Answers and beyond…
Spiritual questions answered by Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji
Q: Why do the temples have more than one deity apart from the main deity? Is it right to worship more than one god at the same time?
A: The Sanskrit term asthi means ‘to accept the existence’ and nasthi means denying the existence. These form the roots for the words Asthikam and Nasthikam which translate as theism and atheism respectively.
An asthika believes in the existence of God. Acts like going to Sabari Malai every year, attending an Ati Rudram, performing Chandi Homam, going on pilgrimages, reading the Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Ramayana, having darshan of Sadhus and saints – these acts are typical of an asthika.
A bhakta (devotee) is a step higher and he sticks on to one and only one God. Hanuman, Azhwars, Meera, Saint Thiyagaraja and others are supreme bhaktas. One cannot find a single pathigam in Thevaram in praise of Lord Vishnu, neither can one find a single pasuram in Divya Prabandham that sings of Lord Siva; Hanuman knows not Krishna, Gopis know not Rama.
At the same time, a bhakta never detests or talks ill of another deity. He respects all other forms just like a wife has true love and affection for her husband and yet respects all his relatives.
In this context, one might get a doubt if the one-pointed devotion to a single deity speaks of the narrow mindedness of the person.
A true wife being faithful to her husband is indeed a virtue. It is wrong to term it as narrow mindedness, isn’t it? In fact, one-pointed devotion is a very rare virtue that comes by spontaneously.
Then, almost automatically comes the question of why we have so many deities in our religion. The simple answer is that, human tastes are widely varied and the numerous deities of our religion give a seeker the freedom to choose from these different God-forms, a form that best suits his taste and mental disposition.
In short, the truth is one and not many; and all paths lead to the one, same Truth.
Just like our mind oscillates in worldly affairs, it tends to waver in spiritual matters as well.
In order to obtain water from the earth, it is a smart move to keep digging constantly at the same spot. Our efforts will prove futile if they are directed at digging a little in multiple places.
So direct your energy in one direction, towards one God, through one Master, and you will reach the destination quicker.
For more such answers by Sri Swamiji, or to ask a question of your own, please visit the Nama Dwaar website at www.namadwaar.org.