The Circle and the Wheel and the Sundoor


[aras-image:7Ao.014,a,10,,,Figure 22 Colossal wheel from the Sun Temple.]

According to Heinrich Zimmer the entire Indian temple complex at Konarak is designed as a chariot for Sunya, the sun god. Its immense wheels measure ten feet in diameter. The lavish surface decoration and the detailed exuberance of the carved erotic figures, proclaim the joy ride of the god. A.K. Coomaraswamy observes that the exterior surfaces of Indian temples profusely elaborate all forms of human activity while the interior is empty or may have a simple figure, or perhaps a lingam.13 Metaphorically the structure itself creates an image of Indian metaphysics which contrasts the endless repetition of human activities with the empty center focused on the divine. The worshipper walks through the welter of the world into the quiet and then returns to the phenomenal world. Hence the movement in and out expresses the pattern of retreat and return of the religious life.