Exploration of Indian Yoga Psychology

A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – http://integralmusings.aurosociety.org)

The Affirmation of Life-II:Collective Dimension and Temple Worship-M.S.Srinivasan

Aff-2The other unique feature of this tanthric attempt is that it tried to  give an  ethical,  religious and spiritual orientation not only to  the  individual life but also to the communal life through the institution of Temple  Worship.  Here  also to understand the deeper truth behind this institution  founded  by the  Tantra-masters, we have to get behind the outer forms into  the  original idea  or  intuition  behind them.  This original intuition is  that  both  the individual  and the community are the expressions of the Divine Sakthi.   Just like the individual, the community also has an inner, subjective, psychological dimension.   In  fact the outer organs of the society are the  expressions  of some  inner  psychological faculties in man.  Just like the  individual,  this inner psychological being of the community is also capable of conscious  self-development;  which means it is capable not only of outer development  interms of power, wealth and expansion but also inner development of its consciousness or  in  other words mental, moral, psychological or  even  probably  spiritual growth.   In the normal course of human evolution, this inner progress of  the collectivity  happens very slowly, subconsciously, though its  highly  evolved individuals, what is now called in modern thought as the “creative  minority”.  But  this inner evolution effected by the creative minority touches  only  the upper  strata  of the society and has a very little immediate  impact  on  the masses.   For  a  more  rapid  evolution  of  the  consciousness  of  the collectivity,  something  more  than  the effort of  the  individuals  of  the creative  minority  is  needed;  along  with  this  effort  of  the   creative individuals,  there  must also be a conscious collective effort to  raise  the corporate life of the community as a whole to a higher level of consciousness. This  requires institutions which can give a higher direction and  orientation to  the community life.  This is the ideal behind this ancient institution  of  Temple worship.

In the original tanthric conception, the core of soul of  the Temple  is the living Presence of a cosmic and spiritual power, an  aspect  of the divine Sakthi brought down and established in the idol of the Deity by an adept who was in living inner communion with this divine power.  The main  aim and purpose of invoking the divine power in the Temple is not merely to answer all  the prayers of the devotees who throng the temple, but to bring down  the living  presence of a spiritual and divine Power greater than human mind  into the  collective life of man for the spiritual as well as  material  well-being and progress of the community.

But it is not enough to establish the living presence of the divine power in the Temple; this presence has to be kept alive and sustained by the  purity and  aspiration of the devotees and the people associated with the temple, creating  an environment favourable to the growth of divinity in  the  temple.  In  other words some form of “sacrifice” has to be offered to the divinity  in the  Temple.   All the activities of the community in all the  levels  of  its corporate  life have to be symbolically offered to the divinity, so that  they may receive the uplifting touch and grace of the divinity.  This is the reason why,  the  ancient Indian temple was not a purely  religious  institution;  it promoted  various other forms of activities, cultural, social,  even  economic and  commercial activities within and around the Temple premises, all still  related  to the  religious  aim, but providing a variety of  activities  representing  the different  aspects of the community life.  For example the  Temple  patronised arts  and  learning;  it organised religious festivals  at  regular  intervals inwhich  the  entire  community  participated  creating  a  sense  of   social solidarity  and  cohesion  among the people; it permitted  also  economic  and commercial  activities connected with the religious needs of the  devotees;  it managed  agricultural properties and lands.  Thus we can see that the  various levels of the community life are symbolically represented in the Temple.

Thus  the  way of the Tanthra accepts life in its totality and  makes  an attempt  to  spiritualise the whole of life through the religious  impulse  in man.

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This entry was posted on August 14, 2013 by in Psychology of Tantra Yoga.