The Agni purana text has several chapters on how to build
temples and idols of gods and goddesses are described, including the
that must be used so as to please specific gods and there are
prescribed forms for such bathing as well. A Person who builds temples is blessed. Even if one merely thinks
building temples, the sins of a hundred lives are forgiven. A builder of
single temple goes to heaven (svarga). A builder of five to shivaloka, a
builder of eight vishnuloka and a builder of sixteen temples is freed
the shackles of being born again and again. What is the point of earning
money if one does not build temples? Money is also meant to be donated
alms to brahmanas, but the punya or merit earned from building a temple
greater than the punya earned from donating alms. The merit earned by
builder of temples is greatest for a golden temple, lesser for a stone
temple, still lesser for a wooden temple and least from earthen Temple. More punya is acquired from building an idol than from building a
Idols of gods and goddesses should always be set up so that they face
city; they should not face away from the city. The easy is for Brahma's.
Vishnu idol can be setup anywhere at all.
Different idols of Vishnu must have different forms. Consider, for
idols or images of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The matsya (fish)
must naturally look like a fish and the kurma (turtle) avatara must look
like a turtle. But the varaha (boar) avatara will four arms like a man
will hold a gada (mace), a padma (lotus flower), a shankha (conch shell)
a chakra (bladed discuss) in these four arms. The narasimha avatara
have two arms holding a chakra and a gada and should wear a garland. The
vamana (dwarf) avatara should hold an umbrella and a stick in his two
Parashurama will have four hands with a bow. arrows, a sword and an axe
these hands. Rama's image can have either two arms or four. If there are
four arms, the four hands will hold a bow, arrows, a conch shell and a
chakra. Balarama's image may also have either four arms or two. If there
two arms, the four arms the hands will hold a plough, a conch shell, a
and a chakra. Buddha's image should have a calm appearance. It should be
seated on a lotus. The ears should be elongated Kalka's image is that of
brahmana, seated on a horse and holding a bow and arrows, a conch shell,
sword and a chakra. Krishna's
image may be either two-armed or four-armed. Three of the four
arms will hold a gada, a chakra and a shankha. The fourth palm will be
opened out in the act of granting a boon. On either side of Krishna's
there will be images of Brahma and Shiva. Brahma has four faces and four
arms and the image should have a pronounced rides a swan . On either
Brahma's image, there will be images of Sarasvati and Savitri. Vishnu's image has eight arms. Seven of the arms hold a sword, a
arrow, a bow, a shield, a chakra and a conch shell. The eighth palm is
spread out as if Vishnu is granting a boon. Vishnu should be shown
Garuda. Garuda will also have eight arms. To the right of Vishnu's
there should be images of Lakshmi and Sarasvati, Lakshmi holding a lotus
Sarasvati holding a veena (a musical instrument). There has also got to
and image of Vishnu exhibiting his universal form (vishvarupa). The
Vishavrupa image has four heads and twenty arms.
Chandi's image has twenty arms. The ten arms on the right hold a
sword, a shakti (a small spear), a chakra, a pasha (noose), a shield, a
and any two other weapons. The ten arms on the left hold snakes a rod,
axe, an amkusha (used for driving elephants), a bow, a bell, a flag, a
a mirror and a cub. In front of Chandi's image there will be the image
buffalo with its head cut off. The image of an asura will be shown
from the body of the buffalo. The demon's hair, eyes and garland will be
in colour. It will be shown to be vomiting blood and it will hold
its hand, The demon's neck will be on the lion and her left leg will be
the demon's back Images of Chandi may sometimes also have ten sixteen or
Shiva's image (linga) may be made out of earth, wood, iron, jewels,
silver, copper, bronze or mercury.
Places Of Pilgrimage
A visit to a place of pilgrimage (tirtha) brings the same punya
obtained from performing a yajna. It is because people had not gone on
pilgrimages or donated gold and cows in their earlier lives that they
born poor in their next lives.
The best place of pilgrimage is Pushkara, Brahma, other gods and
wish to go to heaven live there. The best time to go to Pushkara is in
month of Kartika. In Pushkara itself there are two other places of
pilgrimage known as Jambumarga and Tandulikashrama.
It is difficult to go to Pushkara. But there are several other
well. One such is Kurukshetra, where Vishnu and the other gods keep on
coming. The river Sarasvati flows near Kurukshetra. If one bathes in the
Sarasvati, one attains brahmaloka.
Any region through which the river Ganga flows
also becomes a tirtha. Even
if one sees the Ganga, the punya of per forming yajnas is attained. A
who bears earth from the bed of the Ganga
on his head is freed of all sins.
Prayaga is another famous place of pilgrimage. Brahma, Vishnu,
Indra and the
other gods, gandharvas, apsaras and the sages are always there in
This is because the two holy rivers, Ganga
and Yamuna, come together in
Prayaga. There are many tirthas inside Prayaga itself. The sages have
that, in the month of Magha, if one bathes for three days in Prayaga,
is better than donating crores and crores of cows. If one donates alms
Prayaga, one goes to svarga and is born as a king in one's next life. If
dies in Prayaga, one goes straight to vishnuloka.
Shiva himself had told Parvati that Varanasi
was a very holy tirtha and that
Shiva never left the city. Varanasi
is so named because it is located at the
junction of two rivers, Varana and Asi. Varanasi is also known as Kashi.
The river Narmada
is also sacred.
There may be several holy tirthas, but Gaya is the
holiest of them all. A
demon named Gayasura once started to perform and such were the powers of
tapasya that the gods began to suffer. They went to Vishnu and asked him
save them Vishnu agreed and appeared before Gayasura. "Accept a boon,"
"Grant me the boon that I may become the most sacred of all tirthas,"
replied the daitya.
The boon was granted and Gayasura disappeared. The gods returned to
but felt that the earth seemed to be deserted now that Gayasura had
disappeared. Vishnu then instructed Brahma and the other gods to perform
sacrifice. He also asked them to go to Gayasura and ask for his body so
the sacrifice might be performed on it. Gayasura readily agreed, and as
as he agreed, his head fell off from the body, Brahma then proceeded to
perform the sacrifice on Gayasura's headless body. But as soon as the
sacrifice started, the body began to shake. This meant that the
could not be properly performed and a solution had to be found. The
was that the gods should all enter a stone which would be placed on
's body so that the body would not shake. The sacrifice could then be
performed. Vishnu himself also entered the stone. It is because the gods
Vishnu are always there in Gaya
that Gaya is sacred. The world is divided into seven regions (dvipas). Their names are
Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Krouncha, Shaka, and Pushkara. The seven
are surrounded by seven oceans and the names of these oceans are Lavana,
Ikshu, Sura, Sarpih, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.
Right in the centre of Jambudvipa is Mount Meru.
Mountains named Himavana,
Hemakuta and Nishada are to the south of Meru and mountains named Nila,
shveta and Shringi are to the north of Meru. Jambudvipa is known by that
name as there are a large number of jambu (jamun) trees in this area. On
top Mount Meru
is Brahma's famous city.
Under the earth is the underworld. This too, consists of seven
their names are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatsala and
Patala. The daityas and the danavas live in the underworld. Vishnu is
there in the underworld, in his form of the great snake Shesha. The
Shesha holds up the earth on its hood.
That part of the sky which is lit up by sun-rays is known as Nabha.
the earth is the sun, above the sun the moon, above the moon the stars,
above the stars Mercury, above Mercury Venus, above Venus Jupiter and
Jupiter the constellation of the Great Bear (saptarshimandala). Beyond
constellation is the world of Dhruva.