[excerpt] We live in a world of manifest phenomena. Yet, since the beginning of time, man has intuitively sensed the existence of another world: a nonmanifest world whose presence underlies — and makes endurable — the one he experiences every day. The principal vehicles through which we explore and communicate our notions of this nonmanifest world are religion, philosophy, and the arts. Like these, architecture too is generated by mythic beliefs, expressing the presence of a reality more profound than the manifest world in which it exists.

In India, these beliefs are all-pervading. They surface everywhere since they are not confined to formal art and philosophy but thrive in popular incarnations as well. Even in the overcrowded commercial center of a metropolis like Bombay, every twenty feet or so we find a sacred gesture — a rangoli (a pattern of colored powder) on a doorstep, a yantra (a geometric depiction of cosmic order) painted on a wall, a shrine, a temple.

These gestures are a crucial and an integral part of the spaces we inhabit. Although there is much discussion among social theorists, politicians, city planners, and a great many others about the public and the private realms that constitute our habitat, there is hardly any attention paid to this, the sacred, realm.