I hope this to lead for further "jijnasa" to enlighten ourselves.
This is second part of Q & A sessions. In this section, we have discussed about 'temples', 'sannidhana' etc.
Shri Hari Priyatham.
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 14:23:32 -0800 (PST)
From: "GOPALAKRISHNA.B VARNA" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Swamiji's Q & A session - Part 2.
SWAMIJI: It is true that GOD is omnipresent but God's 'sannidhana' is not everywhere. 'Sannidhana' is different from existence. Though God receives all our prayers and pooja everywhere, if we need his blessing and 'anugraha', then we need to go to his 'sannidhana'. In general 'sannidhana' is like an authorized distribution center for God's 'anugraha'. We can get God's blessing very quickly in these special places. These places are like radio / TV receivers. Though radio / video waves/signals are present everywhere, we can not listen to music directly. We need a radio receiver / TV receiver to capture those signals and give them to us. Similarly we need God's 'sannidhana' to get his 'anugraha' or special blessings. So though we worship Krishna at home, we need to go to local Krishna Temple and also we need to visit holy places like Udupi, Dwaraka, Mathura etc, though we pray the same GOD in all these places. We can send post through any mailbox, but we can receive mail only through designated mailbox. Similarly we can offer prayer and pooja to GOD anywhere, but to receive his special blessings we need to go to holy places and holy temples. God's sannidhana is more in those places where great sages, Acharyas have done 'tapas', worshipped God, installed God's icon, performed 'yajna' etc.
Q. 2) But we, especially our kids get frustrated when we go temples because of greediness, dirtiness etc. Also in many places people demand money and we can't see even bit devotion there. How can we explain this to our kids?
SWAMIJI: Those are man made mistakes. It has nothing to do with the God's 'sannidhana'. There is no relation between the 'sannidhana' and the management / establishment there. There are the mistakes of the human beings. It is not God's mistake. Those people who do mistakes in the name of God will definitely get punished later. Inspite of those things, we should try to see God there and concentrate and pray God. That's our duty. Those silly things should not perturb us. If we want to offer prayer or pooja we can do at any place, but if we need 'anugraha' we need to go to those holy places. Even if we have our own money in the bank, we can not get it anytime we want. (Forget about ATM machines) We need to go to bank and fill up the forms and get money. So though we can accumulate punya by worshipping God anywhere, we can get God's 'anugraha' only through those special centers.
Q 3) Is it OK if we go to Pittsburgh alone and need not go to Tirupathi?
SWAMIJI : There is difference in 'sannidhana' in each place. It depends on the historical, mythological background of that place called 'sthala mahatme'. To have more 'sannidhana', we need to have the 'prana-prathista' of the icon by great saints or Acharyas. That's why in Udupi we have much more 'sannidhana' of Krishna because it is established and worshipped by Shri Acharya Madhwa. Thirupathi is having more 'sannidhana' because it is self evolved icon and worshipped by great saints like Shri Vyasaraja Theertha, Shri Vadiraja Theertha etc. In Mantralaya we have more 'sannidhana' and our requests or desires gets fulfilled quickly. Even if the same Shri Raghvendra swamiji is present in the local 'vrandhavana', we don't get blessing so fast.
Q 4) Do we need to visit all temples? Does all temples have 'sannidhana'?
SWAMIJI: It depends on who established the temple and who is worshipping there. While worshiping we need to 'avahana' of God from our heart into the icon and at the end of the pooja, we need to get 'God' back into our heart. If the worshipper does not have 'God' in his heart, then there will be no 'God' in the icon too. So it all depends on the priest's spiritual level, spiritual practice and spiritual accomplishments.
This is applicable to only to those temple recently established, not for those temples in the holy places. In those temples, due to worship of great people in the fast, 'sannidhana' is already established there. So it need not depend upon who is worshipping presently. So even if one feels that present priest at that temple is not having any spiritual sadhana, we need not stop going to the temple. God's sannidhana is already there in that icon due to those great saints who worshiped fast. That's why we need to visit all the temples, because of their previous history.
Q.5) Can we get God's sannidhana in our house also?
SWAMIJI: Yes. If we do more and more 'japa', 'tapa' we get 'sannidhana' in our house too depending upon our spiritual capacity. That's why we need to do more pooja, homa and other good activities in the home always. Also if more devotees come to our house and worship, then there will be more 'sannidhana'. That's why we need to host poojas and 'satsanga' so that more devotees come to the house and worship and pray God. We get God's 'sannidhana' through those people's devotion.
Q 6) It is said that America is 'bhooga-bhuumi', meaning materialistic land. Do we get 'sannidhana' here, if we establish a temple here?
SWAMIJI : Yes it is possible. It depends on the devotees, priest, the devotion in the pooja. Normally in this land people give priority to materialistic life and devotion towards God and spiritual life is less. That's why this is called 'bhooga - bhuumi'. If we can develop more devotion towards God and spiritual life, then this also can become 'karma - bhuumi'.
Generally India is known as 'punya bhuumi' or sacred land. But there also not all places are equally sacred places. Places like Bangalore, Hyderabad they are not that holy places compared to Udupi, Thirupathi. Again for people in Udupi, Thirupathi is a sacred place and for people in Thirupathi, Udupi is a sacred place. So each place has got its own level of holiness and relative holiness too. That's why our scripture recommends to all people, visiting all holy places even for those who reside in the sacred places like Badari, Thirupathi etc.
Q. 7) How many times we need to visit temple and holy places? Is it not sufficient if we visit Thirupathi once and then later on worship Lord Venkatesh in our house itself?
SWAMIJI: It depends on your devotion and attachment towards God. We can visit temples and holy places any number of times. It all depends on what is your attitude towards those holy places. If you don't get any devotion, then there is no use. If you become unhappy or angry because of what is going on there or if you can not pray or worship God because of the disturbance there, then there is not much use. Even for those people, who live in the sacred place or sacred temple, if they don't realize or understand the holiness of that place, temple then there is no use for them. There is one good saying in Sanskrit. "Ganga thire khupam khanathi dhurmathi:" meaning a wicked person digs a well near the river Ganga and takes bath in that. If we don't get sacred thoughts in the holy places, then there is no use. The fishes, crocodiles in the river Ganga don't get liberation just because they take bath in Ganga. We need to contemplate upon the holiness of the place, temple and God and then we need to take bath, do worship and pooja. Then only we get suitable reward or 'punya'.
Q 7) Can we ask God to bless us with some materialistic things?
SWAMIJI: No. We should not request God for any materialistic benefit. We should ask for only 'Jnana' and 'bhakthi'.
Q. 8) We have seen people, pledging 'harake' in order to get some benefit? Is it good to do?
SWAMIJI: We can pledge 'harake' for our own mental stability when we get into some complexities. We regain our self-confidence by that. Basically 'harake' or 'offering' is to show our devotion to God. It is not for trading purpose. We should not exchange our offering with some other benefits. Another thing is only those are real offerings from which the devotee really becomes poor and those things will only please God. Rest all is for our satisfaction. Suppose someone is having 10 crores Rs and if he 9.9999 crore then it is real 'dhana' or 'harake'. If he gives only 10 or100 Rs it is not at all a 'dhana'.
Q. 9) But we have seen many people saying that they have succeeded by pledging the 'harake'. Even many learned people suggest pledging 'harake' to get success in some cases. What is explanation for that?
SWAMIJI: It is not by 'harake'. It is by his/her devotion.
By pledging the 'harake', their faith, devotion solidifies and becomes
more concrete and they pray God more and more and do more do things and
gain punya. It is thus they get their requirement fulfilled. If the 'harake'
does not increase or improve his devotion or faith, then he will succeed.
Just by going around the temple mechanically, one does not get any
(to be continued ...)
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