The Many Benefits of Temple Worship
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2011-10-13
The most important teaching of Gurudeva: "Siva's followers strive for God Realization as the first and foremost goal of life." Gurudeva's mystic and psychic abilities. Gurudeva is the only teacher in modern time to stress temple worship. How the temple works and the benefits of temple worship. Pancha nitya karmas.
Good morning everyone.
They're holding a Mahasamadhi observance for Gurudeva in Toronto. And they asked for a message. So this is a message for Toronto.
It's easy to know what teaching Gurudeva felt was the most important. How do we know that? Well he wrote 365 Sutras to summarize his teachings. And, where would you put the most important one?
The first one, right. Exactly. Well what does the first one, how does it read? Reads like this.
"Siva's followers strive for God Realization as the first and foremost goal of life. They learn to dance with Siva, live with Siva, merge with Siva. Deep within, they discover their eternal, immortal oneness with God."
In many places throughout Gurudeva's writing he, writings, he stresses a related point which is very important that we're already one with God. We just have to find that part of us that's already one with God. We don't have to do something to become one with God; we have to simply find the part of us that is eternally one with God.
"Deep inside we are perfect this very moment, and we have only to discover and live up to this perfection to be whole. We have taken birth in a physical body to grow and evolve into our divine potential. We are inwardly already one with God. Our religion contains the knowledge of how to realize this oneness and not create unwanted experiences along the way."
When we think of Gurudeva's teachings... I was reflecting on it and came to the conclusion that they're quite unique in one way. In modern times there's many Hindu swamis and yogis that teach the monistic philosophy, which is what we just mentioned, that man and God are identical.
Well as far as I know, Gurudeva is the only teacher in modern times to also stress temple worship. So it's a unique combination, a monistic philosophy that man is God. But, we also need to worship God in the temple.
Gurudeva had a unique ability to explain how the temple worked. And that was because of his highly developed mystic and psychic abilities. The story I remember that first illustrates it is when he was on his way to meet Yogaswami. You remember that story? He stopped at the Nallur Temple on his way to meet Yogaswami and happened to see Yogaswami inside the inner sanctum in his soul body. Yogaswami was for some reason, there. So Gurudeva saw him. No one else who was with Gurudeva saw Yogaswami in his soul body inside the sanctum.
Then he went to Yogaswami's hut and Yogaswami asked him the question: "Have you seen me before?"
Of course, everyone else thought the answer would be no cause this was their first meeting on the physical plane.
But, Gurudeva said: "Yes I saw you at Nallur Temple."
And then afterwards he had to explain to everyone what that meant. So it shows Gurudeva's unique abilities to see into the inner worlds and how they, inner worlds relate to temples. And he used this ability to clarify in particular the worship of the murti because that's not well understood. And sometimes it's criticized that Hindus worship idols or Hindus worship stone images.
But Gurudeva explains it in a very compelling way. He says:
"Hindus do not worship stone images. Don't let anyone ever convince you of that. It is absolutely false. Those who say such things simply do not understand the mystical workings of the temple, or they seek to ridicule our religion because they feel insecure about their own.
"Hindu priests invoke the Gods to come and manifest for a few minutes within the sanctum of the temple. The Deities do come in their subtle bodies of light. They hover in and above the stone image and bless the people. If you are psychic and your third eye is open, you can see the God there and have His personal darshana. Many of our ancient Saivite saints, as well as contemporary devotees, have seen such visions of the Gods. They know from personal experience that God and the Gods do exist."
Since we're trying to keep the video short I chose a short version that Gurudeva had, not a long one. Goes like this:
"God Siva is in all things and everywhere simultaneously, at every point in time. And yet, Siva as Maheshvara, the Divine Dancer, Nataraja, has a body not unlike yours or mine, a body in which He can talk, a body in which He can think, a body in which He can see you and you can see Him, a body with legs, a body with arms. In this body He dances the eternal dance. I had a vision, once, of Siva Nataraja dancing. I could hear the bells on His ankles. I could see His feet and legs. He is a beautiful dancer, and He dances in the Third World."
Another aspect of temple worship that Gurudeva emphasized was why we should go to the temple. He didn't simply say we should go to the temple because it's our duty to go to the temple. No! He explained the benefits of going to the temple which is an important aspect of temple worship, particularly, to explain to younger people. They want to know: What is the benefit? Why do we go? So here are two of them that Gurudeva mentioned. One of them is solving problems.
"During the height of puja, the God comes with all of His devas, His celestial helpers. They take the problems or concerns out of your mind, harmonize the currents of your body and dissolve all the problems for you. When that happens, you walk out of the temple feeling you have been blessed, having forgotten the concerns that you went in with."
Sounds pretty good. Then the second benefit is one of simply being uplifted in consciousness, being inspired.
"When we go to the temple, we leave with our mind filled with the shakti of the Deity. We are filled and thrilled with the shakti of the temple in every nerve current of our body. When we return to our home, we light an oil lamp, and that brings the power of the temple into the home. This simple act brings the devas in the Second World right into your home, where they can bless the rest of the family who perhaps did not go to the temple. With a little bit of study of the mysticism of Saivism, we can easily understand how the unseen worlds operate in and through us."
Gurudeva developed a concept called pancha nitya karmas, the five permanent duties of all Hindus. And, as you can imagine, with his strong emphasis on worship, worship is in the duties. In fact, three of the five duties have to do with worship. This is what he says:
"There are three things we must do: perform or attend puja every day in the home, attend a temple once a week and make a pilgrimage once a year. These three are the foundation of our Saiva Siddhanta. Plus, for those who are able, meditation and certain sadhanas are part of this worship. External worship builds a vibration within us, and that vibration is taken within, into deep meditation -- internalizing the worship in worshiping God and the Gods within you and contacting them within the higher chakras until you realize that you also have always been the all-pervasive energy that pervades the universe."
Thank you very much.
Aum Namah Sivaya