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Padmanabhaswamy Temple

The Padmanabhaswamy temple is a Hindu temple located in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala, India. The name of the city of Thiruvananthapuram in Malayalam translates to "The City of Lord Ananta", (The City Of Lord Vishnu) [1] referring to the deity of the Padmanabhaswamy temple. The temple is built in an intricate fusion of the Chera style and the Dravidian style of architecture, featuring high walls, and a 16th-century gopura. [2] [3] While the Ananthapura temple at Kumbla in Kasaragod is considered the original seat of the deity ("Moolasthanam"), architecturally to some extent, the temple is a replica of the Adikesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar. [4]

The principal deity Padmanabhaswamy (Vishnu) is enshrined in the "Anantha Shayana" posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the infinite serpent Adi Shesha. [5] Padmanabhaswamy is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore. The titular Maharaja of Travancore, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, is the trustee of the temple.


Contents

The temple was built by the Ganga dynasty king Anantavarman Chodaganga in the 12th century CE, as suggested by the Kendupatna copper-plate inscription of his descendant Narasimhadeva II. [7] Anantavarman was originally a Shaivite, and became a Vaishnavite sometime after he conquered the Utkala region (in which the temple is located) in 1112 CE. A 1134–1135 CE inscription records his donation to the temple. Therefore, the temple construction must have started sometime after 1112 CE. [8]

According to a story in the temple chronicles, it was founded by Anangabhima-deva II: different chronicles variously mention the year of construction as 1196, 1197, 1205, 1216, or 1226. [9] This suggests that the temple's construction was completed or that the temple was renovated during the reign of Anantavarman's son Anangabhima. [10] The temple complex was further developed during the reigns of the subsequent kings, including those of the Ganga dynasty and the Suryvamshi (Gajapati) dynasty. [11]

Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshipped at the temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains statues of these three Gods carved from sacred neem logs known as daru sitting on the bejewelled platform or ratnabedi, along with statues of Sudarshana Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri. [12] The deities are adorned with different clothing and jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine. [13]

Legends Edit

According to legend, the construction of the first Jagannath temple was commissioned by King Indradyumna, son of Bharata and Sunanda, and a Malava king, mentioned in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. [14]

The legendary account as found in the Skanda-Purana, Brahma Purana and other Puranas and later Odia works state that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Lord Neela Madhaba by a Savar king (tribal chief) named Viswavasu. Having heard about the deity, King Indradyumna sent a Brahmin priest, Vidyapati to locate the deity, who was worshipped secretly in a dense forest by Viswavasu. Vidyapati tried his best but could not locate the place. But at last he managed to marry Viswavasu's daughter Lalita. At repeated request of Vidyapti, Viswavasu took his son-in-law blind folded to a cave where Lord Neela Madhaba was worshipped. [15]

Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on the ground on the way. The seeds germinated after a few days, which enabled him to find out the cave later on. On hearing from him, King Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra desha (Odisha) on a pilgrimage to see and worship the Deity. But the deity had disappeared. The king was disappointed. The Deity was hidden in sand. The king was determined not to return without having a darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Neela, Then a celestial voice cried 'thou shalt see him.' Afterward, the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificent temple for Vishnu. Narasimha Murti brought by Narada was installed in the temple. During sleep, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. Also an astral voice directed him to receive the fragrant tree on the seashore and make idols out of it. Accordingly, the king got the image of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan made out of the wood of the divine tree and installed them in the temple.

Indradyumna's prayer to Lord Brahma

King Indradyumna put up for Jagannath the tallest monument of the world. It was 1,000 cubits high. He invited Lord Brahma, the cosmic creator, consecrate the temple and the images. [16] Brahma came all the way from Heaven for this purpose. Seeing the temple he was immensely pleased with him. Brahma asked Indradyumna as to in what way can he (Brahma) fulfill the king's desire, since was very much pleased with him for his having put the most beautiful Temple for Lord Vishnu. With folded hands, Indradyumna said, "My Lord if you are really pleased with me, kindly bless me with one thing, and it is that I should be issueless and that I should be the last member of my family." In case anybody left alive after him, he would only take pride as the owner of the temple and would not work for the society.

Legend surrounding the Temple origin Edit

The traditional story concerning the origins of the Lord Jagannath temple is that here the original image of Jagannath (a deity form of Vishnu) at the end of Treta yuga manifested near a banyan tree, near seashore in the form of an Indranila mani or the Blue Jewel. It was so dazzling that it could grant instant moksha, so the God Dharma or Yama wanted to hide it in the earth and was successful. In Dvapara Yuga King Indradyumna of Malwa wanted to find that mysterious image and to do so he performed harsh penance to obtain his goal. Vishnu then instructed him to go to the Puri seashore and find a floating log to make an image from its trunk.

The King found the log of wood. He did a yajna from which God Yajna Nrisimha appeared and instructed that Narayana should be made as fourfold expansion, i.e. Paramatma as Vasudeva, his Vyuha as Samkarshana, Yogamaya as Subhadra, and his Vibhava as Sudarsana. Vishwakarma appeared in the form of an artisan and prepared images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra from the tree. [17]

When this log, radiant with light was seen floating in the sea, Narada told the king to make three idols out of it and place them in a pavilion. Indradyumna got Visvakarma, the architect of Gods, to build a magnificent temple to house the idols, and Vishnu himself appeared in the guise of a carpenter to make the idols on condition that he was to be left undisturbed until he finished the work.

But just after two weeks, the Queen became very anxious. She took the carpenter to be dead as no sound came from the temple. Therefore, she requested the king to open the door. Thus, they went to see Vishnu at work at which the latter abandoned his work leaving the idols unfinished. The idol was devoid of any hands. But a divine voice told Indradyumana to install them in the temple. It has also been widely believed that in spite of the idol being without hands, it can watch over the world and be its lord. Thus the idiom.

The temple annals, the Madala Panji records that the Jagannath temple at Puri has been invaded and plundered eighteen times. [18] In 1692, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb ordered to close the temple until he wanted to reopen it otherwise it would be demolished, the local Mughal officials who came to carry out the job were requested by the locals and the temple was merely closed. It was re-opened only after Aurangzeb's death in 1707.

Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple. [19] [20] [21] Visitors not allowed to enter may view the temple and precinct from the roof of the nearby Raghunandan Library and pay their respects to the image of God Jagannath known at the main entrance to the temple. [22]

The temple is open from 5:00 am to midnight. Unlike in many other temples, devotees can go around and behind the idols. During the special darshan, or parimanik darshan, devotees pay a small fee to go right up to the statues. All devotees are allowed to go right up to the deities during the sahana mela (general appearance) 7-8:00 am without paying any fees. [23]

Starting from Lord Jagannath himself, history has it that he was a tribal deity, adorned by the Sabar people, as a symbol of Narayan. Another legend claims him to be Nilamadhava, an image of Narayana made of blue stone and worshipped by the aboriginals. He was brought to Nilagiri (blue mountain) or Nilachala and installed there as Shri Jagannath in company with Balabhadra and Subhadra. The images made of wood are also claimed to have their distant linkage with the aboriginal system of worshipping wooden poles. To cap it all the Daitapatis, who have a fair share of responsibilities to perform rituals of the Temple, are claimed to be descendants of the aboriginals or hill tribes of Odisha. So we may safely claim that the beginning of the cultural history of Shrikshetra is found in the fusion of Hindu and Tribal Cultures. The three deities came to be claimed as the symbols of Samyak Darshan, Samyak Jnana and Samyak Charita usually regarded as Triratha (of the Jain culture), an assimilation of which leads to Moksha (salvation) or the ultimate bliss.

Jagannath is worshipped as Vishnu or Narayana or Krishna and Lord Balabhadra as Shesha. Simultaneously, the deities are regarded as the bhairava with Vimala (the devi or the consort of Shiva) installed in the campus of the temple. So ultimately we find a fusion of Saivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism of the Hindu religion with Jainism and up to an extent Buddhism in the culture of Jagannath and the cultural tradition so reverently held together in Shrikshetra.

Acharyas and Jagannatha Puri Edit

All of the renowned acharyas including Madhvacharya have been known to visit this kshetra. Adi Shankara established his Govardhana matha here. There is also evidence that Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Ramanujacharya,Srimanta Sankardev,and Nimbarkacharya had visited this place. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Gaudiya Vaishnavism stayed here for 24 years, establishing that the love of God can be spread by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. Srimad Vallabhacharya visited Jagannath Puri and performed a 7-day recitation of Srimad Bhagvat. His sitting place is still famous as "baithakji." It confirms his visit to Puri. [24]

A famous incident took place when Vallabhachrya visited. There was a discourse being held between the Brahmins and 4 questions were asked. Who is the highest of Gods, What is the highest of mantras, What is the highest scripture and What is the highest service. The discourse went on for many days with many schools of thought. Finally Shri Vallabh said to ask Lord Jagannath to confirm Shri Vallabh's answers. A pen and paper were left in the inner sanctum. After some time, the doors were opened and 4 answers were written. 1) The Son of Devaki (Krishna) is the God of Gods 2) His name is the highest of mantras 3) His song is the highest scripture (Bhagavat Geeta) 4) Service to Him is the Highest service. The king was shocked and declared Shri Vallabh the winner of the discourse. Some of the pandits who participated became jealous of Shri Vallabh and wanted to test Him. The next day was Ekadashi, a fasting day where one must fast from grains. The pandits gave Shri Vallabh rice Prasad of Shri Jagannathji (The temple is famous for this). If Shri Vallabh ate it, He would break His vow of fasting but if He did not take it, He would disrespect Lord Jagannath. Shri Vallabh accepted the prasad in his hand and spent the rest of the day and night explaining slokas of the greatness of Prasad and ate the rice the next morning.

Char Dham Edit

The temple is one of the holiest Vaishnava Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. [25] Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism propagated by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer. [26] The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair. [27] There are four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foothills of Himalayas [28] [ full citation needed ] The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams. [ citation needed ] The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime. Traditionally the trip starts at the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circumambulation in Hindu temples. [29]

The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m 2 ), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. [30] Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple. [31] It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. [32] The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely -

    , Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style
  1. Mukhashala (Frontal porch) /Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
  2. Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall). [33]

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the 'srichakra' (an eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. [34] Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks. [35]

Nila Chakra Edit

The Nila Chakra (Blue Discus) is the discus mounted on the top shikhar of the Jagannath Temple. As per custom, everyday a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra. The flag hoisted on the Nila Chakra is called the Patita Pavana (Purifier of the Fallen) and is equivalent to the image of the deities placed in the sanctum sanctorum. [36]

The Nila Chakra is a disc with eight Navagunjaras carved on the outer circumference, with all facing towards the flagpost above. It is made of alloy of eight metals (Asta-dhatu) and is 3.5 Metres (11 feet and 8 inches) high with a circumference of about 11 metres (36 feet). [37] During the year 2010, the Nila Chakra was repaired and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Nila Chakra is distinct from the Sudarshana chakra which has been placed with the deities in the inner sanctorum.

Nila Chakra is the most revered iconic symbol in the Jagannath cult. The Nila Chakra is the only physical object whose markings are used as sacrament and considered sacred in Jagannath worship. It symbolizes protection by Shri Jagannath.

The Singhadwara Edit

The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate, is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the Main entrance. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda or the Grand Road. [38] The Baisi Pahacha or the flight of twenty two steps leads into the temple complex. An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the "Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen" is painted on the right side of the entrance. In ancient times when untouchables were not allowed inside the temple, they could pray to Patita Pavana. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway. [39] Just before the commencement of the Rath Yatra the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out of the temple through this gate. On their return from the Gundicha Temple they have to ceremonially placate Goddess Mahalakshmi, whose statue is carved atop the door, for neglecting to take her with them on the Yatra. Only then the Goddess allows them permission to enter the temple. A magnificent sixteen-sided monolithic pillar known as the Aruna Stambha stands in front of the main gate. This pillar has an idol of Arun, the charioteer of the Sun God Surya, on its top. One significant thing about Arun stambha is that prior it was located in the Konark Sun temple, [40] [41] later, the Maratha guru Brahmachari Gosain brought this pillar from Konark. [42]

Other entrances Edit

Apart from the Singhadwara, which is the main entrance to the temple, there are three other entrances facing north, south and west. They are named after the sculptures of animals guarding them. The other entrances are the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate.

Minor temples Edit

There are numerous smaller temples and shrines within the Temple complex where active worship is regularly conducted. The Vimala Temple (Bimala Temple) is considered one of the most important of the Shaktipeeths marks the spot where the Goddess Sati's navel fell. It is located near Rohini Kund in the temple complex. Until food offered to Jagannath is offered to Goddess Vimala it is not considered Mahaprasad.

The temple of Mahalakshmi has an important role in rituals of the main temple. It is said that preparation of naivedya as offering for Jagannath is supervised by Mahalakshmi. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Uchchhishta Ganapati. Tradition says the King of Kanchipuram (Kanchi) in ancient times gifted the idol, when Gajapati Purushottama Deva married Padmavati, the kanchi princess. There are other shrines namely Muktimandap, Surya, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Narasimha, Rama, Hanuman and Eshaneshwara.

The Mandapas Edit

There are many Mandapas or Pillared halls on raised platforms within the temple complex meant for religious congregations. The most prominent is the Mukti Mandapa the congregation hall of the holy seat of selected learned Brahmins. [43]

Here important decisions regarding conduct of daily worship and festivals are taken. The Dola Mandapa is noteworthy for a beautifully carved stone Torana or arch which is used for constructing a swing for the annual Dol Yatra festival. During the festival the idol of Dologobinda is placed on the swing. The Snana Bedi is a rectangular stone platform where idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are placed for ceremonial bathing during the annual Snana Yatra.

Daily offerings are made to the Lord six times a day. These include:

  1. The offering to the Lord in the morning that forms his breakfast and is called Gopala Vallabha Bhoga. Breakfast consists of seven items i.e. Khua, Lahuni, Sweetened coconut grating, Coconut water, and popcorn sweetened with sugar known as Khai, Curd and Ripe bananas.
  2. The Sakala Dhupa forms his next offering at about 10 AM. This generally consists of 13 items including the Enduri cake & Mantha puli.
  3. Bada Sankhudi Bhoga forms the next repast & the offering consists of Pakhala with curd and Kanji payas. The offerings are made in the Bhog Mandapa, about 200 feet from the Ratnabedi. This is called Chatra Bhog and was introduced by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century to help pilgrims share the temple food.
  4. The Madhyanha dhupa forms the next offering at the noon.
  5. The next offering to the Lord is made in the evening at around 8 PM it is Sandhya Dhupa.
  6. The last offering to the Lord is called the Bada Simhara Bhoga. [44]

The Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath are distributed amongst the devotees near the Ratnavedi inside the frame of Phokaria, which is being drawn by the Puja pandas using Muruj, except for the Gopal Ballav Bhog and Bhog Mandap Bhoga which are distributed in the Anabsar Pindi & Bhoga Mandap respectively.

The temple's kitchen is the largest in the world. [32] [45] [46] [47] Tradition holds that all Mahaprasad cooking in the temple kitchens is supervised by the Goddess Mahalakshmi, the empress of Srimandir herself, and that if the food prepared has any fault in it, a shadow dog appears near the temple kitchen, a sign of her displeasure. If the shadow dog is seen, the food is promptly buried and a new batch cooked. [48] All 56 varieties of food produced are vegetarian and prepared without onions, garlic, or chillis, as prescribed by Hindu religious texts. [49] Cooking is done only in earthen pots using water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganga and Yamuna. The most awaited offering is Kotho Bhoga or Abadha, offered after midday. After being offered to Jagannath and the other deities, the food is sold at Ananda Bajara, an open market near the temple.

There are elaborate daily worship services. There are many festivals each year attended by millions of people. The most important festival is the Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival in June. This spectacular festival includes a procession of three huge chariots bearing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till their final destination the Gundicha Temple. [50]

Early European observers told tales of devotees being crushed under the wheels of these chariots, whether by accident or even as a form of meritorious suicide akin to suttee. These reports gave rise to the loan word juggernaut suggesting something immense and unstoppable. Many festivals like Dol Yatra in spring and Jhulan Yatra in monsoon are celebrated by temple every year. Pavitrotsava and Damanaka utsava are celebrated as per panchanga or panjika. There are special ceremonies in the month of Kartika and Pausha.

The annual shodasha dinatmaka or 16-day puja beginning 8 days prior to Mahalaya of Ashwin month for Goddess Vimala and ending on Vijayadashami, is of great importance, in which both the utsava murty of lord Madanmohan and Vimala take part.

Chandan Yatra Edit

In Akshaya Tritiya every year the Chandan Yatra festival marks the commencement of the construction of the Chariots of the Rath Yatra.

Snnana Yatra Edit

On the Purnima of the month of Jyestha the Gods are ceremonially bathed and decorated every year on the occasion of Snana Yatra.

Anavasara or Anasara Edit

Literally means vacation. Every year, the main idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra & Sudarshan after the holy Snana Yatra on the jyestha purnima, go to a secret altar named Anavasara Ghar where they remain for the next dark fortnight (Krishna paksha). Hence devotees are not allowed to view them. Instead of this devotees go to nearby place Brahmagiri to see their beloved lord in the form of four handed form Alarnath a form of Vishnu. [52] Then people get the first glimpse of lord on the day before Rath Yatra, which is called Navayouvana. It is said that the Gods fall in fever after taking a huge bath and they are treated by the special servants named, Daitapatis for 15 days. During this period cooked food is not offered to the deities. [53]

Rath Yatra at Puri Edit

The Jagannath triad are usually worshiped in the sanctum of the temple at Puri, but once during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Orissa, usually falling in month of June or July), they are brought out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and travel (3 km) to the Shri Gundicha Temple, in huge chariots (ratha), allowing the public to have darśana (Holy view). This festival is known as Rath Yatra, meaning the journey (yatra) of the chariots (ratha). The Rathas are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees. The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square and takes about 2 months to construct. [54] The artists and painters of Puri decorate the cars and paint flower petals and other designs on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne. [55] The huge chariots of Jagannath pulled during Rath Yatra is the etymological origin of the English word Juggernaut. [56] The Ratha-Yatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha yatra.

The most significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the chhera pahara. During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual. The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee. [57] Chera pahara is held on two days, on the first day of the Ratha Yatra, when the deities are taken to garden house at Mausi Maa Temple and again on the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir.

As per another ritual, when the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Chariots in Pahandi vijay.

In the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda yatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the Odisha people only.

The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas. Vivid descriptions of this festival are found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra. In Moghul period also, King Ramsingh of Jaipur, Rajasthan has been described as organizing the Rath Yatra in the 18th Century. In Orissa, Kings of Mayurbhanj and Parlakhemundi were organizing the Rath Yatra, though the most grand festival in terms of scale and popularity takes place at Puri.

Moreover, Starza [58] notes that the ruling Ganga dynasty instituted the Rath Yatra at the completion of the great temple around 1150 AD. This festival was one of those Hindu festivals that was reported to the Western world very early. Friar Odoric of Pordenone visited India in 1316–1318, some 20 years after Marco Polo had dictated the account of his travels while in a Genoese prison. [59] In his own account of 1321, Odoric reported how the people put the "idols" on chariots, and the King and Queen and all the people drew them from the "church" with song and music. [60] [61]

Niladri Bije Edit

Celebrated on Asadha Trayodashi. [62] Niladri Bije is the concluding day of Ratha yatra. On this day deities return to the ratna bedi. [63] [64] Lord Jagannath offers Rasgulla [65] to Goddess Laxmi to enter into the temple. [66] [67]

Gupta Gundicha Edit

Celebrated for 16 days from Ashwina Krushna dwitiya to Vijayadashami. [68] As per tradition, the idol of Madhaba, along with the idol of Goddess Durga (known as Durgamadhaba), is taken on a tour of the temple premises. The tour within the temple is observed for the first eight days. For the next eight days, the idols are taken outside the temple on a palanquin to the nearby Narayani temple situated in the Dolamandapa lane. After their worship, they are brought back to the temple. [69]

Nabakalebara Edit

Nabakalabera is a ritual associated with Jagannath [70] which takes place every 8, 12 or 18 years, when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha. Meaning "New Body", the ritual involves installation of new images in the Jagannath Temple and the burial of the old images at the temple at Koili Vaikuntha. The festival is witnessed by as millions of people and its budget exceeds $500,000. [71] More than three million devotees were expected to visit the temple during the Nabakalevara in 2015, [72] making it one of the most visited festivals in the world.

After independence, the State Government, with a view to getting better administrative system, passed "The Puri Shri Jagannath Temple (Administration) Act, 1952". [73] It contained provisions to prepare the Record of Rights and duties of Sevayats and such other persons connected with the system of worship and management of the temple. Subsequently Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 was enacted to reorganize the management system of the affair of the temple and its properties.

Dibyasingha Deb is the "adhyasevak" (chief servitor) of the temple. [74] [75] He took the role in 1970 at the age of 17, after the death of his father, Birakishore Deb, then the Maharaja of Puri. [76]

The backside of the Jagannath temple with the 'Koili Baikuntha' garden in the foreground.


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During turmoil early in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), thirteen warrior monks helped the Tang emperor rescue his son, Li Shimin, from an army aiming to overthrow the Tang. In recognition of their help, Li Shimin, once emperor, named Shaolin the "Supreme Temple" in all of China and fostered learning, teaching and exchange between the imperial court and armies and the Shaolin monks. Over the next few centuries until Ming loyalists used Shaolin as a refuge, Shaolin Temple and its style of martial arts enjoyed a flourishing of development and advancement.

As a haven for Ming loyalists, Qing rulers finally destroyed Shaolin Temple, burning it to the ground and destroying many of its treasures and sacred texts in the process. Shaolin Kung Fu was outlawed and the monks and followers, those who lived, were dispersed through China and to other, lesser, temples following Shaolin teachings. Shaolin was allowed to reopen again about one hundred years later but rulers were still distrustful of Shaolin Kung Fu and the power it gave its followers. It was burned and rebuilt several times over the following centuries.


Affiliated Faculty

The following faculty from other departments and colleges have courtesy appointments in the Department of History.

    (PhD University of Glasgow 2014)
    Military History, Aviation History and Archaeology, Material Culture
  • Joseph S. Foster (PhD Temple 1989- DPAA Post-Doctoral Fellow)
    Early American, Revolution & Early National, Pennsylvania
  • Rebecca Lloyd (MLIS Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2005, MA Penn State 2010)
    Librarian, Temple University Libraries, Subject Liaison to History, Spanish, and Latin American Studies
    (PhD Columbia, MA University of Pennsylvania)
    Teacher Education, Global Studies, History of Education
    (MA, MS, Case Western Reserve University)
    CA, FSAA, Director, Temple University Libraries Special Collections, Archives Management

Contents

Schmid and Rupprecht are of the view that the site of the temple used to be a Jebusite shrine which Solomon chose in an attempt to unify the Jebusites and Israelites. [13]

In ancient literature Edit

Rabbinic sources [14] state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates. [15]

The Jewish historian Josephus says "the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built". The temple was subsequently replaced with the Second Temple in 516 BCE. [16] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

The exact location of the Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is situated. [17]

During the United Monarchy the Temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Israel. From the reign of King Manasseh until King Josiah, Baal and "the host of heaven" were also worshipped there. [18]

Until the reforms of King Josiah, there was also a statue for the goddess Asherah ( 2 Kings 23:6 ) and priestesses wove ritual textiles for her. ( 2 Kings 23:7 ) Next to the temple was a house for the temple prostitutes ( 2 Kings 23:7 ) [19] who performed sacred prostitution at the temple. [20] It is unclear whether the prostitutes included both male and female or just male prostitutes. [21]

According to Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Asherah was Yahweh's consort, and she was worshipped alongside Yahweh. [22] [23] According to Richard H. Lowery, Yahweh and Asherah headed a pantheon of other Judean gods that were worshipped at the temple. [24]

The temple had chariots of the sun ( 2 Kings 23:11 ) and temple worshipers would face east and bow to the sun. ( Ezekiel 8:16 ) Some Bible scholars, such as Margaret Barker, say that these solar elements indicate a solar cult. [25] They may reflect an earlier Jebusite worship of Zedek [26] or possibly a solarized Yahwism. [27] [28]

According to the Tanakh, the Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant. It says the Ark contained the Ten Commandments and was moved from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem by David before being moved into Solomon's temple. [29] However, many biblical scholars believe the story of the Ark was written independently and then incorporated into the main biblical narrative just before the exile into Babylon. [30] Archaeological evidence suggests the Ark may have contained pagan gods and remained in Kiriath Jearim for much longer, possibly until shortly before the Babylonian conquest. [31]

During the Deuteronomic reform of King Josiah, the cult objects of the sun and Asherah were taken out of the temple and the practice of sacred prostitution and the worship of Baal and the hosts of heaven were stopped. [32]

Sacrifice Edit

A korban was a kosher animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist of grain, meal, wine, or incense. [33] [34] [35] Offerings were often cooked and most of it eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the Kohen priests and small parts burned on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. Only in special cases was all of the offering given only to God, such as in the case of the scapegoat. [36] [37] Under Josiah, sacrifices were centralized at Solomon's temple and other places of sacrifice were abolished. The temple became a major slaughtering center and a major part of Jerusalem's economy. [38]

Construction Edit

In the Bible book 2 Samuel, Hiram I, the king of the Phoenician city state Tyre, becomes an ally of David, following his conquest of Jerusalem. [39] The friendship continues after Solomon succeeds David and a literary account of how Hiram helps Solomon build the Temple is given in the Bible books 1 Kings chapter 5 to 9 and 2 Chronicles chapter 2 to 7. [40]

Hiram agrees to Solomon's request to supply him with cedar and cypress tree for the construction of the Temple. [41] He tells Solomon that he will send the trees by sea: "I will make them into rafts to go by the sea to the place that you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away." [41] In return for the lumber, Solomon sends him wheat and oil. [39] Solomon also brings over a skilled craftsman from Tyre, also called Hiram (or Huram-abi [42] ), who oversees the construction of the Temple. [39] Stonemasons from Gebal (Byblos) cut stones for the Temple. [43]

According to 1 Kings, the foundation of the Temple is laid in Ziv, the second month of the fourth year of Solomon's reign and construction is completed in Bul, the eighth month of Solomon's eleventh year, thus taking about seven years. [44] According to Flavius Josephus, "Solomon began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, on the second month, which the Macedonians call Artemisius, and the Hebrews Jar, five hundred and ninety two years after the exodus out of Egypt, but after one thousand and twenty years from Abraham's coming out of Mesopotamia into Canaan and after the deluge one thousand four hundred and forty years and from Adam, the first man who was created, until Solomon built the temple, there had past in all three thousand one hundred and two years." [45]

After the Temple and palace (taking an additional 13 years) is completed, Solomon gives Hiram twenty towns in the Galilee as a partial payment for goods delivered. [46] But when Hiram comes to see the towns he isn't pleased: "What are these towns that you have given me, my brother?" he asks. Though he remains on friendly terms with Solomon. [47]

The Bible book 2 Chronicles fills in some details of the construction not given in 1 Kings. It states that the trees sent as rafts were sent to the city of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast, [41] and in return for the lumber supplied, Solomon, in addition to the wheat and oil, sent wine to Hiram. [48]

Transfer of the Ark of the Covenant Edit

1 Kings 8:1-9 and 2 Chronicles 5:2-10 record that in the seventh month of the year, at the feast of Tabernacles, [49] the priests and the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant from the City of David and placed it inside the Holy of Holies.

Dedication Edit

1 Kings 8:10–66 and 2 Chronicles 6:1–42 recount the events of the temple's dedication. When the priests emerged from the holy of holies after placing the Ark there, the Temple was filled with an overpowering cloud which interrupted the dedication ceremony, [50] "for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord [such that] the priests could not stand to minister" (1 Kings 8:10–11 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14). Solomon interpreted the cloud as "[proof] that his pious work was accepted": [50]

The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever. (1 Kings 8:12-13)

The Lord said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy seat that is upon the ark, or he will die for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

The Pulpit Commentary notes that "Solomon had thus every warrant for connecting a theophany with the thick dark cloud". [50]

Solomon then led the whole assembly of Israel in prayer, noting that the construction on the temple represented a fulfilment of God's promise to David, dedicating the temple as a place of prayer and reconciliation for the people of Israel and for foreigners living in Israel, and highlighting the paradox that God who lives in the heavens cannot really be contained within a single building. The dedication was concluded with musical celebration and sacrifices said to have included "twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep". [52] These sacrifices were offered outside the temple, in "the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord", because the altar inside the temple, despite its extensive dimensions, [53] was not big enough for the offerings being made that day. [54] [55] The celebration lasted eight days and was attended by "very great assembly [gathered] from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt". [56] The subsequent feast of Tabernacles extended the whole celebration to 14 days, [57] before the people were "sent away to their homes". [58]

After the dedication, Solomon hears in a dream that God has heard his prayer, and God will continue to hear the prayers of the people of Israel if they adopt the four ways in which they could move God to action: humility, prayer, seeking his face, and turning from wicked ways. [59] Conversely, if they turn aside and forsake God's commandments and worship other gods, then God will abandon the temple: "this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight". [60]

Joash's restoration Edit

2 Kings 12:1–17 and 2 Chronicles 24:1–14 recount that King Joash and the priests of the temple organised a restoration programme funded from popular donations. The temple was restored to its original condition and further reinforced. [61]

Plunder and destruction Edit

According to the Tanakh, the Temple was plundered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire king Nebuchadnezzar II when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 BCE (2 Kings 24:13). A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BCE, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city (2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar). [62]

Architecture Edit

Solomon's Temple is considered to be built according to Phoenician design, and its description is considered the best description of what a Phoenician temple looked like. [63] The detailed descriptions provided in the Tanakh are the sources for reconstructions of its appearance. Technical details are lacking, since the scribes who wrote the books were not architects or engineers. [64] Nevertheless, the descriptions have inspired modern replicas of the temple and influenced later structures around the world.

Archeologists categorize the Biblical description of Solomon's Temple as a langbau building. That is, a rectangular building that is longer than it is wide. It is furthermore classified as a tripartite building, consisting of three units the ulam (porch), the heikal (sanctuary), and the debir (the Holy of Holies). It is also categorized as being a straight-axis temple, meaning that there is a straight line from the entrance to the innermost shrine. [65]

Porch Edit

The ulam, or porch, featured two bronze pillars Jachin and Boaz. It is unclear from the biblical descriptions whether the porch was a closed room, a roofed entranceway, or an open courtyard. [66] Thus, it is not known whether the pillars were freestanding or structural elements built into the porch. If they were built into the porch, it could indicate that the design was influenced by similar temples in Syria or even Turkey, home to the ancient Hittite empire. While most reconstructions of the Temple have the pillars freestanding, [67] Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu finds it likely that the pillars supported a roof over the porch. [66]

Sanctuary (main chamber) Edit

The porch led to the heikal, main chamber, or sanctuary. It measured 40 cubits in length, 20 cubits in width, and 30 cubits in height and contained a candelabrum, a table and a gold-covered altar used for offerings. [66] [68] In the sanctuary, loaves of Showbread were left as an offering to God. [68] At the far end of the sanctuary there was a wooden door, guarded by two cherubim, leading to the Holy of Holies. [67] [68]

The walls of the sanctuary were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold ( 1 Kings 6:29-30 ). Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir overlaid with gold. The doorposts, of olivewood, supported folding doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olivewood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold ( 1 Kings 6:15 et seq.) This main building was between the outer altar, where most sacrifices were performed, and inside at the far end was the entry to the Holy of Holies, originally containing the Ark of the Covenant. The main hekhal contained a number of sacred ritual objects including the seven-branched candlestick, a golden Altar of Incense, and the table of the showbread. According to 1 Kings 7:48 these tables were of gold, as were also the five candlesticks on each side of the altar. The candle–tongs, basins, snuffers, fire-pans, and even the hinges of the doors were also gold.

Holy of Holies Edit

The Holy of Holies, also called the "Inner House," was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. The usual explanation for the discrepancy between its height and the 30-cubit height of the temple is that its floor was elevated, like the cella of other ancient temples. [64] It was floored and wainscotted with cedar of Lebanon, and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold amounting to 600 talents or roughly 20 metric tons. It contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high and each having outspread wings of 10 cubits span, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room. There was a two-leaved door between it and the Holy Place overlaid with gold also a veil of tekhelet (blue), purple, and crimson and fine linen. It had no windows and was considered the dwelling-place of the "name" of God. [ citation needed ]

The Holy of Holies was prepared to receive and house the Ark and when the Temple was dedicated, the Ark, containing the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, was placed beneath the cherubim. [ citation needed ]

Surrounding chambers Edit

Chambers were built around the Temple on the southern, western and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5–10). These formed a part of the building and were used for storage. They were probably one story high at first two more may have been added later. [64]

Courts Edit

According to the Bible, two courts surrounded the Temple. The Inner Court (1 Kings 6:36), or Court of the Priests (2 Chr. 4:9), was separated from the space beyond by a wall of three courses of hewn stone, surmounted by cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36). It contained the Altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the Brazen Sea laver (4:2–5, 10) and ten other lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). A brazen altar stood before the Temple (2 Kings 16:14), its dimensions 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high (2 Chr. 4:1). The Great Court surrounded the whole Temple (2 Chr. 4:9). It was here that people assembled to worship. (Jeremiah 19:14 26:2).

Molten Sea Edit

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Molten Sea or Brazen Sea ( ים מוצק "cast metal sea") was a large basin in the Temple for ablution of the priests. It is described in 1 Kings 7:23–26 and 2 Chronicles 4:2–5. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. According to the Bible it was five cubits high, ten cubits in diameter from brim to brim, and thirty cubits in circumference. The brim was "like the calyx of a lily" and turned outward "about an hand breadth" or about four inches. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. The Book of Kings states that it contains 2,000 baths (90 cubic meters), while Chronicles (2 Chr. 4:5–6) states it can hold up to 3,000 baths (136 cubic meters) and states that its purpose was to afford opportunity for the purification by immersion of the bodies of the priests.

The fact that it was a wash basin which was too large to enter from above lends to the idea that water would likely have flowed from it down into a subcontainer beneath. The water was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from Solomon's Pools. The molten sea was made of brass or bronze, which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8). Ahaz later removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2 Kings 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:13).

Also outside the temple were 10 lavers, each of which held "forty baths" (1 Kings 7:38), resting on portable holders made of bronze, provided with wheels, and ornamented with figures of lions, cherubim, and palm-trees. The author of the books of the Kings describes their minute details with great interest (1 Kings 7:27–37). Josephus reported that the vessels in the Temple were composed of orichalcum covered in gold in Antiquities of the Jews.

Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted since Charles Warren's expedition of 1867–70. [69] [70] [71] There is no solid archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple, and the building is not mentioned in surviving extra-biblical accounts. [8]

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman argue that the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem was not built until the end of the 7th century BCE, around three hundred years after Solomon. [8] They believe the temple should not really be assigned to Solomon (whom they see as little more than a small-time hill country chieftain) and argue that it was most likely built by Josiah, who governed Judah from 639 to 609 BCE. [8]

William G. Dever challenges this position and argues that the biblical description of the Temple itself shows profound similarities with other temples of the time (Phoenician, Assyrian and Philistine), suggesting that this cult structure was actually built by Solomon (whom he sees as an actual king of Israel) in the 10th century BCE, although the biblical description is undoubtedly excessive. [72] [73] [74] These views are shared by the archaeologist Amihai Mazar, who underlines how the description of the Temple in the Bible, albeit exaggerated, is substantially in line with the architectural descriptions already present in the Levant in the second millennium BCE. [75] [76]

Sources mentioning the First Temple Edit

  • An ostracon (excavated prior to 1981), sometimes referred to as the House of Yahweh ostracon, was discovered at Tel Arad, dated to the 6th century BCE which mentions a temple which is probably the Temple in Jerusalem. [77]
  • A thumb-sized ivory pomegranate (which came to light in 1979) measuring 44 millimetres (1.7 in) in height, and bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription "Sacred donation for the priests in the House of ---h,]", was believed to have adorned a sceptre used by the high priest in Solomon's Temple. It was considered the most important item of biblical antiquities in the Israel Museum's collection. [78] However, in 2004, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported the inscription to be a forgery, though the ivory pomegranate itself was dated to the 14th or 13th century BCE. [79] This was based on the report's claim that three incised letters in the inscription stopped short of an ancient break, as they would have if carved after the ancient break was made. Since then, it has been proven that one of the letters was indeed carved prior to the ancient break, and the status of the other two letters are in question. Some paleographers and others have continued to insist that the inscription is ancient, some dispute this so the authenticity of this writing is still the object of discussion. [80]
  • Another artifact, the Jehoash Inscription, which first came to notice in 2003, contains a 15-line description of King Jehoash's ninth-century BCE restoration of the Temple. Its authenticity was called into question by a report by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which said that the surface patina contained microfossils of foraminifera. As these fossils do not dissolve in water, they cannot occur in a calcium carbonate patina, leading initial investigators to conclude that the patina must be an artificial chemical mix applied to the stone by forgers. As of late 2012, the academic community is split on whether the tablet is authentic or not. Commenting on a 2012 report by geologists arguing for the authenticity of the inscription, in October 2012, Hershel Shanks (who believes the inscription is genuine) wrote the current situation was that most Hebrew language scholars believe that the inscription is a forgery and geologists that it is genuine, and thus "Because we rely on experts, and because there is an apparently irresolvable conflict of experts in this case, BAR has taken no position with respect to the authenticity of the Jehoash Inscription." [81]

Temple Mount Sifting Project Edit

  • By 2006, the Temple Mount Sifting Project had recovered numerous artifacts dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE from soil removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon's Stables area of the Temple Mount. These include stone weights for weighing silver and a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression. [82] [dubious – discuss]

Objects found next to the Temple Mount Edit

  • In 2018 and a few years previously, two First Temple period stone weights used for weighing half-shekel Temple donations were found during excavations under Robinson's Arch at the foot of the Temple Mount. The tiny artifacts, inscribed with the word beka, which is known from related contexts in the Hebrew Bible, were used to weigh silver pieces on a scale, possibly at the very spot where they were unearthed. [83][84]

Other Edit

  • In 2007, artifacts dating to the 8th to 6th centuries BCE were described as being possibly the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount during the First Temple period. The findings included animal bones ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds the base of a juglet used to pour oil the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar. [85][86] [dubious – discuss]

There is archaeological and written evidence of three Israelite temples, either contemporary or of very close date, dedicated to Yahweh (Elephantine temple, probably Arad too), either in the Land of Israel or in Egypt. Two of them have the same general outline as given by the Bible for the Jerusalem Temple.

  • The Israelite temple at Tel Arad in Judah, 10th to 8th/7th century BCE [87] and possibly dedicated to Yahweh [88] and Asherah. [89]
  • The Jewish temple at Elephantine in Egypt, already standing in 525 BCE [90]
  • The Israelite temple at Tel Motza, c. 750 BCE discovered in 2012 a few kilometres west of Jerusalem.
  • Several Iron Age temples have been found in the region that have striking similarities to the Temple of King Solomon. In particular the Ain Dara (archaeological site), Ain Dara temple in northern Syria with a similar age, size, plan and decorations. [91]

Freemasonry Edit

Rituals in Freemasonry refer to King Solomon and the building of his Temple. [92] Masonic buildings, where lodges and their members meet, are sometimes called "temples" an allegoric reference to King Solomon's Temple. [93]

Islam Edit

The Temple in Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 7 of the surah Al-Isra in the Quran with the words " (We permitted your enemies) to. enter your Temple" commentators of Quran such as Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur [94] postulate that this verse refers specifically to the Temple of Solomon.

Kabbalah Edit

Kabbalah views the design of the Temple of Solomon as representative of the metaphysical world and the descending light of the creator through Sefirot of the Tree of Life. The levels of the outer, inner and priest's courts represent three lower worlds of Kabbalah. The Boaz and Jachin pillars at the entrance of the temple represent the active and passive elements of the world of Atziluth. The original menorah and its seven branches represent the seven lower Sephirot of the Tree of Life. The veil of the Holy of Holies and the inner part of the temple represent the Veil of the Abyss on the Tree of Life, behind which the Shekhinah or Divine Presence hovers. [95]

Popular culture Edit

Solomon's Temple appears in Solomon and Sheba (1959) and in the novel King Solomon's Mines (1885). It also appears in the video game Assassin's Creed where the main character Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad deals with Robert de Sablé. [96] [97] It appears too in Assassin's Creed Unity (2014) where the Knight Templar Jacques de Molay is burned and dies. [98] [99]

The same architectural layout of the temple was adopted in synagogues leading to the hekhal being applied in Sephardi usage to the Ashkenazi Torah ark, the equivalent of the nave. [100]


The Third Floor: "A House of Order"

"House of Order" is another way of saying the Kirtland Temple provided administrative space for Latter Day Saint church leaders to run the church.

In the evenings, the administrative quorums occupied the third floor. High Priests met on Monday nights, the Seventies on Tuesday nights, and the Elders on Wednesdays. Finally, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s private study is located in the far west office of the third floor. In this west office, during a meeting with several church leaders, the prayer of dedication for the Temple was written.

The five upper rooms of the third floor were also occupied by the Kirtland High School. Nearly 135 to 140 students filled the attic story learning a variety of lessons in geography, reading, writing, Greek and Latin. The far west room served as classroom space for the first Latter Day Saint seminary, the Kirtland, Ohio, Theological Institution. The Hebrew Grammar class was led by Joshua Seixas, a renowned Hebrew Scholar. It was among the first five seminaries in the state of Ohio. In 1838, the second and third floors continued to be devoted to education as the Western Reserve Teachers’ Seminary rented the space to train teachers. Having the second and third floors dedicated to learning demonstrates just how much value the Saints placed in education.


Nauvoo Temple

Latter-day Saints settled in Commerce (later Nauvoo), Illinois, in 1839 after being driven from Missouri. Their eventual expulsion prevented them from completing three planned temples in Missouri but did not discourage them from attempting to build a temple-centered city. 1 Land for a new temple in Nauvoo was secured in 1840. Construction proceeded slowly for more than five years, and by the time most Saints left Illinois in 1846, they had erected a magnificent temple, largely through consecrated labor and means.

A 19th-century daguerreotype of the original Nauvoo Temple.

At the October 1840 Church conference, a committee was selected to oversee construction, and Joseph Smith announced that the temple would be built by the tithes of members. Able-bodied men in and near Nauvoo were asked to donate their labor to help extract stone from nearby quarries and haul it to the temple site. Many made in-kind donations to the temple, and members who lived at greater distances were asked to donate cash. Women contributed substantial financial resources through participation in a penny fund. Skilled stonecutters and carpenters were hired to do the finishing work and were paid with donated goods. 2

At the same time the temple was under construction, Joseph Smith received revelation and introduced new teachings that transformed the very purpose of Latter-day Saint temples. Joseph introduced proxy baptisms for the dead, marriages for eternity, and a ritual called the endowment, all of which, he taught, were to be performed within the temple. Thus, in addition to functioning as a place of public worship, the Nauvoo Temple was designed to accommodate these sacred ordinances. For example, a font resting on the backs of 12 wooden oxen was installed in the basement for baptisms. The temple’s exterior, designed by William Weeks in collaboration with Joseph Smith, featured unique carvings of suns, stars, and moons, symbolic of Joseph Smith’s temple-related teachings and revelations. 3

The ambitious building project also necessitated adaptations to Church organization and policy that have proven enduring. The first Church wards were created as a way of encouraging an even distribution of tithing laborers on the temple: there were ten wards in Nauvoo, and the men in each ward donated one day’s labor in ten to the construction. The Relief Society began in part as an effort to organize women to contribute to the building of the temple. Tithing payment as a requirement for temple attendance likewise began in Nauvoo as Saints were encouraged to pay their tithing as a part of being worthy to use the baptismal font or receive the temple endowment. 4

In fall 1845, the Latter-day Saints faced harassment and intense pressure to leave Illinois, but they were determined to finish the temple so that worthy Saints could receive temple ordinances before leaving for the West. They raced to finish the temple and dedicated the attic in December 1845 for the purpose of administering marriage sealings and the endowment. By early February 1846, more than 6,000 Latter-day Saints had entered the temple and received the promised endowment. 5 Most of these Saints spoke in reverent awe of the experience and felt repaid for the sacrifices they made to construct the temple. “If it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that Temple,” Sarah Pea Rich asserted, the trip across the Great Plains “would have been like one taking a leap in the dark.” 6

Though portions of the temple were unfinished, the entire temple was dedicated on May 1, 1846. Forced to abandon the temple, Church leaders decided to sell it to help finance the Church’s migration to the Great Basin but were unable to do so. 7 The temple was burned by an unknown arsonist in 1848, and much of the stone superstructure was toppled by a tornado in 1850. In 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that the Nauvoo Illinois Temple would be rebuilt on the same footprint as the original building. The Church carefully researched drawings and photographs of the original temple to match the exterior design, and the interior was adapted to the needs of modern temple worship. The reborn temple was dedicated in June 2002. 8


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The New Testament tells of several important episodes in the life of Jesus that took place in the precinct of the Second Temple, and the Koran and other Muslim texts refer to the Temple specifically and to the great holiness of the mount on which it stood. It is the very spot from which the Prophet Muhammad is said to have begun his Night Journey to Heaven, in the 7th century.

Holy site going back thousands of years

The First Temple was built in the 10th century B.C.E. by King Solomon, according to the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 5-9). But the sanctity of the site goes back hundreds and possibly thousands of years before that.

The land on which Solomon built the temple had been acquired by King David, Solomon's father, who thought to build a grand temple himself. But the Lord, according to the biblical story, rejected David's ambition because of the king's sins and the job passed to the son.

The land David chose, a threshing floor, was associated with Moriah, where the patriarch Abraham brought his son Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22:14). (In the Bible, the mount is also referred to as “Zion,” a name that eventually came to encompass the entire Land of Israel.) That too is a tradition shared by the three great monotheistic religions. Other than that, and a few other minor references to the site in the Bible, however, there is no obvious explanation why Solomon built his temple here.

What is clear is that the Temple was meant to be a permanent residence for the Ark of the Covenant (Aron Habrit), which held the stone tablets of the law Moses received on Mt. Sinai, and [which traveled with the Israelites during their journey through the desert.

'Feeding' the god

Temples were standard institutions in the Ancient Near East, and until the construction of Solomon’s Temple, it was normal, even among the Hebrews, for individual localities to have their own altar or sanctuary.

Among pagan peoples, the temple would be the home of their god, who would be represented in the form of an idol. Among the Israelites, the Temple was initially thought of as the literal residence of God, but God’s presence was intangible, at most a type of radiance called “kavod” in Hebrew.

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As the conception of God changed from that of a neighborhood or national deity who had an address and needed to be placated, to being universal and omnipresent, the sanctuary evolved from being the place where God lived to being the place that the people visited so as to offer service to God, in the form of sacrifices. By the time of the final destruction of the Temple, the Jews, as they now could be called, no longer needed to “feed” God with physical sacrifices, but rather could serve him with prayer and obedience to his laws.

No direct evidence for Solomon's Temple

The precise location of Solomon’s Temple -- the First Temple -- on the mount is not known, nor have any physical artifacts from it been unearthed by archaeologists, though there are numerous artifacts portending to its existence (see the pictures gallery). Even if remnants have been preserved below-ground, the fact that two Muslim shrines stand on the Temple Mount – the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque – means there is no possibility of Israeli archaeologists excavating there.

That being said, in 1999, the Waqf (the Muslim authority entrusted with the maintenance and functioning of the mount) began construction of an underground mosque in the southeastern corner of the Haram, adjacent to Al-Aksa. When Jewish archaeologists observed that the large quantities of soil and detritus extracted from the site were being dumped a little to the northeast of the Old City, in the Kidron Valley, they organized an ongoing project, called the Temple Mount Sifting Project, to go through the refuse systematically.

Large numbers of items that they date to the First Temple period have been found.

The Temple was meant to serve as a single facility for the United Monarchy, where sacrifices to God would take place, and where, in the Holy of Holies, an elaborate chamber in the innermost sanctum of the Temple, God’s presence was said to dwell. After the single monarchy split into the distinct kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which happened, according to the Bible, under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, there was again a duplication of temples, as new altars were erected in Israel, at Dan, in the north, and Bethel, in the south.

After Israel was conquered in about 720 B.C.E., and its 10 tribes driven into exile, Jerusalem again became the lone cultic center.

Solomon's Temple sustained several attacks by foreign powers before finally, in 586 B.C.E., being totally destroyed by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king. The residents of Judah were sent into a short-lived exile, in what is present-day Iraq.

With the fall of Babylon, the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to the Land of Israel, beginning in 538. A rebuilt temple was dedicated in 515 B.C.E. – a little-known precursor to the grand structure called Herod’s Temple.

'Herod's Temple'

That Second Temple was an expanded and significantly upgraded structure whose construction was led by the half-Jewish, half-Edumean Herod, the Roman-appointed king of Judea who died in 4 B.C.E. Finished in about 20 B.C.E., the extravagant edifice stood less than a century. The first Jewish Revolt began in 66 C.E. and in 70 C.E., the Roman general (later emperor) Titus looted the Temple and leveled it.

Following the destruction of the Second Temple during the First Revolt and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem itself, accompanied by the exile of its inhabitants, during the Second Jewish Revolt, in 132-135, that Judaism made a sharp turn from being a temple-based cult that relied on daily sacrifices to its god. It became a mobile faith that revolved around law and prayer, and whose members soon spread out around the Mediterranean basin, and later to more distant points. The synagogue replaced the single Temple, but recalled the sanctuary by always being physically oriented in the direction of Jerusalem. Prayer took the place of animal sacrifices.

Jews still mourn the destruction of the Temple, principally on Tisha B’av (the Ninth of the month of Av), the date traditionally associated with the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, and other catastrophes that befell the people. But the Jewish longing for “Zion” evolved from being focused mainly on the loss of the ritual center of the Temple, to mourning over the loss of the land. It therefore made sense that the modern movement dedicated to reestablishment of a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel called itself “Zionism.” Yet there remains a significant stream within Orthodox Judaism that aspires to rebuild the Temple, in Jerusalem, and to return to an era when Jews worshipped through pilgrimage and sacrifices.

A 2,000-year old chisel used to build the Western Wall: Did a builder drop it and just not bother to climb down and pick it up? Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority


Watch the video: Κυριακή Β Λουκά - Θεία Λειτουργία, Μετόχι Ιεράς Μονής Κύκκου, Άγιος Προκόπιος Ζωντανά (July 2022).


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