Photographer: Suhas Mehra. Please do not reproduce any of the photographs without explicit permission.
“Indian architecture, painting, sculpture are not only intimately one in inspiration with the central things in Indian philosophy, religion, Yoga, culture, but a specially intense expression of their signiﬁcance.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 269)
“The long tradition of her architecture, sculpture and painting speaks for itself, even in what survives after all the ruin of stormy centuries….” (p. 245)
Located in the Kambadahalli village of the Mandya district, Karnataka, about 18 kms from the famous Jain heritage town of Shravanabelagola, Panchakuta Basadi (Jain temple) is one of the finest examples of South Indian Dravidian architecture of the Western Ganga variety. Some historians assign this temple to the period 900-1000 CE, while some assign an earlier date of 8th century, based on traces of early Pallava–Pandya and Chalukya–Pallava influences. (From Wikipedia)
Kambadahalli (the word in Kannada language literally translates to “village with pillar”) gets its name from the Brahmadeva pillar (Manasthambha) erected in front of the temple complex. The entire complex is oriented towards the impressive Brahmadeva pillar and faces north. Generally, Brahmadeva pillars found in front of ancient Jain temples do not house sculptures of the Brahma Yaksha or the god Brahma, rather have images of the Sarvanubhuti Yaksha. (From Wikipedia)
From inscriptions, it is known that the temple complex was renovated during later centuries, including during the rule of the Hoysala Empire. The monument is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as a national monument. (From Wikipedia)
“…beyond the ordinary cultivation of the aesthetic instinct necessary to all artistic appreciation there is a spiritual insight or culture needed if we are to enter into the whole meaning of Indian artistic creation, otherwise we get only at the surface external things or at the most at things only just below the surface. It is an intuitive and spiritual art and must be seen with the intuitive and spiritual eye.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 269)
“There is no ethical idea which [Indian thought] has not stressed, put in its most ideal and imperative form, enforced by teaching, injunction, parable, artistic creation, formative examples. Truth, honour, loyalty, ﬁdelity, courage, chastity, love, long-suffering, self-sacriﬁce, harmlessness, forgiveness, compassion, benevolence, beneﬁcence are its common themes, are in its view the very stuff of a right human life, the essence of man’s dharma. Buddhism with its high and noble ethics, Jainism with its austere ideal of self-conquest, Hinduism with its magniﬁcent examples of all sides of the Dharma are not inferior in ethical teaching and practice to any religion or system, but rather take the highest rank and have had the strongest effective force. For the practice of these virtues in older times there is abundant internal and foreign evidence. A considerable stamp of them still remains in spite of much degeneracy….” (p. 148)
“Indian civilisation did not develop to a last logical conclusion its earlier political and social liberties,— that greatness of freedom or boldness of experiment belongs to the West; but liberty of religious practice and a complete freedom of thought in religion as in every other matter have always counted among its constant traditions. The atheist and the agnostic were free from persecution in India. Buddhism and Jainism might be disparaged as unorthodox religions, but they were allowed to live freely side by side with the orthodox creeds and philosophies; in her eager thirst for truth she gave them their full chance, tested all their values, and as much of their truth as was assimilable was taken into the stock of the common and always enlarging continuity of her spiritual experience. That ageless continuity was carefully conserved, but it admitted light from all quarters.” (p. 188)
“These sacred buildings are the signs, the architectural self expression of an ancient spiritual and religious culture. Ignore the spiritual suggestion, the religious signiﬁcance, the meaning of the symbols and indications, look only with the rational and secular aesthetic mind, and it is vain to expect that we shall get to any true and discerning appreciation of this art.” (p. 272)
“An assured history of two millenniums of accomplished sculptural creation is a rare and signiﬁcant fact in the life of a people. This greatness and continuity of Indian sculpture is due to the close connection between the religious and philosophical and the aesthetic mind of the people. Its survival into times not far from us was possible because of the survival of the cast of the antique mind in that philosophy and religion, a mind familiar with eternal things, capable of cosmic vision, having its roots of thought and seeing in the profundities of the soul, in the most intimate, pregnant and abiding experiences of the human spirit. ” (p. 288)
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