A Journey Through Indian History,
Our guide now leads us on to cave 16, the Kailash Temple, considered to be Ellora's masterpiece. At first glance, it looks like a multi-storied Hindu temple built from the ground up, but is actually carved out of solid rock from the top down, making it the largest monolithic carving on earth. Our guide conducts us slowly and carefully through each area of the temple, explaining each of the carvings. These include the great epics of India; the Ramayana and the Mahabarata, as well as the pantheon of Hindu deities including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Our guide asks if I understand the significance of these three principle Hindu deities. I respond that they represent creation, sustenance, and transformation. "Quite true," he replies, "but at an even deeper level, they symbolize the essence of the Vedas themselves. Veda means a way of life in which the individual is in complete harmony with the family, represented by Brahma, the creative force, and secondly with the community, represented by Vishnu the sustainer. Through finding harmony in the family and the community, the individual is able to release his own individual ego, represented by Shiva, the deity of transformation.
One series of sculptures depicts a loving couple and all of their different moods. Each carving of a couple is followed by a figure that is both male and female with one masculine foot and one feminine foot. He explains that the importance of these carvings is that the family and the relationship between the couple is the very foundation of Vedic life. The androgynous figure shows that the husband and wife have become one in body, mind, and spirit.
I inquire if, on a deeper philosophical level, the couples represent the solar and lunar aspects of our personality while the male/female figure represents the true Self beyond polarities. "Yes, you are quite right," he replies, "but that integration doesn't manifest simply by practicing Yoga or meditation. It only happens through bringing integration into every aspect of our daily lives. The foundation of a harmonious life is the relationship between husband and wife within marriage. Through cultivating deep awareness within the relationship, the couple awakens the archetype of unity as a lived reality, thereby opening the doorway to the true Self.
At that moment Lilian and I both gained a deeper awareness and understanding of the depth and meaning of our marriage: a path for finding complete harmony and integration within the relationship that is the foundation of recognizing that place beyond all dualities within ourselves. In some mysterious way, as we leave cave 16, our lives and marriage have been transformed forever by this "chance meeting" with our mystical guide.
As we are leaving the Kailash Temple, our guide points out that the entire horizontal structure symbolizes a spinal column with the chakras along it. The linga, at the innermost chamber of the temple, is the crown chakra. He also shows us that the entire temple structure is carved in the shape of a chariot. This he says "is the chariot of life. When we enter the way of harmony, we ride through life effortlessly."
It feels like we have been in the caves for a few minutes but as we check the time, we see that our tour has lasted three hours. We have not just visited a historical site but entered into a magical and spiritual realm in which the timeless revelations of India's great religions have been revealed to us.
Our journey through the history of Indian spirituality, however, is not yet complete...