Home Features
Archana Magazine Features
Deities In The Temple and What They Mean

A Hindu Temple is a sacred place, endowed with divine energies and powers. At the heart of each temple lie the deities to whom we bow and pray in worship. Why is it, though, that these statues, these ‘idols’ are worshipped as God? How did they come to be infused with divine characteristics? The answer is the Prana Pratishtha ceremony.

People say that Hindus are the idol worshippers. We are not. We are ideal worshippers. It is not the plaster and the marble and stone we revere; rather it is the presence of God, which has been transmitted into these otherwise lifeless statues. The rites and rituals of prana pratishtha are followed according the Agamic texts. Prior to the installations, priests who have been well trained in Vedic rituals, perform specific mantras and pujas, which have been shown to endow an inanimate object with divine life and energy.

These mantras and rites begin with the simple man who sculpts the stones. He is not an ordinary artist. Rather, he is the one who has been blessed with the ability to create a physical manifestation of God. He performs puja and prayer prior to and during the sculpting. He maintains, in his mind the vision of the deity he is sculpting. He prays for this God to come to life in his statue. His work area looks more like a temple than an art studio. So, from the very first moment, the stone is treated with reverence and piety, preparing it to carry the force of the god.

Attachment is defined in Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita under Karma Yoga, and is said to be the sole creator of physical bondage and worldly human suffering. Attachment is rooted in cause by unhealthy desires to sensory objects. As the Gita explains, desires to have sensory objects such as money and other materialistic substances are completely unnecessary but are not bad unless the desires reach a level of intensity in which the person with the desires is constantly thinking about these desires and becomes distracted. At this point the desire has become unhealthy and the person has shown signs of attachment to the sensory object.

Higher Calling (Chapter II: Bhagavad Geetha)

In Chapter II of the Bhagavad Geetha, Krishna attempts to heal Arjuna's painful depression. Arjuna is overwhelmed by his tragic situation and cannot bear to fight in the war. He presents his argument in the first chapter as the Lord listens in silence. Krishna then begins to refute the simple-minded Arjuna by analyzing death and existence, and he soon follows by describing a Path to Perfection through the Yoga of Knowledge.

Sense of Self: Ego

The ego is the single most crucial concept to be found in eastern religions. One will find lots of literature on the Ego in both Hinduism and Buddhism, as both of these religions work to eliminate it. But what exactly is it? We hear so much about it, but do we really know what it is? And why is it bad? Why do these religions try to eliminate the Ego?

Yajna (Sacrifice)

What is Yajna? Most people are under the misunderstanding that Yajna is a pooja with a sacrificial fire, better known as Daivayajna. However, this is just a kind of yajna. Yajna is any kind of sacrifice, done for the satisfaction of others with no expectance of a sense of gratification. Yajna must be performed with a goal of satisfying God as well. Therefore, Yajna isn't just a pooja. For instance, abolishing your bad qualities, such as ignorance and hatred is considered a type of yajna.


Temple Events

NEW! View our real-time calendar of events and programs. Powered by Google Calendar, you can now view upcoming events from anywhere, sync to Microsoft Outlook and Apple iCal, and get reminders right on your mobile phone.

History and Hinduism

For most of the last 2,000 years, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions have taught that our world started quite recently (around 4000 BCE) and will come to a complete end when God stopes the flow of time and establishes us in eternity. Hindus don't believe this. In 4000 BCE, their culture was already ancient.

Sage Advice: Yoga Vasishtha

"Devine Being, like a sea, surges upward in a wave of creation, then subsides again into its own nature. Waves of universes rise incessantly, in infinite numbers, one after another."
-- Yoga Vasishtha 2:19


You can assist the Birmingham Hindu Temple with our numerous educational, cultural and service programs through easy, online donations. Your generous donation of any amount is greatly appreciated.