The temples in India were mostly constructed in one of three or four patterns; other temples became just copies of these. The domes of the temples were based on the model of the sky. There was an underlying purpose to this. If I sit under the open sky and repeat “Aum,” my voice will get lost, because the strength of an individual voice will be enveloped by the vastness of the sky. I will not be able to hear the reverberation, and the echo of my chanting – all my prayers will get lost in the vastness of the sky.
Domes were constructed so that the resonance of our prayers can rebound on us. The dome is just a small, semicircular prototype of the sky. It has the same shape as the sky touching the earth on all four sides. Whatever prayers or chanting are done under its canopy, they do not get lost the way they would under the vast sky because the dome throws them back towards the worshipper. The rounder the dome, the easier it is for the sound to travel back, and its echo increases in the same proportion. As time passed it was discovered that stone too could multiply the resonance to a tremendous degree.
There is a Buddhist prayer hall in the Ajanta caves where the stones echo sound with the same intensity as that of the Indian musical instrument called the tabla. If we strike those stones with the same force as is used in playing the tabla, they will give out the same volume of sound. Ordinary stone used in the construction of domes does not possess the capacity to echo certain very subtle sounds, so this specific type of stone was used.
But what is the purpose behind all this? The purpose is that when anyone chants “Aum,” and it is done very intensely, the dome of the temple makes the sound reverberate, forming a circle of the echoing sound. The dome of the temple, by the very nature of its design, helps in the formation of a circle by echoing the sound. Such a sound circle is a blissful experience. If “Aum” is chanted under the wide open sky no sound circle will be formed, and you will never experience this bliss.
When the formation of the circle happens, you are no longer just a humble worshipper before the divine, you become a recipient as well – in other words, the one whose prayers are being answered. And with that resonance the divine experience begins to enter you. Although the sound produced in the chanting is human, when it is echoed it resounds with a new force and is full of new energies.
These dome-shaped temples were used to create sound circles through the chanting of mantras. If one chants there, sitting all alone in perfect peace and silence, then as soon as the sound circle is formed thoughts will stop. On the one hand, the circle is formed, and on the other, thoughts come to a stop. As I have often said, a circle of energy is formed even in the act of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman; and when the formation of such a circle takes place, that is the moment pointing toward superconsciousness.