A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – www.integralmusings.wordpress.com)
The 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.