Yes or No Questions:

  1. Do Hindu scriptures say that we should build temples? (Yes | No)

  2. If I go to Lord Shiva's and Lord Hanuman's temple, but I also have the deities at home temple (puja mandir), can I ignore going to the public temple? Is it necessary to visit a (public) temple which has "Pran Pratishtha" instead of the normal temple at home where we pray and worship God but God goes away after worshiping? (Yes | No)

  3. Are there any rules for home and public temples? If yes, what are they? Are the rules same for both or different based on the category?

  4. Is it necessary for a Hindu to visit a temple at least once a day? (Yes | No)

  5. Did Hindu scriptures originate temples or is it the people (Brahmins/devotees)? (Scripture | People)

Question Requiring Explanation:

I am interested in knowing what Hindu scriptures say about temples, I was not able to find out myself so can someone please share from any written content?

  • 1
    the temple in your home is the dwelling place of your personal God. He manifests himself, in a way personal to you and your family. The temple in your neighborhood is the dwelling place for the God, who has manifested Himself to cater to the needs of that neighborhood. There is also another temple, which is the temple of your Heart. This is where you can make the most personal and loving connection with God. The third temple is the most critical. Once God is felt in the inner Heart, then that is the only temple where one needs to visit. – Sai Nov 10 '14 at 20:15
  • What do you mean by Close Question vs. Open Question? – sv. Oct 15 '15 at 19:30
  • close question are answered in yes/no and open questions are answered briefly. – Mr. P Oct 16 '15 at 5:32
  • @parthtrivedi: This video might help you. youtu.be/VCatYnhgFko – Prashanth Bl Oct 23 '15 at 14:56
up vote 12 down vote accepted

General perspective on temple worship: Deity worship was the main process in dvapara yuga. In kaliyuga the recommended process is chanting of the holy names of Lord Hari. You can see this for more information on this point.

Do Hindu scriptures say that we should build temples? (Yes | No)

Building temples is beneficial for our own self and for the society. Couple of scriptural citations:

One who builds or helps to build a beautiful temple for the Lord will be freed from all sinful reactions and will enter the Vaikuntha planets. - [Narasimha Purana]

One who offers the Deity gifts of land, markets, cities and villages so that the regular daily worship and special festivals of the Diety may go on will continually achieve opulence equal to My Own - [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.27.51]

If I go to Lord Shiva's and Lord Hanuman's temple, but I also have the deities at home temple (puja mandir), can I ignore going to the public temple? Is it necessary to visit a (public) temple which has "Pran Pratishtha" instead of the normal temple at home where we pray and worship God but God goes away after worshiping? (Yes | No)

Generally a temple where the deities are worshiped according to scriptural injunctions is more conducive for spiritual advancement. The atmosphere is clean and spiritual because the sole purpose of the place is to facilitate deity worship and other spiritual activities. Having said that in an advanced stage when our heart is filled with devotion we will be able to feel that sanctity all over and our worship-able Lord everywhere. However, this is not the position of normal people but highly elevated. So unless the temple is far away it is better to go to a temple regularly. If the temple is far, one can worship at home daily and visit temple on a regular basis.

Are there any rules for home and public temples? If yes, what are they?

I can only answer from Vaishnava perspective (Gaudiya Sampradaya) for worshiping Vishnu deities. This site, under 'Worship' menu has Temple and Home Worship sub sections. Under them you will see other sub sections.

Is it necessary for a Hindu to visit a temple at least once a day? (Yes | No)

Vedic scriptures don't make anything mandatory. They recommend the best things for us and it's up to us to seek and follow. If you do go to a temple, it elevates your consciousness and brings you closer to attaining self realization. If it is impractical to go daily make it a weekly or other suitable periodical visit. Also when you take up a spiritual path, it is your guru who can give you the best advice.

Did Hindu scriptures originate temples or is it the people (Brahmans/devotees)? (Scripture | People)

There are ample references to temple and deity worship in Vedic scriptures. For one such instance read chapter 11.27 of Srimad Bhagavatam: Lord Krishna's Instructions on the Process of Deity Worship

Temples as we know them have not always existed. Originally people prayed in their homes and would have occasional gatherings for different occasions and sacrifices. The first temples weren't so much a building that you could enter but were rather stupas or pillars, mostly small. People with more money would build bigger stupas or pillars. Even now, traveling sadhus will occasionally pile some rocks together at a certain place they think is auspicious. As civilization progressed, especially during the Buddhist period, temples and ceremonies became more and more elaborate. As Hinduism resurged, the influence of the Buddhist temples led to the development of elaborate Hindu temples. So in answer to your questions:

  1. No, scriptures do not say we should or should not build temples.

  2. Visiting a public temple is entirely voluntary. Remember though that a place where there is a lot of prayer and has been visited by holy persons takes on an atmosphere of its own which lends itself to the divine presence and elevated thoughts.

  3. No rules in the Sruti. There maybe some rules in some Smriti.

  4. No.

  5. The idea of temples originated from people's mind. There is nothing in Sruti. There are old texts that describe in detail how to build temples, but they are not scripture.

  • Not sure if I agree about the Buddhist influence; do you have a source? After all, most of the Tamil Azhwars, who are famous for their praises of the 108 Divya Desams (famous Vishnu temples) were born millenia before the rise of Buddhism. For instance, Andal, who is known to have visited Srirangam (2nd largest temple in the world), is believed to have been born in 3005 BCE while Buddha was only born around 600 BCE. – Akshay Nov 8 '14 at 17:47
  • @Swami Vishwananda Please guide me such that I can make question clearer than before. Would you please like to tell me which part is unclear? Thank You for your inputs. – Mr. P Nov 9 '14 at 7:05
  • Akshay, First, "The earliest stone monuments in India date from the Maurya period (320-185 B.C.), particularly from the epoch-making reign of Asoka (272-232 B.C.)... in the earlier centuries (though invisible to us , because committed to perishable materials of ivory and wood)..." And "Now it is very interesting to observe that among the substructures and outlines of innumerable houses excavated at Mohenjo-Daro [climax about 2500 B.C.] none has been found of proportions great enough to suggest the site of a temple or public sanctuary." in MYTHS and SYMBOLS in INDIAN ART and CIVILIZATION – Swami Vishwananda Nov 9 '14 at 7:44
  • by Heinrich Zimmer, edited by Joseph Campbell. He also mentions the influence of Buddhism and Hinduism on each other. 2nd source is in the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda who mentions the Buddhist influence in different lectures. One is his lecture entitled "Buddhistic India" in Vol. 3 – Swami Vishwananda Nov 9 '14 at 7:57
  • Parth, all of (5) is unclear. Rephrase it for clarity. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 9 '14 at 8:01

Although the question is already having a selected answer there is no harm in providing another one.

1)Yes Hindu Shastras praise the act of constructing temples as an extremely virtuous one.Few such Puranic references are already mentioned in the selected answer.Here are few more from the Agni Purana:

Even a thought of constructing a Temple or a Water Body is adequate to demolish sins of long standing nature and to actually accomplishing the task is like establishing a right to reach Vaikuntha. The devotee who completes the temple construction also redeems the sins of his previous generations; indeed, his ‘pitaras’ would secure instant relief from the torments of hells and qualify for substantial dispensations.The person(s) responsible for this deed of extraordinary merit is eligible for ‘Yagna Phal’, ‘Samasta Tirthta Snaana Phal’, and ‘veera phal’or death on battle fields. If a miser takes up the deed of Temple renovation, let alone construction, would in his own life time qualify the fulfillment of his dream-like aspirations of muliplying his assets. The construction of even an ‘Ekayatan’ or single one room temple would attain Swargaloka

more,

Even when children for fun or playfulness build temples with sand would also qualify for salvation. Persons who undertake repairs, let alone construct temples new, are also eligible for attaining Mukti. Those who are responsible for constructing temples of Vishnu, Shiva, Surya or Devi become residents of those very Lokas and more significantly their family members too share the same benefit.

& more,

Lord Yama Dharmara Raja addressed the ‘Yamadootas’ and said: ‘Never bring human beings to ‘Narakas’ who constructed temples, or set up Idols of Devas, or were engaged in regular Pujas there................Never even look at those who built ‘Mandirs’ of Bhagavan of any name like Vishnu/ Shiva/ Shakti and other Forms or even the progeny or relatives of those illustrious devotees as there is no question of bringing those to Narakas at all. Dharmaraja said:

Ishtakachaya vinyaaso yaavantyaabdaani tishthati, taadvarsha sahasraani tatkarturdivi samsthitih / Pratimaakrud Vishnu lokam sthaapako leeyatey Harou, Devasadyaprati kruti pratishthaakruttu gocharey--(The person who constructed the Temple should reside in Swarga for so many years as the totality of bricks used in it. He who made the Pratima would attain ‘Vishnuloka’and he who made the temple and established the Pratima would live in that loka forever.

Similarly,the Skanda Purana says:

Like wise anybody establishes a Siva Linga and a Temple Complex would surely reserve a place in Siva Loka . Those who clean up any Siva Temple with a broom would be free from ailments and illness

2&4)Hindu Shastras will never force someone into doing something but the Scriptures do mention the need of visiting Temples on certain occasions.Even the oldest Dharma Shastra ,the Manu Smriti,says this:

4.153. But on the Parva-days let him go to visit the (images of the) gods, and virtuous Brahmanas, and the ruler (of the country), for the sake of protection, as well as his Gurus.

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3)The rules are many regarding Temple worship.You can find few glimpses of them in the Agni Purana page itself.Rules of worshiping in homes are also many and are contained in the Smritis & other Scriptures.

5)The Puranas mention about temples on numerous occasions.So,without doubt temples originated from Shastras and not from human mind.

The following references of temples are from Manu Smriti itself:

8.248. Tanks, wells, cisterns, and fountains should be built where boundaries meet, as well as temples,

4.46.(let him not evacuate bowels) Nor on ploughed land, in water, on an altar of bricks, on a mountain, on the ruins of a temple, nor ever on an ant-hill,

9.280. Those who break into a (royal) storehouse, an armoury, or a temple, and those who steal elephants, horses, or chariots, he shall slay without hesitation.

3.180 (Food) given to a seller of Soma becomes ordure, (that given) to a physician pus and blood, but (that presented) to a temple-priest is lost, and (that given) to a usurer finds no place (in the world of the gods)

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