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2.28.2011

Secrecy within the Sun temple, Konark

Konark, well known as the black Pagoda strangely captures the mind for only its association with being the chariot temple to Lord Surya. With every stone falling apart, with every piece of evidence hitting the dust, the secret mystical world of Konark is fast disappearing. 


Taking a closer look at this gorgeous structure echoes a lot more than the iconography of Surya. Its sheer size makes the experience all the more overwhelming. Konark presents a grand entrance, against the cloudy sky and wet floor, history slowly unfolds. As we rise towards each step of this mysterious world the power of the ancients welcomes us with much song and dance as each kanya dances her way into our world. With drums and musical instruments, they gracefully dance into existence.

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.

2.08.2011

Supreme presence in the material world

"The Lord is within you" is an old saying that makes us want to believe that the supernatural force governing all life, exists within us as well. There is no disputing this fact, but how and in what form does IT exist in, is worth a discussion. Shaivism has possibly attempted to depict this "not so easily achievable" phenomenon in a more grounded reality with plenty of mysticism thrown in. These are concepts beyond the realm of science and that's probably why they are that much more difficult to explain or understand and are left to our experience to realize them. Simply said, Hinduism in some form attempts to realistically paint the super truth by picking very select material items that would not just represent but would also aid the Sadhaka in achieving their goal.

Kundalini Tantra takes the help of traditional symbology to make various references of the potential experience of the divine Shiva Linga, when a Sadhaka crosses one chakra after the other in their attempt to experience super consciousness. In the Mooladhara the Shiva Linga is represented as a Swayambhu Linga or Dhumra Linga, which is smoky grey in color. The Kundalini Shakti in three and a half coils around this Linga, her luster being as bright and piercing as that of lightening. Could this in reality be a representation of the Parada Linga which is grey in color and made of mercury? Does the worship of the Parada Linga in specific help cross the hurdle of the Mooladhara and cleanse the mind of its instinctive ignorance?

The existence of the Kundalini echoes in almost all temples across India. The three and half serpent coil is what is most often seen within the Garbha Griha of the main shrine, bringing the whole vision of the supreme into these houses of stone that represent our womb, the location where this chakra originates. Does it take divine light and consciousness represented by the brightness of fire to have a glimpse of this reality through the art of arti performed at the shrine?

At the Ajna Chakra the supreme consciousness is represented as a black Linga. This is called the Itarakhya Linga. In this state of consciousness the representation of awareness is a more pronounced version of "What I am". Most Shiva temples represent the form of the Linga in black granite. Were the ancients trying to remind us of our original goal having taken birth in this universe by echoing it across monuments of stone systematically across the land, the root purpose of our life being the realization of Who I Am?

The experience at the Anahata Chakra is that of the inverted triangle of Shakti in burning Akhanda Jyoti, the unflickering eternal flame which is essentially the awareness of the jivatma. In the Tantrik texts this Linga is represented as the Bana Linga. It is believed that the Banalingas in reality are the essence of Shiva and do not require any pranapratishta for their worship. These are superior Linga stones are not are easy to procure.

The Bindu Visarga brings with it the cool experience of the moonlit night with the crescent moon shining in the night sky. The crescent moon represents the drop of ambrosia acquired which elevates the Sadhaka's state to that where material sustenance ceases to exist, they completely disconnect from our world. At this point the cosmic sound of OM is heard within the being of the Sadhaka.

Last and by far the most supreme, is that of the luminous Linga experienced at the Sahasrara Chakra. This is represented by the Jyothir Linga which is formless. This is the state of the void, the nothingness where the Sadhaka ceases to exist in relation to "I". Could this in reality be represented by the Spatika Linga which is transparent, and yet almost invisible?

It amazes me that each Linga experienced in the spiritual journey has possibly been represented in material form through natural stones/metals available in nature. How far deep does this search go, how far beyond is the truth and how much closer can it be if its within me to realize?