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Unveiling the Ancient Legacy of Temple Worship in India

  • Published
    27th Jan, 2024

Context: 

Countering the misconception that temple worship is a recent phenomenon, there are historical evidence and Brahminical texts to highlight the deep-rooted tradition of temple construction and worship in ancient India.

1.  Historical Evidence:

   - Audumbara in Himachal Pradesh (1st Century BCE): The Audumbaras, practicing Hinduism, ruled in the first century BCE and minted coins with Hindu iconography, including a depiction of a Shiva temple, indicating the existence of            large temples in ancient India.

   - Linh Son Bac in Vietnam (2nd Century CE): Archaeological findings in Vietnam, dating back to at least the second century CE, reveal the presence of a Hindu temple, emphasizing that temple worship was not confined to India.

   - Vishnu Smriti (90:19): The consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya aligns with the recommendations of the Vishnu Smriti, reinforcing the enduring legacy of temple worship in contemporary times.

2.  Deity Iconography and Worship:

   - Puranic Deities on Coins (180 BCE): Six Indian drammas excavated in Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan, depicted Puranic deities Krishna and Balarama, indicating the importance and worship of deities during that period.

   - Evolution of Deity Iconography: The formalization of deity iconography and worship practices is evident, suggesting the existence of large temples dedicated to various deities.

   - Seamless Integration into Social Life: Brahminical texts suggest that temple rituals were seamlessly woven into the social life of common people, with instructions for regular upkeep and the association of family events like childbirth            with temple rituals.

3.  Brahminical Texts Endorse Temple Worship:

   - Vishnu Smriti (30:15, 90:10-12, 90:19): The Vishnu Smriti not only mentions temples in great detail but also emphasizes the importance of temple building, upkeep, and consecration, dispelling the notion of any discord between                 Brahminical traditions and temple worship.

   - Manusmriti (3:150, 9:279/280): Manusmriti discusses temple rituals and imposes penalties for those disobeying temple worship rules, reinforcing the significance of temples in ancient India.

   - Vashistha Dharmasutra (10:03): Vashistha Dharmasutra acknowledges temples as ideal places for wandering ascetics to seek shelter, highlighting the high regard for temples in the societal and religious fabric.

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