Advaitam and Science

OM, Purnamata purnamitam purnat purnamutachyate, purnasya purnamataye purnamevavasishyate – Bri.Up V.i.1


                                       TEMPLE CULTURE IN SANATANA DHARMA

In the ancient times, during the Vedic period, hardly temples were seen in Bharata.  People then practiced Atma vidya, meditation, yoga and yagna.  They did not give much importance to the worship of idols.  In fact, they thought bhakti as a very basic step to liberation.  They were then highly intellectual, organized, disciplined and long lived and they felt practicing Atma Vidya straightly is the only means for liberation.  They did not have much desires and so they ignored the desire-oriented bhakti too. 

In the puranic period, people were less intellectual, desire oriented, egoistic and had less peace of mind.  They were unable to go directly to Atma vidya and they felt the need for an external way of worship.  It is then the Rishis depicted the form of the formless Lord.  Understanding the nature and the attributes of the Lord from the puranas, the great Rishis depicted the form of the Lord.  Then they did not have a painting brush or paper and so they carved the image of the idol on the stone which were comparatively soft.  To exhibit them publicly they build a structure and kept the idol.  They said that the Lord in You (Atma) is like this and considered the external worship of the Lord as a preliminary step to liberation.  They named the structure in which the Lord is kept as skhetra, which means a structure of matter or it can also be compared with the body (gross, subtle and causal bodies).  The main idol is kept in a room inside that great structure and it is said as sanctum sanctorum or said as Garbha graha; which implies the secret hidden place of the Lord.  The idol inside the Garbha graha is said as skhetraja or Bhagavan.  The rules for doing poojas and rituals for the Lord are well explained in the Puranas than in the Vedas.  In the Vedas the importance is given for the Yagnas and these yagnas are mainly done to worship the gods to satisfy desires.  Later on when the temple culture developed they used these yagnas with modification, for the deities in the temples. 

Different forms of the Lord according to different gunas (nature) and attributes were carved on the stone and these idols are done poojas by the priests and by the energy of the Vedic mantras the idols become worshipping deities.  After the initial pooja rituals were over the idols are consecrated inside the Garbha graha.  The people in and around the town worship the deities.  Likewise many temples and deities were formed and by the end of Dwapara yuga and the beginning of Kali yuga many temples were formed like this and the temple culture became famous.  The kings who ruled the kingdom donated liberally to the temples and the temple culture grew drastically in the Kali yuga.  in the medieval period, the temples were used almost like the modern-day banks and the kings’ considered temples as a holy place to keep their money safe.  This is the time when other kings invaded Bharata, they first looted the temples and destroyed the temples to destroy the Religion.  They succeeded in looting the temples but could not disturb the Religion because Sanatana Dharma is beyond Hinduism or temples or Deities.  Sanatana dharma is the Truth, the Reality, it will exist even when the Universe is destroyed by pralaya.  Sanatana dharma is the dharma followed or the dharma to realize the Truth, which is none other than the Self. 

The temple architecture in India are of three types.

The Nagara style(northern India)  the land between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas.

The Dravida style(Sothern  india) the land between the Krishna and the Kaveri rivers and  

The Vesera style (combination of both regions) .

The style mainly differs only in the external structure or the type of the tall structure of the temple.  The way poojas done in the temples also differ from region to region according to the practice of the people in that area.  What ever the way of pooja or the structure of the temple may be, the temple denotes the body of an individual and the main deity denotes the Atma in the sarira (body).  When we stand in front of the main deity and worship closing our eyes for a second, then we are connected with the Atma in that second.   

The temple culture is very famous in modern days and people ought to forget the Atma vidya itself; because people have become core desire oriented and Atma vidya gains no importance in that situation. 


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