Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 06 Jan 2003



[Durgashtami Message] Significance of Temples: Why is there so much rush in temples? There is only one reason. People think that if they go to the temples they can escape from the difficulties, which are the fruits of their sins. They also think that they can get some benefits (which are the fruits of good deeds) for good deeds that they have not performed. Obviously this is not true. The scriptures say “Avashyam Anubhoktavyam” which means that we must enjoy the fruits of our good and bad deeds. You cannot escape the result of your bad deeds and you cannot achieve the result of a good deed, which you have not done. One cannot escape the punishment given by the judge in the court. Similarly you cannot escape the judgment of God. If this fact is written at the gates of the temple, nobody will enter the temple.

Then what is the actual aim of the temple? One of the sixteen divine qualities (Kalyana Gunas) of God is beauty (Soundarya). For example it is said that the beauty of Lord Rama disturbed the minds of even sages. The beautiful Lord should be seen first; “Drashtavyah”, as said in the Veda. So the statue of God in the temple must be carved most beautifully. The priest should decorate the statue in the most beautiful way, so that our eyes will be fixed on the statue. The next step is “Shrotavyah”, as said in the Veda. It means that after seeing the form of God, we must listen to the description of His other divine qualities. It is the duty of the priest to explain the other divine qualities of God. The third step is “Nididhyasitavyah”, that is your minds should be filled with inspiration given by the all-round personality of God. With this inspiration you must go back home.

Present State of Temple Worship

But what is happening today? The statue is not at all beautiful. The decoration is not at all inspiring. So there is no question of any divine inspiration. When we go to temple the priest utters some Vedic hymns in Sanskrit which you do not understand at all. When you return from the temple, you do not have any trace of devotion for the divine personality. If at all you have any bit of devotion, it is only due to your desires, which you want God to fulfill. Your devotion is forced by your desires. Without realizing this actual concept, you are doing a non-useful exercise by going round and round the temples.

What is going on in the temples now? Lights are lit (Deeparadhana), camphor is burnt (Neeranjanam) and some eatable items are offered as Prasadam. The Vedas do not even mention such types of worship. This is also not the tradition of our ancient sages. This is nothing but a bad tradition introduced by some people later on. How can such types of worship be connected with fulfilling your desires? Is it not true that you are doing these forms of worship with fear or selfishness? Such types of worship are neither benefiting the devotees nor the priests. Some merchants are reaping the benefits. For example the devotee breaks a coconut in front of the idol. The coconut costs five rupees. The priest takes half the coconut. That is Rs.2.50/-. Since there are hundreds of such coconuts offered each day, he manages to sell them to a nearby restaurant for one rupee per half coconut. The restaurant gets Rs.1.50/- as profit.

Instead of earning one rupee by such a false way, let the priest earn two rupees by an honest way. For example, let him maintain the idol by regular washing (Abhisheka) and decoration and let him explain the divine virtues of God in the people’s mother tongue. Then let him take Rs.2.00/- as Guru Dakshina (fees paid to the teacher). By this true way, both God and the devotees would bless the priest. The eatable items (Prasadam) offered to God in the temple by the devotees, should not be enjoyed by the priest, because it is nothing but cheating the devotees in the name of God. Such food offered, should not be given even to other devotees, because the devotees are capable of earning their own food. Food should be distributed only to beggars, who come under the following categories:

  1. Children
  2. Very old people
  3. People suffering with diseases
  4. Handicapped persons
  5. Hungry animals like dogs and birds.
Changing Temple Worship

So the temples must be spiritual centers and not shops in which you can ‘purchase’ the fruits of your desires. After returning from the temple, your divine knowledge and devotion must increase. Temples must be like institutions, which impart spiritual knowledge to people. Our temples have become impure business centers due to the desires of people. The temples should give devotion and knowledge for all people and food to helpless or disabled beggars. However today, even rich people are eating that food as Prasadam (food blessed by God after offering it to the idol in the temple). In fact, God has not eaten anything from it. If you distribute it to beggars, then God is really eating through them. The statue requires only the washing of its dust (Abhisheka) and decoration. Nothing else is needed.

The Veda contains only two types of worship.

  1. Washing by bathing (Abhisheka)
  2. Cooking food with help of the fire (Ijya or Yajna)

Except for these two kinds of worship, other methods of worship are only foolish acts and are not mentioned in the Veda. You do not do all these methods of worship to your father and mother, who also fulfill your material desires by giving you their wealth and property. You do not do such things since you really love them. Since your love towards God is artificial and limited to getting some selfish benefit, you do such foolish acts of worship. By such worship you are not at all benefited because such worship has no logical connection with the fulfillment of your desires. Priests and merchants are fooling you and are getting the benefits.

Such methods of worship are actually meant only for the Human Incarnation of the Lord. The Veda says that the Lord does not dwell in the statues (Na tasya pratima). The Bhagavad Gita says, “Bhutejya Yanti Bhutani”, i.e., if you worship a stone, you will be born as a stone. The statue is only for vision (a tool to imagine and love God by seeing His beautiful form) and not for worship. The Gita also says “Maanusheem tanum ashritam” i.e.; God comes down only in the human form. The sixteen methods of worship (Shodasha Upachara) such as Avahanam (invitation), Asanam (offering a chair) etc., are meant only for such a human form. When your son is in some other country you see his photograph. Similarly, to see the past Human Incarnation of God, statues are made. [However there is no point in worshipping the inert statue with needless actions and costly materials]. The sixteen modes of worship are really meant only for the sake of a living Human Incarnation present with you in this world.

You can offer food to the present Human Incarnation. You cannot offer food even to the statue or the photograph of your son, who is in another country. There is no better scholar or devotee than Hanuman. He worshipped only Rama, who was the Human Incarnation in his period. He never worshipped the previous Incarnations like Vamana, Narasimha etc.; He never worshipped any statue. The epic Ramayana written by Valmiki is the only real authority on the history of Hanuman. According to that epic, Hanuman never worshipped even Vishnu, Shiva etc. Yet he got the highest position that is the post of the Creator (Brahma) in the next cycle of creation.

Radha was the greatest devotee, who became the queen of the topmost 15th world called Goloka (highest heaven). She also worshipped Krishna, who was the Human Incarnation in her time. She did not even worship Rama, who was the immediate past Incarnation. The human body of the present Incarnation is the real temple. The soul in that human body is God. The same thing is told as “Deho devalayah”. The Veda says “Yavateeryi” i.e., all the Gods dwell in the present Human Incarnation of God, who is called as the Sadguru. Giving food to Him and satisfying His fire of hunger is the real sacrifice (Yajna).

Kapila, the Incarnation of Vishnu preached to his mother, stating that only a fool burns ghee and food in fire in the name of sacrifice. This is written is in the Bhagavatam scripture. Krishna was hungry and ate the food that was prepared for offering into the fire in a sacrifice. Thus, He taught the real meaning of sacrifice. Krishna came to establish justice (Dharma). Would He spoil the sacrifice by eating the food? [What He did was in fact the true fulfillment of the sacrifice].

Therefore, the fire lit in a Vedic sacrifice, is only an instrument to cook the food to be offered. The fire is not to be worshipped as God Himself. The physical form of fire is called the Bhutagni. The other from of fire is divine (Devatagni) and is indeed the Sadguru as told by the Veda “Vaishvanaro Brahmanah”. The word Agni comes from ‘Agri’ which means that this Sadguru should be worshipped first. The Sadguru with his divine radiation is also compared to the radiating fire.

Simple recitation of the Vedas is of no use. The priest must explain the meanings and inner meanings of the hymns while performing the rituals. Rituals are the divine discourses from the Vedas and the priest must be the Sadguru, who imparts the divine knowledge from the Vedas. The Vedas themselves say that mere recitation is useless (Anarthajnah). In ancient times, the Veda was preserved by recitation (and memorization), as there were no books to preserve it in writing. But now the Vedas are even computerized and there is no need of preservation of the Vedas by recitation. Therefore, such a tradition should be discouraged. Blind people are led by blind preachers and fall into the well, as said in the Veda (Andhenaiva…).

In the Hindu religion, astrologers and priests must also realize the truth. By worshipping planets and deities, the results of bad deeds cannot vanish and the results of good deeds that are not done by you, cannot be achieved. God (Parabrahma) pervading all these planets and deities internally, is Lord Datta and He alone should be worshipped. The fan cannot move without the electric current. The light bulb cannot glow without the electric current flowing through it. The fan and the light bulb are like planets and deities. The electric current is Lord Datta. In other religions, the same current is named as Jehovah or Allah. The Veda says “Bheeshodeti” i.e., the sun shines only by the energy and fear of God. The Veda (Kena Upanishad) says that the power behind all deities is God alone.

So, all these astrologers and priests should be converted into Sadgurus, who preach about Lord Datta. They can also take some money (Guru Dakshina) from the people for their livelihood and there is nothing wrong in it because they are standing for the truth and are giving real help to all the people, who believe them. But they should make one thing clear that only Lord Datta can really protect you by taking your sins on Him. He will undergo the punishments for your sake. Except for this way, there is no other way to escape from your sins. At the same time, you must not expect Lord Datta to take your sins. You must be prepared to suffer for your sins and still continue to worship Him without aspiring for anything in return from Him. You must prove your love by your practical participation in His service. Worship should not be done with mere mind and words.

Instead of worshipping Lord Datta (Sadguru), if you worship planets and deities with selfish desires, your bad results will only be postponed to the later part of this life or your next life. You will have to suffer them later and that too with added interest. The good results that were to be enjoyed in the next life are dragged to the present life with reduced values due to your rituals and selfish worship. They reduce in value like prematurely encashed bank deposits. As a result, your next life is going to be miserable; full of difficulties from birth to death with hardly any good result.

Today is Durgashtami—the day Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahisha. Mahisha (he-buffalo) represents the foolish rigidity of the mind. Who is Durga? She is the three divine female forms viz. Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. They are the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These three forms are of Guru Datta who is God. So Durga means the power of God (Datta), who alone can kill Mahisha. The various scriptures quoted in this message are the various weapons of Durga. Durga means protection. Only this true knowledge can give protection. If any defects are present in other religions, they can also be rectified. A rigid person sticks only to old tradition. Such a rigid person drinks even saltwater from a well dug by his forefathers, as said by scholars “Tatasya Kupoyam”. Scholars also say that all that old is not necessarily correct (Puranamityeva). This is the inner essence of Durgashtami, which is the festival today.