Monday, March 5, 2012

Why Do We by Swami Vimalananda Temple Explanations

Why Do We Worship the Kalasha?
Kalasha –Brass, mud or copper pot filled with water.  It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome

The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all Vedas and the blessings of all deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisehka. The consecration of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas and holy water on top of the temple.

When the asuras and the devs churned the milky ocean, the Lord appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.  Thus the kalasha symbolizes immortality. 

Why Do we Worship the tulasi?

Tulasi is a potted plant placed inside homes and is considered holy.  The tulasi leaf is always placed in the food offered to the Lord.  It is also offered to the Lord during poojas, especially to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.  Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family worship the tulasi. 

 Why do We Worship the lotus?

The lotus is the symbol of truth, auspiciousness, and beauty.  The lord is also that nature(lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus hands, and the lotus of the heart).  The goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, sits on a lotus and carries one in her hand. 

The lotus blooms with the rising sun and closes at night.  Similarly, our minds open up and expand with the light of knowledge.  The lotus grows even in slushy areas.  It remains beautiful and untainted despite its surroundings.  The lotus leaf never gets wet even though it is always in water.  It symbolizes the man of wisdom (ghaani) who remains ever joyous, unaffected by the world of sorrow and change.  This is from the shloka of the Bhagavad Gita

Why Do we say shaanti thrice?

Shaanti means “peace.”  Peace within or without seems very hard to attain because it is covered by our own agitations***

To invoke peace, we chant prayers.  By chanting prayers, troubles and peace is experienced internally, irrespective of all external disturbances.  All such prayers end with chanting shaanti thrice.

That which is said thrice comes true.  We chant shaanti thrice to emphasize our intense desire for peace.  Problems may result from Aadhyaatmika-problems with our bodies and minds like disease, anger, and frustrations.  To minimize problems, chant shaanti thrice. 

Why Do we Chant Om?

Om is the universal name of the Lord.  It is made up of the letters A-U-M.  The three letters symbolize the three states (waking, dream, and deep sleep), the three deities(Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) the three Vedas(Rig, Yajur, and Sama) the three worlds(Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah).  The Lord Brahman is represented by the silence between two Om chants.  Om is also called pranava that means “that”(symbol or sound) by which the Lord is praised.  The entire essence of the Vedas is enshrined in the word Om.  The Om chant should have the resounding sound of a bell (aaooommm).  It fills the mind with peace, makes it focused and replete with subtle sound. 

Why do we do aarati?

It is one of the sixteen steps of the pooja ritual.  It is referred to as auspicious light.  Holding the lighted lamp in the right hand, we wave the flam in a clockwise circling movement to light the entire form of the Lord.  Each part is revealed individually and also the entire form of the Lord.  As the light is waved we either do mental or loud chanting of prayers or simply behold the beautiful form of the Lord, illumined by the lamp.  At the end of the aarati we place our hands over the flame and then gently touch our eyes and top of the head.  It means may the light that illumined the Lord light up my vision; may my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful. 

Why do we do Namaste?

Namaste is more than just meets the eye.  In Sanskrit namah + te= Namaste

The real meeting between two people is the meeting of the minds.  When we greet another with Namaste, it means “may our minds meet.” Indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest.  The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility.

The spiritual meaning is even deeper.  The life force, the divinity, the Self or the lord in me is the same in all.  Recognising the oneness with the meeting of the palms ,we salute the head bowed the Divinity in the person we meet. A deeper communion between two people setting an atmosphere of love and respect. 

Pratuthana-rising to welcome a person

Namaskaara-paying homage in the form of Namaste

Upasangrahan- touching the feet of elders or teachers

Shasshtaanga-prostrating fully with the feet of elders of teachers

Why do we do pradakshina?

We cannot draw a circle without a centre point.  The lord is the centre, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing him as the focal point in our lives is important.   It is done clockwise because the lord is always on our right-the right side symbolizes auspiciousness. 

 Why Do We Ring the Bell?

 The ringing of the bell produces what is regarded as an auspicious sound.  It produces the sound of Om, the universal name of the Lord. Even when doing the ritualistic aarati, we ring the bell.  It is sometimes accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the conch and other music instruments.  The instruments help to drown any auspicious or irrelevant noises and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their devotional arduor, concentration, and inner peace. 

I ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity

So that virtuous and noble forces enter my home and heart

And the demonic and evil forces

From within and without depart

Why Do we Fast?

Fasting in Sanskrit is upavaasa.  Upa means “near” and vaasa means “to stay.” Upavaasa therefore means staying near the Lord meaning the attainment of close proximity with the lord. 

A lot of time and energy is spent in procuring food items, preparing, cooking, eating, and digesting food.  Certain food types make our minds dull and agitated.  Hence of certain days man decides to save time and conserve his energy by eating either simple, light food, or simply abstaining from eating so that the mind becomes pure and alert.  The mind, otherwise preoccupied by the thought of food, now entertains noble thoughts and stays with the Lord. 

Also, every system needs a break and an overhaul to work at its best.  Rest and change of diet during fasting is very good for the digestive system and the entire body. 

The more you indulge your senses, the more they make their demands.  Fasting helps us to cultivate control over our senses, subliminate our desires, and guide our minds to be poised and at peace. 

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