Significance of Indian Temples

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Tena­cious effort over gen­er­a­tions

[Shri Adi­narayanan] Namaste. It is a won­der­ful place that we are in. It is a very sig­nif­i­cant place with respect to archi­tec­ture as well as his­to­ry. We are in the midst of the per­fec­tion of Hoysala archi­tec­ture*. We are in the vicin­i­ty of Chen­nake­sha­va tem­ple, Belur. Inside the tem­ple, there is a beau­ti­ful vigra­ha of Lord Kesha­va. And all around we see exquis­ite carv­ings, which have tak­en more than about 12 decades to com­plete. You can imag­ine 12 decades! If we take up any activ­i­ty, what is the kind of thing that keeps us hold on to some activ­i­ty? Even indi­vid­u­al­ly it is a huge chal­lenge. But you can imag­ine — the entire king­dom, civ­i­liza­tion, the Raja, the pra­ja, every­one ori­ent­ed towards devel­op­ing this over 12 decades. And then pre­serv­ing and then prop­a­gat­ing it. So that is the kind of tenac­i­ty that the Indi­an ethos builds in us. Can you imag­ine the kind of logis­tics that is required — the gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple ded­i­cat­ed towards build­ing each com­po­nent that we see here. The gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple who have the knowl­edge to cre­ate it, sus­tain it and also take it for­ward. All that has been invest­ed in this.

* Hoysala archi­tec­ture is the build­ing style devel­oped under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th cen­turies in Kar­nata­ka

Astron­o­my inte­grat­ed with­in archi­tec­ture

You can see, for exam­ple, this is the Stum­ba that gives out astro­nom­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. With this, you can mea­sure the lon­gi­tu­di­nal posi­tion of the sun, that is the Right Ascen­sion. You can mea­sure the peri­od of the year, know­ing which rashi (zodi­ac con­stel­la­tion) the Sun is in right now. You can mea­sure the time of the day, even the lat­i­tude of this place and so on, giv­en some details. So that is the lev­el of knowl­edge that is inher­ent in this tem­ple, which is not vis­i­ble to an untrained eye. For most of us, we don’t have the edu­ca­tion­al back­ground to be able to look at it and see the wow fac­tor behind it. That is the kind of knowl­edge that has gone into each square feet of this won­der­ful place. We must def­i­nite­ly invest time and ener­gy in explor­ing such beautiful…it is not just beau­ti­ful. Beau­ty lies in the eyes of the behold­er. And that also takes knowl­edge. So you invest time and ener­gy in train­ing your­selves, edu­cat­ing your­selves and appre­ci­ate the beau­ty that Bhara­ta desha is.

Tem­ple — cen­ter of Indi­an thought and life
Now, what is the sig­nif­i­cance of a tem­ple to the Indi­an tra­di­tion? See all of us, we encounter that the mind becomes engaged with one thing or the oth­er. Now if the object that the mind gets engaged with is lim­it­ing, then we feel lim­it­ed. If the object is empow­er­ing and expan­sive, then we feel empow­ered and lib­er­at­ed. That is why our object of med­i­ta­tion or object of reg­u­lar activ­i­ties in Indi­an life has been around a tem­ple, so that we are con­stant­ly look­ing up to a high role mod­el. Our puranas illus­trate how great these devas and devis have been. We devel­op our­selves so much by just look­ing at them. We become inspired to be great in our own lives. And hence we pro­ceed towards lib­er­at­ing our­selves from lim­i­ta­tions, from con­straints. That is the process of get­ting enlight­ened with knowl­edge — knowl­edge that is not just intel­lec­tu­al, but very much in action, direct­ed towards the well-being of all. That is what the devas and devis show us — that we are con­stant­ly engaged in action that leads to good­ness in all the lokas. That is what a tem­ple does to us, when we ori­ent our­selves around a tem­ple, around such inspi­ra­tion that the devas and devis pro­vide. That is a blessed life, that is an awe­some life.