Back Story: Hindu Temple Of Central Indiana

Learn and find connection amid the visual and spiritual food for thought in this spectacular sanctuary.
Photography by Sai Prasad Sanka/Indianapolis Monthly

AMONG THE MANY traditional carvings on the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana’s main entrance are two contemporary figures, a little girl reading a passage from the Rg Veda—the most ancient of Hindu scriptures—in Sanskrit and a boy reading the same line in English: “The Truth is One, though the wise may call it by many names.” Therein lies the principle that flows through every aspect of the temple’s design: There are many paths to the divine. It’s conveyed in myriad details, from the architecturally distinct styles of the four ornate towers soaring above the temple representing different streams of Hindu thought, to the wall of pens symbolizing the “1,008 names of God,” to the worship hall’s diverse shrines allowing adherents from separate traditions to observe in their own ways. Hundreds of carvings invite study and interpretation, like a saxophone on a pillar and a depiction of the Universal Self with all of life merging with and emerging from its human-like form, faces and arms fanning out like decks of cards. Viewed from below through a skylight, the latter gives one a sense of awe—and vertigo. The temple is a resource for all to visit and shed prejudice to discover more about their own path or that of others, whether through a tour, a class, a public festival like Holi or Diwali, or worship.