Sun Apr 29, 2012, 12:10 PM
rug (60,899 posts)
Ask the Religion Experts: How important is the synagogue, church, mosque or other structure?
RADHIKA SEKAR holds a PhD in religious studies and taught Hinduism courses at Carleton and University of Ottawa. An aspiring Vedantin, she is a devotee of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission.
April 29, 2012 9:01 AM
Much has been written and said about the importance of religious edifices. In earlier times, when religion provided the cultural matrix, temples supported the socio-economic and political systems of the land, distributing wealth and maintaining power.
In modern times, they serve a crucial community need, especially in diaspora: generating and providing fellowship (to borrow a Christian term), space to conduct organized religion, facilitate rites of passage, hold religious discourse and gather for devotional worship like bhajan and kirtan.
But these needs can just as easily be served in community halls. What is it then that makes a temple special, that transforms it from a mere “brick and mortar” building to a sacred space?
While the Vedic concept of God is of an omniscient, formless, absolute entity that manifests in a variety of names and forms, the Agamas believe that divinity also manifests as specific explicit energies, like the fire that emerges from fuel, the fragrance of a flower, etc. and that these energies can be approached through appropriate means — through what Agama calls archa, worship methods.
The article continues with the views of a Rabbi, a Sikh, a Catholic priest, a Bahá’í, and a Buddhist priest.
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