Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Voyage of discovery

There you see Raja Raja I enter the Thanjavur Big Temple, through the entrance known as Anukkan vayil, and his bodyguards ask people to make way for him. The King admires the Kerala style art of the entrance. He then turns his gaze towards the Keralantakan Vaayil, which is a reminder of his victory over the Chera king. This gopuram is a metaphor in stone for one of the five elements, namely fire.

Raja Raja's glance then briefly rests on the Raja Rajan Vaayil, with its sculptural representations of another element - water. He then walks towards the sanctum sanctorum, where he worships the Linga that arises from the earth. The inside of the vimanam is hollow all the way up to the kalasam, representing yet another element - space.

The King then enters the Saantaaram, the passage around the sanctum sanctorum, and worships the deities here, while a pleasant breeze caresses his face. The fifth element - air - is represented here. But the king's worship is not over, yet. He now genuflects before devotees who have worshipped at the temple!

These are the sequential images that one is able to visualise, when one reads Dr. Kudavayil Balasubramanian's book on the Big Temple, titled Rajarajechcharam. The book is the result of his 40-year obsession with the Big Temple. The book records details about the architecture, sculptures, art, inscriptions, history of and philosophy behind the temple.

Full report here Hindu

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