As we dawned into the 21st century, more and more people began introspecting about the quality and thepurpose of their lives. Amidst the fast moving world of urbanization and industrialisation; the soul of society had seemed to be lost. What makes a country or region unique? What brings life to a person’s heart and pride in his or her existence? What makes one celebrate and enjoy the good offerings of this world? That missing element is called culture.
Culture and tradition is the conditioned surroundings that shape our growth. Traditional age old customs had its basis in the divine revelations of scriptures and thus those who faithfully held on to such values were sophisticated, well groomed and happy. In contrast, we have the modern style of living which divorces the concept of tradition and culture in favour of so-called ‘developed culture’ which is generic, plastic, and monotonous. Skills of arts, crafts and the like are almost non-existent. Self-sustenance and independence is long forgotten. For the basic of necessities, the consumer needs to go to a Supermarket or Mall purchasing what is offered by the retailer and not what is wanted by the consumer. What all other invaders had failed to do, modern technology has done in just 50 years. The question begs itself, “Why aren’t we preserving our heritage?”
India is a beacon for culture and art. From hand embroidery like the kasuti of northern Karnataka, the pottery of Rajasthan, the Patachitra paintings of Orissa, Madhubani arts of Bihar, stone temples of Konark to rock-cut temples of Ajanta and Bojjannakonda – India has it all. Sadly, not many are putting in enough effort to hold on to this culture, that is the true wealth of the Indian nation. As seen through history, despite the hundreds of years of invasion, attack and conquest of India, her traditions still stand strong.
India’s biggest ‘economy’ is in its ‘export’ of authentic wisdom, culture and values – that unlike the world has ever seen before. For ages and eons, the land has produced powerful iconic mystics, kings, and great teachers who have flooded the world with its heritage. This has benefitted mankind with material emancipation, freedom from the struggles of uncontrolled senses, experiences of transcendence and ultimately spiritual enlightenment.
At Govardhan EcoVillage (GEV), we heartily join our fellow Kala-rakshas to bring to light the immense importance of preserving art and tradition and how it has a profound effect on shaping the mental, social and spiritual development of society. Located in Maharashtra, along the Konkani belt, GEV has ensured that all its activities are inclusive of preserving the Vedic tradition and heritage of India. GEV promotes Warli paintings, Vedic styled food as associated with its regions, usage of biodegradable material, building mud cottages (cob houses), natural water harvesting methods and most recently the building of an intricately stone carved temple for Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan bihari.
A milestone of stone
While most modern day builders would resort to RCC concretes, cement, iron beams and other such material, to make any typical structure – be it even a temple – GEV has pushed the barrier by building an intricately carved stone temple structure of pink sandstone from Rajasthan. The structure doesn’t use mortars or other such binding material but it based on interlocking of stone blocks that well lasts the test of time. In such a day and age, one would imagine the process to take millions of rupees and hundreds of years! Nevertheless, the team at GEV had managed to pull this off in just six months. Why is it that making a temple out of stone so important? What is the special significance?
For one, a temple is something that is made to last. Unlike modern offices and residential homes, which last only a good 60 years at most – the temple is the hub of generations of seekers and practitioners. Secondly, it preserves the ancient skills of rock cutting and carving. Artisans from Orissa and Rajasthan were specially employed to depict the pastimes of the Lord on the Mandovar, the walls around the Garbhagraha. These artisans are of generations of skilled masons whose only profession is carving stone into beautiful works of art. The temple stands akin to the Sun temple of Konark, or the Pancha Rathas of Mahabalipuram for its display of artistic mastery.
The construction of any Vedic temple has to be authentic to the directions given in the Shilpa Shastras, These manuscripts outline how the temple is analogous to the construction of the body – the shikhara (dome) being the head and the adhistanam base as the foot. On the top most section of the dome is the kalasha, where generally the Sudarshana Cakra which symbolizes the Lord is placed – akin to the lamp of a lighthouse – it’s the first sight one gets when approaching the temple.
Thus, the temple personifies the importance of placing God as one’s master and guide by keeping Him always as the priority and centre of our lives.
GEV’s initiative showcases that tradition has not died out. With real vigour and determination, we’re able to revive a slowly dying heritage. This structure invites one and all to come and delve deep into the heritage of India by visiting this cultural landmark and experience the reflective effective it has on the community around it. As the idiom goes; this project by GEV is certainly set in stone!