For example, images of ashtadikpalakas can be seen in many temples on the ceiling of the central pavilion (Māhamandapa) facing the main deity.
One of the best preserved friezes of these images is at the temple at Avani, Kolar district. There are superbly carved figures of Uma Mahesvara surrounded by the Ashta Dikpalakas, divine guardians of eight directions of the universe. Each one of them is depicted on their vahanas: Indra on elephant, Agni on goat, Yama on buffalo, Nirurti on horse, Varuna on crocodile, Vayu on deer, Kubera on Man, Isana on bull. Ashta means eight, “dik” means quarters or directions and ”pālas“ means rulers. As their collective name suggests, they rule the eight quarters or the eight directions of the universe and act as their chief guardian spirit.
When we make an atma-pradakshina (revolving around one self) in front of God, we are not only saluting the self with in, the God in front, but also these divinities that are around us in all directions. As guardians of the sky, Ashtadikpalakas watch over us from eight different directions and keep an eye on all our activities as we enter the temple!
It is also interesting to note that there are no goddesses among them, just as there are none in the navagrahas too!
Horoscopes continue to play a major role in arranged marriages in India. Number eight plays a crucial role in that too! Marital compatibility in horoscopes is assessed on eight parameters. Each of the parameters gives a certain amount of marks, adding up to 36 marks. If the couple has at least 18 marks, it is considered safe to proceed!
The number eight also figures when we offer Saashtaanga Namaskaaram. Sa means with, Ashta means eight and Anga means limbs, Namaskara means prostration. Saashtaanga Namaskaara means, reverential prostration performed with eight limbs (Ashta-Anga) viz. two hands, two legs, two arms, chest and forehead touching the ground as a mark of respect, obeisance and total surrender to the deity.
Of course, God is everywhere and in every direction. In whatever direction you proceed or offer your prayers, you will ultimately find Him. There is a famous story of a saint stretching his feet in the direction where there was a god’s statue. When people objected to it, he asked them to show the direction where God was not present, emphasizing the omnipresence of God.
If you look carefully, symbol for infinity is like an 8 on its side!
Glimpses At: photos.app.goo.gl/XjFtWxE7xFfYknMy5
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