Saturday, 28 July 2012

Understanding Sanatana Dharma- Part 2*

(5) Question : A lot of money is offered to God in temples for ritualistic worship and other purposes. Why does God require money?

  Answer : God does not require anything from us. An electric lamp does not require the help of a kerosene lamp. God is like the sun. He sheds light  equally on all things in the world. It is to this all-illuminating God that we offer a lamp and oil. This is due to our ignorance. It is like holding a burning candle in the daytime and saying, “O Sun God, here is light for You so that You can see the path clearly and walk.” The offerings in temples are made for our benefit. God is the giver of everything. He does not need or want anything from us. Wealth is what our mind is attached to, and it is not easy to detach the mind from this. A simple way to do this is to dedicate the mind to God. When we offer our mind to God it is purified. We offer God the things that are dear to us as a way of surrendering the mind.
The cash offering we make at the temple is not bribe. When done in humility and without expecting specific returns it symbolizes our love for God. To give something to someone we love is the way of love. When love is expressed outwardly, it becomes loving-kindness.

(6) Question : Idols in temples are adorned with precious jewellery. Why?

  Answer: The gold and silver used to decorate the images of God don’t belong to a particular individual; they belong to society as a whole. That wealth remains in the temple. Don’t most of us buy gold jewelry and keep it at home? Appreciating beauty is part of our nature. We like anything that is beautiful. That is why people wear jewelry and colorful clothes. But this attraction to external things causes bondage; it reinforces the notion that we are the body. If, instead, our attraction to beauty is directed towards God, it will uplift us.

When we decorate God’s image, we get to enjoy a beauty that is divine. In this way, our minds become focused on God. Even without adornments, God is the quintessence of Beauty. But, normally, we are able to enjoy that beauty only through certain symbols or limiting adjuncts. So, we adorn those images of God according to the way we imagine God to be or as we want him to be.

(7) Question : It is said that if the daily worship is stopped in a temple, adverse reactions will occur. Is this true?

  Answer: As a result of man’s resolve, the power of the temple gods will increase. If the worship is stopped, that power will diminish. The power of the god depends on the attitude of the person who installs it. Don’t stop the daily worship performed in temples or to the family deity. If these rites are stopped, great misfortunes may result.
Suppose we feed a crow for ten days. On the eleventh day, if we don’t feed it, it will follow us cawing. We will be unable to work attentively. Like this, if we stop the daily worship of the gods, they will always trouble us in their subtle forms. This will greatly affect weak-minded people, although spiritual aspirants will not be affected much.

It is not enough to build a boat; we should also learn how to row it. If we get into a boat without knowing how to row, it will move hither and thither. Is it proper to blame the boat if we don’t know how to row? Similarly, it is not enough to construct temples. They must be properly looked after as well. Daily worship should be performed. If not, misfortune may result. It is meaningless to blame the temples.

(8) Question : If so, then won’t temples become harmful to human beings?

  Answer: Never. This applies only to the temples where gods are worshipped. As regards such temples, we should be a bit careful. The installation of gods is done by priests who are incapable of controlling their own life force (prana shakti). We should never stop the daily worship in such temples. Have you seen fish living in aquariums? The water must be changed frequently or else it will be harmful to the fish. If daily worship is performed properly, material prosperity will result.

The greatness of temples where Mahatmas have installed the images is unique. By their mere will, they give divine power to the images which they install. They make the resolve that the images should be identified with the Undivided Existence, Awareness, Bliss. Such temples and their images will be full of divinity, power and effulgence. They are not like fish living in aquariums, but like fish that live in the river. In such temples the daily puja will never stop. Even if the puja is stopped, there will be no loss of power. These temples will be centers of great attraction and will have eternally auspicious attributes. Tirupathi, Guruvayur and Chottanikara temples are examples of this. 

courtesy : Awaken children,MAM Publication.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Understanding Sanatana Dharma- Part 1*

(1) Question : It is said that God is everywhere. If so, why is it necessary to go to particular places of worship?

Answer: There is wind everywhere but the person who comes to rest under a tree out of the scorching heat gets a special kind of rejuvenating coolness which filters through the leaves of the tree. Likewise, we can experience a unique peace when we go to Mahatmas. The significance of going to other places of worship is also the same. The atmosphere in a temple and a liquor shop are different, aren’t they?

     (2) Question : Are temples necessary for remembering God?

     Answer: One special characteristic of Sanatana Dharma is that it comes down to the level of each individual and elevates him or her. People have different ‘samskaras’. Each individual has to be guided according to his or her inner tendencies. Some patients are allergic to certain injections and have to be given alternative medicines. Similarly, the unique mental and physical characteristics of each person have to be taken into account, and the appropriate method that suit the samskara of the individual has to be prescribed. This is how different traditions have come into being.

      Temples are necessary to uplift ordinary people by bringing the Divine down to a physical level. We cannot ignore or reject anyone. Even though the air is everywhere, we experience it more tangibly sitting closer to a fan, don’t we? Under a tree there is a special coolness that isn’t felt elsewhere; you feel the presence of the wind and experience that coolness. Similarly, when we worship God through an instrument that symbolizes Him, His divine Presence can be felt more clearly. But for this to happen, faith is essential. Faith tunes the mind. Even though God is present in the temple, those who lack faith won’t experience that presence. It is faith that gives us the experience.

      (3) Question : What are the temples for? Isn’t the sculptor who chiseled the beautiful image the one who deserves to be adored?

     Answer: Just as we remember our father when we see his portrait, we are reminded of God when we see the image. When a devotee of Krishna sees the image of Sri Krishna, he remembers the real Lord Krishna and not the stone image. Temples and idols are needed by those of us who are drowning in ignorance.

      (4) Question : Does Sanatana Dharma teach idolatry?
      Answer: When you see the flag of your country, is it the flag or the tailor you respect? Or perhaps the weaver who wove the fabric? Or the person who spun the yarn? Or the farmer who provided the cotton? No one gives a thought to those people. Instead, we are reminded of the country that the flag symbolizes. In the same way, a divine image reminds the believer not of the sculptor but of his favorite God who is also the divine sculptor of the universe.

      In image worship, we develop the expansiveness of heart needed to love and respect every living being. By praying and visualizing God in the image, we are purified within and raised to the level where we see and worship God in everything. This is the aim of image worship. While all the symbols that remind us of the material world ultimately limit and confine us, the symbols that awaken our awareness of the divine lead us to a state of expansiveness way beyond all limits. Image worship helps us to see God everywhere, in everything.

      courtesy : Awaken children,MAM Publication.