सनातन धर्म भूमिका

Meaning of "Temples Worship and Agama>"


Temples Worship and Agama


In General

The Hindu temples represent the culmination of social and religious aspirations of a society. Temple is the focal point in the life of a community and often represents its pride, identity and unity. A temple evokes in the visitor a sense of beauty in art and in life as well. It lifts up his spirit, elevates to a higher plane dissolving his little ego. At the same time, it awakens to his insignificance in the grand design of the Creator. It is also a treasure house of art and architecture, designed according to the principle of Vaastu Shastra, characterized by their majesty, serenity and beauty of intricate sculpture and designs.

It is between the 6th and 12th centuries AD that several agama texts were compiled as part of sakalaradhana (idol worship). All of them give details of construction of temples and ancillary structures. Kamikagama, Vaikhanasagama and Padmasamhita are important agamas giving details of such construction. Several studies have been made after the 12th century AD. They take into account the differences in style based on climate, building materials and social-cultural factors. In Chola period, very large temple was built under the Agama tradition. They decided on the goals and planned out the temple in such a way to meet the goals. The treatise in Agama Shastra, which explains the science of temples, Vaastu is considered as the basis for all type of construction. Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro also indicating the influence of Vaastu on the Indus Valley Civilization shows that the south Indian temples and Agamas are not isolated phenomena but undoubtedly a continuation of Vedic heritage from Mohengedaro.

Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for Silpa (the art of sculpture) describing the quality requirements of the places where temples are to be built, the kind of images to be installed, the materials from which they are to be made, their dimensions, proportions, air circulation, lighting in the temple complex etc. The Manasara and Silpasara are some of the works dealing with these rules. The consecration of Idols Prana-prathistapana (giving life to idols) which is not accepted in vedic literature is found advised by Agama. But Agama do not preach mechanical performance of rituals; it support the means to attain ones ideal of God through worship, devotion and submission, aided by set of prescribed disciplines

The Vaikhanasa Vasishnava archana vidhi, which perhaps was the earliest text of its kind, codified the worship and practices by judicious combination of Vedic and Tantric procedures. Thus while rendering worship to the deity the Agamas discarded the mantras said in Agama text and instead adopted Vedic mantras even for services such as offering ceremonial bath, waving lights etc. It is though such practices Agamas and temple culture became a part of the Vedic mode of worship.

The Agama texts make a clear distinction between the worship carried out at the home (atmartha) and the worship carried out by a priest at a temple(parartha ), which is a paid job. The appointed priests carry out the worship in the temple on behalf of other devotees. It is hence parartha, a service conducted for the sake of others. This distinction must have come into being with the proliferation of temples and with the advent of temple-worship-culture. It appears to have been a departure from the practice of worship at home, an act of devotion and duty. Rig Vedic culture was centred on home and worship at home. It is because of the professional service aspect inherent in the temple worship makes it necessary to have authentic books. Though the Agamas do not derive their authority directly from the Vedas, they are Vedic in spirit and character and make use of Vedic mantras while performing the service.

The Agama prescriptions form the basis for worship at home or at Temples, as it exists today. They, in fact, cover the entire gamut of activities associated with temples, its functions and its purpose. These include, among other things, the training manuals meant for the performing priests, their initiation into worship-service; the worship attitudes and procedures specially designed for each type of deity; the details of daily rituals, occasional celebrations, festivals etc.

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Word Sanskrit IAST In General Veda Purana