Veda Dharma

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vaikhanasa Agama ( Sila lakshanam and sangrahanam)

Let us see the different ways of making the image of the Lord. This is one of the most important steps in building a temple as any mistake in making the image of the Lord might make the temple useless or even dangerous in some cases. The agamas Vasadhikara, Vimanarchana Kalpa, Prakeernadhikara are used for understanding the science of stone selection for the image.
The image of the Lord can be made using one of the following: Stone, Wood, Gems, Metals or Mud. (Technically these are known as Silajam, Darujam, Ratnajam, Dhatujam and Mrinmayam). The stone based images can be divided based on the colour like Sweta(white), Rakta(red), Peeta(Yellow) and Krishna(black). When the image is made of a white stone it gives results like all attractiveness etc. Similarly a red stone gives victory whereas a yellow stone gives wealth,abundant food and pleasures. A black stone gives all perfections and protects the people in the country. Similarly people with different dispositions like Brahamana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra are advised to worship the different stones. Similarly an image can be made of any of the following seven precious gems like manikya, vaidurya, pravala, pushyaraga, sphatika, marakata and neela. All the above give results like wealth, attractiveness etc.(List can be found in prakeernadhikara by Bhrigu). Similarly metals like gold, silver, copper, bronze etc can be used for making the idol. But using lead, tin or iron might be harmful. A golden idol gives wealth whereas silver and bronze idols give power and progeny respectively. An idol can also be made from the wood of the following trees: Devadaru, Pippala, Sami, Chandana, Asana, Khadira, Vakula, Mayura etc. But following four trees should be avoided as they are considered as of a lower quality: Nimbuka, Anjanika, Plaksha, Adumbara. When an idol is made of mud only unbaked mud should be used as it bestows all perfections. Using baked mud will result in destruction and hence should be avoided in any case.
When stone is used for the making of images of the Lord it can be retrieved either from earth(Bhumija) or from mountains(Girija) or from rivers(Varija) . One retrieved from earth is the best, from the hills is mediocre and one retrieved from rivers is the least preferred. One should find out the face of the stone using the guidelines given in agamas( Kasyapa Jnanakanda chapter 28). An east facing stone bestows victory, a west facing one wealth, south facing one protection and a north facing one prosperity. The gender of the stone should be ascertained by the expert silpi using the standard techniques like relative sizes of the base and top, vibration emanated from the stone when hit by the chisel( sound of a bell, vessel or a low sound) etc. Analysis of the characteristics will result in the classification of stone into male, female or neuter. Male stones should be used for making the images for masculine forms of the Supreme, whereas female stones should be used for the feminine forms. Neuter stones should be used for building Prakaras etc. in the temple. A stone should be rejected when a frog is found inside or when it is hollow or when inauspicious lines/marks are found on the stone. (Use Silpa sastra for more details). Transgressing these rules might result in great calamities and hence the rules should always be followed strictly.
After carefully selecting the stone thus, the stone should be brought using proper ritualistic techniques. The ritual of bringing the stone is known as Sila sangrahanam. Almost all the Vaikhanasa agamas mention the same ritual for this event. First an auspicious muhurtam should be seen for the bringing of the sila. The yajamani should worship the Lord along with His saktis and garuda on the auspicious day.After that having received auspicious omens(like hearing of a good news, sight of a full pot, horse, elephant, group of brahmins etc) the dharmakarta ( Yajamani ) along with the acharya and the sculptor should reach the place taking with them the materials needed for a homam. If inauspicious omens are seen then one should understand that the journey will prove futile and might result in dangerous results. After reaching the place, Vastu homam should be done and then purification using paryagni and pancha gavya should be done. Then food,flower,water and sandalwood offerings should made to various beings using the proper ritual(To the deities of the forest, Nagas,yakshas, rakshasas, gandharvas, eighteen ganas etc.). After that the sila is given a bath using fresh water(using Vaishanava, Purusha, Sri and Bhu suktams) and the acharya should face the north and do pranayama and recite atma suktam and mahi suktam carefully. He should recite the mantra that says that this is verily Vishnu by meditating on the Supreme Lord and touch the stone with his hand and thus collect it. After that the sila should be tapped using the chisel on the top, sides and bottom along with the recitation of Vishnu gayatri and the mantra "Chitram devanam". The sila should then be transfered carefully onto a cart/vehicle and then should be brought to the Karma mandapa in the temple. Some works say that the sila thus brought should be taken in a pradakshina way around the village. After this the sila will be carved into a beautiful image of the Lord using the principles of Sipla sastra. In the next post we will discuss the different ways of carving the image of the Lord in detail( more from a Vaikhanasa perspective though).


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