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Saturday, April 06, 2013

The concept of four sides in religio-cultural spaces

"Abraham's Tent was open to the four winds... and  how this reflects in other traditions... Read more @ Facebook: Abraham's Tent

PS. The hypotheses one may consider, and an analysis is left for another post includes, a long list of propositions, such as: a) open from all four sides is symbolic of acceptance, inclusiveness and openness?; b) is it the best way to see it working seamlessly with the spirit (sacred), humans, time, energy and space? c) What is a four sided shape called: Cube (e.g., Kaba), Quadrilaterals, tetragon, square, NEWS (e.g., North, East, West and South, e.g., Medicine Wheel in the Native Spirituality), four (Persian/Hindi char = four)? d) what is the relationship of four sided symbols in Mandala (Buddhist), caturbimba (four sided views as in Jainism), or Chowmukha temple in RANAKPUR, Rajasthan (meaning the four sided/faced temple), or Charminar (four minaret facing four directions)?
"Abraham's Tent was open to the four winds. It was a safe place of hospitality towards strangers. It was the first "Hostel" in the world.
And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said: "Quickly make ready three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes."....Teaches Us that having guests is not only a Mitzvah but a source of blessings! (Under any circumstances). " [source: Parashat Vayetze]

"Our greatest model for welcoming others into our community comes from our patriarch, Abraham. A well known Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 48:8) teaches us that Abraham kept his tent open to the four winds of the Earth – north, south, east and west – so that guests could enter his home from any direction. According to the Midrash, Abraham didn’t even ask passersby who they were or where they were going; he simply welcomed them into his tent, bathed their feet and offered them food and a place to rest." [source]

"SIKHS built four doors to the Golden Temple at Amritsar, in north India, to welcome believers from all four corners of their earth. But in the five centuries since, few religions have followed that tolerant example. Hindus and Muslims fight fiercely over religious ruins in ancient Ayodhya. Christians have long wrangled among themselves, and with other faiths, over Jerusalem’s holy places." [source: Shared worship spaces: God’s new digs, The best multifaith prayer rooms are those where architects bow out, Mar 23rd 2013 The Economist]

 "Unlike erecting the structure on the higher level(a tradition in Hindu Temple architecture), Guru Arjan Sahib got it built on the lower level and unlike Hindu Temples having only one gate for the entrance and exit, Guru Sahib got it open from four sides. Thus he created a symbol of new faith, Sikhism. Guru Sahib made it accessible to every person without any distinction of Caste, creed, sex and religion."[source: Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple]

"The physical space of a ritual is, in IE (Indo-European) religion, generally square or rectangular – the Romano-Celtic temples and Celtic Viereckschanzen, Roman templa and Greek temenos, Zoroastrian pawis, Vedic sacrificial grounds. A square or rectangle is oriented towards the four spatial directions; it maps the macrocosm, which is oriented in this way. It is also oriented towards the four personal directions (front/back, left/right) -- it maps the microcosm. The mesocosm of space ordered in this way thus maps in both directions, forming a link between them. This linking is expressed in language, as in the etymological connection between "right" and "south" -- compare Latin dexter, "right," with Sanskrit dakshina, "south," both coming from Proto-IE *deks-, "right." Microcosm and macrocosm are here defined by the same terms." [source: The Place of Ritual, Ceisiwr Serith]

"Identifying the Aztec temples has been a tricky job at times. It's been easy to simply assume that large, monumental structures such as pyramids are all either palaces or temples, but that may not be the case. Still, we do have a good understanding of what happened in the religious areas and how the many of the buildings looked hundreds of years ago. Often a whole area of a city would be dedicated to religious activities. Some monuments would be made to specific gods. Some were built for specific celebrations. The buildings you probably associate with the Aztec religion are the great pyramids. These were four sided, stable structures that can withstand the earthquakes that are common in the area. These would have stairs up one side, and a flat top, often with a shrine on the top." [source: Aztec Temples]

"Mount Kalaish has a mandala-like, or mandalic,  character, with its perfect four sides oriented toward the four winds.  Mandala's are prominent in both Buddhism and Hinduism, where the preferred term is yantra. The psychologist Carl Jung recognized the special nature of the mandala, which he regarded as symbolic of the unconscious self.  With it's four symmetrical sides, it represents the four information-processing functions of the psyche: sensation,  intuition, thinking and feeling.  The center of the mandala represents the self, the true, integrated core of an individual's psyche.  What is perceived by the self/soul is filtered by the functions, which represent how an individual views and evaluates the world around her.  The self or, to use religious motifs, the soul at the center holds all things together." [source: The Four Sided Mountain]

"The four directions of the Medicine Wheel remind us of many things, such as the need for balance in the world, and the balance we must strive for everyday within ourselves. Here you will begin to get an idea of a few of those many teachings and connections that are in the circle. Everything comes in fours, so it’s easier to digest, easier to learn. The four direction teachings go clockwise, beginning in the east. But before we travel around the wheel, let’s look at the Centre." [source: Four Directions, Aboriginal, OJIBWE/ POWAWATOMI (ANISHINABE)]

"Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty built Charminar in 1591 AD, Year after repair, rain damages Charminar minaret shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what is now known as Hyderabad. He built this famous structure to commemorate the elimination of a plague epidemic from this city. He is said to have prayed for the end of a plague that was ravaging his city and vowed to build a masjid (Islamic mosque) at the very place where he was praying. In 1591 while laying the foundation of Charminar, Quli Qutb shah prayed: "Oh Allah, bestow unto this city peace and prosperity. Let millions of men of all castes, creeds and religions make it their abode, like fish in the water." The Mosque became popularly known as Charminar because of its four (minars = towers)..."
"The Charminar is a square structure with each side 20 meters (approximately 66 feet) long, with four grand arches each facing a fundamental point that open into four streets. At each corner stands an exquisitely shaped minaret, 56 meters (approximately 184 feet) high with a double balcony. Each minaret is crowned by a bulbous dome with dainty petal like designs at the base. Unlike the Taj Mahal, Charminar's four fluted minarets are built into the main structure. There are 149 winding steps to reach the upper floor. The sturcture also known as profuseness of stucco decorations and arrangement of balustrades and balconies. Dawn." [source]

On the same shelf:

  • Geertz, Clifford, Religion as a cultural system
  • Journey to the Four Directions - Pointers in Sacred and Shamanic Work by Ashley Costanzo
  • Monastic Interreligious Dialogue | Abraham's Hospitality to strangers ...
  • Sons and Daughters of Abraham:An Interfaith Journey of Hospitality
  • About the Tent of Abraham
  • Abraham's Tent Offers Hospitality -- This year Turkish Cultural Center Connecticut and Peace Islands Institute participated in the Abraham's Tent organized by the Columbus House.
  • Abraham's Tent בסיעתא דשמיא بسم الله ‎ | A Virtual Home for Abraham's Children | ‎Abraham's Tent בסיעתא דשמיא بسم الله ‎:
  • Center for Interfaith Engagement -- Eastern Mennonite University
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