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Temples and Power


“The construction of a temple, Buddhist or Hindu, was an important political act, indeed as much an act of war as it was an act of peace,” says John Keay in his book, India: a History.  Religion has always been inextricably intertwined with politics.  Christianity would probably have been wiped out from the face of the earth unless it had succeeded in enlisting Emperor Constantine’s devotion.  One of the first things Constantine did after embracing his new Faith was to construct a huge church in Constantinople, his new capital.  He also constructed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the place where Jesus’ tomb was/is believed to have been.

All powerful kings and emperors built enormous churches, temples or other places of worship.  Most of the fabulous temples in India were constructed by powerful rulers in the ancient days.  The purpose was not so much worship of god(s) as proclamation or exhibition of worldly power.  Heavenly gods and earthly kings have joined hands for various purposes throughout the history of mankind.  The churches and the temples stood bearing witness to the various conspiracies.

Akshardham Temple, Delhi

In a recent article, the renowned Malayalam novelist, M Mukundan, wrote about the innumerable threats he received when he had expressed his view that the Akshardham Temple on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi reminded him more of a Bollywood movie set than a place of worship.  The fact remains that the temple, which charges a hefty entrance fee, offers more infotainment and brainwashing than inspires spirituality of any sort.  The temple is a blatant display of power, an impressive exhibition of the political clout of a community of people.  The threats hurled at Mukundan were symbols of the multi-dimensional invincibility of religion.

When Aurangazeb or any other such puerile-minded ruler demolished certain places of worship or replaced them with others, they were in fact asserting their earthly power rather than bringing spiritual solace to their people.  When some of our contemporary political leaders mimicked the ancient ashwamedha ritual in order to consolidate a demolition squad of frenzied devotees in Ayodhya a few years ago, what they were actually trying to do was to become present day Aurangazebs proclaiming the power and glory of their religion, and through the religion, of themselves.  The show is still on though the actors have changed their seats.

Spirituality is a matter of the heart.  It is well-nigh impossible to attain spiritual states of mind in places that obscenely display splendour and affluence.  But who is concerned about spirituality?


Comments

  1. But who is concerned about spirituality? nobody ! This all is game of power . I agree with you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If a lot more of us begin to see this truth clearly, the world be saved from gods and their henchmen.

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  2. nobody is concerned about spirituality... and i totally agree with the post. Everything around us is so manupulated, staged and conspired that, the truth has become just a word.

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    Replies
    1. Truth can still survive, Lata, if you and me and a few more wish. After all, we belong to a country whose motto is: Satyameva jayate. And truth will win, I'm sure, provided we don't buckle under political pressures.

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  3. yes you are right... and its a slow process and todays generation are more aware about the happening... so i am sure things will change ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today's generation has gone far beyond insipid religion. Good

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  4. When I visited Akshardham a few years back, I too felt the same way as Mukundan did....there was everything except spiritual vibration..!

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    Replies
    1. Mukindan lived and worked in Delhi and wrote two novels set in the city.

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  5. Love the last line..nobody is interested in spirituality..including the priests, politicians, even devotees who just want to bribe Gods.

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  6. Love the last line..nobody is interested in spirituality..including the priests, politicians, even devotees who just want to bribe Gods.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Perhaps, no one is concerned about spirituality. How many of these plutocratic politicians would have thought of God once in a day! These people do not follow any religion, they are not even fully human.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gods are mere tools in their hands, Namrata. If they could understand what spirituality is, our country would have been a developed one long, long ago. Instead, they chose to play games using gods....

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  8. That's the sadness about worship places. You have to pay... in order to visit and worship GOD.
    How sad can that be!!

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    Replies
    1. Akshardham is more of a tourist spot than a temple, I think.

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  9. I loved Akshardham Temple in Delhi and visited it often to point out the intricate craftsmanship of the pillars and the beautiful boat ride under artificial cosmos.... But don't mix religion with it . Mr. M was right to say it resembles a SanjayLeelaBhansali set- opulent and grand..fit to be a minor palace. I solely love it for its aesthetic value .
    religion..spirituality ?... No way .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most grand temples and other such religious places were constructed with the primary purpose of asserting power, display of grandeur, and claiming superiority. Since Akshardham belongs to our own time it looks more outlandish. Maybe, over time it will begin to evoke some spiritual feelings too. But that will depend on how history handles it and how our politicians handle history.

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