--> Skip to main content

Vimana In Hindu Temple – Importance – Religious Significance

Vimana is the towered sanctuary in Hindu temple containing sanctum sanctorum in which the murti of Hindu Gods and Goddess are installed. It is of great importance from architecture point of view and an indispensible part of a Hindu temple. Vimana, also referred to as Shikhara, is thus of great religious significance in Hinduism.

Various types of Vimana

 Different shapes of vimana can be seen in different parts of the country. The Odisha form has a high curved profile with a deeply curved element known as Amalaka surmounting the Shikhara (Vimana), with a simple finial or kalasha at the top. It is also called a deul.

The Dravidian form known as stepped pyramid tapers to a great height. The central Indian form is a conical vimana which tapers but in a continuous profile, with smaller structures attached to it.

Hastiprstha (apsidal vimana) is a structure with one end curved and the other squared. Vimana is regarded as visible manifestation of Brahman. 

Symbolic Meaning of Vimana

 This visible form tapers, in a yearning movement of ascension, towards akasha (the heaven like the mystical Mount Meru. The basis of the upward movement is the tala or rhythm, and from this endless rhythm is created the divine form. 

Measurements Of Vimana

 The measurement of the vimana are based on the sacred linear module developed for the specific temple known as Ayadi measure. The measure, in its smaller fractions, is taken as the width of pilaster on the sanctum wall or height of image in the sanctum or the perimeter of the lingam, or the intercolumnar distance on the outer wall. One of the basic modules developed in the outer width of the sanctum called kalpuravai. The total height of the vimana is a multiple of this basic module. Some of the standards recommended are a width to height ratio of 1:1-3/7. 1:1-4, 1:2. These proportions are known as santika, pastika, jayada and adbhuta. 

When Vimana Is The Seat Of God

 In certain contexts, vimana is also known as prasada or the seat of the Lord, which has anchored itself. Prasada is seen as the essence of Shivam and Shakti, the supreme cosmic principle. It is believed that the cosmic energy is manifested in the prasada through nada or the eternal vibration. The physical center of the sanctum is known as prakara bijam. The confluence of bijam (visual seed) and the bindu (aural seed) creates the entire prapancha (cosmos) of the temple building. Out of the combination of the luminous seed and the nadam (mystical sound) the entire creation is manifested. 

Brahma Yandhra In Vimana

 Within the structure of the vimana an opening is taken through various levels, at the center of the structure all the way to the top. This opening is called Brahma yandhara (luminous axis) which is comparable to the central axis which lies in the subtle body of the individual, along which the chakras are found. Therefore, the subtle body of the Divine one is the space contained within the vimana, which is luminous in nature, and is constantly being replenished by the Brahman into which it mingles through the kalasha. The ordinary devotee who comes in front of the sanctum through his/her devotion is constantly connecting himself/herself with this Divine energy and touching both the center of his/her jivatma (individual being) and the Paramatma in the outer cosmic space, simultaneously.

Source – The Hindu Temple (2002), Written by Stella Kramrisch, - Motilal Banarsidass New Delhi
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume XI – page 357 – 58 – IHRF
Vimana Aircraft of Ancient India and Atlantis (1992) – David Hatcher Childress and Ivan Terence Sanderson – Adventures Unlimited Press, USA.