The nature and composition of divinity

Srinivasan stood contemplating over the beauty of the monument that lay silent in front of him. In the cool breeze, he could hear the wind echo through the rocks, bringing with it the messages of hard work and toil, passion and love, the call of war and bloodshed, hatred and fear, and a host of supremely high emotions that fell to dust with the collapse of this little world in stone.

He sat down and looked up to the remaining bricks and stone that made up this temple, as they still held on together a mystical stage that still had exquisit dansels dancing on its walls. The mesmerising beauty still enveloped him, the mysticism of the past still whispered in his ears and the ground plan echoed profound mysterious elements of truth that were now almost brought down to dust.

He wondered, to himself that this land in some era long ago was lush green and blooming. The air was pure and the earth rich with life. The waters were crystal clear with the sunlight shimmering in its waves and there in the middle of this silence and serenity would have been a rishi in deep meditation in a quest to attain higher bliss. Srinivasan imagined him sitting still, motionless in severe penance till at last the Lord appeared before him and asked him for a boon...

This was documented; his penance, the sacred syllables and the moment of awakening to the supreme, the experience and the boon all wrapped into sacred syllables that described it in the form of a simple scriptural verse.


Centuries past by, eras passed and a young man happened to walk this path and came upon this place. He lay under a tree enjoying the environment and decided to worship the lord here right under the tree. He installed a linga made out of the earth and offered it flowers and fruits for a while and then disappeared into the darkness of time.


Time shrouded this emblem of the Lord, this symbol of life till there came upon it a King who had been out hunting. He came by this place and decided to take some rest. As he settled for the afternoon he noticed a linga under the tree and went closer to observe this icon, or rather what remained of it. He decided to build a temple around it and give it proper ritual and worship. Soon there came up an exquisit temple that housed a linga that replaced what was uprooted and consecrated the newer version to the shrine chamber. But his happiness was short lived. War engulfed the land and the enemy was far too strong and the kingdom fell to the oncoming forces. The temple was ravaged and demolished and the shrine chamber was unrecognizable with the icon destroyed.


Years later another king happened to come in search of rich land and came upon this location. He decided to have a temple built around the same place. Within this extravagant temple he installed a much more larger and flamboyant linga in its shrine a little farther away. The temple grew with riches and was prosperous till it fell to invaders. Subsequently, newer temples came up and several "pranaprathisthas" took place to install newer versions of the linga within the main walls of the sanctum. And yet they fell to enemies.


It is NOW and Srinivasan was staring up at this delapidated structure that cried its past. A more recent version of this shrine was built a little farther away but by now the original location of the shrine was lost and so was the original shrine. Srinivasan looked up wondering what was left of the sanctity of this shrine. Srinivasan sat back thinking deeply...

What made this place get its sanctity? What, in this whole story actually defines the supreme?

Was it the effort that the Rishi took to worship and go into severe penance to have the Lord descend into this world and bless him?

Was it the mythology that surrounds this place and its reference in the sacred scriptures?
Was it the spot where the Lord had appeared?
Was it the earth or the air that was so sacred?
Or was it the era where everything was so pure that it wouldnt really matter whether he appeared here or 10 feet away.
Or was it the Linga that was kept here by a devotee who took to worshiping the Lord?
Was it the temple that was built to house this linga or any of the subsequent versions of the temples that were built?
Or was it the newer version of the idol that was consecrated by means of ritual and not by severe penance?
Or was it the very structure that protected it?
What is it that attracts us to temples? or Shrines?

Or is it pure Bhakti? That what ever it is this land is sacred and therefore even if there is a mosque standing in its place today it should not matter... Bhakti knows no form or designation of religion.

When we look up to this delapidated temple why does it hurt? Is it...

This exquisit structure in stone so paintakingly put together now destroyed by some heartless soul? The sanctity of this structure, but is it the structure that is sanctified or the earth on which it stands or the young man or the rishi...
The shrine that has been vandalized?
The feeling that the Lord has left us behind on this earth to face our peril?
Or the feeling that the purity of this earth has been vandalized by men and now there is nothing left of it but pure impending death in the form of slow pralaya...

Think about it... the original shrines of Somnath, Kashi Vishwanath, and many more temples are long gone... I really dont have a clue on what we are worshiping. What is the composition of divinity and why is it that in the middle of a mad crowd and a threat of a stampede, I still felt 3 seconds of absolute bliss and void at Thirupati... What is it we feel in these places... its far more than vibration... its something else...


Dr.Anil Joshi said...

यक्ष प्रश्न -अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी

जो कल थे,
वे आज नहीं हैं।
जो आज हैं,
वे कल नहीं होंगे।
होने, न होने का क्रम,
इसी तरह चलता रहेगा,
हम हैं, हम रहेंगे,
यह भ्रम भी सदा पलता रहेगा।

सत्य क्या है?
होना या न होना?
या दोनों ही सत्य हैं?
जो है, उसका होना सत्य है,
जो नहीं है, उसका न होना सत्य है।
मुझे लगता है कि
होना-न-होना एक ही सत्य के
दो आयाम हैं,
शेष सब समझ का फेर,
बुद्धि के व्यायाम हैं।
किन्तु न होने के बाद क्या होता है,
यह प्रश्न अनुत्तरित है।

प्रत्येक नया नचिकेता,
इस प्रश्न की खोज में लगा है।
सभी साधकों को इस प्रश्न ने ठगा है।
शायद यह प्रश्न, प्रश्न ही रहेगा।
यदि कुछ प्रश्न अनुत्तरित रहें
तो इसमें बुराई क्या है?
हाँ, खोज का सिलसिला न रुके,
धर्म की अनुभूति,
विज्ञान का अनुसंधान,
एक दिन, अवश्य ही
रुद्ध द्वार खोलेगा।
प्रश्न पूछने के बजाय
यक्ष स्वयं उत्तर बोलेगा।

prema said...

Great analysis Kavitha!
It is the awareness of the Supreme - even for a split second that makes us go to the temples, I think.

YOSEE said...

"Does the master live in the house or is he gone ?
The threshold is covered with grass
The house is filled with dust
Does the master live in the house or is he gone?
The body is infested with lies. The mind is on fire with desire
O God, Kudala Sangama. The master is not in the house"
I was reminded of this Vacana of Sri Basaweshwara while reading this post. The recent news of the priests of Tirupathi stealing the Lord's jewels also made sad reading. So, where indeed is the sanctity one wants to find in The House of God ? Temples and idols are made by men with bricks and stones.Unless the seeking mind, cleansed and humbled, invests those materials with the essence of The Great Immaterial,the buildings are just wonderful artpieces.
In Periyapuranam is the story of a Sivan Adiyar who built a temple in his mind and Siva favoured this invisible shrine to the magnificent edifice the King had built.
All this is not to say that people cannot feel stirrings of love and devotion for God in a regular temple.But my opinion is, that love and devotion were carried into the temple by the person himself, the feelings were not evoked in him by the temple. This is why, we are moved to tears in some shrines, while in others, we remain untouched.

Arjun Kumar said...

Hi, which is the temple in the pic?

Kavitha said...

Somnath temple Saurastra which stands somewhere behind the new temple that has been constructed recently.

We really dont know where the jyothir linga is anymore

venkatesh4077 said...

The Jyothirling is long gone in 1025. Well i can recollect every word of the conversations we had!

Aswin Kini said...

Temples were built for the purpose of worshipping god. But today, they have become mere means of showing off your wealth in the form of donations and Pujas and emoting devotion!!!!!!

It is a very nice question that you asked, "What exactly are we worshipping", well all I can say is that out of the thousands of people who visit temples to catch a glimpse of the lord, only a very few achieve the desired purpose- worshipping god. The other merely complete the formality of a Darshan. How else can you explain the huge crowds at Tirupathi. Lord Venkateshwara has ascended there directly as himself to bless people during Kaliyuga. But today, how many people really do benefit/achieve peace after coming from Tirupathi.

The truth is that temples are only a medium to gain the blessings of the lord. You still need true devotion and focus to achieve the end result- Gaining the god's blessings. No matter which Punya Sthala you visit, if you don't focus your mind on worshipping god, you ain't gonna get his blessings.

As for the 3 seconds of bliss you felt at Thirumala, it was the result of your pure devotion! Alas, only a select few like you can really manage to worship the lord with a peaceful mind even after withstanding the mind-boggling crowds at Tirupathi

JC said...

Kavitha, maybe similarly, one could wonder why trillions of drops of water in the perenial rivers - such as Ganga and Yamuna, flowing over thousands of miles from the Mansarovar lake - located at relatively much higher elevations, eventually meet the sea - flowing down again and again on the surface of earth, maybe through different paths each time...