These stations are called:
The sites of these seven correspond to the sites of the sacral plexus,
the prostate gland, the navel, the heart, the larynx, the pituitary
gland and the pineal gland respectively. The ground plan of a Temple
closely follows the ground plan of a human body with these seven sites.
The diagram shows the correspondence. The Tamilian, therefore, when he
worships God externally in a Temple, worships Him actually as enshrined
in his own body.
There is usually a tank in the outer precincts of the Temple, where the
worshipper washes his feet, hands, and face, and wears the sacred ash on
his forehead, and other parts of his body – sixteen places altogether
in the prescribed manner. These places are the vertex, the forehead, the
chest, the navel, the two knees, the two shoulders, the two elbows, the
two wrists, the two sides of the thorax, back, and nape of the neck.
Such wearing of the sacred ash corresponds to donning an armour with its
several pieces such as the helmet; visor, breast-plate, cost of mail,
epaulets, elbow-pieces, wrist-guards, knee-covers, neck-plate and so on.
Hence Manikkavacakar exhorts the devotees to ‘don the armour of sacred
ash.’ This external ablution stands for an internal ablution, purifying
the heart and mind.
The Temple has usually five prakarams i.e. courtyards separated by high
walls and inter-connected by entrances, four in number, on the East,
West, North and South in the outermost wall, and only one on each of the
other walls, usually on the eastern section thereof.
These five courtyards represent the five sheaths of the human body; the
annamaya kosa (food sheath), the pranamaya kosa (breath sheath), the
manomaya kosa (mind sheath), the vignaamaya kosa (intellect sheath) and
the anandamaya kosa (bliss sheath).
The devotee crosses these entrances to the innermost court. This
crossing represents the control of the five senses. At the flag post, he
assumes a firmness of faith, a resoluteness of purpose, the purpose of
worshipping God with one-pointed mind. At the sacrificial altar, he
sacrifices his anava malam, the taint of ignorance. He proceeds
now to worship God in the sanctum sanctorum where the ever-burning light
represents the eternal Effulgence.
Key to the Diagram