India in Primitive Christianity - Architecture
Mr. James Fergusson—The "Sangharâma of Kasyapa"—Was it Elora?—Points of contact—Kailâs—Importance of the head of Avalokitishwara—Found on all S’ivan buildings ancient and modern—Buddhist arch, the head of the Cobra—Serpent not worshipped in Buddhism until union with S’ivism—Fergusson on the Lingam—Calls it a "Dagoba"—Believes the Kailâs temples at Elora, and the Mahabalipur Rathas, to have been intended for dormitories of Buddhist monks—Proposition contested—Strange discovery that Avalokitishwara's head is very plentiful on both these old groups of rock-detached temples.
Victor Hugo affirms that art throws more light on an early creed than literature, for literature, unfortunately, can be much falsified by mistaken religious zeal. Can art help our present inquiry?
A puerile story in the sacred books of the natives of India sometimes means much, as we have seen. I commence with a legend from the Purânas.
One Andheke, a Daitya, that is, one of a non-Aryan race, conquered the Dikpalas in fight, and obliged them to take refuge in the "Immoveable Mountain" (Mandara Achala), the lofty home of the Brahman gods. But the Dikpalas, assisted by their gods, returned in great force, and put Andheke and his army to flight; and the Daitya had to take refuge in a cave, twelve Kos (twenty-four miles) deep. In these straits he sacrificed to S’iva, who came to help him, and after the victory the god remained with him in the cave under the title of Andhekisvara.
The legend was, of course, written to account for the Cave-worship of the followers of S’iva. They seemed to have used caves as early certainly as the date of the Rig Veda, when Bala detained the cows there until struck with the bolt of Indra. A distinguished French Orientalist tells us that Bala was the father of the Asuras (demons) and the cave that he frequented was the mighty darkness of night, and the cows the morning rays. This may be the case, but the poet in his boldest flights has probably something concrete to go upon. Might he not have known of a real Bala, in a real cave, with real cows? At a place called Bolor, the Chinese Pilgrim, Hiouen Thsiang, saw folks who, to escape the cold, occupied the caverns around in company with their beasts.
We must now consider S’iva from the point of view of Architecture.
And the subject is beset with difficulty. If we can produce evidence that the worship of large fragments of bed-rock in a cave as a symbol of life, and its giver, has been utilitarian, open, and long anterior to the Sex worship in Egypt and Assyria, we strengthen our case that the religion of Bal, Bel, Ba’al, Belenus, takes its origin in India; but to establish this in at all a satisfactory manner will require a separate chapter, for a celebrated authority on Indian architecture has got half India to believe that the cave temples of S’iva are very modern, in fact that they are mere copies of the cave temples of the Buddhists.
Mr. James Fergusson came out to India as a merchant about the year 1826; and having amassed, fortunately for himself (and still more fortunately for the world), an Indian fortune, he went home and became an architect with a view to a profound study of the architecture of India, which from the first seems to have interested him very much. He was gifted with a quick intelligence and great industry; and he brought out many valuable works, revealing to the English public the wealth of topes and caves and Dravidian Gopuras and Salukian shrines, which in those days were crumbling away unheeded and misvalued.
But Mr. Fergusson, as all who knew him can testify, was very decided in his opinions and very masterful—witness the fact that he persuaded the Home Government to place him on a Committee with half-a-dozen military experts, to settle what heavy guns, and what casemates, should be set up to make the south coast of England secure against hostile battleships, although there is no evidence that Mr. Fergusson had ever been in a casemate in his life.
I do not, of course, propose to write a treatise on Indian architecture. It will be enough for my special study if I examine four statements of Mr. Fergusson, which contain the pith of the matter.
(1) He held that the Cave temple of Elora was a Buddhist Cave temple dating some time between 750 and 950 A.D.*
(2) He believed that the large lump of bedrock that figures in most of the caves, and which the natives of India call a "lingam," was a Buddhist "Dagoba." This word is written "Dhatugarbha" in the Mahâwânso (womb or enclosure of a portion of the human body).
(3) He held that the Cave temples of the followers of S’iva came into existence after the Cave temples of the Buddhists.
(4) He asserts that the five Raths or detached, rock-cut edifices of Mahavalipur were executed in the fifth or sixth century A.D.†
Early Buddhism had for its temples large numbers of funereal cairns spread over India, each containing, or said to contain, the ashes of Buddha or other saintly human ashes. The worship, in a word, was the worship of Buddha by peregrination round a cairn.
Kaniska changed all this. A theory was started that Buddha was non-existent; that great Buddhas on obtaining the Buddha-hood were absorbed into the divinity. The Cave temple was introduced and cairn worship discouraged.
In the year 400 A. D. a Buddhist pilgrim from China named Fa Hian visited the Dekhan. He describes a great "Sangharâma of a former Buddha, Kasyapa." Until Mr. Fergusson's day most Orientalists declared that this must be Elora. "It was constructed out of a great mountain of rock," says the Chinese traveller, "hewn to the proper shape." This seems to point to a detached rock-cut temple like Kailâs in Elora, or the Raths of Mahâbalipur. Fa Hian describes many cave temples, but never uses such language about them. The Chinese traveller did not see the temple. The country around was uninhabited and dangerous to the traveller; indeed, the pilgrim was advised to fly. "The law of Buddha was unknown."
Now the first question to ask is, Where is this great temple? If it was in the Dekhan at the date of Fa Hian it must be there still. A large rock-cut temple is one of the few things that cannot be conjured away. Was it Elora?
In 1825, Captain Seely, an Indian officer, published a work, "The Wonders of Elora," which gives a careful and very minute description of the rock excavations. Let us compare this and the Chinese account of Kasyapa's "Sangharâma."
To begin with, there is a statue of Kasyapa at Elora. He was one of the Seven Great Saints of the Brahmans (the Seven Rishis), but also one of the Seven Mânushi, or Mortal Buddhas. We can understand that the Chinese pilgrim, when hearing from outsiders a number of unfamiliar names, Brahman gods and saints, warriors, giants, demons,—would have fastened on that most familiar with a Buddhist. Fa Hian was told the temple had five storeys, "the lowest is made with elephant shapes, and has five hundred stone cells."
"On entering," says Captain Seely, "various figures are represented, especially Bhavânî (Durgâ) sitting on a lotus, and two elephants with their trunks entwined by her. On either side under a ledge of rock, which serves as a bridge for communicating with the great temple, and the rooms over the entrance, are two elephants in a mutilated state."*
"The second (storey)," says Fa Hian, "is made with lion shapes and has four hundred chambers. The third is made with horse shapes and has three hundred chambers."
"On the eastern and southern sides of the great temple," says Seely, "are two flights of stairs winding inwards half way up, thirty-six in number. These bring you to a portico.
"On the top of this portico are the remains of a lion, and on the inside two figures of Sphinxes"; but our author tells us that numbers of elephants, lions, and other animals abound, sculptured in part, but with much of their bodies buried away as if they were in the act of supporting the vast mass of rock above. Amongst these the informants consulted by Fa Hian might easily have found their "horse."
Says Fa Hian, "The fourth is made with ox shapes and has two hundred chambers; the fifth is made with dove shapes and has one hundred chambers."
At this point Professor Beal, the acute Chinese scholar, intervenes, and convicts Fa Hian of misreading the word "Po lo yu," which he renders "Pârâvita," (a pigeon), whereas it should have been "Pârvatî" (Durgâ). Now above the portico already described there is a separate room built, with a fine "figure of Nandi," the bull of S’iva, with the god and Durgâ riding upon it, bulls being plentiful at Elora. Turning to Captain Seely's frontispiece, a view of the Cave of Indra, we see that above the excavations was a patch of bare hill, but across this higher up was a wall or entablature with sculptured figures. This might be called an additional storey, Pârvatî's storey. Pârvatî means "mountain" as well as the goddess. Hiouen Thsiang, another Buddhist traveller, describes a fine five-storeyed Sangharâma with large halls, and Buddhas cast in gold. This spot he calls Brahmaragiri (the mountain of Brahmara, or Durgâ). Professor Beal suggests that these two mountains, Pârvatî mountain, and Brahmaragiri mountain, and the two temples, are probably one and the same.
Neither of these Chinese travellers saw this temple, we must recollect, and each calls it a Sangharâma. But all the old travellers call Elora a Hindu temple. Captain Seely, who made the closest study of all, calls it a temple of S’iva and Durgâ, and says that the lingam is everywhere.
At the great entrance of Kailâs are two enormous statues of S’iva and Durgâ, one on each side. The Holy of Holies, says Captain Seely, is a bare cave with a lingam in the middle. Two mighty giants with clubs guard the Sacullum, and a great statue of Nandi, the bull, also stands sentry by it.
Heeren, the learned German, makes a strong point in favour of the antiquity of these temples. He says that the inscriptions are in Sanskrit, which points to a date when Sanskrit was a spoken language in India. A pious donor erecting, say a fine hospital in Manchester, would not record the fact in the language of the Ancient Britons. Sanskrit was no longer a spoken language about 300 B.C.
Professor Beal mentions that the rock temple described by Hiouen Tsiang was according to that authority erected by King Sadvaha at the instance of Nâgârjuna,* who for the mighty outlay necessary for the purpose changed all the "great stones" to gold. It is possible that Nâgârjuna influenced the King, and it is possible that this monk, as Beal thinks, was the chief agent in effecting the great Buddhist change of front. But if he was mixed up in any way with Elora it must have been only in burnishing it up with a little Buddhist polish. Recollect that according to Fa Hian there were fifteen hundred cells for the monks in his temple, according to Hiouen Tsiang one thousand. Elora, according to Seely and Heeren, has many "dormitories," but not so many as this. What an enormous rock temple it must have been that the Chinese describe. If it was not Elora, where is it? Says Heeren, "The completion of these surprising works must, according to our calculations, have required some hundreds of years.
"Let the reader imagine to himself a chain of rocky mountains consisting principally of very hard granite, and in a semi-circular or rather horse-shoe form, with a distance of nearly five miles between the extreme points. In this range is found a series of grotto temples, some of two and even three storeys in height, partly in juxtaposition with each other and partly separated by intervals, which in their turn are filled with a number of smaller temples, and the whole ornamented with innumerable reliefs. All that is great, splendid, and ornamental in architecture above ground, is here seen—also, beneath the earth—peristyles, staircases, bridges, chapels, columns, porticos, obelisks, colossal statues."
Seely follows suit and says that although Kailas, being rock detached, is one of the wonders of the world, the Tin Tal (three storeyed) cave at Elora isreally finer as a cave, and the Viśvakarma, and a number of the other caves are very grand.
"What must have been the labour and zeal of the workmen in thus attacking a mountain formed of the firm, primeval rock, and cutting hundreds of thousands of feet of that hard material by the aid of an iron instrument* (a chisel four inches long)."
All this about the immense labour expended upon Elora is important, because, if Sadvaha constructed it at all, he must have finished it in a lifetime; for at his death, says Hiouen Tsiang, the Brahmans seized the cave temple and "strongly barricaded the place" to keep the Buddhists out.† The same difficulty surges up if we suppose that Elora was begun and finished in the lifetime of Kanis’ka. Says the Chinese traveller: "After Kanis’ka's death the Kritiya race again assumed the government, banished the priesthood, and overthrew religion."‡
Another difficulty is this: Why should the Buddhists in constructing a matchless temple make it what we might call an Encyclopædia of the Brahman religion, a Pantheon of the gods that Buddhism came into the world to specially attack? a Kylâs where every saint and hero of India finds his dwelling-place?
Elora is the most eclectic of fanes. Indra is there, and Brahma with his four heads, and Lakshmî, but the latter, says Heeren, figures as a menial attendant at the great marriage of S’iva and Durgâ; and the statues and bas reliefs of the Brahmin gods are insignificant§ compared with those of S’iva and Durgâ.
At Elora is one portentous cavern, a grotto driven into the hard rock one hundred and thirteen feet, so Captain Seely assures us*. Unlike the rest of the profusely sculptured caves, it is very dark, very solemn, quite bare of decoration. Here we have plainly the "Sanctuary of the S’iva-linga," the most exalted Mahâdeo of S’iva worship. And on this stone Mahâdeo, a Buddha has been cut. He sits on the lotus throne of Padmapani. Does not this seem to have been intended to accentuate the fact that Adi Buddha and S’iva are one? The cave is named after Visvakarma, which is a name for S’iva, as well as for a Brahman god.
I now propose to show the immense importance of the head without a jaw which the Hindu in Java assured Mr. Crawfurd always meant S’iva. If this detached head really means S’iva, it is evident that it pulverises Mr. Fergusson's theory that Elora, Karle, etc., are purely Buddhist excavations. Captain Seely gives as his frontispiece a fine engraving of the façade of the cavern of Indra at Elora, and there are two heads of Avalokitishwara plainly visible. In the Buddhist temple of Boro Bador in Java, we are assured by Crawfurd there are four hundred of these heads in one colonnade. Mr. Fergusson himself almost caps this, for he gives us a drawing of a portion of the railing at Kinheri, which is quite plentifully furnished with Avalokitishwaras. Plainly, Mr. Fergusson attached little importance to the symbol, for sometimes, whether by accident or design, he omits it even in the designs that he copies. Thus Râm Râz and Mr. Fergusson both give the Vimâna of S’rî Rangam. That of Râm Râz is capped with an arch of the S’ivan horse-shoe pattern, and a very prominent Avalokitishwara. Mr. Fergusson omits it in his copy. He omits, too, the two down-looking heads that Captain Seely gives in the façade of the Indra Cave at Elora. Râm Râz was a Hindu gentleman in government employment. He wrote an able work on Hindu architecture. Avalokitishwara grins on all the Vimânas and Gopuras of his copious illustrations.
Another discovery that came to me at this time was that the serpent symbolism dates in Buddhism from its great change of front. In earlier Buddhism there was no serpent worship. This also is important. I will take it up completely later on.
That a huge dome-shaped lump of bedrock like the Lingam of Karle should be deemed a relic casket (Dhâtu garbha) by any native of India seems impossible. What receptacle for relics has ever been discovered in any one of them? And if any folks were specially opposed to such an idea it would be the ministers of King Kanis’ka who were doing their utmost to eliminate relic worship from Buddhism altogether. I have been carefully through the narratives of the Buddhist travellers in India from China, and I can nowhere find any hint of relic worship inside a cave. The large halls of cave temples are always called "preaching halls," and the Dâgoba, when it is mentioned, is plainly with them, as with all Buddhists, a cairn out in the open. Thus Fa Hian, describing Anuradapura, talks of the Sangharâma with a hall containing a figure of Buddha in the middle. But the "stûpa," or cairn outside, seems specially to attract his attention, "adorned with gold and silver, and every precious substance." Dâgoba worship was necessarily out in the open, as the early Buddhists were forbidden the shelter of a house.
Mr. Athol Forbes, in an article in the "Pall Mall Magazine," a short time ago, assured us that there are over a thousand cave temples in India, and almost all of them are crowded with lingams. Little Lingam temples are built in groups, eight, sixteen, thirty-six, etc. The Buddhist travellers speak of "tens of Deva temples."
Heeren believes that the evolution of Indian temples proceeded something after this fashion:—First, cave excavations and work chiefly inside; next, work outside as well, culminating in the attempt to detach the fane from the mountain, as at Kailas in Elora, and the Raths of Mahâbalipur; this suggested the art of building in the open.
Mr. Gwilt in his "Cyclopædia of Architecture," has much the same idea. Humanity had three stages of progress. First the hunter, who had no protection from the elements except his cave; secondly, the shepherd, who had invented the tent; and thirdly the agriculturist, who had learned to build in the open.
Mr. Gwilt quotes Pliny as asserting that the Egyptians from time immemorial dwelt in caves. He holds that Egyptian architecture sprang from cave temples.
"Everything points to its origin; its simplicity, not to say monotony; its solidity, almost heaviness, form its principal characteristics. Then the want of profile and the paucity of members, the small projection of its mouldings, the absence of apertures, the enormous diameter of the columns employed, much resembling the pillars left in quarrying for supports, the pyramidal form of the doors, the omission of roofs and pediments, the ignorance of the arch, all enable us to recur to the type from which we have set out." He adds that "all the upper parts are constructed without reference to anything but stone work."
It seems to me that from these two writers we get a right idea of the rise of Indian architecture. Bala or S’iva at the date of the Rig Veda lived in his cave, like the modern Aghora. By-and-by he made it into a temple by judicious enlargement and decoration. Then he began to ornament and shape the mountain outside. Finally, he detached it and formed the large pyramidal Ratha of Mahâbalipur.
Has not early Indian architecture all the characteristics detailed by Mr. Gwilt, simplicity, monotony, heaviness, want of profile, small projection of mouldings? From base to the very summit it is decorated with stone carvings of the pattern that we might call Chinese card-case ornamentation, a speciality learned probably in a cave temple, where from want of height the ornament was never very far from the observer's eye. And we all know that early Indian columns are usually enormous at top and slender below, a topsy-turvy feature also learned in a cave temple.
Râm Râz shows that when the Hindus began to build temples out in the open, each temple consisted of two parts:—
(1) Of a magnificent pyramidal structure which seemed on the surface to have no religious functions at all. It was called a "Gopura." Râm Râz calls these gopuras "towers over the gateways of temples." He does not seem to know of any uses which we would call distinctly religious.
(2) A very much smaller and very much less pretentious building was erected for sacrifices, rites, etc., in old as well as modern times. This was called the "Vimâna."
Do the titles of these structures throw any light on their origin?
Gopura, the "City of the Bull." S’iva is the great Bull—and his "City" would be the same as the "Kailas" of Elora. It would be the Paradise of his followers. The pyramid is one of his special symbols.
Vimâna. This word is applied to the moveable pavilion of drapery and boards and tinsel which bears a special god in the processions. The god of a Vimâna would plainly be much lower in rank and importance than the Supreme God of the Gopura.
Can we draw up the evolution of the Gopura?
The Aghora dwelt in a natural cavern. But this by-and-by changed into a temple, and when a rude observatory was required, to regulate agriculture by the stars, the outside would be roughly raised up by piling up stones; and a rude pyramid would be the convenient form. Numbers of little yogi-cells are to be seen all over India of this fashion; and the Egyptian pyramid was evolved somewhat in the same way.
But as time advanced, and rock chiselling had became an important operation inside the temple, a bold thought came to the temple producer. Instead of piling up a few rough stones to make a rude pyramid, why not remove with a chisel the stone masses from the top? Why not change a mountain into a Gopura?
But a second peculiarity, difficult at first to understand, is that this Gopura is often found without any subordinate buildings near it; the ornamental and apparently useless part of the Temple alone is set up.
We must remember that in the old days in India the favourite form of religious expression was the pilgrimage. In the great epic, the Mahâbhârata, there is no mention of temples. A sage says to Arjuna: "It is the greatest mystery of the Rishis, O excellent son of Bharata. The holy pilgrimage to the Tîrthas is more important than sacrifices to the gods." The Tîrtha was the sacred* tank so necessary in pilgrimages.
Now this passage explains the solitary rock-detached pyramid, which viewed by Mr. Fergusson's theories is quite inexplicable. Pilgrimages meant money, and it came into the head of one set of priests to produce an unexampled "Home of S’iva." They executed a pyramid of solid stone, ornamented as richly as the temple interiors; and produced it practically in the open. Round this could be set a tank, and the ordinary fripperies of the pilgrimages and processions. A pilgrimage to such a building would eclipse all rivals, like the Kaâba in the religion of Mahomet, which is also called the "Home of God."
Thus with a chisel was evolved the Gopura; and stone Vimânas were by and by added.
In the year 1772, a gentleman named Chambers went from Madras to examine some ruins at no great distance off; "ruins," he says, "hitherto little observed." They were on the sea; and as he approached a fine pyramid broke the sky line, a lofty pile used as "a guide to mariners."* By the pyramid were four other temples, all rock detached and ornamented with sculptures, but the pyramid was much higher than these. The place was called Mahvellipuram, the Tamulian for Mahâbalipur, its old Sanskrit name, the second language having no h in it and using v for b. Now the word Mahâbalipur is practically the same word as describes the Gopura, S’iva's pyramid, the "City of S’iva," the "City of the Bull." And the stone temples were called "Rathas," which is a synonym for the word "Vimâna." Each describes the carriage made of drapery and wood of a god at the festivals.
The City of Mahâbalipur was an amazing sight. The waves were gradually eating it up. Mr. Chambers saw a fine temple half demolished by the sea; and other buildings that no traveller now can see. The natives told him that not long before the glitter of the metal on the spires of temples could be seen a long way from the shore. They told him also that this city was once the most famous city of the East, that some strange cataclysm had visited it. He was also told that it had had from the most ancient days another name, the "Seven Pagodas," which fact induced Mr. Chambers to come to the conclusion that the Rathas had once been
seven, and that two of them had been demolished by the advancing tide.
Mahâbalipur is the famous Maliarpha of Ptolemy. Whether it had anything to do with the "Sheba," or "Tarshish," or "Pout," of the Egyptians and Jews we have not space to inquire.
And now what is the date of this Gopura pyramid? Perhaps Mr. Fergusson is right when he tells us confidently that it came into being 500 A.D. On the other hand there are potentialities of distant ages that make us tremble. With a chisel of four inches how long would it take to change a range of rocky hills into a range of temples? Then, how long would it take for a mighty city to rise up step by step, and to powerfully influence the civilised world, under the wing of the God of the Gopura? Then again, how long would it take the sea to destroy a large city? And a more crucial question, how long would it take for the soft lapping waves to reduce to sand and hide quite away two Rathas of solid rock?
I give a drawing of the Rathas done on the spot by that excellent artist Daniell a hundred years ago. (See Frontispiece). The taller pyramid from its position does not quite show how much taller it is than its neighbours.
1. Each is a group of minor buildings dominated by a great pyramid.
2. These pyramids have practically the same name, the City of S’iva (Mahâbalipur, Kailas, Gopura).
3. The minor buildings have the same name Vimânas at Elora, Rathas at Mahâbalipur, synonyms for processional god-carriages.
4. In both cases we have a mountain changed into a group of temples by the aid of a small chisel.
5. The tall pyramid had steps cut out that it might be used as an observatory.
6. It is plainly the parent, first of solid pyramids built up of small stones; and when the arch had been discovered, of doorway pyramids pierced with a small passage, like the huge traditional "Gopuras" of Southern India.
But a more startling discovery is in reserve. It quite blows to the winds Mr. Fergusson's theories.
Daniell's drawing of Kailâs is folio size; and from it I discovered a strange fact not to be detected in any of Mr. Fergusson's drawings of the same piles. The Kailâs piles are crowded with heads of Avalokitishwara in little windows or archways. And if the photo of the Mahâbalipur pyramid is viewed with a powerful magnifying glass, the same fact emerges there. I enlarge one of these heads from Daniell's drawing. Above is a second head, Ganga, pouring down the Ganges on S’iva.
And on the point of history Mr. Fergusson breaks down. Râm Râz cites the great poem of the Râmâyana to show that Ayodhyâ was "adorned with arched gateways," and was "full of buildings erected close to one another," and palaces with gardens "like the celestial mansions which the Siddhas obtain through the virtues of their austerity."*
Then the S’iva-Buddha alliance did not last. By and by it changed from admiration to fierce war, and S’ivan persecution. Huguenots flying from a Dragonnade are not the sort of people who build a Nôtre Dame Cathedral or an Egyptian pyramid. Van Heeren thinks that Elora must have taken several centuries to complete, and Mr. Fergusson seems to have chosen for its construction the very centuries when the fierce followers of S’iva, Kumârilla Bhatta (A.D. 700), and Sankara Âchârya (750), were spreading Hindustan with Buddhist blood.
Fa Hian, who visited the Dekhan about A. D. 400, found that the Buddhists had long been chased away from those regions. Let us suppose that they came back again A.D. 750, Fergusson's date, and commenced the mighty works of Elora. Kumârilla Bhatta and Sankara Achârya would have soon made the operations impossible. Supposing, on the other hand, that they delayed the commencement until Mr. Fergusson's other date, A.D. 950. How could the few sparse Buddhists left in India find the money for such a gigantic enterprise. Also, why did they build a temple with all the distinctive features of the temples of their sanguinary persecutors? "Sankara" is one of the names of S’iva. "Achârya" means "Teacher."
A practical question! If the structures of Mahâbalipur and Elora were intended for the dormitories of monks, traces of this would be found in them. Mr. Fergusson admits that this is not the case, but he says, that they are all unfinished, except the "little Ratha" at Mahâbalipur. He makes a further confession that this has also no dormitories, but he says that in form it is a "mere pansil" (hut of leaves and boughs of an ascetic in a jungle*). May not this be a solution of the puzzle? The earliest stone structure in the open was suggested to the Indians by pansils and tents.
The dormitory theory is the most weak part of Mr. Fergusson's case. Fa Hian tells us that there were fifteen hundred dormitories in the Sangharâma that he talks of. Now we learn from Heeren that at Elora there is "a vast number of smaller grottoes," where priests can rest and where, what seems most important, many thousands of pilgrims and penitents can be put up. Remember that this Sangharâma was in the Dekhan. Remember also that it was not a mere rock temple, but was "constructed out of a great mountain of rock, hewn to the proper shape." Where else in the Dekhan is a hint of these dormitories?
Sir Alexander Cunningham in his work the "Stûpa of Bharhut," gives a bas relief representing some buildings of the period (B.C. 270). I reproduce it here. Mr. Fergusson calls it a round temple and part of a palace." Compare this with the small Ratha of Mahâbalipur, as drawn by Daniell. Can we really believe with Mr. Fergusson that a race which B.C. 270 could build thus in the open would six hundred years after this waste half a century or so to produce with a small chisel an edifice like the Mahâbalipur Pansil.
To sum up, in ancient India there were three main religions.
(1) The religion of S’iva, which dates from the Caveman, Mr. Gwilt's first stage. The Aryans found this god flourishing in India as Ahi the Serpent, Bala, the Lingam, etc. The Zend Avestha also takes note of him as Shouru, who seduced some of the Eranians to heresies performed in his cave. That cave was supplied with a number of dark recesses for the impressive horrors of the S’ivan mystery, and vast halls for the Kailas illuminations; the temple being made apparently to suit the worship and the worship to suit the temple.
(2) The pastoral period of Mr. Gwilt. The Aryan shepherds crossed the Hindu Kush and invaded India with their flocks and many gods. At the date of Megasthenes their priests lived in the open. In the early epics there are no temples.
(3) The early Buddhists—forbidden by the "Twelve Observances" to sleep more than one night in one place, and forbidden the protection of a roof. What good would a vast pile like Elora be to them? The monks could not enter it. The same remark applies to the rock-detached Rathas of Mahâbalipur. Whatever their design it could not have been dormitories for folks who used no dormitories at all. Indeed, the great topes like the Sanchi seem to accentuate the fact that the worship for which they were designed was entirely open-air worship,—circumambulation round a pathway between the great hemisphere of earth and the richly carved stone railings. This purely open-air worship was carried on even when kings, converted to S’iva-Buddhism, had seized the S’iva rock temples.
Thus we find two distinct religions and two distinct architectural modes of giving effect to them.
(1) The worship of a man (deified) by perambulation round his relics in a cairn in the open.
(2) The worship of the Supreme God by an ancient and elaborate mystery which required large halls, dark grottoes, deep gloom, flashes of light, and Lingams composed of large lumps of bed-rock. There are more than a thousand rock temples in India all plentifully furnished with Lingams. Can we believe with Mr. Fergusson that these are all due to the Buddhists, who in his view originated the pattern.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Hinduism and Christianity, Jesus in India
- The Advaita Vedanta - Non Duality
- Introduction to Hinduism - Prakriti
- The Kapila And The Pâtañjala Samkhya Yoga
- Brahman According to Advaita and Dvaita in Hinduism
- Atheism and Materialism in Ancient India
- Solving the Hindu Caste System
- Emptiness or Sunyavada in Buddhism
- Buddhism - A Discourse on Ignorance
- The Working of Maya or Illusion - A Buddhist Perspective
- Buddhism - The Middle Way or the Middle Path
- What Samsara Means in Buddhism
- The Chaos Theory and Nirvana in Buddhism
- Hinduism and Caste System
- Dealing with Chance, Fate and Acts of God
- Death and Afterlife in Hinduism
- What is Hinduism?
- Hinduism and Diversity
- Hinduism and Judaism
- Hinduism and Same-sex Marriage
- Significance of Happiness in Hinduism
- Redirect - Symbolism Hinduism
- The Meaning and Purpose of Yoga
143:* Fergusson, "Hist. Ind. Architecture," p. 337.
143:† Fergusson, "Hist. Ind. Architecture," p. 326.
145:* Seely, "Elora" p. 101.
147:* "Buddhist Records," II., 217.
148:* "Elora," 175.
148:† Beal, "Buddhist Records," Vol. II., 217.
148:‡ Ibid, Vol. I., p. 156.
148:§ Heeren, "Historical Researches," Vol. II., p. 60.
149:* Seely, "Elora," page 203.
153:* "Mahab. Vanaparva," v. 4059.
157:* Râm Râz, "Architecture of the Hindus," p. 48.
158:* Fergusson, "Indian Architecture," p. 230.
Translate the Page