Temple worship: since when?

It is estimated that the construction of temples started in the Kaliyuga era, a period of upheaval- climate of one-quarter virtue and three-quarter sin. In the earlier Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapar Yuga, the devotees were able to make direct union with God. The Kali Yuga is traditionally thought to last 432,000 years and so far we have spent only 5120 years! What a long way to travel! So the importance of temples started growing because they became centers and facilitators for external communion with God.

In Satya Yuga, one would achieve mukti through meditation. In Treta Yuga mukti is achieved internally through yoga and archana is done in Dwarpa Yuga. In Kali Yuga, it is difficult for people to identify God as formless and omnipresent. So pooja is an external way to worship God.

The final aim of any form of prayer is mukti. However, the designated path to achieve mukti under the four yugas has been different.

To build up a magnificent temple is one thing, but to follow the principles of temple worship to attain mukti is another thing. Participating in the construction of a temple is a noble act, and doing such a noble deed is testimony of us ensuring survival in the Kaliyuga era. A super Hindu philosophy, temple construction is Dharma – attaining one of the highest goals of life. Hence, only Kings and wealthy people could sponsor the construction of temples for their community.

The places of Hindu public worship are described in Vedas. These were temporary shelters built up for that purpose. It is said that permanent temples and places of worship of God is mentioned in the Grihya Sutras, around 600 BCE. During these periods, arts, literature and architectural design flourished in India. During this time, temple building and worship further consolidated the Hindu faith. Holy texts and saints started emerging during this period.

Nanda Narrainen

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