The Hindu temple: axis of access
2nd year, USAP
The Hindu temple, combines physically the pillar that marks the axis of cosmic parturition, the altar (square) of sacrifice taking the shape of the create universe, and the need for shelter of both the divinity and the worshipper; it unites the cosmic mountain and the potent cave. Before the advent of construction of stone temples in the 5th century AD, tree shrines and similar enclosures for objects of worship marked by a vertical axis within a Square railing were built. The early temples, present two imperative metaphors: the sanctum as the womb, and the temple as the mountain ( mt.kailasha). Later as the anthropometric images emerged, the temples were built as palaces. But they also were considered fortresses, protecting the world from disorder and chaos. The cosmic mountain and its womb/cave ultimately shelter the divinity, in the form of an image, and must open out to include and give shelter to the worshipper, who approaches the sanctum along a Longitudinal Axis: the axis of access. The Vertical Axis, according to Coomerswamy, is composed of Earth, Air, and Sky: the axis of accent. The vertical axis is marked by the pot with germinating seeds that is buried below the foundation and the vase finial placed on top of the temple. On the axis of access, the aspirants can place themselves, in halls (mandapas) built for that purpose, under the umbrella of the sacrifice, positioning themselves for ascent. All sides of the temple allow access to the divinity through numerous imagery, but the entry that pierces through to the sanctum and makes ritual approach possible is considered the Main Axis.
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