ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Idea of the Sacred Place

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It has often been argued that there is a classical polarisation between the sacred and the secular. The sacred is basically defined in terms of religion and religion is further defined in terms of rituals. The unintended consequences of ritualised religion have been the emergence of political economy that mushrooms around the creation of every new sacred structure. But the material development that takes shape around such structures does not often get highlighted and is subsumed under the larger sphere of the sacred. However, the importance of material life around the sacred was highlighted by some public figures, with a particular reference to employment that many people lost as a result of the pandemic-driven closure of temples. Such concern underscores the connection between the material and the sacred.

However, this is not the only context that should bring under dispute the classical polarisation between the sacred and the secular. There is a historical context that tends to question the classical polarisation between two phenomena of the sacred and the secular. Such a context compels us to look for a middle ground that needs to be taken on board in order to offer a fresh conceptualisation of the sacred. The social history of the temple entry movement, both in pre-independence and post-independence India would enable us to attempt this conceptualisation. It could be argued that the immanent frame of the sacred offers space for transcendence of the self. The sacred was envisioned as the space promoting transcendence of the self along universal principles such as justice and equality. As the temple entry movement led by ­Mohandas Gandhi and Bhimrao Ambedkar shows, sacred structures or places of worship have provided the formative context for the articulation of such principles.

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2020
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