Hindu injduTemples & Worships Based on Very Deep Science
(By N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, March 2018)
“We need to make temples not just a center of rituals and congregation but lighthouses of philosophy and knowledge, which are the basis of Hindu Dharma” says Sri Ravi Shankar, a Yoga Philosopher from India. Only when we come in communion with our inner Self, the Divinity within, we can find freedom from maladies that affect our body-mind-sense complex. Hindu temples are founded on a practical science that helps establish this reinforcing contact with the Divine. Hindu philosophy offers the know-how to achieve this communion and freedom. Influenced Aby Hinduism Einstein based his philosophy: “Religion without Science is blind and Science without Religion is lame”. Here there is more stress on Religion to conflate with Science to lead a better life than Science. The modern man endowed though with a scientific bent of mind, intellectual upbringing and a technological background, not infrequently tends to be influenced by misguiding views and is often pestered with needless doubts and skepticism. There is no dearth of logical wisdom and intellectual ideas in the Hindu Temple culture to convince the modern mind of the scientific temper underlying the spiritual concepts and worship practices. Hinduism more often than not conflates with science than any other living religion in the world.
“A temple is unlike a church or a mosque. The church belongs to a parish, which has a priest in charge of the parish and a congregation. Once a week people come together there for worship; so it is a place of assembly, of congregation, and collective prayer. And they have some ritual also. A mosque is also a place for collective prayer. Once a week they all assemble for that. But the temple is an altar of worship and therefore people come at different times, during the day, offer their worship, and go. In Tirupathi, for instance, you can stand before the deity for only half a minute. You wait in the queue for darshan (Divine view) and it takes only one or two minutes. That is the darshan. It is over. The man has been waiting for that for one day in the queue…It is darshan, because it is an altar of worship.” says Swami Dayananda.
Hindu temple was created as a place of energy where everyone could go and make use of it. Temples in some famous pilgrim centers were built based on very deep science. But unfortunately modern temples are built just the way we build shopping complexes. Even some old temples have been reduced to such complexes due to human greed. Temple building is a very deep science based on Vaastu Sastra and Silpa sastra. If the basic aspects of the temple – the size and shape of the idol, the Mudra(gesture) that the icon holds, the parikrama (complex rituals), the garbha griha, (sanctum) and the mantras used to consecrate the idol to make it Archa Murti are properly matched, a powerful energy system is created.
You do not go to a temple for worship to give money and ask for something. This is something that people have started now. Traditionally, we go to the temple to sit for a while and spend some time and come. You are required to sit there because there is a field of energy that has been created. In the morning, our elders before they went out into the world, the first thing they did was go and sit in the temple for a while. This is a way of recharging our body and mind with very positive vibrations of life so that we go into the world with a different perspective. Today we do not follow their wisdom. Temple is thus created as a place of energy where everyone could go and make use of it.
There is a whole science of idol-making where a certain form is created with a particular material and energized in a certain way. Different idols are made in different ways where they relocate or rearrange the power in you in certain places to make them into completely different possibilities. Idol-making and its consecration is that science through the radiant energy of which your energy system in the body can be rearranged. India is one place where they went into elaborate systems of idol-making. This has been misunderstood by other cultures as worshiping some doll as a god. If you look at it from the standpoint of modern science, we know today that everything is the same energy postulated by Einstein. But everything is not the same in the world. This energy can be like an animal or this energy can function like the Divine. The physical body itself can be transformed into a Divine entity if we just reorganize our systems in a particular way. This is what happens when we enter a temple in some of the famous pilgrim centers. Look at the criticism we hear even before we start and the frustration we undergo in visiting Balaji Temple in Tirupati. You are able to stand before the deity just for a minute or so only when you are pushed away to accommodate others. Yet the energy you get or charged with the divine power is not explainable but can be only experienced. If we re- arrange the energy system in the body which is just a mass of flesh right now, it can become a divine entity. The whole system of Yoga is oriented towards this. Hindus even start worshiping such Yoga gurus as Divines. Conversation had taken place between such Archa form of deities and humans as we learn from the history of the life of saints like Ramanuja, Ramakrishna Parmahamsa and others.
In this context, it is relevant to quote the following observation of Srikant, the author of the well-known book: Power in Temples – A Modern Perspective: “The Murti of a Deity in a temple is a dynamic source of spiritual power. There is an efficacious science of mantras and rituals for the installation of power in the Murti of a Deity by invoking the spiritual power from the infinite source, Brahman. According to Vedanta, Brahman is at once Intelligence and Energy. We tend to consider a block of stone or metal as inert and lifeless. But today’s science knows that there are tremendously moving energy fields within them that are in a sort of web-like relationship with the whole universe. Hindu INDU ijndu philosophy compliments this view of science by highlighting the fact that the stone and everything else are the manifestations of Paraa-Shakti, the transcendental supreme Energy of Brahman, which is at once Energy and Intelligence.’’ We know the story of Ahalya who remained as a stone for several years due to a curse and then brought back to life by the divine touch of Srirama. Energy vibrations and forms are two important aspects of the phenomenal universe. The world of forms is the gross expression of energy. Both these aspects are used in invoking the spiritual power and for communion with the Divine. The energy vibrations are employed in the form of suitable mantras and the form aspect as the Deities. Thus, there is a well-coordinated science in the background of temple worship and it is the bounden duty of temples to make the modern world sufficiently aware of this fact. Those who visit temples and offer their devout worship will experience its sublime benefits by way of reduction in tensions, reinforcement of the inner faculties, and the salutary effects in the material and spiritual dimensions of life. Only when man comes in communion with his inner Self, the Divinity within, he can find freedom from such maladies that affect his body-mind-sense complex.
There is no dearth of logical wisdom and intellectual ideas in the Hindu culture to convince the modern mind of the scientific temper underlying the spiritual concepts and worship practices and temple traditions. Although volumes can be written supported by scientific studies I give below few examples. For more details go through my various discourses posted on my Blog Hindu Reflections.
Religious Hindus pay their obeisance to Lord Ganesha by standing before the deity with legs crossed and hands also crossed along the breast, with their fingers squeezing the air lobes. In this posture one has to sit down touching the floor and then get up and repeat this exercise as many times as one has vowed to do. This exercise is not easy. It purifies vital plexus which tunes the psychic power of the worshipper. Though many make fun of this practice there are medical studies made in U.K. which show health benefits. Squeezing the ear could be useful in treating heart problems according to an Indian Medical Team, working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in London. The simple procedure of squeezing the ear produces a temporary effect on heart dynamics, causing a small reduction in pulse rate, a profound drop in the amplitude of the pulse and a drop in the peak and mean flow velocity.
It is the Hindu custom to remove footwear before entering THE LORD’S HOUSE, or any house for that matter. It is believed that footwear carries germs dust and dirt from the streets. It is also customary for people to wash their hands and legs before they enter any temple. This is an example of how the Hindus maintained sanitation and cleanliness of their surroundings.
Prayer with devotion brings about inner peace and invokes the Aatman (God) within you. When mantras are chanted with correct pronunciation and intonation, a divine atmosphere is created with holy vibrations all around.
Theertha (holy water) usually contains water, Tulasi (mint like herb), flavoring agent--lilac, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, cooking camphor. All ingredients used here have high medicinal value and health benefits.
Let us examine the Hindu practice of circumambulation. We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. We acknowledge this by performing Pradakshina. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the center. This means that wherever we may be or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality. This is the application of Hindu mathematics. Similarly Homa-kundas are also designed with its knowledge of Geometry.
The tradition of using vermilion in the hair parting by married women finds favor with Hindu religious writers because this point is just above the suture in the scalp and a little above the point where the soul resides. This point is more delicate in women than in Men. The application of vermilion helps avoid wrinkles and skin problems and also protects one from evil influences. It also deters the spread of lice.
The roots, skin, fruits and the leaves of the Bilva tree are used for medicinal purpose. Bilva has astringent, edema lessening, anti-diarrhea and laxative and appetizer properties hence, can be used to cure both internal and external diseases. The Tulasi leaf has great medicinal values and is used to cure various ailments, including common cold. It is known to be the only thing used in worship which, once used can be washed and reused in Pooja—as it is regarded as self-purifying.
Bell ringing is an ancient Vedic ritual and one can see multiple bells hanging over the domes in many Indian shrines. The moment bell sound happens your brain is emptied of all thoughts. Invariably, you will enter a state of trance where you are very receptive. This trance state is the one with inner awareness. Normally, you are so occupied in mind that the only way to awaken you is with a shock! Also its sound echoes the sacred word OM.
Camphor used in temples for Aarati not only has a highly spiritual value in Hindu customs but can also be beneficial to the environment in which it is burned. Camphor is made through an ancient Ayurveda method by distilling the bark and wood of a coniferous tree called Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphor) that is largely found in Asia, particularly in India, Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo. White camphor is a crystalline substance with the chemical formula C10H16O, which is a fantastic anti-oxidant. As an excellent germicide, camphor is burned to purify the atmosphere, it is also believed to remove negativity from the environment.
Darbha is considered a sacred material in Vedic scriptures and is said to purify the offerings during such rituals. Kusa grass is a ground up and the essence used for Kusa oil (to be used in summer for its cooling effects) and Kusha flavored juice also drunk for its cooling effects. In tribal medicine it has been used variously to treat dysentery and menorrhagia and as diuretic. In Ayurveda, it has been used to treat urinary dis-eases, diabetes, epilepsy, piles, dysentery, and heavy and prolonged menstruation. It is used to treat repeated abortion and spiritual disorders of all types. It is used to improve the complexion and to treat internal and external wounds. It also has tonic effects to help in emaciation, severe debility or after serious illnesses. The Holy Grass known as Dharbha has the highest value in conducting the phonetic vibrations through its tip. Priests sprinkle the holy water at every nook and corner of the place, where the function (punyavarchana) is held. It is also a powerful disinfectant for food material. If powerful X-ray radiation can be absorbed by the Holy Grass, why can it not absorb the ill-radiations spread over the atmosphere?
The ash paste from yagnas has strong medicinal and disinfectant value when done with Vedic prescribed materials. Applying this paste on the forehead seems to strengthen the nerve currents. Some of the ash from the holy fire is preserved in the houses all through the year to apply to the foreheads as an effective remedy against minor ailments and ward off evil. Fagots of peepal (Aswattha) tree and wood resins incense used in Yagas have great medicinal and disinfectant values. The fumes resulting from Homas spread a pleasant fragrance in the closed up spaces of the temple, removing the musty odor.
Abhisheka rituals, when done periodically with choice materials help in preserving the original glaze and beauty of the sculpted divine figure without developing cracks or chipping. Some of the idols in famous temples in India are said to be divine sculpted, and are more than two thousand years old. In the Vedic culture, where everything is looked upon as an expression of the Lord, works of art were another glory of the Lord that receive even to-day all care and attention for long time preservation in addition to limitless reverence. Abhishekam waters are used as soil nutrient in Temple gardens.
Our Sun lies 93,000,000 miles away, surrounded by the vacuum of space. Sound won't travel through space, of course. But with the right instrument, scientists can "hear" pulsations from the Sun. It is most astonishing that this sound reverberates sacred mantra "OM". Scientists are still trying to correlate why/how the ancient Hindu mantra and sun's sound conflate! Vedas say “Om Tad Brahma”—Om is Brahman. “Omityekaaksahram Brahma”-The one syllable OM is Brahman.
James Hartzell is a postdoctoral researcher at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, in Spain; a Guest Researcher at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences at University of Trento, in Italy, and a Consultant for the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, in New York. His MRI scans show that memorizing ancient Sanskrit mantras increases the size of brain regions associated with cognitive function. Professional Vedic pundits from several government-sponsored schools in the Delhi region were recruited for the study. MRI scanning was remarkable. Numerous regions in the brains of the Pundits were dramatically larger than those of controls, with over 10 percent more grey matter across both cerebral hemispheres, and substantial increases in cortical thickness. Does that mean substantial increase in the gray matter of critical verbal memory organs are less prone to devastating memory pathologies such as Alzheimer's? We don't know yet. Anecdotal reports from India's Ayurveda doctors suggest this may be the case. What about Indian Psychiatrists? Are they conflating or conflicting? This raises the possibility that verbal memory “exercising” or training might help elderly people at risk of mild cognitive impairment retard, or, even more radically, prevent its onset.
A pilot research findings of The Department of Physiology, Pondicherry, International Stress Management Association, Hyderabad, Department of Physiology, Little Flower Medical Research Center, Kerala reveals depression, anxiety, stress and cortisol were significantly decreased and blood pressure was regulated within normal limits and MMSE scores and spatial memory was significantly improved followed by regular chanting of Mantras.
Science is based on well tested data. There is nothing speculative about it. Religion is also a science with the same characteristics of exactitude in its principles, methods attainable results. Religion basically is a Science of Life. It tries to enquire into the nature of the self —the question it asks are: Who am I? What are my relations with environment and fellow beings? Who controls my destiny? Why do I commit mistakes for which I suffer much later and so on? Man is a body-mind complex. So, he soon discovers like physical development, mental development is also necessary. He also discovers that progress depends more upon his mind than his body. That is why we find religion lays more important on mental development than upon physical. Religion is concerned with man’s internal growth, growth in ethical and spiritual terms. Einstein says the science can change the nature of an element, but it is only religion which can change human nature. It is only religion that can remove hatred from our hearts that can give us a new outlook, a new attitude towards others that can transform us into saints. It is this change that gives religion its authenticity that proves that Religion is also a science. Hindu Dharma is more focused on this than any other religion guided by the wisdom of Vedas. In this context it is worth going through the wisdom thoughts of Sridharan Karikeyan “Science and Religion of the Upanishads sent through courtesy India.Divine.Org, for propagation.
“The rational spiritual philosophy of the Upanishads finds practical expression as a religion, as is usual with any other spiritual philosophy, it must be known as the ‘Religion of the Upanishads’. What is now being practiced as the Hindu religion is only a highly corrupted version of this religion. Hindu religious practices have to undergo thorough reformation to live up to the most scientific spiritual philosophy of the world which constitutes their essence.
The Religion of the Upanishads is the religion of ultimate freedom, a religion that promotes personal liberty. It does not require anybody to invariably follow a particular faith or to uphold any specified belief or to observe any prescribed rite or discipline; it is absolutely devoid of such demands and dictates. You are at liberty to ponder over whatever is preached to you and then accept only that which is felt reasonable; no dogmatism and no authoritarianism. This religion does not recognize the services of priests and mediators; it also does not recognize any differentiation between the God and the worshiper or between the leader and the follower. All is One; there is only ‘I’, all in One.
Religion of the Upanishads asserts unity of origin and unity of essence of all beings. It is all about transcending the diversity of external appearances and characteristics and attaining to the unity of inner essence. The spirit of this inner equality makes it devoid of all kinds of discrimination and hatred. It is the universal religion. What it presently lacks is proper dissemination of its principles. Effort to inculcate these principles in the minds of all has to start at the very stage of childhood. This is essential to illumine their future lives with positive values and broader vision of universal oneness.
All known religions possess various sets of prescriptions on rites and observances as a means to practice their distinct spiritual philosophy. These prescriptions mostly aim at appeasing the God of their perception, for favors of physical well-being. This appeasement is made by singing praises to that God, visualized in human form, and by offering presents in the form of money, gold and other valuables; this is akin to bribing some power-wielding, greedy mortals for securing protection and favors. In contrast, Religion of the Upanishads does not approve of this notion of appeasement. For, it does not consider God as a glorified being in human form, amenable to appeasement and inclined to deliver favors in return; moreover, it does not recognizes the acquisition and arrogation of physical possessions as a goal of spiritual pursuit. Religion of the Upanishads, on the other hand, holds that durable happiness is obtained only by living the life in conformity with the principle of Ātmā. An action that is in conformity with this principle is known as Puṇya karma (meritorious deeds) and the opposite as Pāpa karma (evil thoughts and deeds) When a puṇya karma is done, the doer feels contented and enriched, since it resonates well with his inherent essence which is SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA. On the other hand, when a pāpa karma is done, the doer is upset internally as it is repugnant to his very essence. This contradiction between the inner essence and the outer expression throws him into a chaos which diminishes his strength and culminates in his total ruin. In the social front, when pāpa karmas become rampant threatening the peace and well-being of the society, the ultimate ruling principle, SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA, intervenes by churning out sufficient opposite forces to contain the adverse impacts and to finally assert itself. This is what Gīta says ‘saṃbhavāmi yuge yuge’ (4.8). Pāpa karmas are like obstructions to natural flow of water in a river; when they reach an intolerable level, water musters sufficient force and thrashes away all the obstructions with a violent sweep.
All self-centered pursuits for physical yields will end up in retaliations and entanglements. Only by abiding with the principle of Ātmā that one can secure hassle-free, durable happiness. We should therefore get enlightened about that principle. That is why Upanishads say that only by knowing the Ātmā one can attain bliss. Gīta prescribes this knowing as the only one goal deserving to be pursued, not too many, as would be the case with physical benefits (Gīta 2.41 to 2.44).”
Hindu philosophy offers the know-how to achieve the communion with the Self and attain freedom. The temples are founded on practical science that helps establish this reinforcing contact with the Divine. With a deeper understanding of this fact, the youth in the U.S.A. can make the best use of the temples for their cultural and spiritual evolution and all-round progress, thereby benefiting them and at the same time enriching others who come in contact with them. This also calls for rethinking in the mode of temple worship and spiritual management by American Hindu Temple authorities instead of running to India for any guidance for Physical and Spiritual Management of Temples. Hindu Temples in India are State controlled today unlike in USA. We should seek the guidance from our Spiritual Gurus and Vedic wisdom. “We are becoming what I call a nation of yogis and Spiritual Gurus” says Dr. Phil Goldberg, Author of American Veda. We are fortunately blessed with such Gurus to-day who are located in USA with their Ashrams (monasteries) who are also alive to the Hindu American Way of Life.
1) Swami Jyotirmayananda, The Sigfnificant Role of Hindu Temples and Religious Institutions, Ramakishna Math, USA
2) Kartikeyan Sridharan, The Science of Upanishads
3) SriniVasan N.R., Various Discourses on Hindu Temples and Traditions, Hindu Reflections, <nrsrini.blospot.com>
4) Speeches of Modern Spiritual Gurus—Swamijis Dayananda, Devananda, Bhaskarananda, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Ravi Shankar and others.
5) Swami Lokeswarananda, Science and Religion, The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India.