Thought behind the thought:
In India every evening at dusk, most homes will have a lamp lit in the household shrine. Light signifies enlightenment. It paves the way for knowledge and prosperity. It is a normal practice to chant evening prayers and sit in quiet, in complete solitude trying to be one with the creator. These quiet moments allow you to gather your thoughts, think about your actions through the day and mentally refresh you to take on challenges of tomorrow. All day you have questioned your existence and whether you have reached the place you wanted in life. In these quiet moments you realise that in the bigger picture, what you are and where you are, should be the same thing.
About the art:
What stands in our path towards personal growth are mostly we ourselves. Faith in a higher order or in a person or even in a cause helps us conquer ourselves. India is a land that abounds in places of worship belonging to a large number of religions. Jainism is one such religion that is an ancient and a prominent one in India. The Palitana temples located on the Shatrunjaya Hills by the city of Palitana in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, India is a remarkable Jain temple city. Considered one of the holiest of all pilgrimage places by the Jain community, this temple-city was built as an abode for the divine; no one is allowed to stay overnight, including the priests. People of the Jain community believe that a once in a lifetime visit to this group of temples is essential as a chance to achieve nirvana or salvation. The meaning of Shatrunjaya is "place of victory against inner enemies" or "which conquers inner enemies.
The Palitana temples were built over a period of 900 years starting somewhere in the 11th century. They were destroyed by Turkish Muslims invaders in 1311 AD. The rebuilding began soon under Samara Shah. It was two centuries later that it picked up momentum in 1593 following which there was a major building activity here. What is remarkable about the temples is not just that they are incredibly crafted marvels in marble but the statistics of the complex is staggering as well.
There are hundreds of temples with estimates ranging between 863 and 1,008 present on the hill. Temples are arranged in systematic groupings with variation in height and space. They are grouped in nine separate wings or tuks, each wing having a separate central shrine or temple with minor shrines surrounding it. Many of the temples are very small buildings of only about 3 square feet in area (0.28 m2). These are decorated with Jain emblems, and sacred to Mahavira.
Amongst the larger temples are the Chaumukh temples, which were large halls used for holding discourses, are present. They are four sided buildings with doors located such that images would be visible from all four sides or directions. The four sided buildings are considered auspicious as they allow view from all directions. The religious texts of Jainism also suggest building "cities of temples" like Palitana and Ranakpur.
The architectural detail and intricacies of the temple are awe-inspiring. The marble floors have elaborate tessellated patterns. The interiors are intricately ornate, with carved ceilings of geometrical lace designs, clustered together to form a canopy. The entire cluster is a fabulous example of architecture of this style. Obviously highly skilled craftsmanship under the supervision of stringent patrons has resulted in this marvel. Legend goes that the sculptors' skills and capacity to carve intricate designs was paid on the basis of the marble dust that they had collected every evening after their hard labour. Maybe, in the modern world too one needs to introspect at the end of each day, “What is the dust that I have gathered today”?