TOP 10 PURPOSE OF TEMPLES
The Supreme Lord is normally not visible to general people from the material world. Just like it is not easy to access the head of state of a powerful nation without having suitable qualifications, similarly, to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead requires certain qualifications. The Supreme Lord is never contaminated with matter and is fully spiritual always. We being contaminated with the matter by being in the material world have our spiritual senses covered with our material senses. Therefore, one is unable to conceive spiritual form with material eyes and senses. No wonder why we cannot even see our soul, as it is also spiritual. To see God in person, we require our spiritual senses awakened and the willingness of the Lord to manifest before our eyes. Our spiritual senses awaken when we completely purify ourselves from the material contamination.
Since we are unable to see the Lord with our material eyes, the Supreme Lord still becomes merciful upon us by taking the Arca incarnation. Arca refers to the form which we can worship in our present contaminated condition. The Supreme Lord agrees to manifest to our material eyes by entering into a crafted form of the Lord upon invitation. In order to be seen by our material senses, the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepts a favourable form which is called arcā-vigraha. This arcā-vigraha, sometimes called the arcā incarnation, is not different from Him. Just as the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepts various incarnations, He takes on forms made out of matter—clay, wood, metal, jewels and paintings.
There are different procedures and rules and regulations which are followed in temples of Viṣṇu, and devotees go there and see the Deity, the vigraha, and spiritually enjoy the form because all of the Deities are benevolent. The devotees express their minds before the Deity, and in many instances the Deity also gives answers.
In Temples, we find Brahmana’s and Vaisnava’s, who are the mainstay of the various orders of the society at large. They are responsible for teaching the other subordinate orders of the society about God and our relationship with God as being parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. Brahmana’s are available in the temples to provide this knowledge to all. One should take advantage to visit temples and seek guidance from qualified Brahmana’s to understand our relationship with God.
Although, we have thousands of universities to teach on many faculties, however, there is hardly any university to teach the knowledge of the Soul. A good temple should provide this understanding through the knowledge from the Sastras. The temple is a place to get this knowledge. Srila Prabhupada, the founder Acarya of ISKCON, has set up temples, which are also learning institutes, which provide a deep understanding of knowledge of God, the individual soul and their relationships. Without understanding our identity one will not be able to understand the relationship with God.
Hearing and Glorifying the activities of the Supreme Lord are two simple things that provide purification from our material condition. One should hear the recitations of glorifications of the Lord as they are mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam or in the Bhagavad Gita. Kīrtanam can be performed both by singing the glories of the Lord in accompaniment with melodious music and by the recitation of scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. All this is best done in association with the devotees. One should, therefore, congregate at the temple to hear and glorify the Supreme Lord.
One should visit the temple to worship the Lord by offering him prayers, see and appreciate the beautiful dress of the Lord and seeing the Arati of the Lord. Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita (9.34) that one should worship Him being completely absorbed in Him. This worship can be done by visiting a Visnu temple.
Further, in the Bhagavad Gita (9.34), Lord Krishna also encourages to offer obeisances to Him. Bowing down before the Lord is a sign of surrender and it makes us humble in front of the all-powerful Lord. One should, therefore, offer obeisances to the Deity in the temple.
Temple provides an environment for receiving the direct mercy of the Lord through acceptance of Maha-Prasadam or the food offered directly to the Deities in the temple. Acceptance of Maha-Prasadam purifies us and uplifts us spiritually. One should always take this opportunity to accept Maha-Prasad.
Spiritual progress happens when such activities are performed with like-minded devotees. The association of devotees happen in the congregation of the temple for hearing, glorifying and serving the Lord.
Temple provides many services that are performed directly for the Supreme Lord. One will be able to develop devotion to the Lord by rendering service to the Lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
GET GUIDANCE ON RELIGION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, REGULATED SENSE GRATIFICATION, EMANCIPATION FROM MATERIAL CONDITION
People who are still materially inclined and working for fruitive results require guidance to perform these activities in alignment with the Lord’s will, according to the scriptures. This is called regulation. One should regulate these activities through the instructions of the spiritual master. One should visit the temples and seek guidance on such matters from the qualified brahmana.
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