A Close Look at Hindu Temples – Part 8

Temples during the colonial period and Changes during post-Independence period

Dr Uma Shankari*

British period in India witnessed an intense debate between Christian evangelists and Hindu reformers. There were basically three kinds of responses. “First, to aggressively disclaim Christianity, highlighting its short-comings and failures as Swami Dayananda vehemently debated. Second, was to absorb Christianity as part of an imperfect form of the universal spirituality found throughout all religions as Vivekananda proclaimed, and third, to integrate principles of Christianity and Hinduism in one rational universal religion as exemplified by Rammohan Roy and the early Brahmo Samaj.” (Cameron Freeman, not dated).

Dayananda Saraswati preached that Vedas were the ultimate reference for the Hindus and founded schools to teach the Vedas. He founded the  Arya  Samaj, condemned practices of  idol worshipanimal sacrificepilgrimages, priest craft, offerings made in temples, the casteschild marriagesmeat eating and discrimination against women. He argued that all of these practices ran contrary to good sense and the wisdom of the Vedas.

Vivekananda was an ardent disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a saint from Bengal who insisted on spiritual experiences through meditation rather than bookish knowledge and erudition. Vivekananda preached that there are universal elements across all religions which should be understood, and that the Indian Upanishad tradition had great insights which he expounded in his lectures. He was deeply distressed by the poverty and superstition of India masses and urged and energized the youth to take up service to the poor along with spiritual practices. The Ramakrishna Mission which he founded continues his legacy through combining spirituality with service.

Brahmo Samaj was founded by Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarakanath Tagore. It relied on human reason and conscience to be the ultimate authority for action. The Brahmo Samaj condemned practice of Sati (burning of widows), encouraged re- marriage of widows, discouraged child marriage and polygamy. It also rejected casteism and untouchability. Brahmo Samaj spread mostly in Bengal.

Christian proselytization did not face serious opposition from the large Hindu masses, both because Hinduism is a pluralist faith and also because the promise of equality attracted mostly the lower castes, especially from the untouchable castes, to convert to Christianity. Meanwhile the colonial administrators and scholars were interested in the Hindu scriptures and translations of different texts started appearing in print. The other important development during the British rule was also the development of modern science and technology and rationalism in spite of the fact that the British made use of science and technology for their own colonial purposes. This too had its impact on Hindu beliefs and rituals, especially about so called ‘superstitions’ in Hindu beliefs and rituals.  In effect this was a period of great churning.  And all this churning set the background for important developments in the temple scene after Independence.

To get back to our main theme, temples do not seem to have been much affected by those developments in the outside world. Temples were sacred spaces bound by strict conventions. But they had their share of disputes. Disputes included non-payment of dues by tenants, rivalry for formal positions and honours within the temple system, and so on. When they did not get resolved locally it was a tradition to take them to higher authorities, such as the kings or their local representatives. During the British period people often took their disputes to the British courts.

Thefts were also quite common which involved the police and the judiciary. The British government thus got involved in temple affairs by default. They tried to follow the local traditions as far as possible.  But soon the evangelists among the British did not approve of their involvement in pagan religion. The British responded by appointing local leaders as managers of temple affairs. The local leaders in turn also competed with each other for power and influence… till at last the state government took over the control of all temples.

State control of temples varies from state to state. In Tamil Nadu through the HR&CE Act of 1959 (The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act XXII of 1959) most temples are now under the HRCE department. The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act XXII of 1959 controls around 40,000 temples, over 50 mutts or religious orders (and 47 temples belonging to mutts), over 2000 specific endowments and trusts. The temples have an Executive Officer who manages the temple affairs with the help of a group of local leaders appointed as trustees. Politics invariably enters the scene as the trustees are often political appointments and wield a lot of power in decision making, especially with regard to allocation of shops, sites, expenditures of the temple, and so on. There are allegations of misuse and appropriation of temple funds and properties and courts are again involved. In spite of the disputes, temples continue to attract devotees, for they are generally not involved in the running of the temples.

Big changes in the temple scene in the post-independence era

The most important impact of the freedom struggle was to introduce several changes in the legal framework of the country towards democracy. The British had expanded their rule to cover almost the whole of the country, leaving aside a few independent monarchies, and had introduced their institutions of democratic governance. Imperfect they may have been but Indian leaders of the freedom struggle had grabbed them and fought for participation in the governance structures. The Hindu faith had also undergone a lot of internal questioning and changes in faith and practice under the powerful influence of a series of reformers, from the days of Buddhism-Jainism to the present day. By the time the country achieved independence, the country was ready for a constitution adopting democracy, with equality, fraternity and justice as its basic principles. Under it, discrimination against people on the basis of birth was declared illegal and a criminal offence. All these have had their impact in the temples too. Tensions were bound to occur when changes are introduced as the world view of traditional Indian society is in many respects different from modern world view and values.

Dalit entry into temples. One of the important changes was temple entry for the untouchable castes. As is well known, untouchability is very much an integral part of the Varna-Jati ideology and the caste system. Caste system is a highly complex social reality of India. An interplay of several frameworks, based on different criteria has resulted in the complex caste system. Race, slavery of conquered people, concepts of purity and pollution at birth, occupation and political-economic status, regional/linguistic differences have all played to produce a mosaic of thousands of Jatis and sub-castes.  These Jatis fit themselves loosely into the four Varna template, as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra.  The caste system has important social functions: it has been a readily available means of livelihoods, occupation and employment, a source of social interaction for purposes of marriage and reproduction, and protection against the ‘other’- adversarial situations and hostile social groups.

The earliest mention of the caste system occurs in the Purusha Sukta in Rig Veda, which states that Virat, the cosmic body of Purusha, through a sacrifice of himself, brings forth the avian, forest-dwelling and domestic animals, the three Vedas, the metres (of the mantras), the four Varnas- the Brahmin from the head, the Kshatriya from the arms, the Vaisya from the thighs and the Sudra from the feet. Whether they simply indicated their occupations, or a hierarchy of the social categories is not clear. This four varna part of the hymn is controversial and some scholars like Max Mueller believe it was an interpolation from later times. For, the Sukta does not elaborate on these categories; it goes on to state that the moon takes birth from the Purusha’s mind and the sun from his eyes. Indra and Agni descend from his mouth, and Vayu or air is born from his vital breath. The firmament comes from his navel, the heavens from his head, the earth from his feet and quarters of space from his ears.

Were these social categories porous or were they rigid and closed categories during the Rig Vedic times (around 1500- 1000 BCE)? We don’t know. But even during the Vedic times, communities which were “residing outside” the inhabitations of the Vedic people were mentioned.  However, Buddhist texts (around 500 BCE-300 CE) already speak of “high born”, “low born”, and “twice born”, apart from the four Varnas. The way of liberation from the caste hierarchy for the Buddhist lay in becoming a monk and joining the sangha, in which there was no caste. Buddhism did not try to change the society at large; it only emphasized the goal of life for individuals as a life free from desire, and tried to formalize renunciation from worldly life and the community of monks who took a vow to follow the teachings of the Buddha.  By the time of the Guptas, (400 CE to 600 CE) there was a backlash against Buddhism and other ascetic cults and the caste system led by the Dwijas- Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas- re-asserted itself. By then it had perhaps rigidified into a hierarchical system with endogamy and restricted interaction among the castes.

Through the ages every caste community has seen itself as a segment of a larger hierarchical system, but complete in itself, kept to itself on all intimate and important matters, namely livelihood, food- eating and marriage, and promoted only limited interaction among other castes. While each caste considered itself superior to other lower castes, its own lower position vis-à-vis the higher castes was not always accepted, but contested. Wealth and political power provided important means for upward mobility within the caste system. Sudra kings were awarded kshatriya status, sudra communities who got wealthy were conferred Vaisya status.  But throughout the country and through the centuries a category of castes called “Panchamas” or the fifth varna, or the “untouchables” has existed who are considered so highly polluted and polluting that they were kept excluded from homes and streets of the four varnas,  as well as from all sacred spaces including temples, and subject to  extreme exploitation and ill treatment. Their very presence and touch was considered polluting and they were forced to do the most menial tasks like collecting excrement of people of high castes, and disposing of dead bodies and carcasses. They had no way of escaping their situation.  

The exact origin of untouchability is also not clear. But it is surmised that when the cattle herding Vedic Aryans came and spread through the country, they came into contact with the local indigenous populations who were different in racial features, languages, social structure and culture.  Cultural exchanges with these local societies did take place, but those who did not share the culture and belief-worship system of the Aryans were treated as “outsiders”, as ‘them’ as against ‘us’.  This practice of excluding them from the four varna system,  keeping them at a distance from the main inhabitations, and using them more or less as slaves for doing agricultural labour and other menial and “polluting” works, and treating them as “untouchables” got entrenched and strengthened over time. Polluting works like collecting the excrement of high castes, maintaining graveyards and cremation grounds, officiating in funerals, dealing with dead bodies and carcasses of animals, doing leatherwork, etc. reinforced their pollution status.

The Bhakti movement and the temple system in South India did try to include the untouchable into its fold, at least in theory. Ramanuja is said to have taken a group of untouchables into the temple at Melkote in the kingdom of Mysore. He is also said to have stood on top of a temple tower and revealed the sacred mantra and initiated a whole community of ordinary people belonging to different castes, defying his guru’s orders to keep the sacred mantra secret and confidential. The story of exemplary devotion of Nandanar, an untouchable, is one of the myths in the Saivite lore, and he is considered one of the 63 Nayanmars, the Saivite saints.  But these cases of inclusion remained isolated, and never became a mainstream practice. It remained a token, confined to myth and ritual. For instance, a Dalit, ceremoniously mounted on an elephant, brings the water for abhishekam (ritual anointing of the deity) in the Thiruvarur temple during the annual festival. We don’t know when this custom began, but it is definitely an ancient custom and continues even today. He even receives a small monthly salary for it. During the annual temple festival, on the day of chariot procession, devotees of all castes, including the untouchables, participate in drawing the chariot. But on all other days untouchability was observed and it was business as usual. In brief, the bhakti movement, represented by the temple institution, did not try to overturn the caste system; it only included the different castes into its fold, giving each caste, a caste-appropriate office with caste- appropriate status and privileges.

The Upanishads, the Buddha and the Bhakti saints spoke from a very different level of consciousness; and they spoke to the individual. They urged individuals to raise their consciousness to a state of oneness with God and the universe, to show love and compassion to all life forms. They preached that there is no caste or creed in matters of spirituality. They did bring a sense of dignity to all the castes. To that extent they became a precursor to the latter-day movements professing equality and democracy.

Encounter with Christianity and Islam did attract the lower and the untouchable castes into their fold. But they did not change the status of untouchables much. For, although they professed equality before God, they did not challenge the caste system socially or politically; the converted people mostly reverted to their caste statuses.  It was the encounter with political system based on concepts of democracy and equality at birth, duly backed by laws against discrimination, and laws favoring political participation of all categories of people, which started the demand for equality for the untouchable and other lower castes at the constitutional as well as at the grassroots level. Temple entry movement was a part of this quest/demand towards total equality and non-discrimination by birth.

The temple entry movement had started in Kerala in the 1920s and was spearheaded by Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar Ramasamy Naicker and several other regional leaders in Kerala Kelappan. The entry by Dalits into temples was strongly opposed both in the courts and streets by the upper caste Hindus, but the progressive movements of the day carried it through successfully after a prolonged struggle. The Temple Entry Act, 1938 came into force in Madras Presidency. The Temple Entry Act granted equal rights to all classes of Hindus in matters of worship and the use of the public taps, wells, tanks, rest houses etc. In due course it became part of the Constitution (Article 17). Gandhi had believed in reform within Hinduism and had run a campaign for many years persuading the religious leaders as well as common people throughout India for throwing open the doors of temples to the untouchable communities, now called Dalits. He had declared untouchability to be a sin against humanity and called them, “harijans”, children of God. Ambedkar had demanded equal rights for Dalits in all spheres. The present Constitution of the country is a very strong votary of equality, and laws against discrimination on the basis of birth have been enacted. Today temples cannot openly discriminate against the Dalits. 

Today in the big temples no one knows/asks which castes the devotees belong to. However, in the small local temples the Dalits themselves may often refrain from entering the temple located in the high caste streets and offering worship, in anticipation of opposition to it from the higher castes. They may also erect their own temples for the Sanskritic deities and celebrate the same festivals which the higher castes do. For instance,  shrines for Ganesha have sprung up in many Dalitwadas and they also celebrate the Ganesh festival. Previously this would have been unthinkable. However, it is unfortunate that not only Hindus but all the religious communities in India and South Asia continue to practice some form of caste system, including untouchability. Total non-discrimination by birth remains a challenge.

Women and the temples

As we have seen earlier, women during their menstruation periods are forbidden to enter any temple. This is part of the prohibition against excretion of all bodily fluids- urine, feces, spit, menstrual blood, and semen. Till recently menstruating women used to be made to live at a distance even in the homes and no one could touch or go near her, except the babies nursed by her. She was not allowed to cook or enter the kitchen or the puja room. There are a few temples where she is forbidden at all times, for instance at the Saniswara temple near Nashik. The Aiyappa temple in Kerala forbids women from 10 to 50 years of age from entering the temple, as the deity Aiyappa is considered strictly to be observing celibacy at all times and the presence of women in menstruating age is seen as an affront to his celibacy. So only women before they attain puberty and after they attain menopause are allowed entry into the temple. There was a Supreme Court ruling in September 2018 allowing entry of the women but several review petitions were filed and effectively the ban continues. You will read more about the court case in the subsequent paragraphs.

Men are also supposed to observe celibacy strictly for a certain period before going to the Aiyappa temple, along with other austerities (like one time meal, bath in cold water, not wear footwear, offer worship twice daily to Aiyappa, etc.).

Celibacy or retention of the semen is considered to bestow special powers to the celibates, especially males. It is important to note that even within marriage men are required not to indulge in sex indiscriminately, but to be moderate. Sexual intercourse is seen as essentially for the propagation of progeny and not for pleasure. Woman therefore is considered as a “temptress”, to be selectively engaged in sexuality.  She is merely a container for the semen and a bearer of children for the family, especially sons, so that the patrilineal line can continue.

However, this line of thinking was opposed/ reversed in the sakta/tantric traditions, where women and their sexuality is affirmed as a source of pleasure, and not merely as a bearer of children. The tantric tradition has been in existence from early times and temples to goddesses were also built and offered worship. But the tantric tradition has always been a marginal one, relegated to special cults; the mainstream tradition has always been a patriarchal and a Brahmanical template, in which the woman was a container of semen, having no role in the conception and genetic makeup of the children. She upheld the family together for the men.

Reform movements within Hinduism have aimed at betterment of the status for women. The women had questioned the mistreatment of women, right from the time of Mahabharata. No one supported Draupadi who questioned the rules, not even Bhishma, the elder, and she had to avenge her humiliation through instigating a war. It is often said that in the Vedic times women were equal to men in education and knowledge and participation in sacrifice, etc. It is true that sacrificial rituals needed the women’s presence, but only as a secondary participant to the husband. Socially the woman could hold no property except when there were no male claimants, and that too as a special favour from her mother. The widow was required to live a strict austere life unless she married her husband’s brother (which was also not very common). Worse, in some communities the widow was supposed to commit sati, to immolate herself in the funeral pyre of her husband. However, we may hasten to add that women’s position differed from caste to caste, region to region. In some communities they had much greater status and power.

The British abolished the practice of sati in 1829 with the support of a few leaders from within the Hindu community. Hindu reformers advocated widow remarriage, banning of dowry, women’s education and so on. The practice of dedicating girls/women, called devadasis, to temples, was also frowned upon, as many of the devadasis were in poverty and lived by forced prostitution. Post-Independence, the devadasi system was prohibited by a law in different states. 

Scientific advances have also helped to understand the role of women in conception, genetic makeup of humans and propagation of the species.  Nowadays people have come to accept menstruation and sexual intercourse as a natural necessity for healthy women for procreation and the propagation of the human species. Once begun, women empowerment has been a continuous process, led by both women and men. Legislations have often helped in this process. Laws banning dowry, allowing inheritance for women, promoting education, giving voting rights, reservation in governance at the lower levels of governance have all been important milestones in this journey.

In continuation of this empowerment process women began to cremate their relatives a few years ago, which was not allowed in traditional society. Recently women have also begun to officiate as priests in domestic rituals such as marriage. Although these instances happened only in some corner of the country, they made news.

A few women questioned the practice of not allowing women in menstruating age into the Aiyappa temple in Kerala. A court case had already been instituted in the Kerala High Court in 1990 and the Court had banned the entry of women in 1991, according to the tradition of the temple. In 2006, six female members of the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association petitioned the Supreme Court of India, asking them to lift the ban on women of reproductive age. On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that women of all ages could enter the temple of Sabarimala. A woman judge of the Supreme Court dissented, saying that an age old religious tradition should not be disturbed. There was a furore against this judgement. Opposition to this judgement came not only from men but also from women. A review petition of the judgement has been conceded and the matter is now subjudice. Subsequently a few women made attempts to enter the temple and they were stopped.

The point is although women may consider menstrual periods as a necessary natural process, they may still not accept it as permissible in sacred spaces. For, as mentioned earlier, all bodily excretions are considered polluting in Hinduism- spit, sweat, urine, faeces, menstrual blood, semen, dead body – and they are not allowed to have a place inside the temples. As long as Hindus, including the women, believe in these traditions, women will continue to face and accept restrictions in sacred spaces such as temples. It continues to pose a challenge in the case of Sabarimala temple, where the god is a strict celibate and the devotees also observe celibacy during the periods of worship. How it gets resolved is to be seen in the future.

Meanwhile in 2018 the Bombay High Court allowed women entry into the Sani temple at Nashik and a few women entered forcefully. Here again there was a furore, with some supporting the judgment and others, including women, opposing it. Sani is one of the nine planets in the Hindu astronomy/ astrology who is considered a planet with negative effects, such as, loss of property, relationships, even death, when ‘he’ influences your birth chart during certain periods of one’s life (unless it is in certain special positions). He is always painted black, with a crow as his vehicle. The crow represents death and ancestors in the Hindu belief system. He is said to be the son of Surya (the Sun) and Chaaya (shade) and to have Yama, the god of death, as his brother, and two wives- Neela( blue) and Manda (sluggish) – all having negative associations. He is always depicted as a standalone image with the crow behind. Temples to Saniswara are rare, hardly numbering around ten in the whole country. In the Saniswara temple near Nasik, women, who represent auspiciousness and family life are not allowed to enter. This is not the case in other Sani temples in other places. Although the court allowed women to enter the temple, and some women did forcefully enter the temple, one wonders if it will become a common practice.

It is obvious there is a clash between certain beliefs and traditions of the Hindus and values of the Constitution. The Courts are often caught in a dilemma especially between the right to religious freedom (Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution) and right against discrimination by religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them (Article 15). Religious beliefs run deep, especially the beliefs which evoke fear and supernatural punishment if the rules are transgressed. A long persistent campaign is necessary to persuade and convince the believers to break the traditions and bring about change. And many changes have happened, such as, in the sphere of family planning, education and employment. Changes through law can and do help but can also be counterproductive, if a social consensus is not built around the change through public debates. Women themselves have opposed these changes in large numbers and the situation may get frozen back to old times.

In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu government has appointed a few women as Oduvars in some temples. They recite the Tamil hymns at the time of worship. Tamil hymns are recited routinely by men in the bigger Siva and Vishnu temples as part of the worship service. In Siva temples it is done by members of a non- Brahmin caste, called, Pandaram or Desikar. The post is called Oduvar, a Tamil word for ‘reciters’. This move has faced no great opposition.  A few years ago the Tamil Nadu government had also introduced the option of offering worship in Tamil, although not many people may be availing it. The priests have always done the service in Sanskrit and these ‘mantras’ are accepted by devotees as the right way to do the worship service. However, as the option does exist, some Tamil enthusiasts are found to demand the service in Tamil. Again this can be seen as a continuation of vernacularization during the Bhakti movement when Tamil poems in praise of the deity was incorporated as a component of the worship system in temples of Tamil Nadu since the time of Ramanuja. No wonder the chief minister of Telangana decided upon a statue for Ramanuja and named it as a statue for equality.

Priesthood for castes other than Brahmins

The Tamil Nadu government in 2021 threw open temple priesthood to all castes, including the Dalit castes and appointed 23 priests who had been trained in temple priesthood 13 years ago. This was to redeem the promise of Periyar and Karunanidhi, the leaders of the Dravidian movement, who felt non-brahmins should be allowed to become priests, as part of their opposition to Brahmanical order of hierarchy based on birth, purity and pollution. But some of the newly appointed priests have complained that the existing Brahmin priests in some temples have opposed it, have teased and mocked the non-brahmin priests and have given non-priestly work to them. But the devotees have not objected till now and the government is firm; except one of the appointees, none of the newly appointed non-brahmin priests have resigned. The appointees are waiting for the government to act.

The fact of the matter is that in many grama devata temples in Tamil Nadu non-brahmins serve as priests already, although not in the inside-the-village temples dedicated to ‘higher’ gods. In 1971 the then DMK government had amended the TN HR&CE Act to abolish hereditary appointments of priests in the temples in the state. This was challenged in the Supreme Court, which took the side of the state government. But in reality the post of priest continues to be hereditary and the priests are afraid of losing their holds on the post. Hereditary posts ensure that there is no competition. Many youngsters from priest families have left the family profession, but the priests have seen to it that some member of the family serves as priests, so that the tradition is carried on and the livelihood and income are also continued. The opposition from the priests is perhaps basically to secure their livelihood, although an undercurrent of superiority and entitlement of the Brahmin caste may also be present.

Local community control vs. state/government control

Temples have always attracted state control since several centuries. As we have seen, kings built, donated, patronized temples and in turn and received patronage and legitimacy for themselves. They largely left worship and the local management to the local communities, consisting mainly of priests, leaders of monasteries, and the dominant upper castes. However, disputes, if they could not be solved locally, were referred to higher authorities, including kings who in turn consulted a council of elders and leaders and gave their verdicts.

During the British period attempts were made to take over the administration of some temples where there were disputes over status and duties of functionaries. But this was opposed by the Christian missionaries. The British gave back control over the temples they had taken over to the local community leaders. There were again disputes and the government had to intervene. In the post-Independence era some of the local/state governments legislated laws to take over the administration of the temples. In Tamil Nadu this was done for two reasons: many temples held a lot of properties and wealth and there was corruption, embezzlement and misuse. There were litigations and the governments were forced to appoint administrators. Secondly the Government was keen that the momentum of social justice movements should not be lost, especially allowing entry of backward castes and untouchables into temples. There was apprehension that local community control will bring back opposition to lower castes entering and having equal rights in temples. 

Today more than 40000 temples are being administered by the state government of Tamil Nadu. Not all of them are well off, in fact many of them in poor financial state. There are also allegations of corruption, political interference and political party domination.  A movement is brewing that government should give back control over temples to local communities. Local communities will work better to ensure that the temple will grow in prosperity.  The government’s stand is as follows: If it gives the local community control there is no guarantee of greater efficiency or corruption–free management; further the managements may not respect the constitutional values of equality of treatment and non-discrimination to certain sections of the society. Instead, the government has promised to work toward greater transparency by digitizing the transactions and decision making. A move which has pacified the demand for local control to some extent.

It is also being argued that the religious institutions of Christians and Muslims are independent of state control, therefore why not Hindu religious institutions? The autonomy of minority religious institutions was conceived to give the minorities a feeling of religious freedom and security. But in the recent years many disputes have arisen within the minority institutions in which the courts have had to intervene. The government has not come up with a clear policy on this issue.

Composite temples

 In the recent decades a certain degree of ‘democratization’ has also happened in the institution of temples. Sectarian differences have diminished and a cafeteria approach has been taken with regard to the deities installed in the temples. Under the same roof different deities (which traditionally would not be found under the same roof) have been installed – Vishnu, Siva, goddesses in beneficial form (Lakshmi, Andal), goddesses in fierce form (Durga, Kali), Aiyappa, Hanuman, some saints belonging to Vaishnava and Saivite sects – all find themselves under the same roof, albeit in separate shrines or niches. They are served by priests from the appropriate community- Siva shrine by a Saivite priest, Vishnu shrine by Vaishnavite priest. Devotees seem to welcome this and go around all of them perhaps thinking it is better to be blessed by more gods than just a few! Shri. Satya Sai Baba had even promoted composite temples of different religions – Hindu, church and mosque within the same building/complex, but this has not become common. Temples dedicated to saints in modern period, especially, Shirdi Sai Baba, have also come up inside temples to gods. When such composite temples are becoming the new normal, what is the rationale for disputes?


The previous five parts of the article can be seen on the given links –

Part 1 – Who are Hindus

Part 2 – History and Myths in Hinduism

Part 3 – Hinduism : Is it Sanathan?

Part 4 – Vedas to Puranas; Yajna to Puja

Part 5 – Is it Mandatory for a Hindu to Visit temples?

Part 6 – Come, Let’s Go Inside the Temple

Part 7 – Bhakti Movement and the Temples

*Dr Uma Shankari who has a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Delhi, has been associated with various social movements since early eighties. She has published a book in Tamil which is about the relation between temples and the Hindu religion and society.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author and do not reflect the views of raagdelhi.com, which does not assume any responsibility for the same.


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