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Three Types of Monastic Temple in Hindu India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2014

Albert William Sadler*
Affiliation:
Sarah Lawrence College

Abstract

Much of what is vital in contemporary urban Hinduism is centered in maths, temples maintained by religious orders. The activities of both monks and laymen in these centers reflect the unique solution of their community to the perennial Hindu problem of balancing Wisdom, Ecstasy, and Works. Maths of the ancient Shankara Order clearly reflect the dichotomy between the monks' quest for wisdom and the laymen's practice of devotion, as noted by Max Weber; maths of the medieval Chaitanya Order show, in their layout, the centrality of kirtan (ecstatic communal worship); maths of the modern order of Sri Ramakrishna reflect the modern emphasis on practical service to the community through education and medicine. In each case, the configuration of the monastic-temple enclosure reflects the spirit of the community and the order.

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Copyright
Copyright © The College Theology Society 1975

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References

1 Pandit, M. P., “Sri Aurobindo Ashram,” in Gupta, Nolini Kanta and Pandit, M. P., The Message of Sri Aurobindo and the Ashram (New Delhi: Sri Aurobindo Niketan, 1951), pp. 1011Google Scholar.

2 Pandit, M. P., Where the Wings of Glory Brood (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1961), p. 37Google Scholar.

3 Aurobindo, Sri, The Life Divine (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1955), p. 1249Google Scholar.

4 Ibid., p. 1262.

5 Letters of Sri Aurobindo on the Mother (Bombay: Sri Aurobindo Circle, 1951), pp. 127128Google Scholar.

6 O'Malley, L. S. S., Popular Hinduism (New York: Macmillan, 1935), pp. 200201Google Scholar.

7 Melville, T. Kennedy, The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of the Vaishnavism of Bengal (Calcutta: Association Press, 1925), p. 20Google Scholar.

8 Ibid., p. 21.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid., p. 22.

11 Ibid., p. 200.

12 Ibid., pp. 166, 170-171.

13 Ibid., p. 149.

14 Ibid.

15 Anonymous, Sree Chaitanya Math, Sree Mayapur, Nadia, and Its Branches Throughout India and Pakistan, Popularly Known as Gaudiya Maths, Founded by Prabhupad Paramahansa Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj (Sree Mayapur: Sree Chaitanya Math, n.d.), p. 19Google Scholar.

16 Ibid.

17 Kennedy, , The Chaitanya Movement, pp. 153155Google Scholar.

18 Before the reform, however, all Chaitanya monks wore white robes, as was the Vaishnavite custom, and were known as sita padris, or white monks. Ghurye, G. S., in his encyclopedic Indian Sadhus (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1953), p. 186Google Scholar (or pp. 163-164 of the second edition, dated 1964), notes that the change to ochre-colored robes may be “a reflection of the great influence that the Ramakrishna Mission has been wielding during the last forty years.”

19 We of course do not mean to suggest that Buddhism is not Indian in origin; but there is something peculiarly un-Indian in the Buddhist desire to bring monasticism under a Rule, and even more in the Buddhist rejection of the characteristically Indian love of philosophic speculation, which so often tends towards philosophic verbosity. For these reasons, presumably, Buddhism, though Indian in origin, failed to take permanent root in its own homeland.

20 Weber, Max, The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism, trans. Gerth, Hans and Martindale, Don (Glencoe: Free Press, 1958), p. 301Google Scholar.

21 Ibid., p. 300.

22 Ibid.

23 Ghurye, , Indian Sadhus, pp. 9899 (pp. 87-88 in the revised edition)Google Scholar.

24 Nanavutty, Piloo, “The Influence of Religion,” in Women of India, ed. Baig, Tara Ali (Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1958), pp. 144145Google Scholar.

25 From a letter received by a student of mine, who was working on the use of the Montessori method by the Ramakrishna Order.

26 Standing, E. M., Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work (New York: NAL Mentor, 1962), p. 226Google Scholar.

27 Madhavananda, Swami, General Report of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission (Belur: Belur Math, 1959), p. 1Google Scholar.

28 See Pandey, Raj Bali, Hindu Samskaras: A Socio-Religious Study of the Hindu Sacraments (Banares, 1949)Google Scholar; Mrs. Stevenson, Sinclair, The Rites of the Twice-Born (London: Oxford University Press, 1920)Google Scholar; Dubois, Abbe J. A., Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906), pp. 155-170 and 217234Google Scholar; O'Malley, L. S. S., Popular Hinduism, pp. 112120Google Scholar; Basham, A. L., The Wonder That Was India (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1954), ppp. 159177Google Scholar; and Pratt, James B., India and Its Faiths (Boston, 1915), pp. 127139Google Scholar.

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