Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple
Sadhguru speaks of the history behind the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur (also known as the Tanjore Big Temple) and its extraordinary architecture. Built over a millennium ago by Rajaraja Chola, the immense temple is a masterpiece of architecture. But something went wrong during the consecration of the Brihadeeswara temple. Sadhguru explains why the need to build the adjacent Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple arose. What was missing in the first temple?
In the… In the last two days I have had the opportunity of being in two different places of two different kinds, but with the same intention but two different kinds. I was at the Thanjavur temple and yesterday I was also at the Gangaikonda Cholapuram. All of you have seen both the places? Have you? No? So Thanjavur is a temple where externally they managed to build a magnificent temple of phenomenal beauty and proportion, a thousand years ago, when there were no machines, there were no cranes, when there were no vehicles to transport huge rocks that were necessary to build this temple. All by the dint of man’s effort; it’s not a simple effort if you… if you want to understand what kind of effort, I’ll give you a simple project. Now we’re building the Adi Yogi Alayam. So I want the rock which is in the Spandha Hall to be shifted to the Adi Yogi Alayam. I want you to do it all of you together. No machines. You know the rock? Then you will understand what it is; because that’s what they did. They say the rock that was used to make the linga was brought from Saurashtra, in Gujarat, from the banks of Narmada, weighing almost 250 tonnes of raw stone, crossing Vindhyachal. No trucks. I want you to just imagine what kind of people are these? What was in their heart to propel them into such an almost impossible acts. So after all that effort, they built a magnificent temple but the core of the temple failed, they could not consecrate the linga as they wanted. It did not work.
So even today, people believe misfortune will come upon them by going to this temple. You know, it’s common knowledge, people think you will come to misfortune if you go to Thanjavur temple, which is not wholly correct but partially correct, because it’s a kind of a… a distorted energy form; it did not find completion. So almost 42 years of work and then the very heart of it failed upon them. So Raja Raja Cholan who attempted this… The only intention of building such a magnificent structure is to see that generations of people will benefit, that it will leave an impact on people that it will be an uplifting experience for generations of people to come. When it did not happen, I can imagine his distress and pain of that wasted effort; not just of the individual effort but thousands and thousands of people would have worked for it, they would have emptied the state’s coffers, probably they fought battles to bring in the necessary resource and in the end did not find completion.
So his son probably wanting to bring some peace to his dead father, he built an exact replica of that temple but he did not have the courage to attempt the same scale probably for practical purposes. He brought down the size considerably, attempted similar thing, trying to do it in a much faster time span. So making it into not so glorious work of art but functionally as good. So the temple structure did not turn out as it should have. They piled up rock and built it, structurally it’s good but in terms of aesthetics they could not match Thanjavur temple, but they managed to consecrate the linga.
So one place where there is grandeur and beauty on the outside, but the inner core did not work, another place there is inner strength but there is no grandeur and beauty on the outside. This has been the story of the world in many ways - where there is outside well-being and affluence, inner emptiness; where there is inner strength and beauty, poverty and other kinds of things where the outside is not taken care of.
A time has come in terms of where the world is that in terms of the outside situations we are capable like never before, as human beings. We’re capable of doing things which were unimaginable hundred years ago. Now that we have an external capability of this kind, it’s extremely important that we don’t become another Thanjavur as each individual - outside beautiful, inside empty. As individual people, as societies, as nations, as humanity, we should not end up like this unfinished temple. And… I was trying to go through the whole drama in my mind; I was trying to go through the whole drama. What it would have taken for them to build this temple and how it would have felt to see it incomplete, and how much pain this young king, Raja Raja Cholan’s son must have borne to hurriedly try to put up another temple, which is of similar design but of a much smaller scale and trying to bring it alive. The whole drama I tried to play it in my head and it’s quite a trauma. It’s… It’s life and it’s very, you know, very large-scale, enormous magnitude; people playing out their life in a very large-scale scape and the pain of not being able to fulfill that and the longing and desire to fulfill that; a fulfillment which is not of the personal kind. It is seen as a… as something that you have to do for the people around you. This is a struggle and a pain and the fulfillment that every human being who longs to create something of phenomenal proportions to happen in this world… Not everybody meets success. Not everybody experiences the scale of failure that this great king might have experienced.
So at this juncture, where humanity is compelled to make decisions about scaling down their exterior, not because of their own consciousness but because of ecological compulsions, a time has come when humanity has to scale down its outside grandeur substantially if they want to live for a long time. If we as a species, if we as a race have to exist on this planet for long enough, a time has come we have to cut down our plans for the outside. So when such a time has come, it’s best - because you cannot curb human aspirations in terms of wanting to do great things - so it’s very important that we start rolling out grand plans for the interiority, otherwise a human being will feel trapped that he cannot find expression to his creativity, he… he cannot find expression to his wanting to do something more than what he’s right now. So it is definitely time to roll out plans, very mega scale plans about the interiority of the human being. But even for that we need some outside infrastructure which we are trying to fulfill in the next coming couple of years, a year or two, and we want to roll out really grand plans for every human being as to what you can do within yourself. There are incredible things that one can do within himself, which can easily keep a human being busy for a lifetime, and if you keep… if you do such incredible things, at least you will not have the problem of planning one more lifetime, because if you do such incredible things, then existence will see that you have to cease, you’re too much.
We need lots of people right now at this juncture to stand up. It doesn’t matter what you’re capable of, what you’re not capable of, all that it takes is… because as far as I am concerned - I’m not concerned about people’s talent, we know how to manufacture talent, but that is possible only if you subject yourself without any will of your own to the process. We can make anything out of you. We have the necessary technology. So we are not really looking for talent. If you have talent it’s useful. If you don’t have any, but if you are… if you have unwavering commitment or devotion, you’re much more useful because now talent can be manufactured, anything can be built. If you have that one steady foundation in you, that your commitment and devotion does not waver, if that one foundation is there, we can build any kind of structure upon that. I’m looking forward to see a display of that kind of commitment and devotion in the coming few months because we’re looking at building things, which are of… which will be of immense value to human life on this planet, but that cannot be done without the fundamental stability that the focus of your life does not change even for a moment. If it changes it loosens everything. You cannot build a structure on a moving foundation. Hmm? You can only build it on a stable foundation. I hope lot of you, or many of you, will work towards that, to bring that stability within yourself so that we can create and offer something of value to yourself and everybody around you.