Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why worship in a temple?

Till the age of 11, I often listened to appa and amma and went to the temple in the mornings or evenings during specific days (Tuesday, Friday).The specific days to visit the temple depends on your favourite diety (Ishta Devata). Certain days are meant for fasting for specific deities now. There was a Ganesha temple (Sree Vigneshwar Devasthan) close to my home and we often used to involve ourselves in the temple service activities. But often in our youth we start questioning whether going to the temple really helps us or not. Our intellect starts questioning that how is it beneficial to us by going to a temple. But since olden times all religions, traditions and countries have emphasized on visiting shrines, belief in a divine power - God. However in current times, its very important to keep our temples cool and calm and therefore visiting temples and meditating for sometime will be of great help. Nowadays a lot is being written about the temple architecture, vaastu shastras etc and how these ancient temples were built in order to experience the divine energy. Here is a small write up which caught my attention 

THERE are many who question the need for so many temples in India. For a religion that says 'God is within us,' the natural question is — ''Then why should we go to temple and worship God?'' In a question and answer session with Sri Sri Ravishankar that was popularly circulated through email some years ago, he replied: ''There is air in the room. Yet we need a fan to go around and direct the air for our use.''

It works the same way with temples too. There is divine energy all around, nevertheless. It takes many facets of the construction of the temple, the sounds and symbols used, the activities performed in the temple and the objects used for worship to harness that energy for use by human beings. There is contemplation of divinity involved in every aspect of the construction of a temple. Talking to any Sthapathi or the traditional community of engineers who build temples, carve the idols and install them in the sanctum sanctorum, one would realise that the shilpa sastra contains details of construction, which go to make that temple a great energy field.

The prakaram or pathway of big temples incorporate the five koshas or the five sheaths of a human being — the physical body or the annamaya kosha is the most decorated part of the temple, the outermost structure and a tower which is the shape of a pyramid with a flat top. The studies happening in pyramids today reveal that the particular shape is a repository of universal cosmic energy. This is the most colourful part of the temple that signifies all the different activities of life possible.

Temples are different energy vortices that draw in from the cosmos — a particular energy form to serve public needs. If people believe that they get richer by worshipping Balaji at Tirupati, then that is the particular aspect of auspiciousness that the temple attracts. Many who visit the Santhana Sreenivasa Temple hidden in a corner in Chennai's Mogappair area are aware that the deity has the particular energy speciality of blessing people with children. There are even many who have not had children for years, but were blessed with babies after special offerings were made in the temple.

‘Aalayam Thozhuvadhu Saalavum Nandru,’ said the Tamil poet Avvaiyar. In these days of rationalist arguments against going to temples, this saying makes us wonder why such a reputed poet would have said this. It is good to just go to any temple and be in that energy atmosphere. The geometry of the temple, the position of the main and other deities, the geometric diagrams or yantras that are placed beneath the deity, the flowers and fruits that are offered in worship, the sounds or mantras that are chanted while worshipping, the mudras or symbols that the priest uses to worship, the folding of the hands in prayer and falling flat on the ground in a sashtanga namaskara posture — all go to help us merge into that universal energy field all the time one is consciously inside the temple and all the time one remembers with the mind. Energy is the primary need to help human beings perform all activities. This energy is abundant in nature. However, with increased industrialisation and modernisation, temples are the scientific structures in which this universal energy is harnessed and maintained through pujas done for four or six times a day.

1 comment:

  1. Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.”
    Henry David Thoreau quotes (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862)

    Temples are sacred, both by pujas and visit of mahatmas from ancient times. The question of current generation going away from the set practices is a worrying fact. Every parent should be a role model and follow all the rules implicitly. A time will come when the children will pick up from elders. our culture needs to be nutured and protected. krishnan