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The Concept of Dwajasthambam – Metal Arrestor

The Dwajasthambam of a Hindu Temple is indeed an interesting element to explore. It acts as a major medium to connect the people from the Heavens to the Earth (at least that’s what they believe in). However, if we consider the distribution of Energy across the universe; it acts as a spiritual connector between the earthlings and the Supreme Being. Dwaja, as a Sanskrit word gets translated to ‘Flag’ which means whatever that is raised. In the religious terms, Dwajasthambam is nothing but an element which raises the man to a higher level of physical activity as well as understanding. The flag also stands for hope, wisdom and as well as a fight against ignorance.

According to widely spread belief, Dwajasthambam gives the devotee a view about the idol inside from a long distance. Therefore, based on God, the shape and size of the Dwajasthambams change. Usually, most of them represent the pride and prosperity of the temple. Few ancients texts suggest that the bottom of the Dwajasthambam symbolizes Shiva, while the middle stands for Brahma and the top for Vishnu.

“Garba Gruha Sirahapoktam antaraalam Galamthatha
Ardha Mandapam Hridayasthanam Kuchisthanam Mandapomahan
Medhrasthaneshu Dwajasthambam Praakaram Janjuangeecha
Gopuram Paadayosketha Paadasya Angula Pokthaha
Gopuram Sthupasthatha Yevam Devaalayam angamuchyathe”

–  Viswakaramyam Vaasthu Sastra.

Cultural Beliefs around Dwajasthambam:

Dwajasthambam is also known as Kodimaaram is incorporated in the Hindu Temple science in order to guard people against the social setting of the Temples. The Ancient Hindus have highly believed that the Dwajasthambam should indeed be included in constructing the temple. The top portion of this flagpole has three different perches considered as three different branches, pointed towards the Sanctum. As said earlier, all the three parts of the staff represent righteousness, propriety, and reputation symbolizing the Trimorphic. Initially, Dwajasthambams used to be temporary and were only used during the festival period or any other auspicious occasions. But later, they became pretty permanent and a part of Temple Architecture.

Some banners that are often hosted in the temples are often tied to the Dwajasthabhams in order to make people understand the message. The banner contains details about the diety and as well as the incarnation about God and why he is given such a huge importance. Dwajasthambam literally stands for ‘flagpole’ which is placed between the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Rajagopuram of the temple. Most of the times, it is either made of wood or out of brass with a golden coating. A cloth flag is hoisted during the Brahmostavam season. If the God residing inside is Shiva, you will find a Nandi figure on the flag and if it’s Vishnu, you will find a Garuda figure on the flag.

The relation between Dwajasthambam and Human Body:

In the article that dealt with the Science behind Hindu Temples, we have known that Agama Shastras compare the shape of the Temple to the human body. Just like an invidious soul which is enveloped by five sheaths (Annamova, Manomaya, Pranamaya Vynanamaya, and Anandamaya); the Deity which is installed in the temple has to give prakaras.

The main parts of a temple are:

  1. “Garbhagraha (Sanctum Sanctorum) containing the image of God.

  2. The Vimana over the Sanctum.

  3. Ardhamandap in front of the Sanctum.

  4. Prakaras around the Sanctum.

  5. The Gopura, the main gateway of the temple.”

The human body is divided into five different sections say Neck, Head, Chest, Legs, and Feet. Similarly, the Temple also have five corresponding areas like the Garbhagriham (Sanctum Santorum) which acts like the head, the Sanctium (The soul of the body), The Vimana (The tip of the nose), the Ardhamandapa (The neck of the body) and lastly, the Maha Mandapa (The chest of the body). Prakaras that are present around the Sanctum represent the five different senses which are why Nivedana and Palibidda are offered to the deity. The Kodimaram/Dwajasthambam represents the Jeevadhara which has an endearing power along with the Gopura, the gateway of the temple representing the feet.

Most of the Hindus believe that Indian Temple is just a reflection of the physical human body.
According to the Tirumular “our body is a temple”. According to the Kathopanishad “This body of ours is a temple of the Divine.”

Where Dwajasthambam is placed?

Dwajasthambam is actually placed between the main sanctum and Rajagopuram as mentioned above. The Devatas who represent Yupa, Chakram and Sankam usually reside here. A tree which has a height of around 15 feet and more is usually collected and is clad with brass to form the Dwajasthambham. The special flags are raised during the festival sessions that are conducted exclusively for Lord Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi. During the first few days after the raise, pooja is formed to felicitate Dwajasthambam.

Scientific Reasons behind Dwajasthambam:

Whenever there’s a lightning, it strikes the ground and causes severe damage. When it strikes the ground, a metal arrestor should be placed in order to conduct the charge and pass it slowly to the ground. Usually, these metal arrestors are placed at the highest point of the area in order to enable it to conduct the charge easily. As you notice in the temple area, Dhwajasthambam is the highest point and therefore, it can be used as a metal arrestor. While struck by the lightning, the temple and the surrounding area would not take any direct damage. It protects the temple and the surroundings from the natural calamities like lightning and thundering.

This is what people might have believed when they come with the phrase that says, ‘Heaves to the earth’. As it conducts, the charge from the dark clouds to the earth through the lightning, an electrical term used for the nonpotential area. This is why Dwajasthambam has an Antenna like structure that receives all the cosmic rays to the Gopuram of the temple. As a flagpole, it is erected also to centralize the energy towards the temple. In a few temples, the Dwajasthambam is situated just outside the main hall where the deity is located. The devatas are believed to follow the people who visit in the Temples. It also believes to carry the God’s power in the temple. This Dwajasthambam is holistic for the same reason and has conducted various poojas for the flag hoisting.

A person who visits the temple should prostrate even before the Dwajasthamba and not between the idol and the flagpost. The number of prostrations depends on the main deities and as well as the architecture of the temple. Before visiting the idol, the deity inside the pradakshina varies from 1, 3 and 5. The significance of pradikshina depends on the idol and is usually done in a clockwise direction. By doing pradakshina, the diety is kept at the center equidistant from all other regions. The grace and energy with which the person enters the temple with his soul have immeasurable energy. When you do pradakshina, you have divinity wind around you. Also, as the energy is distributed across the temple; the barefoot transmits energy from the earth to your body.

However, all these things are not possible in temples like Tirupati where there is a huge crowd. In such cases, one has to get satisfied with Atmapradakshina. Dwajastambham which is usually put on special occasions is also known to be a symbol for Backbone and Spine. Near the Dwajastambham, all the South Temples have the Bali Peetam. Rice and other kinds of anointments including fruits and flowers are offered by the priests in order to progress and praise the presiding deities in the temple. The significance of the Garuda Dwajastambham is that he removes the sarpadosha in the body and can guide us to God.

Dwajasthambam Functionality:

#1 The Construction of Dwajasthamba:

The ancient scriptures that talk about the Dwajasthambam mentioning that Temple is not just a home to the God but is the form of the God, himself. By comparing the human form of God to the temple structure, we are establishing a connect here. In order for this to happen, the Girba-Griha is known as the Head of the God, Mahamandapa being the stomach and Gopuram, being the feet.

#2 Dwajasthambam Parts:

Panjaratra Agama based:

Yashti – Indra
Rajju – Anandan
Dwajam – Vihakesanan
Valayam – Vasuki.
Bhedika – Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra
Mani – Lakshmi
Mala – Saraswathi
Padma Madhyam – East (Garuda), South (Pakshirajan), West (Suparnan), North (Vinatasutan)
Pradamavaranam – Sankam, Chakram, Musalam, Katkam, Gadha, Sarngam, Padmam, Vajram
Dwitiyavaranam – Lokabalakas
Mekalai – Mandalatrayam
Dhandakre – Vinatasudam

That being said, let us discuss more the Hindu Temples and their science as they progress from being the traditional temples to the Iskon style temples. While there are a lot more elements that are to be explored, the concept of Dwajasthambam is only found in a few temples these days and without our knowledge, they will be soon extinct as well. We have to dig the history books in order to get knowledge about them which is why we are here to come up with more informative and intuitive historical stuff.

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