By Swami Harshananda
Parivāradevatās literally means ‘deities surrounding the main deity’.
Definition of Parivāradevatās
In every temple, in addition to the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum, there are other deities surrounding it generally called as parivāradevatās. Smaller shrines are also built to house them according to the directions given in the iconographical and architectural works.
Designation of Parivāradevatās
These parivāradevatās may be members of the immediate legendary family of the main deity or other deities associated with it like:
- Personal attendants
- Guardians of quarters
- Commanders of troops
These deities are situated in the inner round. Other deities may be installed in two outer rounds. Though there is thus a provision for three rounds but the last one is rarely executed.
Parivāradevatās of Śiva Temple
The direction in which each of these shrines should face is also specified. For instance, in a Śiva temple, the following are the parivāradevatās:
- Nandi or Vṛṣabha, the Bull - It is situated in east direction.
- Brahmā or Durgā - It is situated in south-east direction.
- Saptamātṛkās or Seven Mothers like Cāmuṇḍā - It is situated in south direction.
- Gaṇeśa - It is situated in south-west direction.
- Saṇmukha or Subrahmaṇya - It is situated in west direction.
- Jyeṣṭhā or Alakṣmī - It is situated in north-west direction.
- Viṣṇu - It is situated in north direction.
- Surya - It is situated in north-east direction.
Parivāradevatās of Viṣṇu Temple
The Pāṅcarātra texts give a different list of parivāradevatas surrounding the chief deity in a Viṣṇu temple. They are:
- Sanctum means garbhagṛha.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore