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Thursday, 16 March 2017


Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos

The Golden Temple of the Sikhs, in Amritsar, India

The places of worship are presented in alphabetical order.
The worship places of religions are:


The Buddhist Temple: The Buddhist art is identified mostly to Indian art because it is mainly cultivated in India and it is strictly religious character, as it is connected closely with the worship of Buddha. The largest part of Buddhist art is concentrated in the temple, which not only employs the architect, but also the sculptor and painter...
The Temple is the image of the universe. It has the shape of a tiered pyramid decorated with depictions of all animal organisms from the imperfect until Buddha, who is depicted serene and majestic on the flattened top of the pyramid. Tall walls, huge towers and broad pillars, which belonging to the building complex of the temple, give usually in this an imposing appearance.

It is common form and this type of the church, which is dug into the base of huge rocks, and consisting mostly of oversized hypostyle halls. Also, some Buddhist temples are located in the middle of courtyards and verdant avenues, which include multitudinous altars. From the temples that are dug in the rocks, very old are those of Lomas Rsi or Bhaa, who belong to the III centenary B.C., while the Buddhist caves of Bedsa, of Karle, of Nasik etc. belong to the second centenary B.C.
All these buildings or architectural constructions are distinguished for the colossal dimensions. The colossal size is one of the most prominent and most stable characters of Buddhist art. Other characters, equally remarkable are the large accumulation of modalities, the mania i.e. to covering every bare surface with a plurality of infinite illustrations of any kind, such as gods, humans and animals, which interlocked under the galloping imagination of the artist, but also the apotheosis of instincts, with the representation of infinite complexes between gods, humans and animals. The coupling also of both sexes gives the opportunity for creations with vicious and orgiastic complexes. But these monstrous representations are justified because of the multitude of gods and narratives of Indian mythology.
The Hindu Temple or Mandir : Is a structure designed in such a way as to bring humans with the gods, using the symbolism in order to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. This symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple have their roots in the Vedic tradition. A temple incorporates all the elements of the Hindus, that is what they think about the World, presenting the good, the bad and the human or the sense of circular time and the essence of life, and the basic teachings of Hinduism that is Dharma, Kama, the Artha, the Moksha and Karma.

The spiritual principles of Hinduism that symbolically represented in Hindu temple, listed in ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Vedas and Upanishads, with various rules for the structure and its construction are described in various ancient treatises about the architecture. Even, the layout, the motifs, the design and building process were recited in ancient ceremonially with geometric symbolism and reflect the beliefs and values that are inherent in the various schools of Hinduism. A Hindu temple for many Hindus is a spiritual destination, because it looked upon as a landmark around which flourished the ancient art, the economy and finally the community events.
Hinduistic temples exist in many forms, are in various locations, they have different construction methods and are tailored to hundreds of different deities are worshiped in different regions of India and other countries, but almost all of them they share some basic ideas, symbolism and themes of Hinduism. Hindu Temples are found mainly in India and Nepal, in Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, the islands of Indonesia and Malaysia and in countries such as the Caribbean islands Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, South Africa, Europe and North America and generally where there is a significant Hindu community. The present form and external appearance of Hindu temples reflect the arts, materials and designs that evolved during several millennia, also reflecting the influence of the conflict between Hinduism and Islam from the 12th century A.D.
Almost all the Hindu temples have two forms, a simple building or of a palace. A temple in the form of a simple building is considered as a simple shelter and serves as the home of a deity, in which someone visits, as we were visiting a friend or relative. According to the teaching of Hinduism, the temples are places for the puja, which is a ritual of hospitality in which the worshiper is invited to connect with the divinity. In other words, the Hindu temples are places where the person can perform meditation, yoga or introspection. The temples in the form of the palace are more elaborated and they have often monumental architecture.
According to ancient Sanskrit texts, the proper place for a Mandir, is near water or gardens where lotus flowers and other flowers are blooming, in which are heard swans, ducks and other birds, where the animals are resting without fear of injuries. These harmonics locations proposed in these documents, with the explanation that in such places are playing and the gods, so these are the best locations for the Hindu temples.
The basic principle to build a Hindu temple is based - as we have already said - on the belief that all things are one, that everything is connected. The pilgrim is welcome in the mathematically structured space, which is an art complex with pillars, sculptures and statues, which they call upon him to celebrate the four important and indispensable values of human life, namely the pursuit of Artha (prosperity, wealth), of kama (pleasure, sex), of Dharma (virtue, moral life) and moksha (liberation, self-awareness).
Temple of Confucianism: The temples are dedicated to Confucius, are known by a variety of names throughout Eastern Asia. The two largest of these located in the city of Qufu in China and Beijing, known in Chinese as "Temples of Confucius". In Shanghai, Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia are known as "Temples of Literature" or "Temples of Wisdom and Literature", from the role of Confucius in traditional Chinese worship as "Lord of Knowledge" or "of Literature". In Japan, they are commonly known as "Temples" or "Halls of Wisdom".
The development of state temples, dedicated to the worship of Confucius was a result of his progressive sanctification. In 195 BC, the Han Gao Zu, founder of the Han Dynasty (206-195 BC) was the one who made sacrifices in the spirit of Confucius in the tomb of his hometown Qufu. Sacrifices in the spirit of Confucius and Yan Hui, of his most important disciple, had started at the Imperial University (Biyong), already in 241 AD.
In 454 AD, the dynasty Liu Song, of the South China built a prominent state temple dedicated to Confucius. In 489 AD, the Northern Dynasty Wei, built a temple of Confucius in the capital, the first outside of Qufu, in the north. In 630 AD, the Tang Dynasty, in all districts and counties has decided that the schools should have a temple of Confucius, so to spread the temples all over the china. Well known temples of Confucius, include their respective temples, as in Jianshui, in Xian, the Fuzi Miao in Nanjing, and the Temple of Confucius in Beijing, the first that was built in 1302 AD. The Temple of Confucius in Tianjin, which occupies 32 acres of land, is the largest extant traditional architect   The biggest and oldest Temple of Confucius is located in his homeland, Qufu. Founded in 479 BC, one year after his death, during the reign of Duke Ai, of Lu province, who ordered that the residence of Confucius should now be used as a place of pilgrimage and to offer sacrifice. In a period of over 2000 years this temple was extended until it became the huge existing building complex. Apart from the temples of Confucius, associated with the cult, there are also buildings throughout China, where are honored his acts, as well as private temples within the Academies.ural complex in it.

At the beginning of the dynasty Tang (618 - 907 AD), Confucian temples were built in the provincial and county schools throughout the empire, in front or on one side of the school. The front gate of the temple is called Lingxing gate. In its interior there are usually three courtyards, but sometimes there are only two. However, the complex in Qufu has nine courtyards containing columns with the number of visits by the Emperor during the celebration period, or the awarding of the imperial titles of nobility to Confucius descendants. The main building, located in the inner courtyard is called Dachengdian, which is variously translated as "hall of the great achievement", "hall of the great integration", or "Hall of great perfection". Another important building behind the center is the "Chapel of adoring the Wisdom", honoring the ancestors of Confucius and the fathers of the "Four Relatives" and "Twelve Philosophers".
In contrast to the temples of Taoism and Buddhism, the temples of Confucius, normally did not have pictures. In the early years of the church in Qufu, it seems that the spirits of Confucius and his students were represented with murals and clay or wooden statues. The official churches also contained images of Confucius himself. However, there was a reaction to this practice, which was considered as mimetic of Buddhist temples. Also been argued that the basic thinking of the construction of the imperial temples was to honor the teachings of Confucius, and not the man himself.
The lack of uniformity in the statues of Confucius led the first Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty to issue a decree that all new temples of Confucius, it should contain inscriptions which reflect the spirit and not his images. In 1530 AD, it was decided that all existing images of Confucius, should be replaced with inscriptions that will reflect the spirit of, whether they were situated at the imperial temples of the capital or in other public places. Nevertheless many modern of Confucius temples have statues for their feature. Also statues remained in the temples operated by the family of Confucius descendants, as in Qufu.
Pagoda: The Pagoda is a monument of Buddhism. It is a multi-storey building with a castellated form of eastern and southeastern Asia, originally constructed from wood and later - after the 7th century AD - of brick or stone, which is usually integrated into in the complex of a Buddhist temple.
The form has its origins from the ancient Indian Stupa, i.e. the domed monument which are kept holy relics or the dead kings. The hemispherical domed stupa of ancient India evolved and took various forms, in different areas of eastern and southeastern Asia. The cusp, or the decorative suffix of stupa was lengthened by recruiting more and more cylindrical shape, until the entire top of the stupa became thin and castellated.

This new form of stupa was adopted by Buddhism as the most suitable for housing the holy relics and became known in the West as Pagoda. In Tibet, the Buddhist Pagoda took the shape of bottle. In Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos received a pyramidal or conical shape. In China, where we find the oldest in Henan 523 AD, his architecture was influenced by the form of kiosks in Korea (Kiontziou 634 AD) and in Japan (Kyoto - Nara), evolved in its most famous and classical form.
Namely, was modeled on a high multi-storey tower in which the form of each floor successively is repeated over the entire height of the vertical axis, but in smaller dimensions. The plan view of each floor varies, may be circular, square or polygonal. In East Asian pagodas each floor has its own protruding roof and whole edifice ends in a spar and discs. The number of floors is usually odd number, because this is considered a lucky omen. Although the Buddhists claim that his form resembles the lotus flower, his architectural features not confirm this. Usually the Pagoda is a monument and does not have any usable interior space.
Stoupa: Religious monument, that mainly belongs to the Buddhist religion - and partially in Hindu - which probably derives from the ancient burial tumulus of Vrachmanists. The word Stoupa is in Sanskrit (the ancient Indian language) and the first meaning was: top, pile of soil, stones. Initially it was a structure over a tomb of king or leader. To the Buddhist architecture is a structure for storing holy relics.
The oldest Stupa in Tsasni in 3rd-2nd century BC, had regular tripartite structure: a stepped basis, integral main volume coronation form of polyhedral umbelliferous. They were found Stoupa hemispherical (India, Sri Lanka), squares in gradient (Sri Lanka, Thailand) in tower form (Vietnam, China), bell-shaped (Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia) with bottle format (China, Mongolia).
The usual technique of construction of Stoupa was leveling stones, walls from plastered bricks, filling with mud, gravel, etc.

Stoupa is from stone and consists from a hemispherical dome (anta), based on a circular platform. At the top of the dome is built a cubic loft (harmica), often surrounded by a balcony. From the center of the roof is raised vertically a tissue consisting of successive plates (tsatra), while at the top of the tissue is supported a container.
Around the Stupa there is stone built decorated railing (ventica), which creates a free space between the enclosure and the Stupa. The railing has doors (torana) to the four cardinal points × these are made up of two high pillars connected by peristyles. For the decoration of Stoupa often made painting or gilding. Stupa is being built mainly in India, but its architecture was spread with different variations and in the surrounding countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, etc.).
The name Stoupa is characteristic only for India and Nepal. In Sri Lanka they are used the names "ntagkompa", in Burma "zedi" and "pató", in Thailand "tchat", in Mongolia "soumpourgkan",  in China and Vietnam "bao - ta", etc.
Taoist Temple: Called Gong, Guan or Miao in Chinese and is the sacred room where the Taoists perform their religious ceremonies. It combines in its structure the theory and ideas of Taoism, along with the traditional Chinese methods of construction. In this way is formed a unique style among the many and different types of the ancient Chinese architecture.
The Taoist Temples of various forms are scattered throughout China. In general, however, they can be divided into three categories: these which remind palace, the simple temples and ones that is a simple hut or cave. Although they are of different sizes, it plays no part, because all of them have been built to serve the same purpose.

In people may be confused, trying to distinguish a Taoist Temple by a Buddhist Temple, because exterior are almost similar. Although there are some minor differences between them, many methods of Taoist construction mimic those of Buddhistic Temple. For example, the sacred statues of the Dragon and Tiger are situated in front of the main gate of the Taoist Temple, whilst at the Buddhist temple - in the same position - there are statues of the guards of the two giants. Besides, the issues of the statues and the frescos are related to ordinary people and not in something supernatural and the religious atmosphere is not so intense as in Buddhist temples.
Taoism pursues a long and fruitful life and that is why in the decorations used in the construction of the temple reflected this. So the windows, the doors, the eaves and beams are carved with Chinese characters, such as Fu (blessing), Su (longevity), Ji (auspicious). The idea of the Taoistic decoration has affected the Chinese folk culture, as a result many homes of ordinary people to portray stories of Taoism, such as "Eight Immortals crossing the sea".
Most Taoist Temples are built along one side of the mountain, usually from a wooden frame construction because it is believed that it is beneficial to health.
Synagogue: With this term is described the place of assembly of Jewish communities. But with the metaphorical sense means the religious institution, which was established during the Babylonian exile of the Jews and after this were disseminated to other Jewish communities in the Diaspora as well as of Palestine, to replace the function of the temple, which was becoming in Jerusalem. Slowly, the synagogues were multiplied so much that in the time of Christ each city had its own, and there were many into Jerusalem.

The synagogue is a simple building, in the center of which there is a pulpit, from which is read the Hebrew Bible and becomes the preaching. Behind the pulpit, in the old days, there were seats for readers and teachers of the Law, the rabbis. One of these seats, the highest, was called "cathedra of Moses". In the background to the eastern wall of the synagogue, in a crypt, are kept the sacred texts.
The synagogue was a place for study of the Law and spiritual communication with God without the offering of sacrifices. The cult included reading cuts from the Hebrew Bible, preaching, hymnology and prayer. The supervision of the synagogue had the archisynagogos, who was elected by the elders of the community. Alongside the functional mission, the congregation was undertaking educational and pilgrimage missions, that later undertook autonomous organizations.
Mosque or shrine: The house of God - for the Muslims - is not only the religious but often the social core of Islamic life. The Muslim is depositing here his prayer, but also uses it as a place of concentration, calmness and discussion. Generally, there is a distinction between mosques in which is performed the prayer of Friday, and to smaller, useful only for individual prayer.
In the equipment of the mosque included: the Mihrab, a semi-circular recess in the wall that is directed toward the holy Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest place of Islam, Minmpar an elevated platform, as a pulpit, where rises the Imam (mentor) and guides the prayer, and an installation in which there is running water and is used by the faithful for hand washing, foot, mouth, ear before the prayer. Outside the mosque there is a minaret, a tall and narrow cylindrical tower from the balcony where the muezzin calls the faithful to come to pray.

The large mosques of Friday have an extra room for the ruler and private gynaeceum. The floor of the mosques is covered by rugs or carpets. Overall, however, the interior of the mosque is rather austere. Expensive decorations and frescos completely are absent, because of the prohibition of images in Islam. But in his interior there are unique geometric shapes and films with geometrical writings, the famous arabesques.
Because of the prohibition of images, the Muslims developed the famous graphical art. This calligraphy was used for the decoration of the mosque, in which however we encounter only verses from their sacred book, the Koran, and names of the four fair caliphs (Abu - Bakr, Umar ibn al - Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abu Talib) and of course of Muhammad, founder of Islam.
Christian Temple: In the beginning, Christians had no temples, but were performing the worship in a house, the so-called "at home church." They avoided build particular buildings, because they considered that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Later, in the cities they built the Sundays or Houses of prayer, which was simple and spacious halls dedicated to worship.
The increased number of believers and the development of the cult led to the construction of the first temples. Note that in the period of persecutions by the Roman State were using the Roman cemeteries as places of worship that were underground and labyrinthine with many arcades, the so-called catacombs.
By the end of these persecutions began to be built majestic Christian churches. The first rhythm (type), in which were built these temples was called Basilica. Its characteristics are the wooden pack saddle roof and the interior layout, which is usually divided into three parts with colonnades, which were called naves, with the central nave be a twice of the others. Apart from the three-aisled basilica we have five-aisled, seven-aisled even nine-aisled.

Next rhythm of Christian church was the circumcenter church, which was circular or polygonal buildings roofed with a dome, called cupola. But these temples, because of the cupola, were necessarily small. So we arrived at the next rhythm that is a combination of the two described above, in the Basilica, with a cupola. It combines the spaciousness of the Basilica with the feeling of inspirational, created by the cupola.
Other rhythms of Christian churches are the Byzantine, which has cruciform shape, inscribed in a square and in the center dominates the overhead cupola, the octagonal church, the rhythm of the Renaissance, the Russian rhythm with cupolas that is like onions, the Gothic rhythm the Baroque, Rococo, etc.
Internally the Temples usually are decorated with icons, mosaics, statues, stained glass or are completely naked, usually those of Protestantism and offshoots of this.
Famous Christian Churches are the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, St Peter of Rome and Notre Dame in Paris.
REMARK: The faithful of the religion of the Sikhs, as the most important sanctuary have the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. For their religious needs, they use some places they call their 'gur-ntouara", i.e. the Guru's door. This name is used even for the special room that maintain at home, centered on the holy book.

1. Encyclopedia of Religions
2. Great Greek Encyclopedia
3. Great Soviet Encyclopedia
4. Greek and Foreign Wikipedia (Wikipedia)
5. Encyclopedia "Papyrus Larousse"
6. Encyclopedia "Science and Life"
7. Religious School Manual "Preparing people for the new world of God" First class of Secondary school, 1997.
8. Religious School Manual “Church, the new society in course" ,Third class of Secondary school, 1999
10. Anastasios Giannoulatos:
Traces from the search of the transcendental”.

Writer Christos Pal

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