Friday, June 5, 2009


This is an excerpt from A K Ramanujan's Speaking of Siva.

Consider the world of meaning within this one poem, one of the
vacanas of Basavanna:

The rich
will make temples for Siva.
What shall I,
a poor man,

My legs are pillars,
the body the shrine,
the head a cupola
of gold.

Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
things standing shall fall,
but the moving
ever shall stay. [Basavanna poem 820]
[opening lines of intro; p.19]

In the first reading it appears to be primarily an analogy of the temple
with the body - legs as pillars and head a gold cupola; but it turns out
that this is a conventional metaphor:

The different parts of a temple are named after body parts. The two
sides are called the hands or wings, the hasta; a pillar is called a
foot, pAda. The top of the temple is the head, shikhara. The
shrine, the innermost and the darkest sanctum of the temple, is a
garbhagriha, the womb-house. The temple thus carries out in brick and
stone the primordial blueprint of the human body.

1 comment:

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Amazing insights here, Krishnan! Btw, you have been awarded! Do come over and pick up your well deserved award from my latest blogpost!