Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 15 May 2004

     

TEMPLES, MANTRAS AND YANTRAS

The original Hindu tradition in ancient times when rishis (sages) existed was the most precious diamond in the world. There is no trace of doubt in this statement. But today the tradition has turned into charcoal. Perhaps many of you do not know that diamond and charcoal are two forms of same element i.e., carbon. When the carbon atoms are in a crystalline state, it is diamond. The same carbon atoms in an amorphous state are charcoal. The substance is same but the arrangement of atoms differs. Therefore, the same tradition was re-arranged and twisted. The tradition lost the brilliant shine of a diamond and has now acquired a black color. The diamond is very strong and cannot be cut. But the charcoal is easily broken. Thus, the strength of the ancient tradition has been completely lost.

In ancient times, sages meditated upon objects present in Nature considering them as representative models of the Lord. In those days, the Lord did not come in human form. The sages were fully equipped with the right knowledge. If there was a doubt, they used to go straight into the upper world and clarify the matter with the Lord directly. There was no necessity of propagation of divine knowledge on the earth. The knowledge is sattvam (good quality). It creates a brilliant shine as said in the Gita (Prakasha upajaayate). Therefore, the sun and fire were treated as models of the Lord. The light in the sun and fire was treated as the divine knowledge of the Lord. As the light removes darkness, the divine knowledge of the Lord removes ignorance. The purpose of any model is that we can know the real concept with the help of that model. Let’s say you are pointing to a flower with your index finger. When you see the flower, you will not see the finger any more. Similarly, when the concept is understood, the model is left. But the model is preserved for the sake of other ignorant people. When you see the flower, the finger is not destroyed. For you, there is no need of the finger any more. So, when the divine knowledge of the Lord is understood, there is no need of the sun and fire [as models to indicate God].

Meditation means deep thinking and analysis. This means knowing the concept completely. Meditation is the property of intelligence and knowledge is the essence of intelligence. Therefore, to know the knowledge completely without any doubt is the process of intelligence. Knowledge in the doubting state is the property of the mind. The Veda said that one should meditate upon the sun treating the sun as the Lord (Adityam Brahmeti…). This means, that you must see the sun and understand that the real form of the Lord is divine knowledge. The sun is a condensed form of light. Similarly, the Lord is a condensed form knowledge as said in the Veda (Prajnana ghanah). The sun is a simile or a model for the concept (prateeka). But ignorant people started meditating upon the circular form of the sun. Some more mad people started worshipping the sun by offering water. The Veda clearly stated that the sun is not the Lord (Nedam tat, Neti neti). The Veda said very clearly that the Lord will not enter into any inert object (Natasya pratima). The sun is an inert object, which is under the control of the Lord as said in the Veda (Bhishodeti suryah). The Bhagavad Gita seriously condemned the worship of such inert objects, which are only models standing for some concepts. The Gita stated this in a very pungent way that one who worships an inert object will be born as an inert object in the next birth (Bhutejya yaanti bhutani). A sanyasi[1], who is the highest realized soul (jnani), never offers water to the sun[2]. Praising the model is equivalent to praising the Lord due to the similarity between the two. Through the praise of the sun, the Lord is praised. When you praise the sun by saying that its light very bright, it means that the knowledge of the Lord is very bright.

Slowly, the time of sages was gone. In the place of the sages, scholars came. These scholars knew everything. They used to practice the spiritual knowledge to their level best. But in some places they failed to practice. They should have accepted their failure with all frankness. But due to their scholastic ability, they misinterpreted the scriptures and covered their inability so that they convinced the public that they were fully following the scriptures. The Lord came down in human form and started condemning such misinterpretations and preached the right knowledge. The statues represent such past human incarnations. Thus, a statue of Rama gives the concept of human incarnation. A statue in any temple never indicates any general man. It indicates that the Lord comes in human form and such a man alone is the Lord. This means that every man is not the Lord. Only a particular human being like Rama is the Lord. Thus, the statue gives the concept of the human incarnation, which comes in every generation. God is not partial to any particular human generation. The statue in the temple was always associated with the ceremony of initiation of life (prana pratishtha) whenever the temple was built. The ceremony of initiation of life in the inert statue indicates that you should catch the living human incarnation present in your present generation. You should not mistake that life has entered the statue. If it were so, why does the statue not move or talk? If the life initiation ceremony has that much capacity to bring life into a stone statue, why don’t you use the same to make a dead body alive? Therefore, the real concept indicated by the life initiation has been lost. A misinterpretation has entered.

It is said that the body of the human incarnation is the real temple and the soul in that body is the Lord. In ordinary human beings, the soul lives in the body. In the human incarnation, the Lord lives in the body. The Bhagavad Gita clearly said that the Lord comes only in human form (Maanusheem tanum ashritam). The Gita did not mention that the Lord comes in any other form. The Gita also said that the Lord comes in human form in every generation (Sambhavaami yuge yuge). The word ‘yuga’ here means a human generation. Otherwise, if the Lord were to come only in a particular human generation, He would become partial.

The outer wall of the temple indicates the gross physical body (sthula shareera). The temple indicates the minute (subtle) body (sukshma shareera). The inner temple[3] indicates the cause-body (karana shareera). The statue inside the inner temple indicates the Lord with His Maya. You can never cross the Maya and see the innermost absolute Brahman. The Gita says that no one can cross Maya (Mama maayaa duratyayaa). Let us take the temple of Rama. Rama means He who enjoys. The outer gross body is the son of Dasaratha, made of the five elements, enjoying in this world. The temple, which is the minute body, is Lord Vishnu, who is made up of light and who is enjoying the quality of Sattvam. The inner temple, which is the cause-body, is Lord Datta, who is made of light and who is enjoying all the three qualities (sattvam, rajas and tamas). The statue inside the inner temple is Brahman enjoying the Maya. We can go up to this, which is called ‘Saguna Brahman’. We cannot cross the Maya and touch the ‘Nirguna Brahman’, which is God without Maya. This is the concept given by a temple. When this concept is realized in a temple, then the temple becomes a temple of knowledge (jnana mandiram). The Brahman is the true infinite knowledge as said in the Veda (Satyam jnaanam anantam Brahma). The Veda also says that the divine knowledge of Brahman is highly special and that no human being can give such knowledge (Prajnaanam Brahma…). The statue indicates that you should catch the human incarnation of God present in your generation by the characteristic sign of divine knowledge.

Shri Chakram

Yantras are metallic sheets containing certain special designs, which are preserved because palm leaves are perishable[4]. These designs also contain some letters standing for certain items. These letters are called ‘bija aksharaas’. These designs are circuit diagrams indicating very powerful concepts of knowledge explained by sages. They were preserved in the temple under the statue to preach that concept. For example, let us take a very important yantra called the Shri Chakram. It is a model indicating the bond with money. The [first type of Shri Chakram called the] Shristi Chakram (creation) of the Samaya sub-sect indicates the formation of the bond. Another type of this Shri Chakram is the Samhara Chakram (destruction of the bond) of the Kaula sub-sect. These two chakras represent the formation and destruction of the bond with money. The word ‘Shri’ means money. The word ‘chakram’ means a whirlpool, which stands for the bond.

In the first type of Shri Chakram (formation of the bond with money), the five triangles of Shakti[5] have their bases upward. The four triangles of Shiva have their base downwards. This means that Shiva is based on Shakti. The five triangles represent the five elements of the creation (Maya). The four triangles represent the four Antahkaranaas[6] (mind, intelligence, ego and memory), which represent knowledge. It is said that Shiva gives knowledge (Jnaanam Maheswaraat ichchhet…). The five elements represent money. This means that knowledge is based on money. The central point in this chakram is Shakti or Maya and this represents the ignorant Jeeva, who is under the control of money or creation.

In the second type of Shri Chakram, the above two sets of triangles are just reversed. So, it means that money is based on knowledge. i.e. Maya is controlled by the knowledge. This represents is the state of the Lord, who is fully realized and is called Sarvajna[7]. Thus, the Shri Chakram indicates two types of souls:

  1. The soul controlled by Maya and
  2. The soul which controls Maya.

If one is controlled by this whirlpool of money, he is an ignorant soul. If one controls the whirlpool of money, he is a realized soul and is treated as almost equal to the Lord. The first type corresponds to the ordinary cycle of souls called Pitruyaanam or Dakshinaayanam as described in the Gita. The second type corresponds to the [divine] cycle called Devayaanam or Uttaraayanam. Money is the root of the world as told by sage Vasishtha (Dhana moolam idam jagat…). Shri Chakram is also considered to be the root of the world and is most important. This money is the fruit of one’s work called as “karma phala” as told in the Gita. The realized soul can sacrifice the fruit of his work for the sake of the Lord and as a servant of the Lord, he becomes almost equal to the Lord. He enters the divine cycle of births along with the Lord.

In the Shri Chakra, surrounding the triangles, there is an eight-petaled lotus, which indicates the eight super powers. Surrounding it there is another sixteen-petaled lotus, which indicates the sixteen divine qualities of the Lord. The realized soul attains all the eight super powers and all the sixteen divine qualities from the Lord. In the case of the ignorant soul, the first lotus indicates the eight forms of wealth (ashta aishwaryas). The second lotus flower indicates the sixteen radiations (kalas) of the moon. The moon represents the mind. This means that his entire mind is only on wealth.

In both the chakras, there are three concentric circles [as part of the lotuses]. The innermost circle is the karana shareera (cause-body or causal body). The next is the sukshma shareera (subtle body or minute body) and the outermost is the sthula shareera (physical body or gross body). The outermost circle is itself split into three concentric circles that are very closely spaced. This indicates that in the gross body, the three qualities are separately expressed through different actions. These things are common to both the chakras. There are four gates [outside the three concentric circles] in both chakras. The line forming the gates is a triple line, which represents the three qualities. In the case of ignorant soul, the four gates represent the four purusharthas [motivations for action] called dharma, artha, kama and moksha respectively. In the case of the realized soul, the four gates represent the four Vedas. The Gita says that even the four Vedas are made of three qualities (Traigunya vishayaa vedaah…). Thus, temples, statues and yantras are models meant to teach us important concepts of divine knowledge. They have been constructed and preserved like a planetarium. Unless you see a temple of knowledge in every temple, there is no use of going to temples.

Why Did Shirdi Sai Baba Maintain the Dhuni?

The real concepts and the divine knowledge are completely lost today. The reason for this is that today priests stand in the place of scholars. They only recite the Vedas like tape recorders and do not know the meaning of the Vedas. The word ‘Veda’ itself means knowledge. They are using these models to misinterpret the actual concepts and the traditional knowledge has been completely twisted. They are using these models and claiming to help people in canceling the results of their sins and in getting the results of good deeds, which were never done. They have unnecessarily introduced activities that lead to the wastage of money in purchasing flowers, coconuts, lighting of lamps and burning fume sticks and camphor. All these things are not at all told in the Veda. They have been unnecessarily created. The priests are earning some petty money by these foolish acts, which are not even mentioned in the Vedas. The Veda disapproves of a lamp as compared to the Lord and says that when even the sun cannot shine before the Lord, how can the flame of a lamp shine before Him? (Kuto’yam agnih…). Burning of fume-sticks and camphor leads to environmental pollution and the greenhouse effect, which stops the rains. Oil and ghee are food items and the Veda says that food should not be wasted by burning (Annam na parichaksheeta…). At night, when electric lamps are available, there is no need of oil lamps. In olden days, there were no electric lamps and so oil lamps were lit. The Veda says that electricity (vaidyutagni) is better than the flame of the oil lamp (loukikaagni).

Shirdi Sai Baba maintained a fire (Dhuni) in the old masjid (mosque), where He resided, because the surroundings of the masjid were almost like a forest. The fire was lit by Him to avoid the entry of serpents, scorpions etc. Without understanding this, people are burning so much of wood in the temples of Sai Baba even today in the name of Dhuni. All this wood can be donated to poor deserving devotees for the purpose of cooking. Sai Baba will be greatly pleased by this. They even burn coconuts in the fire! All this leads to air pollution.

The Gita says that if the fire of knowledge is lit, all ignorant actions will be burnt (Jnaanaagnih sarva karmani…). The Gita also states that the sacrifice of knowledge is the best and the sacrifice (wastage or burning) of materials is the worst (Shreyaan dravya mayaat…). Lord Krishna stopped the sacrifice of the sages by eating the food that had been prepared to be burnt in the fire, stating that He was hungry. This indicates that feeding a deserving hungry guest is the real sacrifice. The hunger in the stomach of the guest is the divine fire (vaishwanara agni). The Veda says that this divine fire is the highest form of fire and it should be worshipped. The guest is called the divine fire by the Veda (Vaishwanaroh brahmanah pravishati atithih…). The word ‘agni’ comes from the word ‘agri’, which means that guest should be fed first. Kapila, the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu, condemned the burning of food in the ritual sacrifice (yajna) by calling it a foolish act[8]. Thus, the concept of sacrifice (yajna) has been misinterpreted and has lost its real meaning. All these traditions must be revitalized to get back their original true sense.

Revitalizing Traditions

No one can escape the enjoyment of the results of the deeds done by him. The following Sanskrit verse with its meaning should be kept on a banner on the front wall of every temple.

Avashyam aanubhoktavyam kritam karma shubhaashubham

Naabhuktam ksheeyate karma kalpa koti shatairapi

Every one should enjoy the results of his or her good and bad deeds, even after millions and millions of years. Without enjoying the fruit, any force cannot destroy the sinful or good deed.

If you display this verse on the front wall of the temple, all the unnecessary rush towards temples will immediately get reduced. Only real devotees will enter. But slowly the realization will extend to the public. For the sake of initial attraction, what is the use of telling lies? Let the devotee take one step on the right path instead of a hundred steps on the false path. What is the use of the petty money earned by the priests? Most of the money of the devotees goes to the merchants, who do business by selling unnecessary materials. Temples must become spiritual centers giving divine knowledge and developing devotion among the visitors. The priest should rise to the level of a Satguru. The present priest reads some hymns and verses, which are not understood by the devotees. The attention of the devotee is only due to his ambition to fulfill his desires. The ambition of human beings, which is a natural instinct, is kindled and exploited by the priests. By such rituals, the bad is not destroyed and the good does not get created. The cycle of karma gives results [good or bad] as it rotates in time[9]. Therefore, every devotee who performs these rituals, is not benefited. When somebody is benefited, it is only due to the routine cycle of karma. The priest attributes this routine benefit to the rituals. If the rituals could give benefits, then why does everyone who performs the rituals not get benefited? Therefore, let this ignorant fraud and cheating be stopped. Let the true knowledge come. The true knowledge preaches that the Lord should be worshipped without aspiring for anything in return. When the devotee enters this true path, the Lord comes in human form and actually suffers for the sins of His devotee without the knowledge of the devotee because the devotee will never accept the Lord suffering for his sake. Let this divine path be created in the temples. The present priest is like an unqualified doctor taking fees of ten rupees and prescribing medicines worth hundred rupees. The medical shop is benefited but the patient is not cured and the illness further increases. This medical shop is the troop of merchants, who do business in the temple. Let the priest become a qualified doctor, who takes fees of a hundred rupees and prescribes a medicine worth just two rupees. By spending one hundred and two rupees, the illness is cured. Let the priest become a Satguru and take any amount of Guru Dakshina, provided he leads the visitors onto the right path, which alone can bring the grace of God on him as well as on the visitors. When the priest is incapable of doing his duty of becoming the mediator between God and the devotee, the perfume stick comes and says “I am the mediator between the God and the devotee!” When the dog is not doing its duty of barking, the donkey roars!

Let the priest not worry about the number of visitors and about the Guru Dakshina offered by the visitors. If the priest is on the true path, the Lord will take care of the priest. Even if the visitors do not give, the Lord will give a million times more than the Guru Dakshina given by the visitors. The Lord has infinite treasure and if He is pleased, there will be no end to His donation. Let the priest become the sage of olden days. Let him reveal the true knowledge to the public in temples and also in performing the rituals. Let him explain the meaning of all the Vedic hymns to the public to turn them into real devotees of the Lord. Let him avoid unnecessary wastage of materials. Let him preach about devotion towards the Lord without aspiring for anything in return as emphasized by the Gita (nishkama karma yoga). Otherwise, the public loses time and money in this world unnecessarily and the priest will enter the everlasting fire along with his followers as said in the Veda (Andhenaiva neeyaman yada andhaah…).

Indians Never Understood Service

The unimaginable God called as Allah and Jehovah and the human incarnations of the Lord, called as Mohammed and Jesus, were sufficient for the Muslims and Christians to follow the path of sacrifice of work and the sacrifice of the fruit of work. Therefore, there was no second human incarnation [in these religions]. In India, the concept of the unimaginable God, Parabrahman always existed, yet several human incarnations came. Indians never understood the sacrifice of work and the sacrifice of the fruit of work, which are practical. The Lord has come several times [in the forms of various human incarnations] and this shows the inability of Indians to change. A teacher goes to the section of dull students again and again to revise the lesson. It is not a matter of pride. Indians never recognized the human incarnation whenever the Lord came to preach. When the human incarnation left the body, Indians worshiped that human incarnation through statues and photographs. This is due to the inability of Indians to conquer jealousy and ego. Shirdi Sai Baba wrote the following message in milk and on banana fruits in the presence of all devotees in the house of a devotee (Pasumarti Sarada) at Hyderabad and the message is

I asked you to meditate upon statues because it is difficult to meditate upon the formless God. But even though the Lord has come in human form, you do not recognize Me in this human body and still worship statues. Therefore, let Me die and become a statue for the sake of your worship”.

It is said “When the elephant comes, you say that it is not an elephant. When it goes away, you begin to doubt whether it was an elephant. Finally, when you see its footprints, you decide that it was an elephant” (Yada gajo neti—Kalidasa). This is the state of Indians.

The Interview and the Journey

Two people are traveling from Vijayawada to attend an interview in Guntur. The first person asked about the details about the train, purchased the ticket, enquired about the platform and entered the train compartment. He searched for the seat and since the seat was not available, he traveled in a standing position. The total time he spent for locating his seat was just ten minutes out of the one-hour journey to Guntur. Although he was not comfortable standing, he spent the rest of the fifty minutes of the journey in thinking about the subject of the interview. He never associated with any co-passengers because he knew that he would have to leave all his co-passengers at Guntur station. He had already spent some money at Vijayawada on selecting a teacher, who had taught him the subject of the interview. He served that teacher and the teacher was very much pleased with him. The teacher had given him all the details of the subject in depth. He had spent very little on his personal livelihood.

The second person spent all the time in enquiring about the details of this one-hour train journey and was always worried about the comforts during the one-hour journey. He had paid a little money to the teacher, who knew the subject but had requested the teacher to go to the railway station and get a comfortable seat in the train for him. He spent most of his money on his personal enjoyment. Even during the journey, he only thought about getting a comfortable seat. He constantly waited for getting the upper berth and enquired when the person occupying the upper berth would get down so that he could occupy that person’s seat. Even when Guntur was just ten minutes away, he did not think about the interview. He kept talking with his co-passengers and developed friendship with them as if he were going to stay with them permanently. Both the people got down at the same Guntur railway station. Both attended the same interview in Guntur. The first person was selected and spent his entire life in complete happiness. The second person was not selected and spent the rest of his life in total misery.

Similarly, one person thinks very little about the materialistic aspects of life and also talks very very little. He spends the least amount of time in discussing about these things very briefly. He spends most of his time for the Lord, who will enquire him after death in the Preta Loka for ten days. He always thinks about the punishments in hell and his future life cycles. He approaches a competent preacher, who is none other than the Lord Himself, who has come to this earth in human form. He catches that Satguru and receives divine knowledge from Him. He becomes His servant by doing karma phala tyaga (sacrifice of the fruit of his work i.e., money) and karma samnyasa (sacrifice of work). While doing this service, he does not attend much to himself or his family. As a result, he loses all his personal comforts and also loses the comforts for his family. He knows that these family bonds are only temporary, which are like the association between co-passengers in a one-hour train journey. Every passenger gets down from the train, when his destination is reached and gets separated from other passengers. Similarly, one has to leave all these family members forever and will not even remember them in the future births. Such a person completes this temporary human life cycle. He lives a very healthy life and is blessed with good longevity by the Lord. He is poor and does not eat much and many items. Therefore, no disease attacks him and he remains healthy. Due to his service to the Lord, he is blessed with a long life, which is meant for the service of the Lord. After death, he goes directly to Brahma Loka without any enquiry. He is always associated with the Lord here as well as there and is always full of bliss. This person represents the people from our ancient generations.

The second person represents the people of modern generations. He is always worried about this present life, which is just a one-hour journey. He always discusses with people about the comforts in this present life. He associates himself with the bonds of the family so deeply as if the bonds are permanent. He does not know that after death, nobody even recognizes his own family members. He spends all his time only for getting comforts for himself and for his family. Even if he reaches the Satguru, he will do only a little karma phala tyaga and karma samnyasa and he will pray to the Satguru to give him more and more comforts in this human life. He is not at all interested about his fate after death. He never thinks about the enquiry, hell and his future life cycles. Even when he reaches old age and is going to die shortly, he never thinks about the upper world and about his future fate. He is always worried about his life here alone. He spends a lot of time in discussing about all the minute details of even a negligible point pertaining to this materialistic life. He does not spend even one minute for the burning problem to be faced after his death. He is enquired in the Preta Loka for ten days after death and is punished in hell and goes to the life cycles of beasts and worms etc., which is the ever-lasting fire of hell.

I find several people who are always involved in continuous conversations about very minute and negligible matters of material life. They discuss about the purchase of a teacup or a spoon for hours together! They do not spend even one minute about the most serious matter, which is the scene after this life. This continuous thinking and continuous conversations and continuous association with their family members make such a person forget about the most important matter. Ignorance enters him and he becomes an embodiment of ignorance. The mango piece in the pickle-jar is fully pervaded by the salt, oil and chilly powder because it is constantly in association with these items in the jar.

Therefore, O human beings! Awaken from this deep sleep of ignorance. Think about your future fate after death. Think about the permanent settlement with bliss in the future. Recognize the human form of the Lord in your generation. Approach the Lord and receive divine knowledge from Him. Spend very little time and energy for the matters of this life. Realize that your life is only a one-hour journey. Note that all the comforts of this life are only for this one-hour journey. Even if you have reached the interview location after travelling in the first class compartment, it has nothing to do with your selection in the interview. You may not be selected even if you have traveled first class. A person who traveled in the third class compartment with less comforts might get selected in the interview. The selection in the interview is going to give you permanent comfort. Therefore, approach the Satguru to study the subject well for the interview. Do not ask the Satguru to help you in getting more comforts during the one-hour journey. Always ask Him to preach to you so that you can be selected in the interview. Only one will be selected out of several candidates, who attend the interview. Therefore, do not follow the majority. The Gita says that only one in crores is blessed by the Lord (Manushyaanaam sahasreshu…).


[1] A renunciate saint or monk.

[2] The traditional practice of worshipping the sun by offering water to it thrice a day is compulsory for all male householders, however, saints do not carry out this worship. The implicit understanding is that the householder, who is attached to his family is ignorant and needs models to understand concepts, while the saint who is supposed to have realized the truth, does not need these models.

[3] Sanctum sanctorum or garbha griha.

[4] Palm leaves were the most common medium for writing in ancient times before modern paper.

[5] The Shri Chakram is a diagram consisting of intersecting triangles. The triangles represent the relation between Shiva (God) and Shakti (Maya or creation).

[6] Mental faculties.

[7] All-knowing.

[8] Shrimad Bhagavatam.

[9] The timing of when we will receive the results of our actions (good or bad) is programmed in the cycle of karma. At any given time, we receive the results of some particular action done by us in the past.