Thursday, March 19, 2015


Are Hindu temples anti-Sanatan Dharma?
Harindran Nair and his friend came to visit me after reading my article on 'Ancient Hindu temples - Some incredible facts' ( They were agitated young Hindus who want to form sort of association to protect Hindus and Temples in India. Existing Hindu organizations have gone soft, they say.
"Hari - what's it that you want to save? Sanatan Dharma, Hinduism, Temples or Hindus?" I asked.
"Brother, our temples have been the center point of Hinduism and all Hindus for thousands of years, so we have to consolidate all Hindus under each temple...”
"Hmmm - I have confusion here. You said all Hindus."
"Yes - everybody - all castes..." he said, "because we only consider this land as Punyabhoomi (sacred land)"
"Hari, have you heard of Gandhiji's Vaikom temple entry Satyagraha and subsequent the historic Temple Entry Proclamation signed by Maharajah of Travancore on November 12, 1936? Till then, lower caste Hindus were not allowed inside the temples. That means, nearly 70 % of population was not allowed to go inside ancient temples. Are they not Hindus? And what about atheists and nastiks? They are also Hindus. So, how can temples represent all Hindus?"
Their face became red. "Don't you go to temple? Are you not supporting temples? Don't you know its significance? There are various scientific reasons and facts behind going to temples. All modern scientists proclaim the science behind temple construction..."
"Hari, I go to temple, all temples - that's our tradition. I love it. But I don't need any scientific backing to follow my tradition of going to temple. I don't need neo-modernists approval for my temple visit. Even if it is termed as superstition, I will continue going to temple..."
"Then why are you not in favour of consolidation of Hindus under temples?"
"Your idea is just opposite to Sanatan Dharma and you are imitating Semitic concepts, that's why"
"I don't understand...."
"Simply put, Sanatan Dharma is all about following of Shodasha Samskaras (16 rituals or sacraments) and Varnashrama-dharma (duties performed according to the system of four varnas -social divisions - and four ashrams -stages in life. The temple visit is not mandatory anywhere"
On the contrary, in Semitic religions you MUST go to Church or Mosques and your life thus get bonded to those institutionalized religion...Your birth, marriage and death are related to those institutions.
For us, it is just the other way around. If somebody is born or died in your house, you are not supposed to enter the temple for 7-14 days depending upon the Varna that you follow. Today, people imitate Semitic concepts and conduct marriages in temples. Our ancestors maintained marriage as was a family-community function. Today, temples allow marriages inside the premises, as this would fetch extra revenue.
Semitic god's abodes are prayer halls. Our temples were never ever made for prayers. Only one or two priest can hardly enter into sanctum sanctorum (garbha griha). There is no space for more than 2-3 people to stand in front of this sacred enclave. Temple is NOT a prayer hall.
Puranas say that those who wanted to please any god, went to forest for deep meditation or penance (not to temple) hence the god would make appearance and grant them boon.
Take for instance any rituals (havan, yajna, homam or yagam), we don't keep god's idol there. When you perform Ganapathy homam (ritual to please the god), you invoke (Avahanam) the divine powers that removes obstacles and after the pooja we do disperse (visarjan) that power. There was no temple pooja in any of our traditional ceremonies - be it upanayana (sacred thread ceremony of all Varnas) or wedding or house warming, whatever... In short, temple had less or no relevance in sanatan dharma.
Our Dharma sees divinity in each and every thing in this universe. The entire universe is indwelt, enveloped, covered by the Supreme Being (Ishaavaasyam idam sarvam). God is not confined in a temple.
"Then why are temples for? Why did you say you are temple follower?"
"Kshetra means field or sphere of action. Bharat Kshetra means the divine field named India. Kuru Kshetra is the field where Mahabharata War was fought. India was divided into many Kshetras - Jagannatha kshetra (Odisha), Bhaskara kshetra (Karnataka), Parasurama kshetra (Keralam), Sri Rama kshetra (Tamil Nadu), Sreenivasa kshetra (Andhra Pradesh), Mumbadevi Kshetra (Maharashtra), Vanga (Bongo) Kshetra (West Bengal) etc. . . .”
"Oh...I didn't know that..."
"Please try to learn before making sweeping statement about temples and Dharma. Our ancestors lived peacefully in villages observing Varnashrama Dharma. You can't and never will find such perfect system of way of life for human beings in this universe. Those who learnt would agree that. There was equal respect for all Varnas. They didn't want to consolidate powers into people with vested interest. So they had established the concept of Grama devatha (Village Deity) in each village. They declared the village belonging to Grama devatha. (This system was later destroyed by the British. But even today, legally entire land belongs to the deity - The deity is a juristic perpetual minor)
The land and its contents were belonged to the Grama devatha who was the presiding deity or guardian deity (patron deity) in Hindu villages, towns and cities. The villagers were totally surrendered to the deity and do their respective jobs without any expectations (Nishkama Karma). There was no exploitation or selfishness. The village king would be a slave of the devatha (For instance, Adiyen, Ramanuja Dasan).
The best of first agriculture produce would be submitted to the deity. (Today, I have seen people buy the smallest, cheapest coconut to break in the Ganapathy temple. They also put soiled currency notes in Bhandara)
The entire wealth of the village was stored in the temple as gems, jewelry etc. (this was the soft target for invaders from the Middle East).
According to ancient travellers to India, they were all living happily, peacefully and healthy (Remember the average longevity during Vedic times was 120years!). So there could be NO social system that can be better than this. During the period of Krishnadevaraya regime, gems were openly sold in heaps, on the roadside. So you can imagine how much rich our ancestors were.
"That means, though purpose was different temples..."
"Yes - its purpose was totally different. It was not for prayer and worship the way we do it now. Do you know the significance of idols of those deities?"
"Yes, I know, it was concentrated energy centre and radiate energy to the devotees" Hari's friend said.
"I don't know about such energies...May be science is not yet developed...But those idols were most powerful, but for different reasons...Those were not just idols!"
"Those idols (Vigraham) of the dieties were made up of unique and sacred combination of Panchaloham (five metals), Sapthaloham (Seven metals) and Navapashanam (an amalgam of nine poisons). All of them have unbelievable medicinal values! In some places, they had used very special stones (Sila) like Anjana, Saligrama, Dvararvati etc make idols."
For instance, the idol of the Lord Muruga in Palani and idol of Ayyappa in Sabrimala were made up of navapashanam. When they perform Abhisheka (ritual of pouring) on the idol with milk or ghee, the outcome would be rare Ayurveda specialty medicine. And I remember a priest saying, during full moon day (Pournami), Navapashanam idols would sweat as if it is a human! (In 1950 a mysterious fire broke to destroy the Sabarimala temple and the original idol is vanished. Nobody knows who stole the idol.)
"So whenever you hear that temple celebrates its Puna Prathista ( Idol- re-installation) - be it known to you that the sacred idol is going abroad and new marble and granite statue will take its place. Given a choice, what will you do - protect those ancient temples and help building new concrete structure with marble statue in it which has no relevance to Sanatan Dharma?"
"We didn't know this much details..." Hari said.
According to independent historians thousands of temples are destroyed by invaders and evalangalist to steal wealth and sacred idols (Some put the count to 125,000).
"Why was majority not allowed inside the temple?" his friend asked.
"Temples didn't have any space inside to contain the public - it was not a public prayer hall. In fact, only less than one percent of Brahmins were allowed inside the Garba Griha. And only poorest Brahmins would go for pooja till 1970s. Because, the only remuneration for a temple priest was mostly just one time food. (Now, priests are rich) So, only person who perform everyday pooja and the king who kept the entire wealth inside the temple were among those few who need to go inside. Others had no business there..."
Some temples had mandap (pillar hall) for art performance and Vedic or other skills learning - those who were doing it also can go in. Are you admitted to any buildings without permission? So, why do you single out temples? There was huge ground outside the temple where everybody can play and celebrate festivals. Just like any ideologies or concepts, this system may have mis-used by people with vested interests.
"So, you mean to say there is no energy or miracles inside the temple?" his friend repeated the question.
Some people claim there are mysterious powers in these temples. Others say, it has some sort of positive energy - I don't know about both. But I also can make true claim of miracles that happened in life by performing poojas in a temple - I can vouch it as it is my personal experience. But individual experiences are not an empirical evidence for science. A more plausible explanation is that temple provides psychological security.
However, such mysterious power or energies (if exists) come with huge responsibility. The priest should perform all rituals and customs based on the sacred scriptures, for which he needs to have purity of body, mind and self, sattvik in nature and keep the quality of karma. The chief priest of a famous temple went on record admitting to the High Court that he doesn't even know Sanskrit!
It is said: 'Archakasya prabhavena sila bhavathi sankara, Archakasya aprabhavena siva bhavati sila' (Even a stone becomes god by dedicated rituals done by a priest. And by improper rituals, even the god itself will become a stone)
The enemies of Sanatan Dharma are traders and illegal brokers - those who built or convert temples into cut-throat business centres. They are driving the gods out of the temple. "Do you want to consolidate Hindus under those crooks?" I asked him.
The only way to protect our temple culture is to create awareness among the public (irrespective of caste and religions) regarding the importance of Sanatan Dharma and Grama Devathas. Let the powerful Grama Devathas be back. Let out land be a heaven and punya bhoomi