WHY DO WE NEED THE TEMPLE?
BY SWAMI SHANTANANDAJI
TALK ON THE EVE OF CHINMAYA SHRIPATI BHUMI PUJA ON 10/31/2010
Hari Om !
Swami Shantanandaji gave a brief address to the audience on the importance of the temple to the community in his jovial, inimitable style. He made the following key points:
1) The temple serves as place of affiliation for children growing in the community as they will fondly recall in future the atmosphere and make it a point to visit it whenever they are in the area with their families. This provides continuity that is unique to our tradition as temple has open door access at all times. This is typical of what we do when we visit our ancestral homes where the family continuity is lost but we still visit the village family and temples.
2) The Deities in the temple serve as a true psychiatrist to listen to us without any fee or time restrictions! The temple truly serves that purpose uniquely. Quoting Narada Bhakti sutras, Swamiji mentioned that our emotions can be vented quietly in a hearty connection to the Lord in the holy atmosphere of the temple. This reduces anxiety and the answers will come to us in course of time.
3) The temple with a difference: Most temples in USA also encourage physical activities such as basketball hoops and play grounds to encourage building physical strength. However having benefits, it limits the participation of children in those activities unless a special platform for children is given in the program planning. Consequently, the programs are not attended by children and thus the adults question the viability of such temples. Chinmaya Mission uses the Balvihar programs and cultural events to encourage children’s participation for improving their mental strengths. In addition, many centers involves youth to organize events to develop future volunteers which in turn improves Leadership Quality.
4) Elderly devotees can form groups to chant Vishnu Sahasra Nama or Lalitah sahasra nama or do bhajans at regular frequency in the temple. Temple hall is ideal for such activities due to the Lord’s presence.
5) Opportunities for all families to conduct pujas on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Satya Narayan Puja and take the Prasad. This is a great way to express our personal gratitude to Lord in times happiness. It also applies for sradha ceremonies when our loving elder family members pass on or remember our ancestors.
6) The festivals will have special meaning when the Lord Himself is present and the celebration is conducted by trained priests with complete puja and the Lord is revealed after full decoration. The arati and ringing of the bells create a unique atmosphere that can be shared by all devotes alike.
Hari Om !