Temple In Terms Of Their Symbolism Cultural Studies Essay

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Hindu temple is a place of worship for Hinduism followers. Most of the Hindu temples will have the presence of the statues of the Hindu deity (Hindu God) which the temple are dedicated. While most of the temple will dedicate to only one primary Deity which is the main deity of worshiping while the other deities will be associated with the main deity. However, some of the Hindu temples are dedicated to several Deities as well as murtis in an aniconic form. Most of the Hindu temples around the world are located near places such as hill top, near waterfall, rivers and caves. This is because Hinduism believes that the Puranas which means the important religious text of Hindu, jain and Buddhist mention that "the gods always play where groves are near rivers, mountain, and springs.

Different regions do have different ways of presenting their temples in terms of symbolism and forms of the temples but the aim that they are against are the same. While every of the Hindu temples do have their own historical background. In Southeast Asia, there are a lot of famous Hindu temples especially in Cambodia, Champa, East Java, Malaysia and Indonesia. By analyzing the difference and similarities of Hindu temple in terms of symbolism, form and historical, 2 Hindu temples from different country are chosen which are Angkor Wat and Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple (Batu Cave). Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple in the world which are locared in Cambodia. While Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple consist the largest statues of Lord Murugan which was located in Malaysia.

Angkor Wat is a modern name which means "city of temple" in Khmer. Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura by King Suryavarman 2. According to the Shaivism tradition which is one of the most widely followed sects of Hinduism; Angkor Wat was constructed to dedicate to Vishnu, a very famous Hindu God. In terms of the architecture point of view, Angkor Wat is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It is a combination of two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture which are the temple mountain and the galleried temple which are based on Dravidian Architecture. On the other hand, it was also designed to represent the mountain which is named Mount Meru. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls. The temple has also become a symbol of Cambodia which was use on the flag of Cambodia.


Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple which was also called Batu Cave that is located in Malaysia was named under the name of nearby river which was called Batu River. Batu Cave is a limestone hill which consists of caves that are created into cave temples. It is discovered on the year of 1890 by an Indian trader. This cave gives an inspiration to K.Thamboosamy Pillai which is an early Indian trader to promote as a place of worship. This cave temple is dedicated to the Lord Muruga by the inspiration of the 'Vel- shaped entrance of the main cave to the founder of the temple cave, K.Thamboosamy Pillai. In this Batu Cave temple, it consists of 3 main caves and a few smaller caves. The biggest cave is referred to the temple cave which has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. Therefore, at the base of the hill, there are two more cave temples which are the art gallery cave and museum cave which exhibiting the Hindu statues and paintings.



Between two of this Hindu temple, there are a lot of differences as well as similarities in term of their symbolism, form as well as the historical relationship with archetype. In term of differences on symbolism, Angkor Wat was designed against the shape of Mount Meru which the Hindus believe that Mount Meru is the home of Devas in Hindu. The central quincunx of the towers symbolizes the five peaks of Mount Meru. In other hand, Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple has different symbolism in term of the designed. Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple was naturally defined with almost its original shape on the exterior of the cave as a Hindu temple after a noted tamil trader, K.Thamboosamy Pillai experience a holistic touch at this place. It is also believed that the main entrance of the cave with the 'Vel'- shape which look similar to a divine spear which are the weapon of Lord Maruga, give the inspiration for K.Thamboosamy Pillai to construct a temple to dedicate to Lord Maruga. Instead of that, there are also differences on the orientation of this both Hindu temples. The orientation of the Hindu temple are mostly followed the main deity which the Hindu temple are dedicated to and also most of them will be facing to the east where the rising sun are which are followed by Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple. Hindu's believe that the facing of east are symbolizing the rising of god. While for Angkor Wat, it has a very different orientation compared to Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple as well as other Hindu temple. The main tower of Angkor Wat is facing to the west direction instead of east. In Hinduism in Southeast Asia, west symbolism death. The main tower of Angkor Wat were designed to face the west symbolize the dedication of the temple to Vishnu as well as the tomb for the King Suryayarman II. King Suryayarman intended the central tower monument to be his tomb as well as a temple so that he can live together with Vishnu. Angkor Wat was symbolized by the 5 tower of the temple while Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple are symbolize by the huge Lord Maruga statues.


Other than differences there are also several similarities in term of symbolism between the both Hindu temple. In terms of orientation, Angkor Wat was designed to face the village as well as Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple which is following the direction of the deity that the temples are dedicated. Hindu's believe that by constructing the temple facing to the village symbolizes the God is looking after their village as well as bringing health and prosperities to their village. Other than that, Angkor Wat was designed against the Mount Meru while Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple is designed against the existing natural cave spaces which was believe that in Hinduism, both the mountain and cave are the homes of Hindu Gods which are written in the purana, the important text of Hinduism.


In term of forms, there are huge differences between both of the temple, Angkor Wat and Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple. Angkor Wat was designed following the style of khmer and Dravidian architecture. Angkor Wat was form by a three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower with each level higher than the last form a overall pyramid structure and each gallery has a monument tower which are named "gopura" at each of the point while two of the inner galleries with towers on each of them at the corners which forms the quincunx with the central tower. The central structure which are surrounded by a rectangular forms apron of open ground and a moat. Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple which also influence by Buddhism in terms of the forms of the temples. Angkor Wat was constructed according to the forms that are designed unlikely to Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple. Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy main temple is a caves which are form by limestone around 400 million years ago. Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple is constructed by its original forms of the cave which are discovered by an Indian trader name K.Thamboosamy Pillai. Pillai using the original forms of the cave to construct into temple to dedicate to the Lord Maruga. The temple are remain the original forms neither on the exterior or interior of the cave with constructing the staircase for access and the Hindu shrine for the deity on the interior of the cave for putting in the statues of deity by using the Dravidian architecture style on the earlier of the temple. The main temple which is also known as the cathedral cave houses have several Hindu shrines beneath its high vaulted ceiling. The huge golden statue of Lord Muruga and 2 of the smaller temple below the cave temple are constructed later than. The smaller temples are constructed in the form of rectangular with the Dravidian architecture style as well. Other than that, Angkor Wat used 2 different type of architecture style to develop on the form of the temple while Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple only concentrate on 1 architecture style.


Instead of differences, there are also similarities in forms on this both temples. The forms of Angkor Wat were design under Khmer architecture and also the influences of Dravidian architecture whereby part of the forms of the temple are in Dravidian architecture style which are similar to Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple. Other than that, the tower of Angkor Wat are form in a conical shape with the arranging of the statues of deity on it which are similar to the smaller temple of batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple where the roof are also arranged with Statue of deities. Instead of that, the interior of the Angkor Wat are design in the way of secret cave which are almost similar to the interior of Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple.


In terms of historical relationship with archetypes, there are huge differences on Angkor Wat compare to Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple. Angkor was started when the people of Khmer from India came into Cambodia. Angkor Wat is constructed from ground into a building while Batumalai Sri Subramania Swamy temple was a existing cave. Angkor Wat was constructed on the 12th centuries during the reign of King Suryavarman 2. It was constructed as the king's state temple and capital city by the style of Khmer architecture. The construction of Angkor temple has ended shortly after the king's death leaving some of the bas-relief decoration unfinished. Angkor was sacked by Chams which are the traditional enemies of the Khmer. After 27 years of the death of the king, the empire was ruled by a new king who is named Jayavarman Vll. He established a new capital and state temple which are name Angkor Thom and the Bayon. Therefore in the late 13th century, Angkor Wat started to change after the arrival of other religion such as Theravada Buddhist and others to Cambodia. The unfinished bas- relief decoration are than continued and influence by the Theravada Buddhist. Where by the temple are continued on the decoration by using the style of Dravidian Architecture which are influence by other religion.

On the other hand, Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple was started on the late 19th century by a normal Indian trader instead of a powerful people compare to Angkor Wat. Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple was form by limestone which is said to be around 400 million years ago. Some of the cave entrances were used as a shelter in the olden days by the Malaysia indigenous people which are called the "orang asli". Whereby on the early of 19th century the cave has become excavation guano for fertilizer for the vegetable patches by the Chinese settlers before the Indian trader, K. Thamboosamy Pillai discovered the place. The Indian trader promoted the caves as a temple when felt holistic when he discovered the place and also inspired by the 'vel shape' of the main entrance of the cave which has the similarities of the shape of Lord Muraga divine spear. Therefore by using the only Dravidian Architecture style, the Indian trader constructed the shrine in the cave to dedicate for the Lord Maruga. The huge Lord Muruga which has become the symbol of the temple was built after as well as the two smaller temple on the entrance which are also designed according to the Dravidian Architecture. Compared to Angkor Wat, Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple has not many changes in the design of the temple. While Angkor Wat has changes in the designed when the death of the King which are the creator of the temple.


In terms of the similarities on the historical relationship with archetype, Angkor Wat was facing to the village which is according to the history of Hinduism puranas which are similar to the Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple.


In conclusion, hindu temple in different region do have their own difference and similarities in term of symbolism, form as well as the historical relationship with archetypes. From the analysis that is made, there are more differences instead of similarities on the 3 terms that are mention on the comparison of Hindu temple on different region such as the both temple that are chosen for comparison. Both temples bring the culture and history of Hindu from India to their country as well as Angkor Wat has become the symbols of Cambodia's flag while for Batumalai Sri Subramaniar swamy temple has become one of the attraction places of tourist in Malaysia which symbolized Hinduism that are separated in Malaysia. Besides that, the design and forms of both the temple brings the historical architecture styles of Hinduism from local india into the country which are they are located.