Role of A Temple In India

Role of A Temple In India

The Role of A Temple

In traditional Indian society, the role of a temple in India was multifaceted. Temples were used not only as places of worship but also as vital hubs for social, cultural, and educational activities.

The most obvious role of temples in India was as places of worship and spiritual practices. They were centers where people could connect with the divine, often through a particular deity. Temples provided a consecrated space where individuals could engage in prayer, meditation, and rituals to progress spiritually.

Temples served as meeting points for people, acting as the center of social life in many communities. They were places where festivals were celebrated, people gathered for special occasions, and communities came together, fostering unity and social cohesion.

In ancient India, temples also served as seats of learning, and a temple could be used as a “gurukul.” Education was not merely academic but also encompassed moral, ethical, philosophical, and spiritual teachings. Many temples housed libraries preserving ancient scriptures and texts.

Temples were platforms for the promotion and preservation of arts and culture. Music, dance, drama, and other art forms were often performed in temples during religious festivals. The temple architecture was a form of artistic expression with intricate sculptures and carvings depicting divine stories, myths, and legends.

Temples also played a role in the local economy. They were often endowed with land and wealth, which they used to fund charitable activities such as feeding people experiencing poverty and supporting the arts. The daily activities of temples involved many people like priests, artisans, musicians, dancers, etc., thus providing many livelihoods. Moreover, pilgrimages to temples boosted local economies due to the influx of devotees.

Many temples were (and remain) pilgrimage sites. These journeys often involved traveling great distances, offering devotees a chance for spiritual reflection, penance, and renewal of faith.

Sadhguru Explains The Role of A Temple In India

Sadhguru, a Yogi of the highest caliber from India and founder of the Isha Foundation, has spoken about the role of a temple in Indian spiritual culture in a unique way. According to him, a temple in India is not a place of worship or prayer but a powerful energy center designed to make oneself more perceptive and receptive. He often describes temples as consecrated spaces that can energize and transform individuals open to the process.

According to Sadhguru, different types of temples were created in India, each catering to a different aspect of human well-being. Some were built focusing on meditation, some on health and well-being, some on intellectual growth, and some on spiritual liberation.

From the perspective of yogic science, which Sadhguru often draws on, each temple was created with a specific energy function and has a unique effect on an individual receptive to its energy. The idols or deities consecrated in these temples are considered mere tools to receive and hold the energies created during the process of consecration.

What Is Consecration

Consecration adds the energy dimension that makes the role of a temple as a vibrant source.

Consecration, according to Sadhguru, is the process of making something into a divine tool, an instrument that can connect individuals to the divine. He often describes it as a science of creating spaces or objects that allow individuals to experience a higher dimension of consciousness.

According to Him, consecration transforms inert physical objects or even spaces into vibrant, living forces that can profoundly transform receptive individuals. This process forms the basis of the yogic tradition’s numerous temples, deities, and consecrated objects.

Sadhguru asserts that consecration is a precise and meticulous process that requires a deep understanding of the human system and the fundamental laws of nature. The goal is to make the consecrated object or space a doorway to life’s divine or higher dimensions. He speaks of consecration as a science and often contrasts it with faith or belief systems.

Prana Pratishtha

Prana Pratishtha is a Sanskrit term where ‘Prana’ means ‘life force’ or ‘vital energy,’ and ‘Pratishtha’ means ‘established.’ The term literally means ‘establishing the life force.’ Hinduism refers to the ritual of infusing life into an idol or image of a deity during temple as consecration.

According to Sadhguru, Prana Pratishtha is a well-established science of turning an inanimate stone or metal into a divine possibility. He emphasizes that the idols or murtis found in temples are not objects of worship but powerful energy sources that have been infused with life energy through the process of Prana Pratishtha. He often reiterates that these consecrated idols or murtis are tools to access the divine.

Sadhguru states that the process of Prana Pratishtha requires deep understanding and capability. The individuals conducting this process, traditionally priests or sages, have to be deeply knowledgeable in certain sciences of energy and sound, among other things. They must be capable of using mantras, rituals, and their energy to invoke and infuse life energy into the idol or murti. The process is not based on belief but on the technology of spirituality, as Sadhguru often says.

When successful, Prana Pratishtha results in the idol or murti becoming a source of specific vibrations or energies that can aid spiritual growth and well-being. Sadhguru underscores that this is why certain temples or consecrated objects have been revered for centuries, as they continue to radiate energies that can transform and uplift individuals who are receptive.

Consecrated Places In India

He says that the science of consecration was once widespread in India. The ancient sages and yogis who developed this science understood that not everyone could easily dedicate their lives to intense spiritual practices, so they devised methods to bring spiritual benefits to more people.

They established various types of temples and consecrated objects to address different aspects of life and to cater to various spiritual needs and aspirations. Some temples were created for health and well-being, some for peace and tranquillity, and some for self-realization. According to Sadhguru, consecrated spaces were created to bring the divine to the people.

Being a Yogi of the highest caliber Himself, Sadhguru has consecrated several spaces, such as the Dhyanalinga and Linga Bhairavi, at the Isha Foundation’s center near Coimbatore, India. These have been created using the methods and understanding of the yogic tradition to provide spiritual benefits to visitors and seekers.

Sadhguru notes that temple rituals and traditions were established to keep the temple’s energy alive and vibrant and enable people to benefit from these energies.