Namuh was eighteen, so was his friend, When they had come to visit a full- time monk, To gain the sutras, teachings of Mahayana.
They had escaped the tiles of porcelain, to sit on a rickety wooden floor, Of a stilt house on a lake, which bore no furniture.
He fixed his eyes in front, Not on the sound bowls, zafu, prayer beads and statues of the Sakyamuni, But the anthropometric niche created in the centre of the paraphernalia.
Honorable Mention | RTF Essay Writing Competition April 2020
Category: Adaptive Re-Use As A Way Forward
Participant: Kanchi Parmar
While they waited, A novice entered adjusting his orange robes, In the niche, he placed a cushion, on a table, and made no eye contact till he vanished at the door.
The time had come for the monk to arrive, Namuh thought, They straightened their back, felt calm, eyes closed, Imitated the mudra they net-surfed a day before.
“Buddham Saranam Gacchami” “Dhammam Saranam Gacchami”, buzzed from the top, Namuh now knew it was the enlightened smart projector, resting on the cushion, which flashed its aura on a screen and on their closed eyelids.
“I go to Buddha for refuge, I go to Dhamma for refuge”, buzz continued, Namuh heard the sounds but could grasp only the murmer from his friend, “I told you, you can get dharma in departmental stores, or even on the internet”.
Religion has reinforced the system of every sapien. It not only enhanced, twisted, turned, mould, lift, plop, and change their lifestyles, but overpowered them, making the bhavishya or future, the very protagonist.
Well, the architecture of a place lives in the future before it is a part of the place. While religion is a journey from the present upto the afterlife, the built around one is a journey from the future to their Today. Nevertheless, both are unlocked by the past.
The tie-up between religion and architecture pours the peninsula of India, and the spillage is all over the South- east Asia. Buddhism bestowed on us with the stupas, Hindus with the mandapas, Jains with the rock-cut, and Islam with the onion domes. Over the years, even before not many divisional lines existed on the atlas, beliefs and faith has shaped this patch of the globe. Religion has always left its residual treasure in the built form of what makes it todays heritage.
Today, religion shouts its presence, like we appreciate a full-scale depicture at an airport of Thailand, of the famous mythological event “Churning the ocean of milk” which once could find itself in the intricate bas reliefs of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Oh Angkor Wat! An enchanting huge heritage site, a Buddhist temple complex, is one of those who recites stories of the past. If you walk a few miles away from the Angkor, there breeds a masterpiece showcasing Khmer Modernism as envisioned by Architect Bensley. This hospitality project named Shintamani is one of his many projects which attempts to sieve the characteristics of heritage only to bring the essence of heritage in his modern buildings. From the impressive offsets of horizontal lines to the stone sculptures, all are abstracted in his design.
Few like Bensely wishes to pace up with the moving time yet promising a reference of the past, while some would start from scratch, more like a wound.
‘Today’ in the timeline showcases that consumerism is the new religion. Today the horizon of many cities spread across South and the South-East, are like clones but with minorly different carving. Furthermore, the key is now in the custody of tangibility – Modernization, technology, instant media, instant karmic effects, and instant Money.
‘Architecture is a process that adds new layers of history to places.’– Vincente Guallart.
So which layer does our heritage belong to? Is it the first layer, because they were christened before all modern? Or the last layer because they are breathing underneath all modern? Is this why heritage is often weighed against ruins? How dilapidated it is? How important or valuable it is? Whether it should exist or not?
‘Any city’, according to Kevin Lynch, ‘is legible if it is diverse with the combination of moving and stationary physical parts.’ Buildings that heir from the past, the history of that time, belongs to the latter. One solo reason why this heritage, immobile, physical elements beautify the image of any city is because it is anchored to witness what’s always has been changing around it, with it. Yes! It is stationary, yet it changes too. One understands this if he has enjoyed a cup of coffee at an elite coffee shop, in a refurbished parcel of Amber Fort, Rajasthan. Or even a Mumbai thriven man, who works inside a Gothic and Art Deco. A mere walk on the streets of heritage Mumbai reflects the past each time it is exposed to the eyes of a curious spectator.
If life is a circle in two-dimension, then it must be a spiral in three-dimension. Because if it has started from point zero, it only comes back to it after moving forward in time. Heritage buildings is our point zero. It is like a backdrop where we can look up to if we have changed too much out of the coop with time. Because the old were not naïve, technology is just smart.
It is also true that there once came inner peace from within, now from within comes a deeper threat to religion and heritage. Only if we juxtapose for just-a-pause! A juxtaposition of what we see and what has prevailed before can be trickled down to a very individual level of choice.
“When mockery replaced mythology, and the monk became a thing of the past, when the digital screens had too much to share, he looked in front of the mirror and smiled to gain that NAMUH shall first reflect a HUMAN.”