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Lesson 6 -- Mahabalipuram Filming Text

Copyright Michael Borden September 1999, all rights reserved.

We went to Mahabalipuram a few days ago for filming Sthapati for a documentary. It was very interesting because the film makers came with their idea of what they wanted to come away with and Sthapati had his own agenda. He told me that the filmmakers didn't understand their own culture, in fact, that most Indians didn't. He said that what they were used to regarding as religious was just superstition and that the true cultural roots of India are based in the science of Spirit. Spirit is not religion. Spirit is truth. Spirit is universal law and its foundation in the Ultimate Source. They wanted to present a personality, a "great man" and this is what he gave them:

I am very happy that we are all today in the midst of old rocks and old rock monuments. The place is Mahabalipuram ruled over by a great king of the past by the name of Mamalla. (spelling may not be correct) Behind me you are looking at two monuments. They are very famous monuments, historically and also, culturally. What do they represent? Why have they been formed here? What is the meaning of the structure? These are certain basic points that we have to know, though after a lapse of three to five thousand years.

This structure (the old rock temple) is called by a technical name: Vimanam. In the local language it is called Garbhagriha. What is the meaning of these words? They are very, very significant. In a sense, they are scientific also.

Vimanam: This particular structure is fabricated by the use of many, many measures, multi measures. This is actually the definition of the word Vimanam. The sculptor or the architect who designed and also did this work has applied many measures to create this kind of form. Vimanam is the technical name.

We shilpis create monuments of this type. We say it is a little universe. Actually, the universe is a big thing. It's a big space, enveloping not only the physical objects of the world, not only myself and yourself and everybody living on the face on the globe, but also a small particle of form which is part of the Vaastu space. Our Vastu Shastras, or Vastu Science, says the space is not empty. It says that space is filled with cubical atoms of energy. These are invisible but have a structure according to Vastu Shastra. This structure, looking cubical, is actually the core part of the Vimanam structure that you are looking at. That cube contains a lot of energy inside. The energy inside vibrates, sends forth waves of energy and these waves of energy, or vibrations, have to be quantified in our Vastu Shastras. And, as Vastu Shastra says, a particle of space which is cubically formed resides in yourself also. Because of that, you also experience and vibrate just like the vibration that takes place in the space. We design the structure so that the vibrations emanating from the center of the garbhagriha cell and the vibrations coming out of your own inner self go together, respond to each other. This is called harmony. In other words, it is called Bhakti, devotion, love.

This structure, though looking like a stone made structure has this kind of scientific concept. That is why the temple worship, the temple culture, has been going on for centuries together and no new tradition came up to replace it. It is eternal.

I was referring to two spaces: one is called the outer space and the other is called the inner space. The space which is dwelling in the human frame is called the inner space and the space surrounding the human structure is called outer space. The vimanam has a space inside the structure. It is called enclosed space. This has the quality of going into vibration and your human structure with the space dwelling in it has the capacity to go into vibration. If these two vibrations go together we say the "harmonize". They create a kind of harmony.

How to understand this spiritual harmony? How these vibrations respond to each other is an important question. Bring two veenas. Put one at one corner of the room and the other at another corner. If these veenas are pitched at what is called Panchama (sp) (a particular tuning) when one is plucked the other will also vibrate, respond to that kind of vibration. In English it is called sympathetic vibration. In our own Vaastu culture we call it "spiritual harmony". Vibrations come out of the main sanctum, vibrations come out of the man who stands before that sanctum, and they go in harmony with each other, in fact they love each other. In other words, because of this harmony the spirit grows in strength. It is otherwise called spiritual strength. This is achieved by worshiping either the structure or the image put inside the main sanctum. When you go to temple, stand before that and you will be tuned.

In the structure of the vimanam you are looking at you will find a big dome and smaller domes surrounding. Various forms also, just below: multi-forms go into the whole structure called the vimanam. I f you seriously look at that you will find that none of the forms that you are able to see here are copies from nature. This is very, very important, so far as Indian art form or culture is concerned. Take for instance the dome and all the members going like this (the hand sweeps in a curving down and then up motion). That particular pattern is representative of the lotus.

In Indian art forms there is one unique point which you can't see outside the tradition. If you look at the vimanam you will find many forms going into the fabric of the structure. If you take only the lines that give that kind of form you will find a kind of lotus blossoming. This lotus motif is the keynote of Indian architecture. The artist has got is from that experience of having looked at the lotus on the pond. He doesn't repeat the same thing. He enjoys the lotus, its form, its folds, these feeling tones are expressed in "feeling form" and that feeling cultivates the experience. The lotus occupies a prominent place in the design of temple architecture. Almost everywhere you will find this form. It is not repeated from nature, but comes from the enjoyment of nature and expression outside in terms of lines and forms. In everything you will find only feeling forms.

This is spiritual art. The artist has taken only the essence. That essence is called Vastu. An essential substance of the universe is called Vastu. When it is expressed through material form it is called Vaastu.

That feeling of the essential form, what do we mean?

You go and see a film at the theater. You come home. Your wife asks, "What did you see there? How was it?" You say, " It was very beautiful." Only one sentence you are able to adopt. Because the total experiences you summarize and put into one word: beauty. And then express. So all that you have seen on the screen and ultimately you are coming to one sentence, one word, one experience. This is occurring in our Indian

Lesson 7