A Temple is first and foremost a spiritual institution. But it is also many things in one. The Temple is a centre of learning. It is also a home for many saints and spiritual seekers who learn to practice meditation and study Shastras such as Vedas, Upanishads, Agamas, Nigamas and so on. The Temple is a socio-economic entity. There are many cottage industries within a Temple, using the produce of its farmlands.
The Temple combines agriculture, industry and trade, based on indigenous methods. The Temple is also a centre for learning and propagating arts and crafts. The Temple is also a social welfare institution. Every Temple runs many social welfare institutions like schools, hostels, old age homes, hospitals, goshalas etc.
The Temple is a centre for the preservation of the cultural heritage of the country. A Hindu temple combines architecture, sculpture and painting in one exquisite structure. Not only this, it also incorporates performing arts such as music, singing and dancing. The Temple is also a centre for great literature. The Temple is a centre of charity. People give charity to these Temples in money and in kind. The Temples get charity from the rich as well as the poor. In the past, kings and the administrative authorities also gave grants to the temples or the Temples. In turn, the Temples help the poor of the society with this charity.
Till independence, Temples functioned as the legal aid clinic for the rural population. In some cases they still do. The Temples also function as a Social Security system. They help in times of emergencies like floods, famines, epidemics and other such emergencies by providing relief work. This talk will cover the beautiful Hindu Temples – Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, KaddhSiddheshwar Temple-Kolhapur, Shri Ranganathaswamy Temple-Tiruchirapally and Veera Narayana Temple-Belavadi.