The Aishwarya Lakshmi Amman Kovil , the first philosophical temple of its kind stands 4 floors tall on Ramakrishnan Road, Wellawatta; the only other temple of its kind is located in South India.
According to its Founder and Chief Incumbent, Kambavarathi E. Jeyaraj, the architecture of the temple is designed to convey the philosophy it is built on. The kovil has four floors and each floor is symbolic of a devotees’ climb to enlightenment. The pinnacle, which stands 58 ft high, seems to touch the sky, and is empty, as if reaching out to God. This temple also encompasses other religions by having pictures of Jesus Christ and The Buddha along with Lord Shiva. All of them reached enlightenment and are equally appreciated.
The first floor invites those who need an outside form to relate to God and is named Urava Walipada (the path with form). This it has nine statues inside, two at the entrances and twelve outside. The main Goddess here is Aishwarya Lakshmi Amman with Durgai Amman and Saraswathi Amman on either side of her. These Goddesses symbolize the essence of what all humans desire; valor, wealth and intellect. There is also a Vishnu statue with a face of a lion; this is the only place in Sri Lanka where such a statue can be found.
The pictures which deck the walls of the kovil were originally painted by the artist, Manniyam, in India, and they were then enlarged by the Sri Lankan artist, Gnanaguru.
The second floor is smaller in size than the first, with no statues except a 7 ft structure of ‘Shivalingam;’ here the devotee learns to internalize his/her religion but has not reached the height of spirituality yet, as s/he still holds on to a form of God. Fewer people reach this level and even fewer reach the next level (the third floor), thus the sizes of the rooms become smaller at each level.
The stairs to the next level are even steeper than the previous level, symbolizing the difficulty of the spiritual journey to the next level. The third level is empty except for the pictures of Jesus Christ, The Buddha, Guru Nanak Dev (Sikhism) and Mahaveer (Samanam). According to Jeyaraj, this is because, “our saint, Swami Mannika Wasigaran, said he salutes all those who have excelled in faiths other than Hinduism.” This room called Aruwa Walipada (the path with no form) is to inspire the devotee to reach the heights of spiritual enlightment as those of the other great religions have done before him. The devotee thus abandons all forms of all idol worship and internalizes his faith and accepts meditation as a form of worship.
Courtesy of Ceylon Today