Relationship Between Temple Architecture and Cosmology

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 25 00:16:09 UTC 1998

>Is this a common theme that temples of a particular Deity represent the
>abode of the particular Deity, or different parts of the cosmology

Yes. The Srirangam Ranganatha temple is said to represent Vishnu's abode
in Vaikuntha, and the Puri Jagannatha temple is Krishna's palace. Devi
temples are also built in the form of the SrIyantra, sometimes also
called SrIpura.

>correspond to structures within a temple?  Are there papers or
>books on this subject?  Or do you know people who have studied it?

Do not forget the people who populate the abode of the deity. The king
or queen does not rule over an empty court. And no Hindu cosmology is
complete without including man. For studies of the priests, the most
important courtiers, and other temple servants, read Arjun Appadurai
(Triplicane Parthasarathi temple), Carol Breckenridge and Chris Fuller
(both on the Madurai Minakshi temple).

As an aside, being a Tamilian, I'm happy that most of these studies are
on Tamil Nadu temples. However, I can't help wonder if a larger
perspective is lost, by not studying temples from other parts of south
and north India.


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