(Last Updated on : 12/09/2012)
The temples have remained an important part of the Indian society since a long period. The temples have been a great strengthening factor in keeping the people united and also kept the torch of dharma up. The frustrated minds can find peace in the shrines and icons of the temple.
The temples have given employment to a lot of people, as they needed people for the construction and maintenance of the building. They also employed the architects, artisans, sculptors and labourers in the temple complex for various works. The temples were a place of religious conversations and musical discussions especially the pravachanas and harikathas. All these have facilitated the propagation of religion, music, dance and other fine arts in the society. All these got great encouragement and provided pure and uplifting entertainment to the devotees.
Being a centre of learning, the temple helped in the acquisition and propagation of knowledge. The temples were shelter for both the scholars and students of the society. The temples had enormous wealth hence they also acted as a bank to the needy people of the society giving easy credits. The temple granaries were used to feed the hungry and those unable to earn their livelihood due to disease and deformity. The temples also used to run several hospitals and dispensaries.
Several disputes among the people of the society were also settled in the temples, which acted as a court of law. During war period, people used to take shelter in the temples. Thus the temple was all in all in the social life of our country for centuries.
But, the temples had also implemented a system, which was not accepted by the Brahmin group of the society. Considering the god in the temple to be a living being, people used to offer him all enjoyments to which an emperor or a king is entitled and accustomed. And in this way, the system of offering unmarried girls to the temple for the service of the deity originated. The brahmanas opposed the system was by but due to the pressure of the kings and noblemen it continued in the society for a long time. The girls chosen to become devadasis, i, e, servants of god were married to the deity in the temple in a ceremonial way. These girls used to clean the temple, fan the image, carry the lights, sing and dance before the deity and the devotees and so on. This system might have started in the temples some time during the 3rd century A.D and unfortunately, this system soon deteriorated into prostitution.