Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 30 Jun 2004

     

SYMBOLISM OF TEMPLES AND RITUALS

A temple represents the body of the human incarnation (Deho devaalaya proktah). The statue in the temple represents the Lord in a human body (Jeevo devah sanatanah). The Gita also says that the Lord enters a human body and comes down to this earth (Manusheem tanum aashritam). The Veda says that the Lord can be seen here on the earth itself (Yat saakshat aparokshaat Brahma). The temple and the statue are only models to teach this concept. Once the concept is understood there is no need of any model. Hanuman recognized the human incarnation (Lord Rama) and sacrificed all his work to the Lord. Hanuman was not a householder and so he did not possess money to sacrifice to the Lord in human form. A saint [celibate monk] can only sacrifice work (karma samnyasa). He cannot sacrifice any money (karma phala tyaga). The Gopikas identified Lord Krishna as the Lord in human form. They were householders and so they sacrificed the fruit of their work (butter). Hanuman and the Gopikas never worshipped any statue in temples as per the Valmiki Ramayana and sage Vyasa’s Bhagavatam. Hanuman and the Gopikas served the Lord without aspiring for anything in return from the Lord. Through this path (nishkama karma yoga) in which service is done only out of love, without aspiring for any fruit, Hanuman and the Gopikas received the highest fruits. Hanuman became the future Creator of the world. The Gopikas were given the Goloka (highest heaven), which is at a higher level than even the Brahma Loka, in which the Lord Himself dwells. Therefore, the essence of the Ramayana and the Bhagavatam is to identify the human incarnation of the Lord and serve Him. This is also the aim of the temple.

As long as the sages were present, in ancient times, this correct interpretation was given to the people. But today the priests in temples are in the place of the ancient sages. The sages recited the Vedas because there was no printing available in those days. They preserved and protected the Vedas by memorization and recitation. They knew the true meaning of Vedas.

Useless Rituals

The priests today recite Vedas when there is no need to do so since the Vedas are now available in printed form. These priests do not know the meaning of the Vedas and such priests are mocked as divine animals by the Veda itself (Devanaam pashurahah). The concept of the temple as a model for communicating divine knowledge has been completely buried. Temples and statues are being misused for the selfish business of priests. Even the rituals are misused in a similar way. These priests misinterpreted the purpose of temples and rituals and used them as means for getting rid of the effects of sinful deeds and for attaining the results of good deeds, which were never done. They have simply thrown away the theory of karma, which says that one has to enjoy the results of both good and bad deeds even after millions of ages (Avashyam anubhoktavyam).

In return for doing worship in temples and for doing the rituals, the priests charge some petty money for their livelihood. They recite Vedic hymns. They do not know the meaning of those Vedic hymns and they do not preach their meaning to the devotees. The selfish devotees only want to get rid of their sins and want the results of good deeds, which they never did. These priests exploit this selfishness of human beings. The priest is like an unqualified village-doctor. He charges ten rupees as fees and prescribes medicines worth one hundred rupees. The disease only increases and the patient suffers a lot. Similarly, the priest takes ten rupees and makes the devotee purchase some unnecessary materials for performing rituals. The flowers, coconuts, fume-sticks, oil lamps, betel leaves, betel nuts and camphor, which are purchased for the rituals, are not at all found [recommended] in the Veda.

In the Veda only ‘yajna’ is described. Yajna means cooking of food and nothing else. Let the priest become a qualified city-doctor and charge one hundred rupees as fees and prescribe a medicine of just two rupees by which the disease is completely cured. Let him not waste all these materials in the form of ‘dravya yajna’ which means ‘rituals involving materials’. The only dravya yajna mentioned in the Veda is the cooking food. Except for this, there is no other dravya yajna. A yajna is a ritual or sacrifice. Let the priest explain the Vedic hymns and perform a jnana yajna (a knowledge-yajna) to develop divine knowledge and devotion in the people. The priest should become a scholar. Then let him charge a Guru Dakshina (fees or donation given to the spiritual preacher) without causing any wastage. Let him take all the money that the devotee offers as Guru Dakshina.

Oil is unnecessarily burnt in the oil-lamp. During daytime there is no need of its light. At night an electric lamp is present. Burning of oil creates air pollution; so does burning of fume sticks and camphor. In olden days the oil lamp was lit at the time of sunset as ‘sandhya deepam’. There was no other alternative. The oil lamp was viewed as a model of the Lord. But today the electric light is present and there is no need of the oil lamp. Some people say that the oil lamp represents knowledge, which destroys the oil, and the oil represents ignorance. Very good! You have lit the oil lamp and seen it. You have understood the concept. Now why should you light the oil lamp again when the concept is already understood? In olden days a fire was maintained continuously because it was very difficult to light a fire every time by rubbing two sticks. But now matchsticks are present. Then why should you maintain a continuous fire? In the old Masjid, Shri Sai Baba lit a fire by burning sticks to avoid scorpions and snakes. But today why are you maintaining a fire by burning sticks in the temple of Shri Sai Baba? With the help of those sticks how many poor people could cook their food? In olden days the sages lived in the forest. The fire was lit so that cruel wild animals would not approach. The smoke of the fire used to repel mosquitoes in the forest. Why should you burn the fume-stick today when mosquitoes are absent? All these materials on burning produce poisonous gasses and carbon dioxide, which pollutes the air and stops the rain.

Today the concept of yajna (sacrifice) is also misinterpreted. After cooking food with the help of fire, the food is to be offered to the guest. The Veda says that the guest is like a fire. The word ‘agni’ (fire) comes from the word ‘agri’. It means that the guest should be fed first. The hunger in the stomach of the guest is called Vaishvanara, which is the divine form of fire. The Gita says the same (Aham vaishva naro bhutva). The Veda calls the guest (atithi) as Vaishvanara (Vaishva naro...). Lord Krishna ate the food prepared for a sacrifice. He taught the wives of the sages that offering food to the hungry person is the real sacrifice. Lord Krishna was the Protector of the Vedic Dharma. Would He have spoiled the sacrifice if burning of food were the real meaning of yajna? Kapila, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu condemned the burning of food and ghee in the fire. The Veda says that food should not be destroyed (Annam na parichaksheeta). The oil and ghee that are burnt in a lamp are also food. Giving food to the hungry beggar is the real sacrifice.

The fire in the oil lamp is called ‘laukika agni’ (physical fire). The fire of the electric bulb is called ‘vaidyuta agni’ (electric-fire). The fire of hunger in the stomach is called ‘Vaishvanara agni’ (hunger-fire). Vaidyuta agni is superior to laukika agni. Then why should you burn the oil lamp at night when the alternative electric bulb is there and when the electric bulb does not even cause pollution? Even in olden days they never lit an oil lamp during the day. The Vaishvanara agni is the superior-most form. Therefore, when you light the lamp of life by burning oil, ghee and food in the fire of hunger in the stomach of a beggar (or deserving guest), such an act is the real deeparadhanam (ritual of lighting the lamp) and the real yajna (sacrifice). There is no life in the statue and all the sixteen modes of worship (upacharas) that are done to the statue are actually meant only for the human incarnation. Let the priest preach the meaning of the Vedic hymns so that the people become real devotees and get the real grace of the Lord.

When you worship the Lord you should not aspire for any fruit in return. Some people sacrifice work and money but they aspire for some fruit in return. Such a service is again a waste. If you do karma yoga, which is service to the Lord without expecting anything from the Lord, then alone will the Lord come in human form and suffer for your sins. Then alone can you get rid of your sins. Other than this one path there is no alternative. Either you have to pay the fine for your sins or your father (the Lord in human form) has to pay. If you pester the Lord through the present rituals and methods of worship, the Lord will only make rearrangements to your file of karma. He will bring the good results, which you were supposed to enjoy in your next birth, to the present. However, this rearrangement will lead to a loss in value as in the case of a premature encashment of bank deposits. You do not know this secret and you think that you have flattered the Lord and got rid of your sins. What you do not know is that your present sins are thrown to next birth with increased interest. Your future life cycle will be full of miseries from birth to death due to such interference. Therefore, the Lord is cleverer than you when you adopt the ways of business with Him.

Cooking food is called dravya yajna. Chanting Vedic hymns is called ‘swajjhyaya yajna’. Revealing the essence of the Veda is called jnana yajna. The Gita says that jnana yajna is more important than dravya yajna (Shreyaan dravya mayaat). The Shastra says that there is no use of chanting the Veda without knowing its meaning (Anarthajnah).

I am not criticizing the priests. Let them rise to the level of the Sadguru. A devotee is spending ten rupees on purchasing unnecessary materials like flowers, fume sticks, camphor, coconut etc., The priest is taking one rupee as Guru dakshina. The merchants are snatching the money of the devotee and the devotee is not benefited because all these materials are unnecessary for the Lord. Neither the priest nor the devotee is benefited. The Lord is also not pleased. Instead, let the priest take all the eleven rupees as Guru Dakshina. Let him explain the essence of the Veda to the devotees in the temple or while doing a ritual. When the devotee learns the concept of karma yoga the devotee is benefited because the Lord in human form transfers his sins on Him and suffers for the sake of the devotee. Only in this path is the devotee relieved from his problems.

Priest to Sadguru

The priest should be of the level of the human form of Lord. The devotee should worship the priest, who has become the Sadguru. The Sadguru Himself will relieve the sins of the devotee by suffering for the sake of the devotee. There should not be [an attitude of] business between the Sadguru and the devotee. The relationship should be of divine love and sacrifice. Shri Sai Baba suffered the diseases of His devotees. Sins cannot be cancelled simply without suffering their result. Even the Lord honors the divine judicial system created by Him and therefore, He suffers for the sake of His devotees. But a devotee should not aspire for this. He should not agree to the suffering of the Lord if he is a true devotee. Therefore, the Lord suffers secretly; without the knowledge of the devotee. Sometimes He exposes an example; just to reveal this concept.

The temple should be the abode of such a Sadguru and not the abode of a mere statue. The inert temple with the inert statue, is like a human body without life. The life of the temple is the Sadguru (priest) himself. The temple should be a center of preaching spiritual knowledge and devotion to the public. The temple should be based on such divine knowledge (jnana yajna). Presently, temples are based only on false business and ignorance involving dravya yajna and swajjhyaya yajna. The ignorance is the belief that you can get rid of your sins and get the results of good deeds without doing those good deeds, just by wasting some materials in the temple and by the priest’s chanting of some Vedic hymns. The business is that you are offering some materials to the Lord, with which the Lord has no connection at all. The statue neither needs the light of the lamp nor does the statue smell the fumes of fume-sticks. The statue is not pleased with the flowers and does not eat the coconut or other offerings. Even if you are distributing the offerings to the devotees in the temple you are doing it without discrimination and analysis. Some devotees are rich and do not need your food. Some devotees are sinners and you will get a part of their sin by offering them food. The priest should be the correspondent between the Lord and the devotee. Due to his inefficiency, a fume stick becomes the correspondent between the Lord and a devotee! In the name of the statue, the priest takes one rupee and the merchants are snatching ten rupees. Only the merchants are benefited since the priest is not doing his duty of preaching the knowledge. Thus, the whole show in the temple is only of ignorance and business. The net result is that the devotee is losing money and time. The innocent public is put to loss. Therefore, Lord Datta wants to rejuvenate the tradition of Hinduism.

Before Lord Jesus came, the situation of the ancestors of today’s Christians was similar. Jesus rejuvenated their religion and gave rise to Christianity. But slowly the old ignorance and business are cropping even in Christianity. They are burning candles and offering cake. The cake should be offered only to four categories of beggars (old, children, diseased and disabled). There is no need of burning the candles during the day or even at night, when the alternative electric lights are present. The candles cause lot of air pollution on burning. The light is the Lord Himself as said by Jesus and as said in the Veda also (Tasya bhaasa sarvamidam vibhati). The knowledge preached by Jesus should be explained in depth and this act should be the only activity in every temple or church. Similarly, in Hindu temples the only activity should be the explanation of the Vedas and the Gita. With the help of this divine knowledge, the devotees must search for the human incarnation present in that generation. The priests who preach divine knowledge are also partial incarnations of the Lord as said in the Gita (Mama tejo’msha sambhavam). There can be several temples and several priests. There can be several schools with several teachers and colleges with several lecturers. There will be one university and one chief professor in the university who is the chancellor. Such a professor is called the Paripurna Avatara, who can be recognized only by His special knowledge that generates love and bliss in our hearts. He possesses all the super powers including creation, ruling and destruction of the world. Lord Krishna was such a Professor and He exhibited the creation, maintenance and destruction of the world by showing the Vishwarupa (the cosmic form of God; God as the entire creation). When the Vishwarupa was exhibited, it means that the world was created. When the Visvarupa was maintained for some time, it means that the world was maintained and when the Vishwarupa was withdrawn, it means that the world was destroyed. This proves the creation, maintenance and destruction of the world by the Lord. The Bhagavad Gita is the special knowledge given by Him, which creates love and bliss in the heart of every devotee. Thus, special knowledge, love, bliss and the super powers are the complete signs of the original Lord who comes down in human form. But He comes down in human form in every generation to avoid partiality to a particular generation. This is a very very important point. Therefore, you should search for the Lord in your present generation. The school teachers and the college lecturers must help you to reach that university Professor.

Different Incarnations

Krishna was the Paripoorna (complete and highest) incarnation because He entered the human body and projected Himself completely. Rama was a Poorna (comeplete) incarnation, since He entered the human body but did not project Himself completely. Kapila was an Amsha (partial) incarnation since only a part of the Lord’s energy had entered the human body of Kapila. Sage Vyasa was a Kala (another type of partial) incarnation, since only a ray of the Lord’s energy had entered the human body. All these are examples of permanent human incarnations since the Lord (or His power) was present in the respective incarnations from the birth to the death of that human body. Parashurama on the other hand was a temporary incarnation, because the Lord entered the human body of Parashurama only for doing a certain task. When the work was completed, the Lord left Parashurama. This type of incarnation is called an Avesha incarnation. This Avesha incarnation may be Paripoorna, Poorna, Amsha, or Kala as per the requirement. If required, there may be more than one Paripoorna incarnation (chief professor or chancellor of a university) simultaneously. E.g. Shri Shirdi Sai Baba and Akkalkot Maharaj were the two Paripoorna incarnations, who lived at the same time. Lord Krishna appeared as 16,000 Krishnas at the same time. Nothing is impossible for the Lord.