Shiva Temples and their Significance
Hindu temples serve as spiritual centers and facilitate the Hindu Way of life
by providing the devotees with opportunities to serve God personally and perform
their obligatory duties towards God, the world and others. They are designed to
be the abode or the body of God and bring human beings and gods together, as
partners in upholding Dharma and ensuring the order and regularity of the
The symbolism and structure of Hindu temples, especially the traditional
ones, are rooted in Vedic traditions, with circles and squares and the design of
ancient sacrificial pits integrated into them. They also represent the recurring
themes of the macrocosm and the microcosm, incorporating astronomical numbers,
aspects of geography and geometry, symbols and forms to denote, to facilitate
and deepen the relationship between the deities and they devotees and serve as
spiritual sanctuaries offering solace and support to the community. Hindu
temples incorporate the essential elements of Hindu cosmos—representing its
diverse aspect, its duality and dichotomy, including the Hindu concept of time
as a cyclical phenomenon and the guiding and controlling factors of life such as
karma and the four aims of life namely dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
Hindu temples come in many styles, are situated in diverse locations, deploy
different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional
beliefs, yet almost all of them share certain core ideas, symbolism and themes.
They are found in South Asia particularly India and Nepal, in southeast Asian
countries such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, and islands of Indonesia and
Malaysia, and countries such as Canada, the Caribbean, Fiji, France, Guyana,
Kenya, Mauritius, the Netherlands, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad
and Tobago, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, and countries with a
significant Hindu community. The current state and outer appearance of Hindu
temples reflect arts, materials and designs as they evolved over two millennia.
They also reflect the synthesis of art and culture between Hinduism and Islam
since the 12th century.
The temple tradition might have originated as a non-Vedic tradition and
gradually incorporated aspects of Vedic ritualism and methods of worship. The
Vedic tradition of making offerings to several deities through sacrifices
gradually accommodated other methods such as domestic worship and temple worship
for divine protection, promotion of Dharma, communication with gods,
preservation of life, continuation of families, fulfilment of desires and
liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.
The temples of Shiva are probably some of the oldest and most ancient temples
of the world. The tradition of worshipping Shiva and his associate deities in
temples may be as old as the tradition itself. Shiva and Shakti temples are
found all over India and elsewhere. The most famous among them are the
Jyotirlinga temples, Mahashakti temples, Pancha bhuta temples, and temples built
for the aspects, emanations and manifestations of Shiva. For more information
on Shiva temples, please check the following links. 1
1. The introduction is adapted from Wikipedia with necessary
modifications and improvements.
2. The image of temple design in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons
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