Lakshmi Narayana Temple Pratishta

Vidyasankar vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 9 12:29:54 CDT 2002

>My point was that since performance of vaidika ritual is formally
>to the realm of vyavahara, in what way is temple related activities a
>strict part of advaita tradition? I refer of course to the well known
>dictum 'vyavahaare BhaaTTah, paramaarthe zaamkarah'.

I had hoped to say the minimum possible and to leave a lot more implicit,
in my original sentence, "There is much room for local variation."

One, insofar as the saMnyAsa tradition is concerened, there is and can be
no invariable correlation between temple related activities and advaita.
What we see today is a result of the history of many centuries.

Two, on the other hand, we must note that from the earliest times, a
devAlaya, i.e. a public temple, is one of the preferred places for
saMnyAsins to live, along with forest, cave, mountain top, riverbank,
cremation ground (yes, that is listed too) etc. There is no specific
preference with respect to the deva consecrated at the Alaya. We must
leave a lot to conjecture, as far as the details of temple construction,
rituals, festivals etc are concerned.

Third, we must look beyond south India if we are to get a full picture. At
Puri, for instance, the Sankaracharya has an advisory role at the
Jagannath temple, specifically with respect to the Mukti-mandap, but the
temple is not directly managed by the Matha. It has its own daily ritual
calendar and annual festival routine. If we are to give an entire
description of what is the advaita tradition followed at Puri, then yes,
the Jagannath temple would figure prominently, but it is not absolutely
central. And if we are to give an entire description of the Jagannath
temple and its activities, the Sankaracharya of Puri would figure
importantly, but he is not central.

There is one social and historical feature that often gets overlooked when
talking of the advaita tradition and temple activities. That is the role
of the chAturmAsya (which is currently running). A learned saMnyAsin who
stays put at a temple during the rainy season would naturally be consulted
and asked for advice regarding how to manage the temple. Over time, it can
lead to a close association between specific temples and advaita lineages.
Or not, as the case may be.

As far as Sringeri and Kanchipuram and the supposed bauddha/jaina/kApAlika
origins are concerned, much has been said already. There is still a Jain
temple dedicated to the Tirthankara Parsvanatha at Sringeri, and a local
Jain population, but to claim that the Sarada temple was originally a
temple for the Yakshi Padmavati is far-fetched, to say the least. It
doesn't even begin to consider why a Parsvanatha temple was left intact at
the same place and not "converted" to a Siva/Vishnu temple. And I would
like to know how many Jain temples were historically dedicated to a minor
Jain Yakshi called Padmavati in the Karnataka countryside. Interested
readers may refer to the archives of the INDOLOGY mailing list
( from May to September 2000. As for Kanchipuram and
the Kamakshi temple, the controversy in the 19th century was one of
control by a householder tradition of local temple priests versus a
saMnyAsin lineage from Kumbhakonam. Enough said, I suppose.

As for whether the kAmikAgama is followed, I would guess not. Still, a
good person to check with in the northern American continent would be the
temple priest, Sri Deodhar, at the Sringeri temple in Stroudsburg. One can
check for contact details.

Best wishes,

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