Konark Sun Temple

Written by Silpi Patnaik

From the Lens of Dharmapada 

Located exactly at Latitude 19N and Longitude 86E is the 13th century old place called Konark (Puri, Odisha, India), the globally known Sun Temple, which has interesting bits of science and history associated with it.  Konark Sun Temple is special because it is uniquely constructed in form of 100foot high chariot of the Sun God. Yet this UNESCO world heritage site has a very mysterious aspect to it which is largely infamous. The latent cause behind the infamy of this breathtaking architecture can be traced back to the bewildering story of a 12-year-old boy named Dharmapada– a child prodigy in architecture, who sacrificed his life to save twelve thousand craftsmen. While visitors hear about Dharmapada’s brief journey as a captivating piece of folklore from the monochromatic descriptions of tour guides, some serious historical readings land us on confounding plateaus which are utterly shady. 

Dharmapada was born and brought up in an inconspicuous village in Odisha. Right from childhood Dharmapada had displayed deep inclination towards architecture. He had read and reread all critical scripts related to it. He was extraordinarily gifted in this regard. Dharmapada was singlehandedly raised by his mother while his father Bisu Maharana, the famous architect of the time, was employed as the chief architect in construction of the Konark Sun Temple by the then king of Odisha, Langula Narsingha Deva.   

Forever away from his father, Dharmapada had always pined to meet him. It was on his twelfth birthday that he pestered his mother to divulge the address of his father, so that he could at least have a brief meeting with him. Unable to cast aside the requests of her teenage son, Dharmapada’s mother finally gave in and the twelve-year kid set out on a journey to meet his father. Little did he know that this meet would eventually turn out to be a sorrowful and an eventful one.  

Dharmapada reached Konark after days of travel, met his father, they both got shrouded with inexplicable happiness and the air around was immensely infantile.  Yet after few moments of exchanging hugs, kisses and words of love, Dharmapada discovered that his father and his team were muddled in some profound professional trouble. Upon enquiry, he found that the Konark Sun Temple had been under construction since twelve prolonged years. Although majority of the building was nailed yet the final keystone, the ‘Kalash’, was not yet placed on top of the illustrious temple.  It was exactly where the 12000 craftsmen had failed multiple times and this had been a matter of extreme concern for the king. The wrathful king had allowed one more day to the team of architects to place the keystone, failing which would lead to the brutal beheading of all the 12000 of them. 

Distressed, disturbed and delusional, Bisu Maharana had almost lost all hopes. But Dharmapada surely brought a beat of life into their dead minds. He was not only talented but was incredibly gifted in matters of architecture. He studied the manuscripts of the project very keenly and after few hours of research identified the fundamental fault. He prepared the new design that would fit as the key stone of the temple and hold the architecture together. Dharmapada, along with his father Bisu Maharana, prepared the keystone overnight and within a couple of hours the Kalash was ready to be placed on the notch. At the stroke of midnight, Dharmapada climbed the top of the temple, erected the Kalash on top of it and shone bright with the satisfaction of having rescued his father and his inmates. 

Ecstatic and euphoric, the happiness of the craftsmen knew no limits. But the phase of joy subsided in a breath when people in and around apprehended that the king might not be kind to the failed artisans. He would still behead them all considering them to be a bunch of incapables. Such dire anticipations made Dharmapada make a nihilistic decision. Since the kid was full with divine knowledge and never had a shred of pride in his veins, he went right on top of the temple and leapt into the azure sea underneath.  

At the maw of the day, Dharamapada committed suicide with an aim to rescue the lives of 12000 craftsmen along with his father. The satisfaction of having been of some use to his father was enough to provide meaning to his life. The budding boy sacrificed his life for the greater good and for the larger interest of the society. Dharmapada’s leap from the peak of the temple would have surely shaken the soul of the Sun who sat on the wheels of the majestic chariot. “ 

Here in ends the popular folklore which is packed with selflessness, devotion, love, sacrifice and definitely strokes of melodrama. Some serious historians are of the opinion that history has always been twisted to depict society in the most positive and acceptable fashion. They have strongly argued that the concept of sacrifice and suicide is much beyond the understanding of a 12-year kid; that Dharmapada was victim of mass conspiration; that Dharmapada was murdered by the 12000 craftsmen who were boggled and blinded by the thought of becoming prey of the king’s wrath.   

This big question still broods over Konark like a cluster of dark cloud. 

History is popularly a cocktail of facts and fiction, the latter being of larger quantities.  Since the current society is a reproduction of its historical past, there lies within it a vigorous desire to gravitate towards the golden and the glorious. It is this want of society to stay pure that makes it limited in terms of history. The sifting between facts and fiction hardly happens and we complacently settle down for the most radiant and favourable version of stories.  Twelve-year-old Dharmapada’s lore is one such mysterious episodes in the humongous ocean of world history that has volumes of truths, untruths and falsities wrapped around it. Although it had been depicted in the purest of manners, yet there are deep and dark secrets sepulchered in the pot of Dharmapada’s ashes. Probably some day we will get to know the exact turn of events. ‘Satyameva Jayate.’