama Marga embedded in them of the Tantrik origin. They bear their roots in the Panchamakara ritual of the ancient left path. referred to as the 5Ms of this esoteric ritual, maithuna is one of 5 parts to the ritual where all the gross elements of existence and channelized to a higher spiritual existence. These loud echoes of the esoteric cult practices of Orissa, which belonged to the silent mystical worlds of the Tantriks and Nagas have been profusely depicted on the walls of the temple associated with the Sun God, the epitome of brilliance and divine light. In a strange way, this contradiction to approach life, this dualism in the belief systems with every school following its own path lends itself to our minds to realize just how vast this spiritual ocean is and how difficult it would be to cross it.
Truly this is a contradiction in the mind as much as it’s depicted in mammoth canvases of stone.