Be our fan

The $20 billion Indian gym for the MIND

Tanjore temple

More than $20 billion worth of wealth in a temple? That’s the account of hidden wealth in the 8th century Shree Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. But this abundance of wealth has not been unusual in the history of some Indian temples. While ancient Indian temples were built as spiritual gymnasiums for the mind, they also had enormous wealth to consistently provide that opportunity for spiritual development. But there are other types of wealth in the ancient Indian temples that are much more valuable than its material wealth. What’s that?

 India has thousands of temples, thronged by millions of people. If there is anything great and concrete that has survived the rigors and ravages of time in India, then it is surely the ancient temples. Of the thousands, there are many ancient temples that have a deep history, fascinating legends and where famous saints have gotten their Darshan (ultimate insight) of the ‘Absolute Truth’.  The word Mandir comes from Sanskrit root Mandaté, which means to be filled with transcendent emotion, to delight, to shine.

India has many spectacular temples that have found a place in the World Heritage list. These include the Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha (previously known as Orissa), Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh, Ajanta Cave temples & Kailashnath temple in Ellora, Maharashtra, Brihadeswara Temple in Tanjavuur and Sanchi Stupa in Bhopal.

Every ancient temple in India gives a glimpse of the continuous Indian civilisation and speaks of a golden time when India was at the vanguard of civilization. They were such great storehouses of wealth that barbarous invaders like Mahmud of Ghazni invaded the Somnath temple in Gujarat 17 times only to loot the temple’s wealth every time. It is said Mahmud’s loot was worth some 20-million Dinars (1200 years ago). It is well known that the Portuguese traveler Vasco Da Gama also looted from India’s temples and sailed back with ships full of gold.

The Shree Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple caught our attention not because of its heritage but due to the hidden wealth (more than Rs.1,00,000 crores = over $20 billion) which incidentally is more than India’s annual education budget. Overnight this temple is touted as the richest temple in India, if not in the world.  A newspaper report says that this wealth would easily displace the Vatican, which is estimated to own about $15 billion in wealth. Some say this wealth could be over worth over $100 billion.

Anyway, it was this Shree Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple that gave its name to Kerala’s state capital Thiruvananthapuram (mispronounced as Trivandrum) which is made up of 3 words – ‘Thiru’ + ‘Anantha’ + ‘Puram’ meaning “Sacred Abode of Lord Anantha Padmanabha” who is the main deity of the temple.

Three types of temple wealth…

It is generally observed that many ancient and big temples had three types of wealth – (1) the deity (2) the cultural assets like architecture, art, artifacts etc and (3) material wealth that belongs to the temple like land, gold, money that can be made liquid cash etc.

The temple primarily exists because of the deity. Normally the history of the temple (found in its sthala purana) explains why the temple exits in the first place. The ‘deity’ and the ‘cultural assets’ pass from generation to generation and these two types of wealth are considered  much more valuable and mystical than the material wealth ($20 billion+!!) belonging to the deity.

The first and the greatest wealth of any temple is the “deity” who is invoked and worshipped by devotees as the manifestation of the one Supreme God. In Vedic tradition, there is no greater wealth than God. Hence God is addressed as ‘Bhagav?n’ meaning one who has infinite ‘bhaga’ i.e. ‘opulence’. Bhagavan is one who has all the 6 kinds of opulences that of richness, fame, strength, influence, beauty and wisdom. Pretty much all wealth is covered including material wealth.

The name of the deity speaks volume of the eternal nature of Godhead. In the Shree Padmanabhaswamy temple, the deity is Lord Vishnu. ‘Vishnu’ is derived from the root word ‘Vi?’ meaning “presence everywhere” (as God pervades everything i.e. vevesti, he is called Vishnu). The root ‘Vis’ also means to enter. Masters have explained that “That which pervades everything is Vishnu” just like Gold pervades all gold ornaments. Lord Vishnu is personified in a unique symbology called ‘Padmanabha’ meaning ‘Lotus-navelled’ which has deep and esoteric meaning.

The deity being central, the temple complex and design, its art and Vedic architecture form the second type of wealth i.e. the temple’s cultural assets. This also includes the esoteric traditions, the mystical diagrams, installed yantras which function as revelatory conduits of eternal truths, the secrets and life lessons hidden in the sculptures, the legends, the miracles, the traditions, the spiritual iconography, the gopuram with all the symbolic carvings etc.

These symbolic and metaphorical arts bring to light the universal meanings of truth beneath the ancient exterior which is extolled to be much more enduring that material wealth. These are the real subtle wealth that temples provide free of charge to devotees.

Thus ancient Indian temples were not only places of invocation and worship but also art which was considered as expression of the divine. The major temples in ancient India were more known for their encouragement of arts and learning than just places of worship. Hence, in old Indian temples, all the amenities were available like hall, performance areas, pond within the complex, art work, dorms and the architects & sculptors made sure the public ultimately noticed the messages through art.

Thus the spectrum of wealth originates from the sanctum sanctorum (Garba Graha) right to the exterior art on the outer boundaries of the temple. From the temple’s peripheral wall to the deity’s central sanctorum is the invitation for the mind to take flight from the gross to the subtlest. Art is the methodology used in this mandir for spiritual development.

The mystical knowledge that the temple deity and the exterior art present is the real wealth that seems to miss our attention in the glare of the material world. No government, trust board or King can claim this. It is available ‘free’ for anybody who is interested in the timeless essence. No lawsuit is necessary to claim this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera