(13) Question : Isn’t it enough to worship God while sitting in our house, or is it necessary to go to the temples in order to worship Him?
Answer : It is all right if you are not going to temples. However, if you go to temples, you will benefit because the vibrations there are entirely different from those of a house or other places where worldly dealings are taking place. In a temple, everyone is thinking of God. The power radiating from the statue creates peace and serenity in the mind. The atmosphere is concentrated and impregnated with the one pointed thought of the devotees who gather there. Because all are thinking of God in that atmosphere, it is easy for others also to attain concentration. But we should have the right attitude when we go to a temple.
(14) Question : It is said that one will get mental peace if one goes to temples and prays sincerely. How does that happen?
Answer : It is true, we can get peace, but as you said, we must have sincerity. We want peace to come after we call “God” once having looked at the image and then closed our eyes. When we meditate on God with form, we are also meditating on our own Self. This means all other thoughts will be restrained and our mind will become concentrated on the image of God. This again means that there are no other thoughts, which cause all our external and internal problems and conflicts, except that one single thought of God. Fewer thoughts mean more peace of mind. More thoughts means less peace of mind. Moreover, when we go to a temple, the atmosphere is calm because everyone stands there with only one thought in mind. All minds will become one-pointed while waiting for the sanctum sanctorum to be opened and to behold God’s image. The atmosphere there becomes peaceful because of that concentrated thought. That is why we get peace when we go to temples.
(15) Question : Is it necessary to worship trees, snakes and things like that?
Answer : Everything in God’s creation has a purpose and a benefit, whatever it is. There is a use for everything, whether it is a dog, a cat or a hen. No matter whether it is an animal or a plant, there is a purpose behind its creation. Even if human beings do not have any use for something, other creatures do. The harmony of nature depends on all things which have been created. Take, for example, the changes in weather patterns that have now occurred. Because trees have been needlessly cut down, we do not get the proper rainfall during the monsoon season. Furthermore, the temperature has increased, hasn’t it?
It is the trees which purify the atmosphere, absorbing all the impure air exhaled by human beings. Is it wrong to mentally worship those things which do good to us? For example, some things are considered sacred, so we honor them with due reverence, that’s all. Lord Krishna has told Arjuna, “Among mountains I am the Himalayas, among trees I am the great peepal tree and amongst animals, the lion.” When everything is pervaded by God, which thing is not to be worshipped?
(16) Question : Doesn’t Vedanta speak against image worship?
Answer : No, Vedanta doesn’t deny anything. Son, every person has an appropriate path for making the mind concentrated on the Self. Didn’t Sankaracharya renovate temples, install images and compose poetry about gods and goddesses? Even so, don’t get entangled in image worship forever. At a certain stage of sadhana, you will reach the Formless State where all images and forms merge and disappear. Even if one or two people might understand that the world is an illusion, to others the world will still seem to be real. Scriptures and paths are to uplift those who are wandering in ignorance. They are not meant for those who already know the Truth and have attained the Goal.
(17) Question : Is it possible to attain Liberation through temple worship?
Answer : It is possible, but one must worship with the understanding of the inner significance of the temples. God resides in the temples, but don’t think that He is limited to the four walls of the temple. Have the firm belief that God is omnipresent. A bus will take us to the bus stop nearest to our house; from there we can easily walk the remaining distance. Similarly, the correct way of temple worship will take us to the threshold of Satchidananda (Pure Being-Knowledge-Bliss); from there only a short distance remains before attaining Perfection. You can take birth in a temple, but don’t die there. That is to say that, in the beginning, a seeker can do temple worship as a stepping stone, but the final and real goal is beyond all these things.
*courtesy : Awaken children,MAM Publication.