‘Ekam sad viprā basathudhā vadanti’ - inclusivism - the idea of a reformed Hinduism in the iconographic program of the Birla temples

Marta Kudelska,

Agnieszka Staszczyk,

Agata Świerzowska


The fundraising activity initiated by the Birla family in India resulted in the construction of more than 20 Hindu temples, commonly referred to as the Birla Mandirs. Although they vary in terms of architectural forms and iconographic programs it seems, that one basic and common theme remains - to show reformed Hinduism as a religion that is the pillar of the identity of the people of New India. It is understood at the same time as separate but also higher than other great religions, yet assuring a place within its confines for all of them. It is – as the authors argue in this paper - the practical realization of the thought expressed in the Ṛgveda(I 164.46) and repeatedly referred to in the Birla temples as ‘ekam sad viprā bahudhā vadanti’, which seems to be the motto of all foundations of the Birla family.

Słowa kluczowe: Advaita-Vedānta, Birla, inkluzywizm, Lakshmi Narayan, współczesny hinduizm, upaniszady, Śiva / Advaita-Vedānta, inclusivism, modern Hinduism, Upaniṣads, Śiva