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  Lepakshi Temple ShaktiLingam

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It’s just 120 km from Bangalore. And so early Friday Morning, in two hours we draw up at Lepakshi Temple. Shoes deposited we walk up the stairs, past glorious sculptures of elephants, demigods holding snakes, voluptuous apsaras. We step into the temple.

And there’s a slight disappointment.

For it is as if there is very little power to be felt.

Where’s the power?

Then a young, priest welcomes us in, impeccable English with a slight foreign returned trace to his voice.  A little puja begins to uncloak some of the inner force. The main deity is a dark figure with a trishul lance, that looks surprisingly modern.

As we go around the central sanctum there are alcoves for numerous Gods, and Goddesses... Adding to the mystique are a few bats that flip past. This is not a prettified place. It is real. Before some alcoves we begin to feel ancient forces. The mrest suggestion.

Lepakshi Temple Carvings

The priest, clearly a warm, and deeply committed man invites us to stay for the abhishek of a Goddess at a curious angle. {Abhishek roughly translated is a combination of  bathing-clothing-worshipping-blessing.} Chanting mantras that open up inner doors, the dark exquisitely detailed sculpture, is bathed, milk, coconut milk, haldi, and then slowly adorned. The ritual is centuries old and mesmeric. Somewhere deep a great force enters the space, the ceiling seems to lift off {Incidentally with 5 century old fading  frescos} the ground beneath trembles, the body shivers… Celia is swept up in the ritual, Tarun seized in the mouth of an ancient force. As we are drawn up, we recall and draw to us our many babies across the last 30 years. And so if you experience dreams, be not surprised.

At one level the Ritual is like a dance. Golden garments, silken saree expertly draped… But at another level it is an unveiling of something so vast and glorious, human words like Gods & Goddesses seem an apology.  Later we ask our spirit guides “what was present?”

The Abhishek has been dedicated to a pair of young sisters, one is just turning 12, the other a slender limbed, olive skinned beauty. But all around in the small gathering is deep faith and welcome. Seeing Celia and I separated a devotee makes space. The warmth of Lepakshi humanity is so heart-warming.

What do temples house? Let us return to the question: “What was present?” Were we as Celia asked experiencing the power of mantras? The priest and helpful internet reveals that Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Veerabhadra and MahaKali are worshipped there. We are told that  it is here a giant bird fought Ravan, wings cut off, it is blessed by Lord Ram. Yes, we know the stories. But? Who or what resides in The Lepakshi Temple?

Looked at with aura eyes I get a spiral force crowned with a thousand stars. Which means an earth or elemental force crowned with superlative intelligence. Our spirit guides reveal that ‘true temples or ancient temples are not just places for men to worship. They are places at nodal points of existence.  They are places where deep earth forces, some from the birth of the galaxy or beyond are revealed more clearly.”

Now here is a question we have asked ourselves repeatedly. And we will approach the same question from other angles in other articles, there are 3 long overdue ones. Especially a temple pilgrimage we made half a decade ago with Chitra, Vikram & Shweta. A trip to a hill and a forest shrine. A revisit of a church. And a very non-temple, temple.

Blessing from Lepakshi

Our Awe becomes Awesome. We step out of the darkness of the temple into sunshine… As we take a circle around the temple our awe becomes towering. For we are, the whole temple is seated on a massive rock, some 3 acres large or more.

As we turn a corner an incredible sculpture blazing with force confronts us. A shakti coiled around a lingam. Carved into a massive rock, we are blessed, raised high, glorified. The sheer size of it humbling.

Furthur down we encounter a giant carved Ganesha. Is it just decorative Celia wonders and gets a huge jolt. One of our spirit friends and children looks at us with a how can you ask?

Ganesha Scuplture at Lepakshi Temple

Lepakshi temple is generous long corridors with pillars probably housed commoners. We got the image of a dancer. Then there are further delights. More carvings and pillars. In fact, one cannot walk through this temple without mentioning them. Incredibly the temple rests on massive pillars. But the pillars are engineered such that they hang! One can pass paper and cloth beneath some. How can a pillar of several tonnes bearing a giant temple be so light there is space between it and the ground?

Pillars of Faith and Proof of God? As we experience The Lepakshi Temple’s incredible power, the modern doubting mind refuses to be silenced. Is all this Tarun & Celia are experiencing, just the mind playing games?

Celia was feeling the energy of various pillars. She saw ancient sculptors, she saw pillars brought by bullock carts, she saw hills cut down ancient pulley systems, the clothes of ancient overseers. Then suddenly with one pillar she exclaimed “What’s going on?!” She saw it being made by a sculptor wearing a watch. Hello how can an ancient 16th C temple be carved by a man wearing a watch? She wondered. She looked again at that pillar, it was a modern restoration by the ASI of a pillar that had got damaged! A helpful caretaker confirmed which pillars were remakes!

The Proof of God

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru believed, dams, bridges, factories are the temples of the modern mind.

There can be little doubt of the power of nukes, satellites, dams… But equally we see these are the iceberg’s tip.  

The Universe rests on the back of gigantic forces, principles, mysteries… also approached by humble pilgrim’s foot.

Tree at Lepakshi Temple

By Celia & Tarun Cherian.
{PS: The Lepakshi Temple is in Andhra Pradesh. so early morning and winter months are climatically sensible.}