by P. Kerala Varma Raja – Poonjar, published in SURRENDER – Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Renovation Souvenir 2002.
The people who follow the “Sanathana Dharma” do have FAITH IN “TEMPLE WORSHIP”. We believe that our desires can be satisfied by praying to the deities in the temples. But, few people really care to know ‘what is a temple?’ or how we get results by prayer or worship in temples?
GOD IS OMNIPOTENT and OMNIPRESENT. The great sages have by research found out AHAM BRAHMASMI and TAT TWAMASI which denotes that” THERE IS NOTHING OTHER THAN BRAHMAN. But for us ordinary humans, it is difficult to be convinced or to conceive it in this way. We know that air is everywhere around us. But we feel it only when it moves. Suppose we reach home after some very tiring work. We are exhausted and full of sweat. There is no comfort in the KNOWLEDGE that there is air all around. But if there is a fan by which the air is set in motion, then we get comfort. Likewise we know that the atmosphere around us is full of sound waves from everywhere, but we can hear voices only if it comes from nearby sources. But if we have a radio, we can hear the sound from all places on earth and also beyond it. So also with certain mechanisms, we can feel the presence of God which otherwise we are not able to experience. Temple is such a machine by the help of which we can realise the ULTIMATE UNIVERSAL POWER. Tantra Sastra has made it possible to convert the NIRGUNA BRAHMA (Universal Power) into SAGUNA MOORTHI with powers for Anugraha (Blessings) and Nigraha (Punishment) in the construction of temples. The TANTRI, who installs the deity in the temple is the CHIEF ENGINEER, the Poojaris (priests) or Santhis, the MECHANICS and the KAZHAKAMS or other Temple Servants HELPERS to work the machine. Only by co-ordinated effort of all these can the machine be PRODUCTIVE.
Every machine has two parts. One is the gross body which consists of the parts of the machine; wheels, rods and things like that. The other part is the power supply without which the machine does not work and is useless. In temples, the gross body is the outer wall and the buildings inside it. These structures are fashioned in a particular way, involved in the principle of Pindandam (Human Body) which is a miniature replica of Brahmandam (Universe). This theory of Pindandom being a replica being of Brahmandam is one of the fundamental discoveries of our Science. Temples are built in the form of a human body, with the Sanctum Sanctorum representing the Head, the circle including the Balikkallus which denote Ashtadikpalas, Sapthamathrikals, etc. representing the face, the Mukha Mandapam representing the neck, the Nalampalam representing the Chest and Arms, the Vilakku Madam the stomach; the outer Ballikkallus around being the waist; the outer walls the legs and Gopuram the feet. It is like a man lying with head at Sanctum Sanctorum and feet at the Gopuram, in all the four directions.
The equipment for POWER SUPPLY is the SHADADHAARA PRATHISHTA, that is, the installed idol, wherein, there is the Adharasila at the bottom, the Nidhi Kumbham on it, Padmam and Koormam above it, and Yoga Nalam connecting it to Napumsaka Sila, then the Peedhom and the Vigraha above it. It is as if a man is sitting in the YOGIC POSTURE and the various items mentioned above represents the Adhaara Chakraas of the Yogic Body culminating in the Vigraha, being the Sahasrara Padma. In this gross body, Manthra Chaithanya is charged by the Acharya by his mind power and the power of Manthras. The Acharya who has achieved Divine Power through regular practices or SADHANA for a long period with the help of Manthras attracts the Universal Power to him, through Avahana and then converts this Universal Power to the power of the Particular Deity to be installed, by his own Mind Power with the help of Manthras and finally transfers this Power from him to the Deity installed. One thing we have to note here is that, whichever Deity we want to install, THE ORIGINAL POWER IS ALWAYS THE UNIVERSAL POWER. The various Deities are all like various equipments like fans, bulbs, radio, Television etc. which are all worked by the same Electric Power, but each serving a particular need. Once the Vigraha or Deity is kindled with Power in this way, the Charge has to be maintained and increased.
There are mainly five methods to increase the power in the Deity. First is by ACHARYA TAPAS. That is, by Poojas conducted by the Acharya who has installed it or his disciples who know about the basic state of mind of the Acharya at the time of installation. The second is, the AAMNAAYA JAPA, that is, CHANTING OF VEDIC MANTHRAS. The sound waves created by the chanting of the Manthras, get dissolved in the deity and by that way increase the Manthra Chaithanya in the deity. The third is, the DAILY POOJA. Here also, the Poojari during every Pooja, does the Avahana of the Universal Power, converts it to the power of the deity, transfers it to the deity and does the other parts of the Pooja, thus enhancing the Chaithanya of the deity. The fourth is ULSAVA, wherein lots of people come to the temple and pray. Here the vibrations created, by the Bhakthi among the worshippers gradually get dissolved into the deity. And lastly, ANNA DANAM. By this term we generally mean only giving food. But it is not that alone. Why? Giving food is the only thing by which anybody can be made to say, ENOUGH, NO MORE. Thus, giving complete satisfaction of a particular need is the main importance of Anna Danam. But helping people by catering to their moral needs also come in this category. By this also, the vibrations generated in the satisfied mind of the recipient goes and get dissolved in the deity. These are the five ways of increasing the charge or power in the installed deity.
Now, let us see, how a devotee gets the benefit from the temple. We take it for granted that the deity is fully charged like that of an electric battery. The devotee who goes to the temple, should try to leave all the cares and worries of his mind at the temple gate, Gopuram and try to concentrate his mind on the POWER OF THE DEITY. He should be repeating the NAMA or the MANTRA of the deity when he goes around the temple. By this way, when he reaches the front of the Sanctum Sanctorum or Sreekoil, his mind is clear and ready to CONNECT ITSELF TO THE CHAITHANYA IN THE IDOL. When he joins both hands which represents the body of the devotee, made of the Pancha Bhoothas or the five basic principles involved in the creation, in both the STHULA (GROSS) and the SUKSHMA (SUBTLE, INNATE) Bhava, and bows before the deity, we are surrendering our whole being-body and soul to the Power in the Deity and thus the mind of the devotee and the Divine Power in the deity gets connected. This invoke the jeeva chaithanya in the devotee to grow up, and the whole body of the devotee becomes divine and automatically our desires get fulfilled. For this, the most important factor is that the mind of the devotee should not be contaminated with other thoughts at the time of worship. Then only the connection between the Power in the Temple and our own mind will take place. This also can be likened to an Electric connection.
The ultimate object of all Sadhanas is to realise AHAM BRAHMASMI. Towards that, there are many ways. Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga and Bhakthi Yoga are the High Roads prescribed to reach that end. The first three are very difficult and fit only for men with extraordinary capabilities. Bhakthi Yoga is the one which helps the vast majority of people who do not get enough time or intellectual capacity to do disciplined Sadhanas to attain the Ultimate Goal. Temples are the machines which help them to reach GOD without sacrificing much of the worldly pleasures.
So, it is in our own interest to maintain the temples in good repair both in the gross body and the Power inside.
नमः पार्याय चावार्याय च
नमः प्रतरणाय चोत्तरणाय च
नमस्तिर्थ्थाय च कूल्याय च
नमः शष्प्याय च फेन्याय च
Sukla Yajur Veda Samhita XVI, 42
O Lord, Thou art beyond the sea of relative existance. Thou art also in the midst of it; I bow to Thee. Thou enablest one to go beyond sin by means of holy chants. Thou takest one beyond the cycle of births and deaths through knowledge; I bow Thee. Thou art present in sacred flowing streams as well as on the coast; I bow to Thee. Thou art in the tender grass, on the sea-shore as well as in the foaming waves;
I bow to Thee.