‘The Seat of the Muses’

 

Community and worship, chant and song, incense and flowers, lit lamps and rustling silk. The rigor of perfected Ritual, the propriety of Tradition, for its own sake. The Bhava of Benediction, the Rasa of Reverence. If your heart cannot hum in the cirque of the sacred, surely you miss.

The tradition of Temple Worship did not begin until around the 2nd Century CE. And the great temple shrines at Thanjavur and Madurai were far more than centers of ritual and ceremony.

The cities grew around them in concentric circles, and they served as the centers, literally and figuratively, for every Art Form. Music and Dance, Literature and Theater.

The sense of the Sublime is at the center of what is to be properly called Art. It does not need to find its space in distorted metaphysical platforms.

The word ‘Museum’ derives from the Greek Mouseion: ‘Seat of the Muses’ [and not to be confused with ‘Mausoleum’, which modern museums closely resemble]. Temples were the original Museums.


Swamimalai in Kumbakonam, my maternal ancestral home, now long demolished.

 

I am a regular at south-indian temples the priests always eyeing me in squinted suspicion. Community and worship, chant and song, incense and flowers, lit lamps and rustling silk. The rigor of perfected Ritual, the propriety of Tradition, for its own sake. The Bhava, the Rasa of Reverence.

If your heart cannot hum in the cirque of the sacred, surely you miss.


The tradition of Temple Worship did not begin until around the 2nd Century CE [See: Yagñá]. And the great temple shrines at Thanjavur and Madurai were far more than centers of ritual and ceremony.

The cities grew around them in concentric circles, and they served as the centers, literally and figuratively, for the cities culture, for every Art Form. Music and Dance, Literature and Theater. Reverence and Worship are not outside Art.

The word ‘Museum’ derives from the Greek Mouseion: ‘Seat of the Muses’ [and not to be confused with ‘Mausoleum’, which modern museums closely resemble]. Temples were the original Museums.

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