The term “timeless” often bestows approval upon enduring creations, be it a piece of clothing or a work of art. This longevity is exemplified in traditions and rituals, particularly in religion. Among these, Hinduism stands as one of the oldest, consistently thriving for thousands of years. To explore its enduring essence, let’s journey back to 600 CE – 1,000 CE and visit the Ellora caves in Maharashtra, India.
Over 100 ancient temples were carved into the basalt cliffs of Charanandri Hills at Ellora. For four centuries, these caves served as sacred abodes for Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist deities, attesting to the unyielding devotion of countless worshippers. As an Art History enthusiast, I’ve always marveled at the roots of the art around me, such as neoclassical buildings in the US capital and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago.
In 2017, I found myself amidst the well-preserved ruins of Ellora caves, over 1,000 years old, witnessing inspirations that have echoed through generations. Exploring Hindu monuments, I observed the fading sculptures of deities like Shiva and Parvati, surrounded by intricate carvings of animals and figures. The subsequent millennium saw the emergence of various Hindu mandirs across India, sharing key elements like ancient stone carving techniques, central shrines, and elaborate motifs, symbolizing peace.
Even new mandirs, like the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in New Jersey, embody millennia-old traditions. White Carrara marble, symmetrical floral patterns, and encircled deities epitomize Hinduism’s essence. This is felt in modern mandirs worldwide, offering devotion and tranquility. This ancient art and architecture symbolize faith, philosophy, and devotion, propelling Hinduism into the 21st century.
Mandirs serve as a spiritual haven, connecting people with God. As Hinduism extends beyond India, these structures act as ambassadors of serenity and beauty, captivating even those outside the faith. Personally, visiting mandirs triggers authentic introspection and connections with life’s core aspects, making Hinduism an eternal source of solace.
– Dhira Patel, Detroit, Michigan
Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Volunteer, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha