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By Swami Harshananda

Amṛtakalaśa literally means ‘chalice containing ambrosia’.

During samudramanthana (churning of the milk-ocean) several celestial objects manifested themselves, the last of which was amṛta or ambrosia in a golden vessel (kalaśa) carried by Dhanvantari, the celestial physician, considered as an aspect of Viṣṇu.

The finial of a temple is shaped like the amṛtakalaśa, symbolizing immortality, the state to which the devotee aspires to rise.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore