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The Inner Parikrama

The Dhyanalinga architecture is geometrically a simple fusion of shapes, but experientially a profound space for meditation. The peripheral dimension of the structure is a congregation of modulated spaces subtly preparing the visitor for meditation at every step. The unusual sunken reception engages the viewer with the 17-foot white granite monolith, the Sarva Dharma Sthambha. Symbols of major religions of the world are inscribed on three sides of this Sthamba forming an appropriate sign of welcome for one and all, beyond religious divide.

The back of the Sthamba is inscribed with the schematic of the seven chakras of the human body, in the form of lotuses that represent different levels of consciousness. The chakras are flanked on either side by flowing forms of snakes, representing the Ida and Pingala nadis, the masculine and feminine or the logical and intuitive energy states. The central stem connecting all the chakras is the Sushumna nadi, the principal channel of energy according to the yogic sciences. A rising sun, carved in stone, crowns the Sthambha and symbolizes a new dawn while the pattern of fallen leaves beneath the sun symbolizes the death of the past. The Sthambha area of the Dhyanalinga is built in the form of a yantra, which is closed on three sides, giving the feeling of an open-arm embrace to the visitor.

The stone gateway or the Thorana is designed according to the principles of traditional Indian Temple Architecture. It safeguards the Dhyanalinga and acts as the main entrance. To reach the open pathway, the parikrama, the seeker crosses the three entrance steps symbolizing the gunas - Tamas, Rajas and Sattva, which are the three basic qualities of the mind. The unusual height of the steps compels the visitor to press the soles of his feet on the pebbled surface of these steps, which in turn activates certain nerve centers in the body, making it more receptive to the energies of the Dhyanalinga.

The parikrama, leading to the Dhyanalinga, communicates a sense of both artistry and spirituality. It comprises of a central pathway flanked on either side by covered aisles. Being open to the sky, the central pathway establishes a visual connection between the entrance and the dome and reinforces the integrity of the relationship of the spaces. The central pathway is flanked on either side by covered aisles.

As one enters the parikrama, on the left is the statue of Patanjali, the celebrated author of Yoga Sutras and often regarded as the father of modern yogic sciences. The eleven-foot tall statue is deliberately placed in a sunken shrine, thus establishing the colossal identity of Patanjali in relation to the dwarfed viewer at the same level. Sculpted in black granite, the statue depicts a fusion of snake and man, symbolizing the divine nature of man evolving from his earthbound nature. The sunken shrine depicts the snake below the earth and the man above it. The snake, covering the head of the statue with its hood, represents the raising of energies through the seven chakras the objective of yoga.

On the right is the Vanashree shrine, the feminine deity of the Dhyanalinga and a counterpoint to the Patanjali shrine. In contrast to Patanjali's sunken base, the Vanashree shrine is placed at a higher level than the pathway. The Vanashree, made of green granite, is a sculptural relief of a peepal tree. A gold leaf at the center symbolizes warmth and prosperity. The energies of the deity are such that it is especially beneficial for women and children to meditate in the vicinity of the shrine. The traditional Keerti Mukha, the glorious face, finds its place above the shrine of Vanashree.

Six artistically sculptured granite panels cover the aisles, illustrating the stories of six South Indian sages who attained enlightenment. Each panel captures a moment in these extraordinary lives. On the threshold are six images of meditative postures each carved into a triangular form, which indicate the Siddhi State of six spiritual chakras. The form of a yogi prostrating before the Dhyanalinga suggests the sense of surrender that is required to enter the Dhyanalinga space.

The parikrama ends at the vaulted tunnel leading to the dome of the Dhyanalinga. Carved on the threshold of the entrance are two snakes with a single raised hood, indicating the non-dual nature of the Dhyanalinga. Over the vault is a seven-hooded monolithic snake, symbolizing the seven dimensions of life reaching the peak of consciousness.

The natural granite, irregular surfaces and the shapes and colors that form the Dhyanalinga create a very earthy and ethereal ambiance. Blending with the surroundings and intensifying all elements of nature, it creates a smooth prelusion to the warmth and womb-like feel of the Dhyanalinga dome.

symbols of all major religions - hinduism, christianity, muslim, Stone Panels of South Indian Saints pathanjali - father of modern yoga vanashree

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