Critical Podium Dewanand Hinduism
Purposes of a Hindu Temple
Sacrifice code wfor0225
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Purposes of a Hindu Temple
(In North America, recently lots of temples have been built, and lot
more are either under construction or under serious consideration of construction.
These temples have got lots of potentialities, which are not realized
by the temple management or general public.)
On the name of Hindu religion, the usual program in temples is some
devotional singing, Puja and Aartis. And the temple service ends with
prasad and possibly lunch or dinner. Devotional singing is the elementary
stage of Hindu religion. Devotional singing is done to create spiritual
atmosphere and is a minor part of Hindu religion. All the Swamis, saints
did not attain the "sainthood" by their devotional singing.
Devotional singing and pujas do not give any knowledge of Hindu religion
to devotees. A person who visits the temple would leave the temple without
addition of any knowledge of Hindu religion. It means temples are not
conducting their programs in a very useful manner.
Temples have many purposes. Broadly it can be divided
into three divisions:
1.. Religious / cultural purpose
2.. Educational purpose
3.. Social purpose.
Religious / cultural purpose
To meet the basic spiritual needs of Hindus, temples should have daily
or weekly Satsangs along with pujas and aartis. A satsang is a gathering
for group worshipping where a saint or priest imparts some knowledge of
Hinduism to the devotees as well. In Bharat as well as in foreign countries,
temples regularly hold pujas and aartis but rarely hold satsangs. Some
temples do saptas or special religious discourses once at regular interval
or on some special occasions, which are conducted by outside preachers.
Saptas are wonderful but they cannot replace a weekly satsang. A weekly
satsang creates congregation, which creates a strong society. A society
that prays together stays together.
Temples with satsangs become much more dynamic. A typical satsang could
start with chanting three times, some mantras, one or two bhajans at the
most, followed by reading from religious Hindu books like Vedas and Upanishads,
a short lecture. Each temple should appoint a person or several volunteers
to give weekly sermons. Nowadays there are excellent programs on computer
on Hinduism, like http://www.hindutva.com Good programs on Hinduism could
be taken from many other websites for preaching and discussing in Hindu
Temples. In Christian and Muslim religions, gathering for sermons is a
tradition. In the past in Bharat, satsangs were held regularly, when Islamic
forces conquered Bharat, the Satsang tradition was lost.
Under Muslim rule, Hindus were afraid to have gathering. Mahatma Gandhi
gave the idea and propagated that "all religions are the same."
Due to their fear many people adopted the idea that "all religions
are same." In reality all religions are not the same. The meaning
of "sarva dharma sarbhava" means we should respect all religions
- not all religions are same.
In satsangs, people can learn fundamentals of Hindu religion and also
should discuss community problems, which is very important. Some non-
Hindus like to participate in temple activities. Hindus should encourage
and welcome them and allow them to become members of the temple.
In temples, people should be told why Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are
worshipped. What work they did to serve the humanity and what ideals they
Sri Lord Rama's role as one as one of the first and foremost national
unifier of Bharat is unique and extraordinary. He embraced Guha, the forest
king and ate in his house without the least hesitation. No sense of high
and low ever touched his all-embracing love of his people. He even enjoyed
a fruit (Baer) tasted and offered with devotion by Shabari, a tribal lady
in the far south.
The mistreatment of the untouchables is a social problem and not a religious
issue, as portrayed in the general public and especially in the western
countries. According to the Hindu scriptures, a person's caste is determined
by the occupation for which he or she is suited by virtue of natural aptitude
and innate personal qualities, not by birth; each of the four varnas is
equally important for the society.
The socio-economic status of untouchables did not change during the 200
years of British rule. Scheduled caste, low caste or untouchables became
an easy target for the aggressive proselytizing campaign of Muslim rulers
and Christian missionaries. Hindu society and specially temples should
take some practical steps for the removal of discrimination of untouchables,
dalits and provide them respect and honor in the Hindu society.
Temples as Retreat Center:
If temple has some bigger lots, then they should make center for retreat
and religious purposes. During summer holidays and during Christmas holidays,
many Hindu families want outing, which is not very expensive. If temples
have some space, then temple management committees should make some rooms
with 2 or 4 bunk beds. Depending upon the size of temple and location,
there should be provision for 20 to 150 beds. During retreat period, usually
people are cut off from the hustle bustle of very busy life. At retreat
people could spend their time in yoga exercises, meditation, singing bhajans,
reading from holy scriptures, listening to lectures by saints or some
learned persons, have discussions on Hindu religions or problems of Hindu
society, planning the ways of maintaining and spreading Hindu religion.
Many other activities could be decided upon which could be useful to the
individual person or Hindu society. The retreat is for the benefit of
Hindu society, therefore the charges for a bed for overnight should be
nominal or very modest.
People must be told fundamentals of Hinduism. What to say of children,
even adults and educated people do not know the answer of some simple
questions like: What is meant by God in Hinduism?, What are the God's
attributes and characteristics in Hinduism?, Do Hindus believe in many
Gods or in one God? How can we know or see god?
In Hindu religion God has many names like: Ishwar, Prarameswar, Atma,
Paramatma, prabhu, Brahman, Brahma. Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesha, Shiva, Shankra,
Ganesha, Mahadeva, Yama, Narayana, Laxmi, Saraswati, Mata, Pita, Agni,
Savita, Aum (OM), and many other names which are frequently used in Hindu
Dharma. Every word has different meaning and different significance. Is
the meaning and significance of such words explained in temples?
Our Shastras say: Ekam sad viprah bahudha vadanti agnim yamam matarishwanmahuh.
(Rig-Veda 1-164-46). The translation of this sloka means: God is one but
wise men call Him by various names as Agni, yama, Matarishva etc.
Our sensory organs cannot help to know god. The Upanishads say that
our organs cannot help us to know about the Atma that is present in all
things. We can know him with our inner sight. (Katha Upanishad 1.3.12)
Temples must give elementary knowledge of Vedas and Upanishads:
Hindu religion is based on Vedas and Upanishads. Therefore the basic
knowledge of these books must be given in temples. In Europe, Arthur Schopenhauer
made a serious study of Bhartiya philosophy and glorified it, finding
it superior to western philosophy. "The Upanishads", he said:
"are the production of highest human wisdom." It "has been
the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death."
To know God, it is necessary to possess spiritual knowledge. We could
experience Him with knowledge, devotion and meditation. With the guidance
and training of a guru (teacher), one can attain Him. Just as it takes
much effort to know of worldly matters and many years of study to become
a graduate, similarly it requires concerted effort in the right direction
to reach God.
Many non-Hindu religions have very fixed methods of worship, while Hinduism
gives us many alternatives concerning our methods of worshipping God.
If you don't believe in "idol worship" you may mediate on God
and /or perform "yagya". If you believe in "personalized
God" you can choose any one of the deities of your choice, although
each of them represents the same universal God. There are countless ways
of expressing your devotion for God in Hinduism. There is no single path
to salvation. Hinduism is like an intricate maze leading to on eternal
source. We can follow one of the three paths:
The first path is intellectual path, "Gyanmarg." This path
involves the reading and understanding of the Holy Scriptures. One must
follow and absorb oneself in holy books.
If one doesn't have the time or the intellectual ability to follow this
method, one can follow simply the path of devotion, "Bhakti-Marg".
This includes chanting and singing of bhajans and simple worship Pooja.
If you are somewhat a practical person, and lack any interest in the
previous two, you can follow the path of action, "Karam-Marg".
This involves community work, such as helping the unfortunate or the underprivileged.
Generally working for the good of mankind or just simple volunteer work.
Most importantly, in other religions, one cannot question the religious
beliefs, spiritual leaders and scriptures, or they would be "banished"
from their religious group or looked down upon. A Hindu has complete freedom
to scrutinize, investigate and discuss the legitimacy of the statements
in any of the scriptures. One isn't only allowed, but encouraged to do
so, without the risk of being of being branded a "Non-Hindu"
Most of the priests in the temple for all practical purposes are almost
illiterate. They do not have any knowledge of elementary Sanskrit or good
Hindi. They do not have any significant knowledge of Hindu scriptures.
They just know how to conduct puja or perform ceremonies and for special
occasions they have memorized some Sanskrit Slokas without understanding
their meaning. In mosques, only those Muslims are appointed as Imams that
have good knowledge of Arabic and good grasp of Islamic philosophy and
could explain all the points raised about Islam. Similar is the case with
Christian priests. They are well learned in Christian religion and could
give explanation of the philosophy of Christianity. But the Hindu priests
are not trained at all or at the most very poorly trained for the job
Only those people should be appointed in the temples who have good knowledge
of Sanskrit, Hindi and Hindu scriptures. The priest should have preferably
MA degree or at least BA degree in Hindu religion. Before getting the
job as priest, these people should get at least two years experience by
working as assistant or helper priest in any temple.
Most so called Hindu associations, teach bhajans, and high sounding
philosophies but no direction on dealing with the Semitic threat. We have
many swamis saying 'all religions are equal' and not bothering to read
what the Koran or the bible says about Hinduism.
A teacher teaches in many ways. The ultimate teacher...
This guy has taught us by example to eliminate the Asuras.
The avatar of matsya was a requirement as the Asura who stole the Vedas
was living inside the water and also to safeguard the Humans & animals
during the parlay for transition from Sathya Yuga to the treitha Yuga.
Then came the event of churning the ocean and the Kurma avatar was a
required to keep the mountain from sinking and also the wonderful Mohini
Avatar to safely give away the Amrit to the Devas & deceive the Asuras
Valiant Varaha to kill Hiranyaksha to save the Bhoomadevi from his clutches.
Ooh the Terrible Narasimha to kill Hiranyakashapu by finding the loopholes
in the boon he had.
A pious Brahmin to ask for the life of the generous Asura Mahabali -
the Vamana, Man. a small amount of this goodness in the evil Asura used
to kill him.
An all-powerful Brahmin to subdue the arrogance in the Kshatriyas the
great Parashurama. To show the world what is righteousness and how a man
should be the Purushottam Ram Krishna Balarama. Their Valor to relieve
the world from the rest of the Asuras.
And to put forth the greatest book on Philosophy and Abstract Thinking
"The Gita" now you know who this teacher is yes! none other
than Vishnu. We should never forget that there will be no more Asuras
in Kaliyuga but Mere mortals who will behave as the Rakshasas and we should
learn from this dude Vishnu on how to eliminate all these hindrances for
Hope all of us are well aware who these people are, Yes all those who
follow that book of Evil the Quran or the Bible.
They will surely be eliminated from earth as there is no place for Devils
in this world of humans they should go to their abode Jannat (Hell, the
abode of Rakshasas).
Temple is an excellent place for the gathering and knowing the other
members of the community. Temples should be constructed in such a manner
where many other activities could be carried. Such activities could be
the ceremony of birth of a child, for marriage, arranging parties on getting
success in studies or getting a good job or parties for some other special
occasions, observance of death of a family member, teaching of Hindi and
Sanskrit, Starting dance classes. Dramas are very good way of entertaining
audience and training youths. If such dramas are played which are based
on the lives of great persons who made sacrifices and glorified Bharat
or Hindu religion, then such dramas would create good sanskars in Bhartiya
children. One such drama is on the life of Bal Haqqeqat Rai, That young
boy was offered a princess in marriage, jageer and lots of money if he
would convert to Islam religion. He preferred to die rather than converted
to Islam, saying that it is better to die in his own Hindu religion rather
than spending the life in luxury after converting to Islam.
Bharat is the sacred land, which has given birth to countless saints,
seers and sages, Rishis, Yogins and prophets. Bharat is the land that
has produced many Acharyas or spiritual preceptors like Sri Sankra, Sri
Ramanuja; many saints like Goswami Tulsidas, Kabir, Ramdas, Tukaram, Gouranga
Mahaprabhu, Chaitnya Mahaprabhu and many Yogins like Jnana Dev, Dattatreya,
Sadasiva Brahman and many other prophets.
Bharat is proud of Guru Govind Singhji Maharaj and Shivaji. Bharat is
proud of King Bhoja and Vikramaditya, Sankara, Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu, Goswami
Tulsidas, Kabir, Kalidas, Valmiki and many other saints. Krishna, Rama
and many other Avatars took place in Bharat. How sacred is Bharat! How
sublime is Bharat. The dust of Brindavan and Ayodhya, the land trodden
by the sacred feet of Krishna and Rama, still purifies the heart of countless
people. Some scholars claim that even Jesus, during the missing period
of his life, lived in Kashmir and learnt Yoga from the Bhartiya Yogins.
The solid foundation of Bhartiya culture has enabled it to withstand
the rigorous of political strives and alien invasions. Temporary periods
of political bondage have not sullied the soul of Bharat. The passage
of time has not diminished the glory of Bhartiya culture. The civilizations
of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome have faded out; but the ancient
civilization of Bharat lives through the ages.
Bhartiya culture is not a dead culture. It has an undying vitality.
It can be revitalized age after age to suit the needs of changing time.
There is a fundamental vitality, which has enabled Bharat to carry on
through all these millennia in spite of her weakness.
Bharat has given much to the world in the form of mental and spiritual
culture. The Bhartiya Rishis of yore rejoiced in spiritual wisdom, communed
with God and enlightened the world with divine knowledge. The spiritual
literature of Bharat, given by her Rishis, will ever continue to retain
their infinite brilliance through ages to come. Military glories are not
the criterion of a nation's progress. Bharat has never sought them at
the cost of other people's freedom. Bharat has never attached importance
to wealth and power, from the beginning of her history. The future destiny
of Bharat depends on its spiritual strength than her material wealth.
Atman or the spirit is the rock foundation of wisdom, prosperity, strength
and peace. Be ever a beacon light of the spiritual essence of Bharatavarsha's
culture. Bharat is a glorious land of Rishis and sages. It is Janma Bhumi
with Ganges and Yamuna. It is the best of all the lands. Bharat should
rise. Bharat must rise. For it every Hindu must contribute by her efforts
In Christianity, if you become a member of a church, you automatically
become a Christian and you cannot be a member of another church at the
same time. If a Christian do not belong to a Church, it is socially unacceptable.
In Hinduism there is no such system of becoming members of temples. But
it could be useful and meaningful if temples in foreign countries keep
register with a list of all Hindus living in the local area. Hindus living
in foreign countries should make sure that their name is registered in
the register with their telephone number and e-mail address so that temple
authorities could inform them of all the festivals and special events
in the temple. In democracies, number plays a very important part in getting
recognition and getting benefits from the government. In this way temples
would do a sort of census of Hindu population in the local area. Therefore
it would be worthwhile if Hindus get their names registered in temples.
For our children's shake we should make provisions for all our family
to become members of a temple and at least visit temples regularly. We
should have Satsangs in temples and should also have congregations that
meet regularly or at least weekly.
As far as building temples or your community center, give a thought
of buying the cheaper alternative of buying old churches that have been
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