The Hindu Temple (2 Vols.)

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The Hindu Temple (2 Vols.)
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This two-volume work explains in detail the religious and spiritual significance of the temple by means of copious references to Sanskrit texts-both sacred and scientific. It depicts the Hindu Temple as not merely a heap of brick, stone or wood but a visible symbol of aspirations of pious men and women, the throbbings of their hearts in religious fervour and their endeavour for the attainment of salvation.

The first four parts of the work are devoted to the philosophy of temple architecture. Part V deals with the origin and development of the temple from the Vedic fire altars to the latest forms. Part VI discusses the pyramidal and curvilinear superstructures in the main varieties of the Sikhara, the Sikhara enmeshed in Gavaksas and the composite Sikhara. Part VII describes the proportional measurements and the rhythmic disposition of the garbha-grha and the vertical section. It discusses the proportions of the Mandapa and the types of temples described in ancient Sanskrit texts like the Brhatsamhita and the Samarangana-sutradhara.

This most comprehensive and authoritative treatise of ancient Indian Temple Architecture will prove of immense help to the students of ancient Indian culture.

About the Author

Stella Kramrisch, the world-renowned specialist in Ancient Indian Art and Architecture, needs no introduction. Her epoch-making works-The Indian Sculpture, The Indian Sculpture in the Boston Museum and The Hindu Temple - have elicited well-merited praise from the galaxy of art critics all over the world.

Stella Kramrisch passed away in 1993.


An attempt has here been made to set up the Hindu temple conceptually from its foundation to its final. Its structure is rooted in Vedic tradition and primeval modes of building have contributed their shapes. The principles are given in the sacred books of India and the structural rules in the treatises on architecture. They are carried out in the shrines which still and throughout the country and which were built in many varieties and styles over a millennium and a half from the fifth century A.D.

The purpose of the Hindu temple is shown by its form. It is the concrete symbol of Reintegration and coheres with the rhythm of the thought images in its carvings and laid out in its propositions. Their perfection is a celebration of all the rites enacted during the building of the temple from the ground to its pinnacle. Nothing that is seen on the temple is left unsaid in the verbal tradition nor is any of the detail arbitrary or superfluous. Each has a definite place and is part of the whole.

The Hindu Temple is the sum total of architectural rites performed on the basis of its myth. The myth covers the ground and is the plan on which the structure is raised.




Volume I
Part I. The Site 1
  Tirtha and temple 3
  Site and Builder 7
  The Stability of the site 12
  Purification Insemination and levelling of the site 14
Part II The Plan 19
  Square and Circle Vedic Origins 22
  The Square Mandala of the Earth and of the Ecliptic 29
  The symbolism of the Square 40
  The Enclosure 40
  The Ornament of Visvakarman 40
  The Remainder 44
  The form of Martanda 44
  Vastu the Remainder 45
  The two main types of the Vastu Diagram 46
  A. The Mandala of 64 Squares 46
  B. The Mandala of 81 Squares and the Vastupurusa 49
  The Organism of the plan 51
  The Series of 32 types of Vastumandala 58
  Various closed polygons as shapes of the vastumandala 62
Part III Plan and Supernal Man 65
  Agni Prajapati and vastupurusa 68
  The Subtle Body of the Purusa and its Pictures 71
  The Descent of the Vastupurusa 73
  Nature and Name of the Vastupurusa 79
  The Gods as constituents of the body of the Vastupurusa 85
Part IV The Substances of which the temple is built 99
  Brick 101
  Stone 108
  wood 116
  Plaster 121
  The Germ of the temple 126
Part V Names and origins of the temple 129
  The Names 131
  Vimana 131
  Prasada 134
  Further names of the Temple 137
  The Object of building a temple 139
  Architectural Origins 145
  1. Citi the Altar 145
  2. The Dolmen 150
  3. The Shed of Initiation and the Tabernacle 156
  The Image of the mountain and the cavern 161
  A. The Garbhagrha 161
  B. The Superposition of Shapes along the vertical axis 166
  C. The Form of the vertical axis 175
Part VI The Superstructure 177
  I. The Pyramidal Superstructure 179
  I A. The Pyramidal Superstructure formed of slabs 189
  I A1. The stepped truck of the pyramid 189
  I A2. The Straight Trunk with round-edged slabs 190
  I B. The Pyramidal Superstructure is composed of storeys 193
  I B1. The Stepped trunk of the pyramid formed of single storeys 193
  I B2. The High Temple 194
  I B3. The Enclosure of chapels 197
II The Curvilinear Superstructure 205
  The Main Varieties of the Curvilinear Superstructure 210
  II A. The Cluster of Sikharas 210
  II B. The Sikhara Enmeshed in Gavaksas 214
  II C. The composite Sikhara 218
  Function and Form of the Superstructure 220
Part VII Proportionate Measurement and Varieties of the Temple 225
  I. Proportionate Measurement of the temple 227
  The Rhythmic disposition of the ground plan and of the vertical section 227
  The Norms of Proportionate Measurement 237
  From the Sixth Century to C. 900 A.D 237
  Proportionate Measurement about 1000 A.D. 244
  Proportions of the Mandapa 254
  The Proportions of South Indian Temples 261
  II.Varieties of the Temple and their genesis 271
  A. The Twenty Temples 271
  B. The five Vimanas and the 45 temples 277
  C. the five Vimanas and the 64 Hall temples Nagara Dravida and Vesara 286
Volume II
Part VIII The Images of the temple 297
  Position and proportion of the images of the gods 299
  Symbols of Entry and Exit 313
  The Door and its images 313
  The Window Gavaksa 318
  The face of Glory Kirittimukha 322
  Images of Sakti 332
  Sardula Lion and lioness 332
  The female power 338
  Symbols of Reintegration 343
  The Images of Immanent Breath 343
  Mithuna the state of being a couple 346
  Amalaka 348
  The Temple as Purusa 357
  Explanation of plates 363
  The Hundred and One temples of the Visnudharmottara 411
  Vastupurusavidhana of Narada chapters VIII and X 427
  Hayasirsapancaratra Chapter XIII 429
  Kamikagama Chapter XLIX 431
  Sources 437
  Index 443
  Plates I-LXXX 467


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