GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

A crust of gods

with 4 comments

The temples of India stand as nexi among several crafts. As shelters, they house worshipers and their priests. As art, they are crusted with sculptures of gods, animals and humans. And as theology, they represent the cosmos, a mandala, even the deity itself.

TempleNet — created, interestingly, by a musician — comes close to a canonical list of these astonishing structures, along with stunning photos, although most are too small.

The site lists temples all around India, classifying them by region and their major deities, including Ganesha and Skanda. And it explains important architectural differences between north and south, as well as border states like Karnataka.

Along the way, we get some “hmmmm” details. One is that architectural styles were influenced more by different regions than religions, such as Jain or Hindu.

There’s also a thought-provoking piece on the Indian sense of time — from kaashta, or 18 eyeblinks, to the purported 309.6 trillion year life cycle of the creator Bhrahma.

Like other enormous sites, TempleNet has a few flaws. Some links are broken. The quality of information is uneven. And the articles often assume prior knowledge. The latter problem is partly fixed by a glossary, but not all the terms are defined.

One glaring problem: Finding an explanation of the overall concept of a temple. There is, in fact, an article about that, but it’s buried in the archives. A search engine would help find it, but that’s one of the broken links.

Don’t leave TempleNet without clicking the “special music feature” link. It leads to a page of “Indo-Celtic” music, blending instruments from east and west. The idea sounds weird, but the nine samples are nice.


Written by Jim Davis

August 31, 2008 at 4:16 am

4 Responses

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  1. This comment isn’t so much related to this article as that it just occured to me that I should mention this…

    Have you read The Serpent and the Rainbow? Given your experience, you likely have, but… I thought I’d ask anyway. I’m partway through now, and it’s interesting, but I’m questioning the reliability of it. If you have read it, any thoughtst? If not… I suggest you look into it.


    The English Clergyman

    September 1, 2008 at 2:13 am

  2. This will sound a bit low-life, clergy, but … no, I saw the movie version. 🙂 And I know that movies are often vastly different from the books they’re based on. Sorry.


    James Davis

    September 1, 2008 at 11:21 pm

  3. So there is a movie version! I had been wondering.


    The English Clergyman

    September 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

  4. Yeah, the movie is interesting, though much of it is an excuse for Hollywood-style special effects. The fun part is that you never know if the supernatural events are really happening, or if they’re just drug-induced hallucinations. As I said, I don’t know if that’s true to the book.



    September 3, 2008 at 4:11 am

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