Architectural Design of the Temple Steps
During my study, I noticed that the design of the temple had steps that led directly down from the temple into the water flow, thereby creating an architectural edge. I learned that the steps were pathways of ritual significance. Each step symbolized the next part of a religious practice that had been passed down from generation to generation. One side of the river focused on the transition into the next life, which included blessings, the burning and parting of the physical body. The other side of the river had stairs that were reserved for rituals of blessing, offerings, and the absolution of sins in the current life. My discovery revealed a duality that arose from the differences between purity and cleanliness. Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher, describes purity is a reality that penetrates the body and cleanses the soul, whereas cleanliness is something that rinses the dirt off of our bodies. People’s interaction with the river was, therefore, a practice of both purity and cleanliness that was rooted in a search to be pure upon entry into the next life. My challenge was to incorporate a design related to the ritual of cleansing for the “here and now” (daily life) and not just as a transition ritual into the next life.
Step typologies in a section perspective demonstrating religious dependence on the river in cremation rituals at Pashupatinath Temple.
Model of cremation steps portraying the next component of the ritual in the downward slope into the Bagmati River.
EAST VS WEST: The Myths that Mystify by Devdutt Pattanaik
"Every culture is trying to understand itself. Why do we exist? And every culture comes with its own understanding of life, it's own custom version of mythology. Culture is a reaction to nature. This is transferred from generation to generation in the form of stories, symbols and rituals which are always indifferent to rationality.”