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Human Body – a temple of the divine.

The body, mind and soul - the very nature of human body resembles the temple in its very idea of worship. Every temple is a reminder of the essence of the Universe itself. Every temple is the reflection of human body as well.  Body is the physical existence in the form of matter. Mind is the idea by which these matters come together. Soul may be only visualized in its humblest form from the spiritual attires of a very high state of mind. Vastu is the science which connects these three elements together to establish it in its essential harmony. The disharmony in any one of these element causes the destruction to the entire system which brings chaos.

Throughout the length and breadth of India, one can see number of old and new temples. Some are in its very prosperous state and some still withhold their forgone prosperous time. Some temple even withstand the centuries of natures aggressive grip. There may be various reasons for it, but the reason which may be highlighted here is its Vastu and the method of maintainence. Similarly the human body also requires the equilibrium state which is been enhanced by Yoga.

Human body – a miniature universe

Human body - one of the most delicate manifestations of the Cosmos also falls in the part of its Vastu and maintainance. Vastu along the various traditions and customs also play an important role for its exercise and maintenance. Hindus consider philosophical analysis of the true nature of these temples as a part of the ethical and religious training of Human. The universe being immeasurable in its vastness and incomprehensible in its profundity is always beyond mortal estimation. But even in his greatest period of the most illuminating stage of intellectual activity, man is incapable of imprinting upon the substance of his rational soul, a perfect image of the multiform expression of celestial activity. This order of thought S/ he manifested in the very nature of temples and ones own body. Hence the word Purusha is a common denomination of all the three expression of the cosmic being.

Kwench Wear yoga Temple sky

Concept of Purusha

Purusha is a complex concept. Its meaning evolved over time in the philosophical tradition now called Hinduism. In the Vedic period, Purusha is a concept which offered several theories for the creation of the universe. Rigveda describes him as a being who becomes a sacrificial victim of Gods. Its sacrifice creates all life forms including human beings. Later stage in Upanishads, Purusha was no longer a person. He became the soul of all being. Mandukya Upanishad considered Purusha as a splendid and without wordly form. Without and within, unbody, without life breadth and without mind and higher than the supreme element are some of the expressions which denotes Purusha. From him the life breath and mind was born.

The Samkya and Vastu philosophy of Hinduism believes in two ultimate realities. That is Prakriti (matter) and Purusha (Consciousness, Spirit or Energy). Its interaction counts for all experiences and the universe itself. Prakriti is that which has changed and can change its subject to cause and effect. Purusha is that which is unchanging and is uncaused. Purusha in its concept breathes life into the matter and is the source of all manifestations of consciousness. This is how the universe operates in a dynamic way and remains unstatic. Hence both Samkhya and Vastu hold the path to moksha as a realization in Purusha. Purusha is being explained in Vastu and Vastu Shastra in a very dynamic way without tilting from its very nature of Consciousness.

Mythologically the origin of Vastu Shastra is concieved by Vishvakarma, the divine architect and Mayan (the illusionist), the architect of demons. The brahminical literature especially Shatpath Brahmana considers Vastu as the ruling deity of animal stock and the people living in the home.

Vastu Shastra as a written thesis was the product of the later half of the early historic period. The earliest reference of the Vastu shastra is in the text like Agni purana (chapter 42,55,106), Matsya Purana (Chapter 252-270),Manasara, Agama text to mention a few.  But the concept of Vastu Shastra as Vastu Vidya was always there in the form of Collective Knowledge among the guilds of ancient architects of India. The expression of the form of Vastu Shastra is also noticed in the monumental remains of the ancient civilization of of Harappa and Mohenjadoro in the Indian Sub continent. This made the scholars like James Fergussion and Alexender Cunningham to take back the antiquity of Vastu Shastra to 3000 BC.

Vastu- the law of constant flow

Vastu Shastra reflected in the architectural and sculptural expression of temple, forts, palace, towns and city layout of ancient India. This science deals with the eternal process of the subtle energy manifesting into the material space and form. In short, it is the dwelling place which philosophically starts from the idea of dwelling place of Soul ie. human body to home / temple as a physical form of dwelling. It starts from human body, house/temple, and plot of land, village, city, state, country, our planet earth and the universe. The five physical elements ie. sky, air, fire, earth and water, thoughtfully called as 'Panchabhutas' is a common factor in all these physical residence of the soul. The perfect harmony or balance of the Panchabhuta is necessary for the sustainability of any of its manifestations.  It is the science of manifestation of energy into matter or material form.

Indian Temple Chakra

The meaning of the Vastu Shastra itself is the science of dwelling. In order to understand the Vastu Shastra, it is necessary to understand the Vastu Purusha Mandala. It is the basic form in all the architecture. It is elaborated as the energy grid of squares. Other figures of this group are derived from this elementary design. Vastu Purusha is present in each and every plot and every man made building. It has particular body which is fixed. Its head remains hanging down and its body is spread all over the length and breadth of the building and land. Every part of the Vastu Purusha’s body is sacred and contains energies that help us in having a contented and peaceful life. Vastu Purusha provides the method that determines the requirement of architecture in relation to its direction. Each direction is allotted to a particular role or work. The rooms, outer structure and interior arrangements of the structure are done according to the nature of work. Hence the knowledge of Vastu tells us which direction is best for which work. This is also worked out according to the geographical nature of the Places. Such practical entities are always considered in the Vastu Shastra which makes more detailed in its aspect.

The significance of directions in the Vastu is another point to be highlighted. The important directions are North, East, West, south, North-east, South-east, South-West, North-West. Each direction has its ruling deity and the facing of the temple is according to the Vastu of the area. Each building is been aligned to satisfy the position of the Vastu purush according to the nature of the building. The position of the human body also has its alignment in Vastu Shastra. It is mostly regarding the position of human head in particular direction which is not recommended for specific reasons considering the earth’s magnetic field.


Yoga
– The Law of Spritual Harmony

Science of Yoga is also about the realization of the Purusha or cosmic being as our true self. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the prime text book of Yoga presents the image of Yoga Purusha with the cosmic being. Yoga, the meta physics of Patanjali is built on the dualist foundation of Samkhya School of Vedic literature. Here the universe is conceptualized as Purusha and Prakruti or the body and soul. It contains the permutation and combinations of various elements, senses, feeling, mind, activity in its form which is stable or unstable. This determines whether the person is driven by the innate tendencies like sattva (goodness, constructive, harminous), raja (passion, active, confused) or tamas (darkness, lethargic, chaotic). In fact, Yoga generates stability to the body and mind required for the ultimate goal - Moksha. The eight limbs - Ashtanga of Patanjali Yoga Sutras i.e. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhayana, Samadhi form the way to attain this Goal. Yama gives details about being righteousness in life. The importance of non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, celibacy, non possiveness. Niyama deals with the idea of Purity, containment, persistence, study of Vedas, contemplation of Ishvara, true self or unchanging reality. Asana are the positions which are “Steady and Pleasant” or motionless or agreeable form. It is a posture, in which one can remain comfortable, stable, relaxed for a considerable period of time. A position which causes pain or restlessness is not an Asana. Pranayama is a technique of regulating the breath i.e. Inhalation, Retention and Exhalation of air. It is about conscientiously extending the length and time of breadth in various combinations. Pratyahara is the process of bringing ones attention to ones own true self. It is about consciously closing ones own eyes to the sensory world outside. It helps being controlled by the external world and its desires. Dharana is the fifth limb of Yoga which gives emphasis to the concentration of mind to a fixed, place, object or idea. Dhayana is the sixth important part of Yoga which is about the contemplation. It is the reflection of whatever Dharana has focused on. Samadhi is a state of mind where it is completely absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on and mind loses its own identity. The thinker, the thought processes and the subject of thought fuse together. This oneness is termed as Samadhi.


Vastu - Yoga, the common ground

The Yoga gives as spiritual clarity to the human body as the Vastu gives the physical clarity to the temples. The flow of positive energy is been ensured through the practices which is in the form of various bodily movements and postures in Yoga and physical locations of various elements in Vastu. This makes both, the body and the temple, as the residences of the divine being. Upon a human visit to the temple, the realization of this same form of energy is happens which serve the very purpose of the temple. The eight limbs of Yoga is been naturally reminded in the concept , practices and structure of the temple.

Conclusion

Human body is the temple of divine is been highlighted in every aspect of Hinduism. It is been reminded in the daily life in the form of Yoga and other customs and also as part of the worship. The different limbs of Yoga start from the purification of body and maintaining the tone of the stable body contributes to the stable mind. This culminates to the realization of the divine oneness and is been expressed in the very structure of the temple building too. This contributed to the development of the idea of 'Aham Bhramasmi' which is talking about responsibility of every human as a divine entity holding the power to attain Moksha.

References

  1. Kramrisch, stella(1976), The Hindu temple Vol 1 & 2. ISBN 81-208-0223-3
  2. Varoume,Jean(1977),Yoga and the Hindu Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-0-226-85116-7
  3. Michell, George(1988), The Hindu Temple. An Introduction to its meaning and forms, university of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226532301
  4. Silverman, Sherri(2007), Vastu: Transendental Home design in Harmony with Nature, Gibbs smith, Utah, ISBN 978-1423601326
  5. Singleton, Mark(2010), Yoga Body: the origin of modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978019539534-1
  6. Burley, Mikle(2010), Classical Samkaya and Yoga: An Indian Metaphysical experience, Routledge, ISBN 978-041564887-5