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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
The idol worship is part of our worship which is very comprehensive in nature. Whenever a subject or an item is taken to the comprehensive dimension, it has to become complex also, because creation and the world are themselves very, very complex. People are born there, creatures are born, they grow, they also die. This death is inevitable as long as birth and growth are there and all the things in between birth and death will naturally make our life complex.
We are spiritual people and this ashram is a spiritual abode. We have in contrast or maybe in conjunction, a number of temples and holy places where tens of thousands, lakhs and crores of people visit. We also have a few ashrams and spiritual abodes. I have mentioned many times that our temples and ashrams are called the ‘Dharma Kedārās’, the abodes of our sanātana dharma. The difference between the two is that, in the temple whatever is done is unilateral. We are worshipping a God or a Goddess. That we worship is something tangible, we can experience it. But whom we worship and what happens to the worshipped, whether the deity or otherwise is pleased with what we do, whether he or she has something to suggest in the matter of our worship or worshipper, our character, our behavior, our interaction with the world, what are the defects if any to be rectified and what are the improvements and additions to be made, we don’t have any idea. Yes, we have idea, because in the temples, these are supposed to be discussed as a part of the exposure that we get with regard to our śāstras. There is no subject which our dharma śāstras do not deal with.
The word ‘Dharma’ according to us is defined as the power and the process by which our life will be sustained. To sustain our life while living in this world is not easy. Our mind produces a number of emotions and emotional conflicts. The intelligence has its own conflicts, enquiries and the like. Caught up in between the two you will find, it is not going to be easy.
So our dharma should be such that it has something to do, something to offer for every kind of a life situation. How the individual life will be sustained and supported? How the family life will be sustained and supported? How the societal life will be sustained and supported? How the global life will be sustained and supported? All these are discussions of our dharma. If you understand dharma properly, there is nothing that is precluded for dharma. That is why our dharma has remained sanātana, eternal for all this while.
Now this Dharma-śāstra should be discussed and exposed in the temple precincts. So it is much more than even God talking to you, about you. Otherwise the idol doesn’t speak, the idol does not hear. We do everything. As Srimad Bhagavata puts it, it is just like you have a mirror made for you and you hang it on the wall or fix it on a stand. You go and stand before it. You cannot see your face but you can only see the reflection in the mirror. But when you see the reflection, you can do whatever you want in the way of ornamenting your face, shaving your face, puffing it up, anything that you want to do. But whenever you do it, you are not doing it to your face; you are doing it to the reflected face in the mirror. Mind you! You don’t do anything on your face. You only apply your processes to the reflection and what it does is it falls on your face. In the same manner:
These are the words used by Srimad Bhagavatam. In the same manner, all the worship that you do to the idol falls on you. You are benefitted. God does not want any offer from you, any kind of a naivedya, or an ornamentation or a praise or a decoration; nothing he wants. He is self-fulfilled.
Nijalābha pūrṇah is the word used by Srimad Bhagavata. He is fulfilled by himself. As such, what kind of a respect and regard can we give and what is he looking for? But by doing all these things, just like items are prepared in the kitchen, everything is cooked, they are placed on the dining table and the people go on eating whatever is cooked, neither the vessel nor the spoon nor the stove nor even the fire. Whatever we do in our life is for ourselves, there is nothing for another. This is the truth.
This truth may not be understood by the devotees who go there. But out of the thousands or may be lakhs of people who crowd the temple precincts, some have some enquiries. These enquiries are never answered either by the deity or by the priest or by the others. When such an enquiry germinates in your mind, they come to the ashram and unlike in the temple where it is a mute deity, here you will find a vocal and sentient deity is there, more than one also, the ashramites. The person who has founded the ashram and he resides. He was also a person of a similar enquiry, maybe in a different setting. So you can place your questions before them, get answers clarified and proceed further. So one is a speaking God, another is a mute God. However, these two are the citadels which have always supported, sustained and preserved our dharma.
As far as the idols and the power of the idols are concerned, as I have always mentioned, they are governed by the tantra śāstras. Yesterday I had a talk to inaugurate the “Srimad Bhagavata Sapthaham” in a temple. So I was explaining, the deity has to be consecrated. It is a sculptural piece when it is brought to the place of installation. But you have to consecrate it. The consecration is done by various kinds of rituals and ceremonies. They are performed by the tantri or the temple priest. And what are these ceremonies? They consist of only mantras which are evolved by our mind, uttered by the mouth or muttered by the mouth and then various tantras, gesticulations are shown by our limbs. Maybe you use materials like flower, rice, milk, water, fruits and so many other things. In the event of fire sacrifices, there also it is materials which are offered. The fire place is set by us, the materials are collected and selected by us and they are offered by our limbs and the mantras are uttered or muttered by us. You tell me, in the whole process is there anything other than human?
God is our concept, a concept of the mind. That concept is being pursued by various kinds of rituals and ceremonies which constitute the consecration of the deity as well as the worship of the devotees. I would like to repeat it with a thousand mouths and in so many places, as many as possible that everything in our dharma in the form of values, disciplines, ideals, restraints and the like, all of them relate to the human mind and the human intelligence. There is nothing that relates to anything else. All our values are related to the human mind and intelligence. They are not related to God. We may use God to interpret these things or to explain these matters. Say, in the worship of an idol, who makes the idol? We. Who shapes it? The sculptor. Who consecrates and divinizes it? Man himself. So between the idol worshipped and the mind which has consecrated and anointed it as an idol, tell me which is superior and which is critical, causal? It is the mind.
Our temple śāstras say that when the tantri installs the idol, from tantra samuchaya there is a shloka: “You are all-pervading my dear Lord, yet I invoke you here.’ It is just like Vyajanena vāyum. The air is present all around but I am sweating. I would like to have an intense blow of air so I use a fan, maybe electrical fans and the same air is pushed so much so that I feel a little relief. It is not that I create a new air, it is the same air. So just like with a hand fan, I swing the air, I move the air so that I feel relief, you are present everywhere. But I would like to have you specially present in this idol. It is something like fire present in wood but it is hidden. When we make two pieces of wood and churn them rubbing each other, then you will find the inside fire becomes manifest and I can make it blaze forth. In the same manner, my dear Lord, I am entreating you, I am requesting you, please enter the idol and remain an object of worship”.
My dear children, please understand that every bit of divine brilliance in the idol and the benedictory or blessing power that it has, it is imparted by the priests. By virtue of what? By virtue of mental formula, which they or their forefathers have evolved and rituals and practices which have been existing. Everywhere it is the expression of the mind, expression of the human limbs, that alone.
Now one more point. To the extent the priest imparts divinity, infuses divinity to the idol, to that extent, the priest’s his own brilliance, spiritual brilliance reduces, reduces and he has to replenish it by virtue of chanting Gayatri 1008 times etc. in his house, after he does the installation. This rejuvenation for himself, it can take about a week, 21 or 41 days. What are you understanding from this? Then again the tantra shastras say, the divinity and the divine brilliance imparted to the deity is subject to depletion. When devotees go and pray and the idol seems to be blessing you, wherefrom will the idol take the stock? The stock has been given to by the priest at the time of installation. So the daily puja is not sufficient. Every 12 years, a rejuvenation ceremony has to be done. Whatever is done at the time of naveekaranam, rejuvenation, every bit and piece of it is for idol, idol and idol alone. So this is something that I wanted you to understand.
Now what is the next point? The next point is the difference between religiosity and spirituality should be very clear. In religion, we are always looking at a God of our belief and faith and that God is invisible and he is at infinite distance and all the worship that we do is unilateral. So there is an incompletion, incompleteness and a lack of fulfilment. I am doing all this but whether my God is pleased with it, I have no access to know. That is why you will find, there are millions of devotees in our country but there will be hardly one to say, “Yes, I have worshipped the Lord. I have been a devotee and I am fulfilled. I have seen God, realized God. I have no more anything to do anywhere.” This kind of a fulfilment does not grace. Even to a distant place if you start approaching, after some time you will reach there. Every day is a greater distance covered. In the same manner, the worship also should become complete and fulfil itself. That we are not hearing. Why? Because this religiosity completely depends upon an invisible and infinitely distant God. Whereas spirituality, every bit and piece of it, right from the start to finish, rests upon yourself.
All the practices are either sensory, bodily or oral. Both of them are visible or they are inner, mental and intellectual. These are the four levels of activity that we have. We have five senses, knowledge senses and five action senses. These are all visible. When you see, when you hear, when you move your hand, feet, everything is visible. Then, oral, a distinct level of activity which can be heard and seen. Then, the cause for both is in the mind and the mind is guided by the intelligence.
So every activity is primarily inner. What is thought in the inner side, that alone we express or manifest or display either orally or physically. We have a pushpa-samarpanam here. What is this pushpa-samarpanam? This pushpa-samarpanam is receiving the flowers from Swamiji or Maa and then coming in a very nice manner, offering it wherever you want. In the whole process, your body and limbs are employed. But who is benefitted? Your mind. It instils and generates a mood of sublimity and humility in you. We are not able to generate it remaining in our own home during the course of our activity and interaction. So we require a special setting whereby this sublimity and humility, sense of devotion, it is instilled into our mind. How you instil it? To which extent it becomes intense and successful will depend upon the individual who tries for it; and then you offer it, you go, prostrate before the others. Go back and stand or sit. A few minutes are passed in this manner. And all the while, some divine chants are being made and heard.
So we are creating an atmosphere and that atmosphere is audio-visual. We can hear, we can also see. But there also when you worship a deity, the deity is not benefitted. The worshipper is benefitted. When you have your food, the food is not benefitted. The dining table is not benefitted. Everywhere, the person to be benefitted is oneself and the benefit is really speaking to the mind and intelligence. Our dharma is solely based upon the mind and intelligence. Unfortunately at some point of time, people lose this emphasis and then say, “Achārās! Supreme!”. These achārās were made by us. They are followed by us. If we have to make an adjustment or a new accommodation in the achārās, we alone can do it, we alone will do it.
Our Smritis have been changed from time to time to accommodate new requirements, new eventualities. Our forefathers have done it. Now we say we cannot do it. But the world has become more intelligent. We are more intelligent than perhaps our forefathers, at least on an average. Our forefathers were superbly intelligent, individually, collectively it could have been less. Now we are now following. We are not able to make adjustments. So that evaluative thinking, innovative thinking, using our reason and logic, which our śāstras repeatedly insist upon, that is lacking. Until we are able to, we are able to employ our reason and consider and evaluate matters properly and if necessary change whenever and whatever is necessary, our dharma will be spoilt. Because as time passes, a number of corruptions and changes will be brought in. Unless these are examined properly, evaluated by thinkers and corrections administered, every custom will be spoilt.
See, when we got independence, what was our idea? And after getting independence, you tell me now. Our own elected people, our own options are everywhere. Still we have only what - Corruption, corruption and corruption. At that time, we said Britishers were robbing us. I think I have to compare notes. The money taken by Britishers, that was more or the money being smuggled now is more? You just tell me? The money deposited in foreign banks inaccessible to us is so much that if it is recovered, the mere interest of it will be sufficient to run the country’s budget. Government will not need any money. We can say, ‘Nothing we want’, the government in the form of taxes and income. So much money is outside. So have the Britishers stolen more or we are stealing more is a great question. It is a corruption. The same corruption can creep in and prevail in any walk of life including religion because religion is again a practice and pursuit of the same mind and the same intelligence. Please understand this.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.