The Rasa of Reverence

Swamimalai in Kumbakonam, my maternal ancestral home, now long demolished.

I am a regular at South-Indian temples the priests always eyeing me in squinted suspicion.

Community and worship, chant and song, incense and flowers, lit lamps and rustling silk. The rigor of perfected Ritual, the propriety of Tradition, for its own sake.

The Bhava of Benediction, the Rasa of Reverence. If your heart cannot hum in the cirque of the sacred, surely you miss.

Do you think any of this is outside ‘The-Not’?

The great temple shrines at Thanjavur and Madurai were far more than centers of ritual and ceremony. The cities grew around them in concentric circles, and they served as the centers, literally and figuratively, for every Art Form. Music and Dance, Literature and Theater and Community Service.

The first temples, places of public worship, did not originate till well past 200 CE. And most of the Puranic deities now venerated in their sanctum sanctorums did not take full form till 600 CE or thereabouts. The same goes for the standard lay-out of rituals although the chants date back to earlier times. [See the Post on Yagñá]

There are other issues. The present state of Temples [now under corrupted government patronage], the regression to petitionary prayer, routinized ritual and compromised conviction, the list goes on. I’ll get to them in the ‘New Posts’ section.

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