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...