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Pradakshina (from Sanskrit : दक्षिण dakṣiṇa, "capable, skillful, right-wing, righteous"), also parikrama , Tibetan kora ( སྐོར་ ར , Wylie : skor ra ), denotes those in India , Sri Lanka , Nepal and Tibet for thousands of years practiced ritual circumnavigation of a sanctuary ( tree , lingam stone, stupa , cult image , garbhagriha , temple, mountain, lake etc.). The pradakshina is an essential element of the Buddhist and Hindu religious practice. To a lesser extent, the Jains also practice this form of worship or honor.


The origin of pradakshina is lost in the darkness of history. It is believed that - long before the erection of temples - tree sanctuaries, springs, fireplaces and striking rocks or stones were the first objects of cultic veneration - nature spirits and nymphs ( yakshis ) lived in them . Evergreen trees in particular ( poplar figs or banyan figs ) still play a certain role in the religious life of the population in rural regions - they are decorated with flower garlands and colored strips of paper and incense sticks are lit at their feet. The worship ceremony also includes spraying with water and walking around the trunk or the area of ​​the treetop.

Why the walk around the sanctuary is always clockwise is ultimately an unanswered question. When walking around in a clockwise direction, the object of worship is in any case on the right hand, which is considered “pure”. The left (“unclean”) side is associated with magical practices. Followers of the pre-Buddhist Bon religion in Tibet walked around the sanctuary in an anti-clockwise direction.


A relief from Gandhara shows Buddhist monks converting a stupa in a Chaitya hall.

The pradakshina is first encountered in a mature form in Buddhism, where architectural elements and sculptural representations bear witness to this form of cultic veneration. Two of the three large stupas of Sanchi ( Madhya Pradesh ) or the stupa of Bodnath ( Nepal ) have both ground-level and elevated paths of transformation ( pradakshinapathas ).

The stupas located within the Chaitya halls of the Buddhist cave monasteries were also walked around, although the close walk around (touching the stupa, later also the Buddha image) was possibly reserved for monks, while the distant pradakshina in the outer gallery ('aisle' ) was probably intended primarily for the common population (pilgrims, lay people).

In Tibetan Buddhism , the ritual circumnavigation is called kora . In addition to the casual turning of the prayer wheels, extreme practices can also be found here. Many Tibetans go around a temple or a stupa and ultimately even Mount Kailash by throwing themselves to the ground again and again and measuring the entire way with their bodies, which is why they move forward extremely slowly and with great effort. Inside the temple, the mostly very large Buddha figures are usually located on the back wall (rarely also on the side walls) and thus - unlike the stupas - cannot be walked around.


Outline sketch of the pradakshina at the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho

Unlike Buddhism, Hinduism knows an abundance of religious (sacrificial) practices, so that ritual circumnavigation is not of central importance. But even in early free-standing temples ( Gupta temples ), the presence of raised platforms ( jagatis ) indicates the desire of the faithful to walk around the sanctuary as usual. Many later temples also have such platforms; In some buildings, however, pradakshina is excluded from the outset due to their location on a river bank or on a rock wall (e.g. Maladevi temple in Gyaraspur ). In the architecturally mature constructions of the heyday of Indian temple building (10th - 12th centuries) there are even three possibilities for practicing pradakshina : walking around the cella ( garbhagriha ) within the temple building, walking around on the outer platform ( jagati ) as well as walking around the entire temple at ground level.


The pradakshina hardly plays a role in Jainism , because the Jainas belong to an educated population group that has more intellectual access to the sphere of religion. In addition, in many Jain temples the cult images of the Tirthankaras are lined up in wall niches, which makes walking around impossible from the outset; In addition, the Jain temples generally do not have jagati platforms.


One day Shiva asked his two sons Karttikeya (also: Shanmugam ) and Ganesh (also: Ganapati or Vinayaka ) to circle the universe in order to get to know it better. While Karttikeya stormed away on his mount ( vahana ), the peacock ( mayura ), Ganesh, who was considered lazy and immobile and whose mount is usually the mouse or rat ( mūṣaka ), sat for a long time ... Then he got up and circled his father; He explained this behavior with the words: "Because the whole world is in you, I have circled the whole world."


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