|Chennakeshava Temple, Beluen.wikipedia.org|
Garbhagriha (in Sanskrit garbha means womb and griha means house) / sanctum sanctorum is the most important part of a Hindu place of worship. It is akin to a dark cave in a mountainous area. Jain and Buddhist temples do have a sanctum. It is here resides the murti (idol or icon) of the primary deity of the temple. Generally in Hinduism only 'priests' (pujari) are allowed to enter this chamber and have the rights to touch the enshrined idol and carry on the daily puja protocol, etc. Garbhagriha is known as ''karuvarai'' in Tamil meaning "womb chamber". The word' karu' means foetus and arai means a room. It is a primordial womb and Moksha (salvation) implies merging with this womb and there is no rebirth
Rooted in Vedic traditions, a Hindu temple structure is designed as to promote a link between human beings and gods together. It is symbolic of God's residence in Vedic form composing circles and squares, depending on the style being followed. In a Hindu temple, you can see the incorporation of all elements of Hindu cosmos - presenting the good, the evil and the human, besides elements of Hindu concept of cyclic time and the essence of life. Symbolically a man has to go through different phases in his life time - dharma, kama, artha, moksa, and karma.
|Sanctum -doors are closed Doddabasappa temple,Karnataka rakeshholla.blogspot.com|
An oil lamb is continuously kept going day and night in the sanctum symbolic of driving away the dark evil forces (negative charges). The sanctum, deity's vahana (mount), Nandi in the case of Shiva or Garuda in the case of Vishnu), the flag-staff and the entrance gate with gopura (tower) over it, all fall on the same horizontal East-West axis.
Garbagriha is an independent structure and the deity is set in such a way, it receives the cosmic energy coming down right through the top of vimana above. The center of Vimana and the center point of the deity will be on the same axis.
In some sanctums you may find main deity with other sub-deities, ex. Vishnu with his consorts and Garuda. Invariably in most garbagrihas, you will find only one deity. There is only one entrance to the sanctum. In some temples, the procession god(s) -utchavars may be kept inside the sanctum and offerings will be made to them instead of to the main deities (Moolavars). During festive times, utchavar deities are kept outside the sanctum in a near-by hall (mantab) where the pujas are done as usual.
The sanctum is deliberately kept free from natural light and there are two reasons for it: To help the devotees concentrate on the deity and the other possible reason is this most sanctified place on the temple premises is charged with positive energy. The belief is this positive energy will help devotees gain confidence and face the worldly problems with disciplined and positive mind. The satisfaction of having visited the temple and stood before thedeity will energize him and keep a hold on him. Harboring selfishness, ego, arrogance, etc while on the temple premises, will affect the flow of positive energy and meditation. 'A polluted mind will never see perception in God'.
Garbhagriha may have a square, round or oval plan . You can see sculptures or paintings related to the Hindu mythology. Invariably, the inner walls of Garbagriha are plain and devoid of any sculptures and embellishments implying its emptiness.
The temple authorities will not make any compromise on the divinity and sanctity of the sanctum as it is a source of positive energy.