There is a new landmark in Colombo’s spiritual landscape — a Thatthuva Kovil or a Philosophical temple — which is conceptually different from the other Hindu temples in Sri Lanka.
Conceived and executed by Kambavarithi Jeyaraj, a Jaffna Tamil, with financial help from former Indian Minister S Jagathrakshakan, Thatthuva Kovil is based on the revolutionary concept underlying Avudayar Kovil in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu built by the saint-poet Manikkavasagar.
“In the sanctum sanctorum of Avudayar Kovil, there is no idol. And though it is a Siva temple, there is no Nandi! This temple is meant to cater to the highest spiritual state of Gnanam. In Colombo’s Tatthuva Kovil, there are four floors, each floor representing a stage in man’s spiritual advancement. Devotees may worship at any floor they want to, depending upon the spiritual level they have reached,” Jeyaraj told Express.
Explaining the concept of spiritual stages, Jeyaraj said that in order to achieve divine wisdom or Gnanam, one has to go through the state of Sariyai also known as Bhakti Yoga, and then go on to the state of Karma Yoga, also called Kiriyai, and thence to the state of Raja Yoga, which is also called Yogam. It is from Yogam that one reaches the state of Gnanam.
“On the ground floor, dedicated to Sariyay, there are idols, as idol worship is the most common form of worship. Most devotees gather here. On the next floor, dedicated to Kiriyay, there are no idols, but only representations of concepts. In the third floor dedicated to Yogam, there is neither an idol nor a representation. Instead, there are paintings of the Cosmos (by Manian Selvam of Tamil Nadu) and of Gnanis like Vyasar, Patanjali, Thirumoolar, Buddha, Mahaveera, Jesus and Guru Nanak.
The fourth and top-most floor is an open terrace overlooking the sea, and is meant for meditation. The temple is conical, indicating that fewer and fewer travel up the spiritual scale,” Jeyaraj said. “But the Tatthuva Kovil enables the devotee to travel up the spiritual scale within the same complex, unlike other temples that cater to only one stage,” he added.