Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 08 Feb 2005


Is it necessary to go to temples, worship statues and do sacrifice (Yajna)?

Temples and statues are necessary for low level people as said in the Shastra (Pratima Swalpa Buddhinaam). It is a teaching model for a school student. But for a college or university student it is not necessary. It is called as Pratika (model). The Veda tells us to meditate upon the sun assuming sun is the Lord. The sun is not actually the Lord. The Lord is not in the sun either. The Sun-god is only a servant of the Lord. All these points are told in the Veda (Adityam Brahmeti, Nedam tat, Bheeshodeti Suryah). The Veda says that the Lord is not in the statues (Natasya Pratima…). The Veda also says that no inert object and no human being is the Lord because the object or the human being is only an item in creation (Neti, Neti). The Gita says that the Lord comes only in human form (Manusheem Tanumaasritam). The statue, which is in the human form is a model to teach you the concept that the Lord comes only in human form to preach the divine knowledge in every human generation, to avoid the partiality to a particular human generation, as said in the Gita (Yada Yadaahi…). Once you have understood this concept, the temple and statue are not necessary for you but they should still be protected and respected as models of divine knowledge for the future ignorant devotees.

Some people say that Kulluka Bhatt recommeded worship of statues. Kulluka Bhatt was a Purva Mimaamsaka [ritualist] who was an atheist (Devo Na Kaschit…). How can he contradict the Veda, which says that the Lord does not exist in statues? The Gita severely condemns persons worshipping statues saying that they will be born as stones. Here the meditation upon the statue is not condemned. Only worship to the statue, like offering food, is condemned because the statue does not eat the food. Some fellow behind the statue eats the food. In the Gita the word “Bhutejyah” means worshipping the inert object by offering food. Ijya means offering food. Bhuta means inert substance, which is one of the five inert elements (Pancha Bhutas). Some people say that the word Bhuta means ‘ghost’ and that the statement in the Gita says that those who worship ghosts become ghosts. We do not object to this interpretation either. But the word Bhuta also means the five inert elements. Our interpretation is in line with your interpretation. If a person worships ghosts, he becomes ghost. Similarly, if a person worships inert objects, he becomes an inert object. We do not contradict your meaning. Our meaning is in line with your meaning and therefore you cannot contradict it either. Moreover the verse says that those who worship deities become deities etc. Therefore our meaning is in line with the meaning of the verse.

Yajna means feeding the guest after cooking the food and not burning the food in the fire. The guest is treated like fire. The hunger in his stomach is treated as the ‘Vaishwanara fire’. Krishna stopped the burning of food in fire and ate the food stating that He was hungry. In the Bhagavatam, Kapila also condemned the burning of food. The Yajna is only to cook the food and feed the guest. In this true sense, Yajna is essential and must be performed.