On the occasion of the Summer Solstice in the temperate zones, June 20, 2020,
a memory of the temple of Surya at Modhera in Gujerat.
Kathleen Raine, 1908-2003, British poet and cofounder in 1990 of the Temenos Academy, London
The Temple of the Sun, Modhera, Gujerat
Within the flower there lies a seed,
Within the seed there springs a tree,
Within the tree there spreads a wood.
In the wood there burns a fire,
And in the fire there melts a stone,
Within the stone a ring of iron.
Within the ring there lies an O,
Within the O there looks an eye,
In the eye there swims a sea,
And in the sea reflected sky,
And in the sky there shines the sun,
Within the sun a bird of gold.
Within the bird there beats a heart,
And from the heart there flows a song,
And in the song there sings a word.
In the word there speaks a world,
A world of joy, a world of grief,
From joy and grief there springs my love.
Oh love, my love, there springs a world,
And on the world there shines a sun,
And in the sun there burns a fire,
Within the fire consumes my heart,
And in my heart there beats a bird,
And in the bird there wakes an eye,
Within the eye, earth, sea and sky,
Earth, sky and sea within an O
Lie like the seed within the flower.
The Temple of the Sun in Modhera in northern Gujerat
It was built originally in 1026 in such a way that the sun fell on a bejewelled idol of Surya, the Hindu sun deity.
This idol no longer exists because it was plundered.
The temple itself was more than once attacked and partially destroyed by invaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There are two structures: both fundamentally circles.
The first has four corridors of columns leading into its circular center. It is all open and full of light.
The second structure has an area closed to the light which means that when you enter that building, you enter an area of penumbral shade.
The two structures making up our world of dark and light.
There is a closed area closed where Surya once resided: people kneel there in veneration.
The carvings are extensive and, in the second structure, include erotica of great beauty.
The colour of the stone of which these structures were made is a warm golden sand, which in sunlight leaches to shades of ivory.
The grounds also contain a stepped well (baoli, vav) of the loveliest symmetry.
A small shrine is behind the temples: a place of green and quiet. To Lord Shiva attended by Nandi, his steed and chief acolyte. A tortoise precedes Nandi.
The grounds of the small park are kept in pristine condition.