Thoughts - Build temples in Agamic way

The sanAtana dharmic community which was once spread throughout the world, got shrunk to the Indian subcontinent in the medieval period. As the world is becoming communities are opening up nowadays thanks to modern technology, there is a good opportunity for the whole world to see the marvel in Hinduism. Naturally there are many Hindu places of worship that are coming in the places where there were no Hindus before. It is something to be welcomed and properly grown also.

Due to the various constraints these temples are being built in whatever shape and whatever way. There is no doubt still they serve as the common place of worship for the Hindus and also gives the divinity. But it has to be realized that this is a very primitive way of temple building. It would be similar to a non-engineering bakery man building a house as against a construction engineer. Though that building would also be a house, it is needless to explain the differences of a construction engineer built house and this one. The difference would be more prominent in our temples because our Agama shAstras and shilpa shAstrAs are much older than the engineering sciences even. This Agamic technology has stood proved by time, which are very much to be seen in reality looking at our marvelous temples in India, that stand the time and at the same time are glorious. The temples we build everywhere should also be like the Indian ones. We need to build the temples not just for a short term usage in mind, but keeping in mind that the generations to follow would come and worship in these temples. Because especially for us, the ancience of the temple is one of the factors that talks about the divinity of the temple. This is the reason Hindus visit the ancient temples as pilgrimages. So it would be our responsibility to protect as well as build temples that are built to stay long periods in the future and not just a haphazard way.

Yes, it is very much true that unlike the temple building in India, the same outside is not that easy. There are lots of constraints. These constraints include lack of knowledge on what needs to be done in the first place, availability of the people who would be knowledgeable as well as skilled to execute and also the cost involved in getting this done. But there should be a good amount of effort in trying to overcome these and like shortcomings as much as possible. For the knowledge one has to learn or put somebody knowledgeable to advice. The later two could be tackled with proper planning. It is not required that a Gigantic temple be built, when one talks about building temples in the Agamic way. Very small temples could also be constructed in a cost effective way still very much adhering to the Agamic principles. It has to be kept in mind that the great gigantic Indian temples were not built just in one night. It was the devotion and effort of many many generations which are on the splendid display now. If the forefathers had constructed them in a not well-planned way, where would this glory be ?

It is also very much true that the environment of the land where the temple is being built would have to be taken in to account. The same rules may not exactly apply everywhere. In this case how would one adhere to the Agamic rules ? The answer would be to take the Agamic guidelines and apply it to the actual environment on which the temple is to be built. For example the temple to be built in Arctic can not be exactly same as the one in South India, as the temperature conditions would certainly require mandate adaptation. But this is certainly not something new that has come up just now. One could very easily note the adaptations by comparing the temples of Kerala - Nepal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa etc. For example the temples of Kerala and Nepal are different from the ones in TamilNadu because of the various influencing factors like rain and snow. So the environment based adaptations are very much there.

Also one may say, given the technological advancements in construction engineering, isn't it better to go for the modern way ? It is absolutely fine, but as long as the core intention is kept unaltered. The Hindu temple building guidelines like Hinduism itself is not a thing that would deny real advancements. But it must be just ensured that the deviations we make from the original paths are well thought about and justified. Again it is not the first time, it would happen. the earlier temples were being built with wood and mud. The later kings like pallavas cut the rocks to make temples which are highly durable. Rock cutting is not an easy job and it may not be available everywhere too. So the kings who followed like chOzas used the stone bricks and made gigantic temples which are durable too. New technology is always welcome, as long as it does not spoil the original intentions.

While we emphasize the need of building the temples in Agamic way in the new environments, it should be very strongly emphasized in the Indian context. Many of the temples that off late spring up, conveniently "ignore" the great engineering document and the skills available on temple building and come up anywhere, without a disciplined construction and any provision to improve upon. When having a very good traffic control system and implementable, why should one choose chaos ?

The Agamas that document the execution plan of the dharma, are very rich in their prescriptions in the way of worship, construction, self-disciplines etc. We could derive a lots of good things from them, "if" we pay enough attention to them. Much of the knowledge we get from there and we use to regulate ourselves of course in addition to those pieces of modernity which would enhance without affecting the core, would really make us and our newly built temples stand proudly to the generations to come.

Posted On : 11.12.2000

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