Antar Mandir, The Inner Temple
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-04-09
I am working on an article countering the intention of some in North India to build a Sri Ram temple at Ayodhya whether it causes violence or not. We should also be thinking about our inner temple, the "antar mandir." What is our inner temple? It is our soul body. Outer temples are important, of course, but if in creating them we have arguments or violence, it disconnects us from our inner temple. With regard to the building of Iraivan Temple Gurudeva said that the foundation would be laid when his close devotees had purified themselves sufficiently through sadhana and tapas. To some people the inner temple is really far away because of the impurities they face, or don't face, in their subconscious mind. In the inner temple we have the ultimate, most important darshan of God and the Gods. The inner and outer temple must be looked at as a whole, two parts working together. "Antar mandir jai!"
Working on an article here, this is just the first draft of it.
In India, you cannot help but think about the Ayodhya situation. Hindus are wanting to build a temple in Ayodhya, no matter what. If it causes violence or not, it does not matter. It is important to build this temple.
We have been thinking about that, calling it 'Sri Ram Mandir', in this talk.
In addition to the Ayodhya 'Sri Ram Mandir', there is another temple that you need to think about. That temple is close to everyone on the planet. Now, how can that be? How can one temple be close to everyone on the planet? Some people live here, and some people live there. It must be far from some, and near to others, right? No. This temple is the same distance from every person on the planet, because it is their inner temple, the temple inside of us. We are calling that the 'Antar Mandir', the Inner Temple.
A number of years ago, I was in Chennai and meditating at a temple there. A young man came up to me, watching me meditate. I was sitting there for half-an-hour or something. He had gone around to all the shrines and had darshan.
He came up to me and said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Meditating."
He said, "What is 'meditating'?"
I said, "Well, there is a temple inside of us. We can experience God and the Gods inside of us in our Inner Temple."
But, he was not convinced. He said, "No. It doesn't make any sense."
It is true. Definitely, there is an inner temple. You have heard me tell the story before but it shows the importance of he inner, in our tradition. It is Yogaswami's story about the Tamil Conference. Remember that one? 'Utsavam Tamil'.
There was a Tamil Conference in Colombo, during Yogaswami's lifetime. An International Conference coming to Sri Lanka! I mean, this was very exciting. Not in India, this was in Sri Lanka. We have a Conference on the Tamil language taking place in Colombo. So, everyone in Jaffna is very excited. There were signs all over the place for the 'Tamil Conference - Utsavam Tamil'.
Yogaswami, in his own way, took advantage of the situation. He promoted his own conference, which he called, 'Utsavam Tammul' or 'Inside-You Festival'! He was stressing that what was going on inside, is more important than what is going on outside of us. When it comes to spiritual life, it is the inner reality, that we need to think about, not the outer show. It is the inner life, what is going on inside of us, that is the important thing.
So, what is our 'Inner Temple'? The 'Inner Temple', of course, is our soul. More precisely, our soul body. Anandamayakosa, karana sarira. Two words for the soul body, our body of light, which is what reincarnates from life to life. It is the real us. From one point of view, it is not our inner temple, it is us. But, because we identify with the external, it looks like it is inside. If we identify with it, that would be a more correct perception. We are looking from the outside today. So, we say the inside of us is this body of light and inside of that we can experience God. So, that is our Inner Temple.
Outer temples, of course, are very important. Building them is a good thing and maintaining them is a good thing. But, if in building or maintaining an outer temple, we get into disagreements, harsh words, or even worse, violent actions, that is creating a barrier to experiencing the inner temple. Clearly, the greatness of building an outer temple, is not achieved if we do it in the wrong way. If harsh words, disagreements, arguments, violent actions are involved, we are definitely doing it the wrong way, preventing us from experiencing the inner temple.
The purpose of having an outer temple and worshipping there is to help us eventually experience the inner temple, right? It is not supposed to make it harder to experience the inner. It is counter to the whole idea of the temple.
Gurudeva had a very mystical perspective on this, when it came to the Iraivan Temple. We have all heard him say, on many occasions, while talking about the foundation. He said, "The foundation of Iraivan Temple will come up when my closest devotees purify themselves, with sadhana and tapas." Remember that statement?
Everyone was asking, "When will the foundation get built? When will the foundation get built?" They were looking at it in an external way, which of course, is natural. Gurudeva is looking at it, from the deepest mystical point of view. He is saying, "Well, that won't happen outside of us, until something happens inside of us. This temple is a special temple. It is not an ordinary temple. It can only manifest when my closest devotees further purify themselves."
The Maha Vasana Daha Tantra was very important at that time. Everyone went through that process. So, when enough of Gurudeva's closest monastic and grihastha devotees further purified themselves, lo and behold! the foundation got built. It took a long time. Sort of, like doing Maha Vasana Daha Tantra.
You can see the difference here. Gurudeva is looking at is as, "Oh, we want to build the temple on the outside. What do we do? Well, we purify ourselves on the inside first. When we become sufficiently purified, sufficiently closer to our inner temple, the outer temple will manifest." A very profound look.
When it comes to the inner temple, the 'Antar Mandir', for some people it is at quite a distance. It is like a temple on top of the Himalayas. It requires a long pilgrimage. That is how far the inner temple seems from the person. Even though, it is right inside, it seems that far away. To other people it is very close. As close as, say, the nose is to the eye. That is pretty close. It is that close.
So, what makes the difference? Why is it close to one person and far away from another? It is the same distance, in one sense, from everybody. The difference is because of what is in the subconscious mind, how much impurity is in the subconscious mind, how much we haven't cleaned up the reactions, the residue of past, adharmic actions. It is adharmic actions, inappropriate actions which cloud the subconscious mind. So, if someone has a very heavy subconscious mind, the inner temple is not accessible. It is as remote as a temple on top of the Himalayas. It is just something you never get around to getting to. It is too far away!
If someone has done a lot of sadhana and tapas, purified the subconscious mind, and is living a dharmic life, then it feels very close. You can go inside. There is nothing in the subconscious mind, preventing you from going through the subconscious mind into the superconscious, into the soul. Nothing there. You have cleaned it up. So, it feels very close. But, if you haven't done sadhana and tapas, your subconscious mind is still cloudy and you are still doing adharmic actions, even if it is in the name of building a temple, you are still being violent, still speaking hurtful words, getting into arguments, then you are actually moving further away from your inner temple. You are going at a distance from it, it would obviously be counter-productive.
So, the idea is that we should always remember the inner temple. In any activity involving the outer temple, building them and maintaining them, we need to remember the existence of the inner temple, the Antar Mandir. It is our soul and that is the most important of all our activities in the outer temple. Eventually, it will bring us to the inner temple. It is in the inner temple that we have the ultimate darshan. A much deeper, a much more profound experience of God and the Gods and our oneness with God. It is the goal of all worship in the outer temple.
That is what we call, Antar Mandir Jai! Slogan - Antar Mandir Jai! We can all go around chanting "Antar Mandir Jai!", like they are going around chanting, "Sri Ram Mandir Jai!" in India. We are developing our own slogan to counter that.
So, that is just in its preliminary stages, the thought that the inner and outer temples need to be looked at as a whole. The outer temple needs to be in tune with the inner temple, eventually. Then, we really are benefited in the way we are supposed to be.