This series chronicles sweet experiences recounted by the devotees of HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji as well as some divine experiences of Sri Swamiji himself. These articles are translations from the series “Madhuramaana Mahaneeyar” that is published every month in Madhuramurali Tamil monthly magazine.
Why do we need temples?
Recounted by Sri Janakiraman ji, Chennai
Recently, a dear friend, while talking to Sri Swamiji, asked, “my close friend does not believe in temples and praying to God etc. He asked me if it was necessary to waste away so much of milk, yogurt and other ingredients in the name of abhishekam and pooja in temples while so many people are starving. It sounds reasonable listening to his question. To confine an all-pervading, limitless power in the form of an idol in a temple seems ignorant. Please explain.”. Sri Swamiji gave a long explanation for his question. Since it was very interesting, I would like to share it with you by writing this.
A certain someone lists all the favors that he did to the servant at home. On top of that, he also lists the favors that he did to the desolate repeatedly. He is also very proud of it. But, at the same time, he questions himself internally, why did he do all that and whether it was necessary. He wonders if he overdid it. If he does not get the returns that he expected from his deeds, he gets frustrated. But doesn’t the same individual, feel proud of what he did for his lover or wife or lovable children? Does he boast about it to others?
He tries his best not to let others know about it as they may cast their evil eyes. Because, he considers servants and others as outsiders, there is no love there. All that is done for them is considered a burden. But, there is no question about the hardships one goes through for his lover or wife or children due to the love. When a question arises, it implies that there is no love. Love does not ask questions.
God has created this universe including us and has also given us the freedom to say that there is no creator. Could there be anyone else more compassionate than Him? Do you know what it is like when someone says there is no God? It is like one saying “there is no tongue” while speaking. You are able to think and speak because of this chaithanya or consciousness. That Lord, has become tertiary to humans and even to a bhaktha. Hence, the question!
First of all, let us see why we need to attain the Lord. In this universe, everybody is involved in something, from the four-headed Brahma to a small ant. For what? It is all for joy. Everyone desires to be joyful. But are we able to be? It may appear that we are, but what remains is sorrow. Position, name, money, wife, children, longevity etc do not give the joy that we anticipate.
Even if sorrow has not hit us yet, there is no saying that it will not tomorrow. Because, if others are afflicted by sorrow, so can we be, right? We cannot say that if we lead a righteous life today, we will not be afflicted by sorrow because it has nothing to do with whether we are leading a righteous life today. It is the result of our karma from the past.
First, instead of trying to change the joy and sorrow by meditating upon the Lord, we should not let it affect us. Then, we should immerse ourselves in a deep, blissful state of samaadhi, unmindful of all these. There is no sorrow after that. There is no second thing after that. This is what is Adhvaitham. There are no two types of people – people who indulge in worldly affaira and are people involved in divine matters. Everyone is inclined towards permanent joy. People of the world search for this joy in the wrong places and ways. Spiritual exponents search for it in the right places and in the right way. This is the difference. Despite this, Gnanis’ lives are much superior to the rest.
People of the world believe that life in this world is real. They turn towards spiritual life after being let down. But, self-realized souls never turn to material life after being disheartened. So, their lives are indeed great! To attain this highest state, the easiest way for the majority of the population, is to pray in temples.
Let us see what a temple is first. God is omni-potent and there is no place without Him. Then why is there a separate place for Him? He is always pure so why does He need a holy bath? There is nothing beyond Him. Why should He be adorned? Why offer Neivedhyam for an ever-content?
This world is in His control. But God is captivated by the mantras and bhakthi. Temple is a place where the divine power is consecrated sincerely with mantra, bhakthi. Temple is a symbol of our body.
The seven outer circumferences of the Srirangam Sri Ranganatha Temple symbolizes the seven yogic chakras of our body. The five outer circumferences of almost all Shiva temples denote the five Koshas or Sheaths. The three and a half outer circumferences in the Kanchi Sri Kamakshi Amman temple denote the kundalini power that is curled up underneath our spine in three and a half circles. You can see that the snake vahana in the Perumal temple is curled up in three and a half circles. The Kodimaram in all the temples denote the spinal cord in our body.
Ganapathi is the dormant power in the core, that has not realized its self. Only through celibacy it can be awakened. So when one tries to awaken Ganapathi erroneously, then it will create an effect similar to when an elephant goes into musth. When one tries to awaken this upwards, it starts off as a snake. This is Subrahmanya. Since He starts from the core too, He is the younger brother of Ganapathi. That naadi has 6 knots so Subrahmanya has six faces… (to be continued)
Original Tamil article published in Madhuramurali Magazine, Apr 1996 issue
Translated into English by Smt. Mangala Gowri Sridhar, Jacksonville FL