Friday, December 10, 2010

Eklingji town, Shiva temples near Udaipur, Rajasthan

The name Eklingji is not that of a temple as much as it is the name of a place. Eklingji hosts approximately 108 temples scattered around the green hilly Rajasthani countryside near Udaipur. In this untouched terrain, one is faced with low hills, lakes with proliferating wild life, thick ancient walls and narrow alleys leading into small houses surrounding stone temples...its almost dream like.

Rural Rajasthan is a quiet landscape with architecture so quaint and so different that one could live there and just admire it. Its not about forts, palaces and havelis, or the homes of the once rich and famous but about single chambered temples with a simple mandap in front, scattered every where yet sacred in themselves.

While the sun rises and lights up these ancient wonders into current times, while the lamps light up these otherwise silent interiors, they bring with them an aura of spiritualism far more active and prolific than what we probably have today. These once populous temples just remain historical wonders, waking us up only occasionally to their presence.

In this vast sea of stone structures, crowded with sculptural representations of an open society in ancient times, we have the deep under currents of faith ruling these miniature wonders. One of the most interesting temples, with a difference is that of Eklingji temple Kailashpuri founded by Acharya Viswaroopa, a contemporary of Adi Sankaracharya.

This in one word is "anokha" or unique. This temple is dotted with smaller single chambered temples along its walls that surround the larger temple with two floors in the center of this courtyard that gradually climbs the hillside.

Going back into those ancient days, where electricity gave way to fire torches and lamps lit the interiors, and folk songs echoed among these walls, the ambiance appeared almost magical. As we step into this wondrous world of dancing flames in the wind, throwing shadows of sculptures on the walls and almost bringing them alive, the drums beat reverberating through the walls and the bells ring as the flame goes up in arti, we witness a spectacle of divinity that touches our souls. Deep within the garbha griha, are the sparkling eyes of a Shiva linga, comprised of four faces each in a cardinal direction.

Silent cool pillared halls lead into this deep chamber that hosts one of the most spectacular icons of divinity. Covered by a gold triple parasol, we have all of the Gods residing within. The flames flicker on, lighting up the face of Surya to the east, Vishnu to the North, Brahma to the west and Rudra to the south, all carved into a sacred black marble stone. Decorated with precious stones that shine through like the cosmos itself, the lingam is striking, with the eyes of divinity capturing us, our senses, our minds, leaving us helpless and swollen with an emotional high of bhakti in its purest form. As we circle around this icon of divinity on earth, all forms of the Lord locked into the linga peetha, we are met with the most powerful and profound symbol of all. A sacred yantra crowns their heads, powerful and divine that rules the faith of people who visit this enchanting temple. Surrounding this divine form, resting within their niches are Parvati, Ganesha and Karthikeya.

This chamber brings alive a phenomenon, in a symbolic form. The black marble represents the cosmos, the universe itself, created and preserved by the very forms who reside within the linga, each eye glowing and sparkling waking us to that which is beyond. At its crown lies the power of the yantra, that which defines the nature of this power that has created the universe and controls it. The unique element of this yantra is that it is not embedded deep within the idol but out in the open, present for us to see, a very unique feature uncommon in Indian temples.

This linga is a reminder, that Brahma, Vishnu and Surya are a part of a larger whole, the apex of which is the divine form of Lord Shiva, embedded within the yantra, that is sacred and has been preserved through generations for worship. Indeed, with the vastness of the cosmos proliferating with life, there is indeed just one force that controls it all - Eklingji Shiva who protects all and is not just the guardian deity of the Maharanas of Mewar.

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