Three varied Hindu views regarding the Gods and temple images. Gurudeva's perception: During the high point of puja the Deity manifests through the murti for a short or protracted time depending on the auspiciousness of the day, the power of the puja and the devotion of those present. Planning time: Nartana Ritau is over. Jivana Ritau: Now is the time to act, striving to bring into everyday life more refinement and more religion. Master Course, Lesson 128
Good morning everyone.
Lesson of the day: Merging with Siva, 128.
The Gods Are Living Realities
Thought it was interesting that this topic came around just at the time that Paramacharya Sadasivanatha was presenting our new Insight Section on "Visiting a Hindu Temple" at the Hindu Mandir Executive Conference in San Jose. He did that yesterday.
So that's a challenge to write because we were trying to encompass a wide variety of temples that exist outside of India. And the different philosophies about the temple that exist so it could be used by everyone. Temples wouldn't feel it left them out somehow.
Therefore, one of the questions it answers is: "Are there varied views regarding the Gods and temple images or murti?"
Answer: "Yes from the Agamic perspective the murti is considered a sacred medium of the Divine. Another view is that the various murtis are symbols of the facets of divinity."
Then we give three different sources to show different viewpoints.
Acharya Ananda Swami, Pitampura Temple, West Delhi:
"The sanctum sanctorum is the place where God resides. In Hindu culture, the idol is made based on the form of God which our rishis and saints saw through their penance and meditation. So, for us the idol is not just something made of stone, it is a form of God, a living God. The idols are established in the temples following directions given in our Shastras and Vedas. Once the idol is established with due rituals, that place becomes the garbhagriha, the sanctum sanctorum. To maintain the purity of the temple, only the priest can enter the sanctum or touch the Deity."
So that's one version of the Agamic idea.
"God, the infinite, the formless, is exceedingly hard to contemplate upon. Most of us need some grosser expression. Symbols of the eternal principle are called idols, murtis. These idols represent the eternal principle, God, the ideal... If we are not yet able to see the Lord in everything, we are asked to first practice seeing Him in at least one image and then slowly expand our vision."
So, that's the idea that the murtis are just symbols, which is taught by Chinmaya Mission.
Sanatan Dharma believes in murti puja---worshiping Bhagwan, His avatars and Deities in the form of images. Followers believe in the presence of the Divine in such images and offer them worship with faith and loving devotion. In turn, due to His grace, the Divine accepts this bhakti. Throughout Sanatan Dharma's history, He has let His manifestations and divinity be known through various murtis and [miraculous] events."
Again that's a form of agamic worship.
Then from the lesson itself, Gurudeva's specific way of looking at it:
"The physical representation of the God, be it a stone or metal image, a yantra or other sacred form, simply marks the place that the God will manifest in or hover over in His etheric body. It can be conceived as an antenna to receive the divine rays of the God or as the material body in or through which the God manifests in this First World. Man takes one body and then another in his progression through the cycles of birth and death and rebirth. Similarly, the Gods in their subtle bodies inhabit, for brief or protracted spans of time, these temple images. When we perform puja, a religious ritual, we are attracting the attention of the devas and Mahadevas in the inner worlds. That is the purpose of a puja; it is a form of communication. To enhance this communication we establish an altar in the temple and in the home. This becomes charged or magnetized through our devotional thoughts and feelings, which radiate out and affect the surrounding environment."
So, that's based on Gurudeva's actual perception of what was going on, as well as we have writings he did in the Saivite Shastras and other places which explain this idea that the Deity isn't there all the time in the temple. In Gurudeva's perception, the Deity comes during the puja. Particularly during the high point of the puja will manifest through the murti. Says either short of protracted time; it depends on the auspiciousness of the day and depends upon the power of the puja and the devotion of the devotees present. All of those combine in an unique way to cause the Deity to stay either a brief or protracted span of time. But then the Deity's presence through the murti goes away after the puja.
So I thought that was interesting; different ways of looking at it.
Jivana Ritau: Are we putting up the flag shortly? Okay, flags going up, Jivana Ritau. As you know we have, Gurudeva divided the year into three seasons. So we're starting the Jivana Ritau. The previous ritau, Nartana, was a time for planning. Excellent time to update our plans, plan into the future a few years. As long as we can go. Six years is the ideal.
Planning time is over. Now is the time to act. Act on our plans.
Well Gurudeva says: Jivana Ritau is a natural time for work. It is a physical time, a time of exercise and exertion in the physical world. A magnetic time for action and willpower. Focus is on preserving what has been created, manifesting goals and fulfilling plans made in the past, finishing jobs already started. It's a natural time for caring for the practical details of the external world including the environment.
Of course the Master Course Trilogy book that relates to Jivana Ritau is Living with Siva. And the idea there is to think about our life, our actions, conduct in the world and striving to bring into our everyday life more refinement and more religion.
Gurudeva gives some specific suggestions: It's a good time to study the Nandinatha Sutras, see what we can do better there. Bring up to date all vratas and sadhanas if we've gotten behind.
The time to emphasize culture, teaching cultural practices to children. Learning new Natchintanai songs and improving Sanskrit Puja. Those kinds of activities that well suited to this ritau.
And finally, it's a time for honoring those in the vanaprastha ashrama including asking them to share their wisdom.
So that's our ritau change.
Aum Namasivaya Aum