Sculpting Angkor – 2

Learning never exhausts the mind. – Leonardo da Vinci

 The Dynamic Equilibrium

Beyond sculpted walls, ceilings & buttresses, chief images of different forms of the Main Deity are placed in the niches created into walls. These images, which are auxiliary images of the Main Deity, are almost always ‘in the round’. The entire volume of images on the walls and those in the niches are in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Each figure being propelled into a movement from the Centre of the Temple. Right from the outside, the figures on the walls of the Temple building, which are its ornaments, in horizontal bands bind the entire space. This closely enmeshed dynamic mass gets its impact from the Centre from where every figure derives its power; its name.

Effect and effectiveness of The Temple are to the vision, mind and the body of the Devotee. He comprehends this effect while moving around identifying each of the images & evoking its name; the total power of the Image is sent into the Devotee’s presence from the Centre of his Devotion. Unfortunately at Angkor most of these sculptures have been damaged.

The Monument

Temple is a monument, Sacred Architecture in accepted meaning. It is covered with sculptures inside out and houses Halls, mass of the Body of the Temple itself, main sanctuary and ambulatory corridors. The main sanctuary is dark cubicle with plain walls; sculptures cease at its door.

Ambulating within Temple with body, word & thought, the Devotee becomes part of that Architecture focussed on the Divinity that surrounds him, guided by all the images carved en route. His eyes caressing the soothing environs within after fierce lights outside. The rhythm of graded light & darkness helping this communion that is accentuated with scent of flowers, burning oil and incense sticks immersing the whole atmosphere into Divinity.

It reaches peak in the inner ambulatory just preceding the main sanctum where-in the Devotee gets totally unconcerned with either the identity of images or their perfection in workmanship. Angkor, though, possesses some of the finest works of art, anywhere.

Ultimate Meaning

Union with Him; the Ultimate Objective. Salvation; the Ultimate aim. The Ultimate meaning is progressively brought closer to the Devotee at every turn as he witnesses figures all around in all directions, the essence of the structure itself – all forming the basis of an ascent towards one high & central shape which holds the Kalasha (a round Sacred Vessel) just above which is the finial of the Temple Shikhara (Top).

This Kalasha (or Kumbham) on the Finial is indicative of the ‘beyond the manifested world, the Deathless Region’. Please remember that in the Indian Religious system, as also in others as well, Death is but one station in the manifested world; birth being the other. Pilgrimage is needed to understand that intricacy; to attain that knowledge.

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