By Swami Harshananda
saḍadharapratisthā (‘establishing [the image in a temple] over six bases’)
The most important part in the building of a Hindu temple is the construction of the garbhagṛha (the sanctum). Raising the floor of this part up to the image consists of several steps. Since this process comprises the establishment of six major components, it is called ‘ṣaḍ-ādhāra-pratiṣṭhā’ (ṣaḍ = six; ādhāra = base; pratiṣṭhā = establishing).
See HINDU TEMPLES for details.
Next comes śilānyāsa or foundation stone laying ceremony. It is the laying of the first stone (square in shape) or brick signifying the start of construction. It is laid in the north-western corner of the building plan, drawn on the ground after excavating the foundation to the required depth. After this, the construction of the foundation is taken up.
The foundation is built and the ground filled up, up to the plinth level, except in the middle portion of the garbhagṛha which is filled up to three-fourths only. In the centre of this place, the ādhāraśilā (a base stone) is placed, over which are deposited the following articles in that order: a pot (called
nidhikumbha), a tortoise and a lotus, all made of stone; a tortoise and a lotus made of silver; a tortoise and a lotus made of gold. From there, a funnel shaped tube called yoganālā, made of copper leads upto the plinth. The whole thing is covered by another stone slab called brahmaśilā. Later on, the image of the deity is established over this. This is called ṣaḍādhārapratiṣthā.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore