(Originally published on Dec. 23, 2009)

From the common man’s point of view, a temple is the abode of GOD’s form(s) wherein a devotee comes to worship the deities therein.

The true concepts behind temples are directly connected to the Yoga Sastra as explained in the scripture Siva Samhita. What we practise as Yogasanas (Yoga exercises) are rooted in Siva Samhita wherein Lord Siva teaches His consort Parvati, the secret powers that lie dormant in every person in his astral body irrespective of his religion or ethnic group.

The Basics

Each person has three types of bodies (sareera): Physical (sthoola), Subtle (sookshma) and Causal (kaarana).

A temple and its presiding deity represent a multi-layered form of the spiritual energy contained in every person. While a temple’s energy level or vibration represents one’s subtle body, its physical attributes represent one’s physical body. It is important to know that the source of energy in a temple represents a person’s causal body (in its realized state).

Thus, the principal objective of a temple is nothing but to act as a mirror to one’s true Self. Devotees, who visit the temple and offer their selfless prayers, gradually begin developing the inner vibration and strengthen their spiritual personality to discover the mirror (the deity, not the stone) in stages. Naturally, this discovery leads one to the Realization of the Self or realization of the person’s true Cosmic nature (the reality or the truth, the brahman).

The concepts of Bhakthi yoga are deployed through a temple.  Bhakthi (in dwaitha bhava) connects the Jeeva (the person) with the Eswara (the Deity) to become the brahman, the advaitha bhava (the truth).

Essential Constituents

How a temple turns out to be towards what it’s truly intended for, right from the day of consecration, depends on the following key aspects:

  • how the daily (nithya) rituals and special (naimithika) rituals are performed to each Deity.
  • code of ethics that are in force for its Priest(s).
  • code of ethics that are in force for its devotees & visitors.
  • a spiritual vision and adept knowledge to accomplish the vision by the administrative committee or temple management and its members.