I am not much of a rituals guy in this birth. I actually have a strong sense of aversion to them because I watched people chant mantras and do rituals for decades with little transformation in them. However, I have had experiences in my life that thought me there is more than what meets the eye in Santana Dharma, and that made me dig deeper into the religion and appreciate its nuances. I still do not advocate doing things blindly. Some of our Sages put a lot of thought into doing these things – so there is always a deeper reason behind things.

Hindus are often mocked as people who worship stones or idols. Sometimes we don’t have the power or patience to keep our calm when someone provokes our beliefs. So, at that time it is handy to have an explanation.

Every “idol” in a proper Hindu Temple is consecrated in a process called “prana pratista”. This can be done by a Yogi or Saint of high caliber, who invokes the divine energy and transfers the energy into one of the Centers (chakras) of the idol. Generally, this is the Anahata Chakra. After this process, a mirror is shown to the idol, and the idol which has become alive shatters the mirror. By the way, the idols of deities are not randomly made as per an artist’s wish – they have to conform exact dimensions and proportions. Building a temple and its idol is an intricate science done as per “agama shastra”. 

If you have meditated or done japam consistently over a period of time, and have attained some subtlety, you can actually feel the subtle energy field when you go near the consecrated idol. When you go the temple, you can offer your prayers and then sit down quietly for a few minutes while absorbing the silent radiations emanating from the sanctum sanctorum. If you get more subtler, you can feel different deities have different ‘flavor’ of transmission emanating from the idol. The spiritual charge of the idol is generally maintained through chanting mantras to the deity.

Idol worship was done by the sages as beginners cannot imagine “airy nothings” as God. We need something to visualize and  meditate upon initially before we get attracted to the formless. So, we generally go from concrete to the abstract, or “Saguna Brahman” to “Nirguna Brahman”.

In addition to the above, I found more information on Hindu temples from www.Datta Tapovan.org

This is from a Spiritual Master called Mohanji who has made most sense to me when he describes things about Sanatana Dharma or Yoga. Om Swami, Sri M and Mohanji are three reliable sources of information on these things who are in the public eye, in my opinion.

“A temple is not just a place of worship.

Being in a temple activates all senses: When you look at the idol, the senses of the eyes are activated. You absorb the qualities of the idol and you feel the idol. 

Then they use incense sticks, perfumes, so many things, the nose is activated. When chanting bhajans and mantras the ears are activated. Then various things are offered and the body, the skin is activated. Through sacred food the tongue is activated. A mantra activates the mind and contributes to the consciousness.

So, a temple is a place of rejuvenation. You are not the same after you entered a temple.” 

Moreover, in ancient times, some temples acted as centers where entire communities would meet. Grains were collected and food was served at meal times so that wandering Sadhus and homeless people were able to maintain their body. Besides this, cultural activities like drama (Hari Kathas), dance, and music concerts were held in the temple providing entertainment as well as succor to artists and people alike.

So, that’s what I know about temples that I have freely shared with you. Next time someone asks “why do guys worship stones?”, I hope you have some information to educate them with if you are not in the mood to let it pass.

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