Tuesday, September 22, 2009

788 : What is a temple?

Being the atheist (and analytical engineer) that I am, I end up deconstructing most items on my plate. Why leave out temples?

Temples for me, are a work of art, a geographical confluence, where all living beings come with only good in their mind (now of course, to define “good” you need to be bipolar….which actually most doctrines refuse to let you be…but I am not defined by any such diktat……so I can define “good”….for me “good” is whatever is your chosen “dharma”)…a temple is also a sanctum of idols and works of art which are nurtured, treated with respect and love, and are displayed to other human beings in order to deliver the messages of their aesthetics and sublimity.

So far…heavy worded….hah? Thankfully, thats it, thats my definition.

So which are the temples I like. Bahai temple at Delhi (not been there yet), Ramakrishna Mutth , Khar (been there multiple times as a kid with dad), Mcleod Gunj Dharamsala (not been there yet), Golden Temple, Amritsar (not there yet again)…..

(Irony….of this list, three of them I was planning to cover in an October drive…..sadly, that is not put off to another day….when…. “God knows”…..guffaw!!)

So whats my point…..?

I struggle with temples like Shirdi, Guruvayoor, Palni, Rameshwaram and the ilk…..Why?

I think these temples have been artificially made claustrophobic, never a design element in their original structure….there is rank commercialism surrounding their facades…..the governing bodies treat us fellow beings as lowly shit….(how many of you have paid a price to skip the huge lines @ Shirdi or guruvayoor, or how many of you have used the services of an uncle to sit through a paal abhishek @ Palni…the list goes on and on)

The inherent beauty and peace (and sanctum) of these temples have been ruined by our fellow human beings….but we are as much party to it, by pandering to their absurd processes and rules.

Why for example, should a temple ban cameras? Which God ever objected to his being photographed? And if God is phobic to new technology advances, then what is a metal detector doing at the entrance of the temple? Why does the priest carry his own camera and then charge you Rs.80 for a snap?

I actually think, in this sense, both the Christians and Muslims have gone their basics right. They use the mosque/church as a social gathering….a place where you not only follow a few rituals, but also strive for inner peace. You are allowed to be yourself at both of these places.

We Hindus, have taken processes and structure to an extent, that now most of us believe, that is what we need to do at a temple.

As the heretics say, faith and belief are fundamental in any spiritual transaction. I have neither faith nor belief in these muddle headed temple schemes, and hence maybe my vision is blurred and gray :-)

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