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.

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