FOUR-SQUARE FAÇADE FOCUSSED ON FATHER.
with special reference to:-
COMMUNAL COMMUNION WITH THE CREATOR.
ONCE his immediate wants were satisfied, and a modicum of physical well-being, and social security were secured, man yielded to his natural predilection of speculative thought, and wondered what it was all about: ‘Who was he ?
From where did he come ? Whither was he going? Who made him? Who made the world? And where was HE, who made the world? Did HE make more than one world? Who made the SUN, the MOON, the WIND, the OCEAN, and the SKY?.........’ And in the course of his life, man came across OLD AGE, SICKNESS, AND DEATH. He came across LOVE and the ecstasies of the joys of love; Friendship and the happy glow of the warmth of friendship. He came across Greed and Delusion, Anger and Hatred, Lust and Fear. He came across the love of the Immediate Ephemeral, with its passing joys, its flitting glitters, and the sorrow of its passing. He speculated on The Eternal, Sublime and Glorious, Guiding Light and Lustrous Delight, beckoning dimly from a distance, demanding a sacrifice, and a renunciation of the ephemeral, a disciplining of the soul, before It would become a tangible and fulfilling experience.
IN the fascinating fastnesses of the forests, in the lonely glades of the wonderous woodlands, in the silent watches of the starry night, in the lustrous glory of the dawning day, in the gladsome play of the frisking fawn, the speculating Sages discovered the mysteries of Communing with the Creator. They experienced the ecstasies of ethereal At-One-Ment. And they SAW the Descent of The Logos, and the Ascent of the Sacrifice- a mutual rapprochement to Rapport. The SAGES now were also SEERS. Spiritually they Moved towards At-One-Ment, and they became RISHIs who lived and moved by Eternal Divine Law – the exponents and guardians of RITHAN, the Living Truth, constantly impelled to impinge on the Divine for ecstatic joy.
And these wise old elders, moved by gracious kindness, sought to share their wisdom with those that would stop to listen. Some did. But their less disciplined minds could not interpret and record a true message, of this Ancient Wisdom, which was often imperfectly understood or distorted and later, handed down to posterity in this corrupt form.
Thus Sacrifice of selfishness, and of the less worthy aspirations, became a matter of consigning material possessions to a ritual fire. Control of the physical being became contortions of the body, self-mutilations, or even self-immolation.
Some there were., too, who literally interpreted the call to revel in the ecstatic bliss of Divine Communion, and took it as an invitation to unbridled orgies of drunkenness and concomitant indulgence of the baser pleasures of the body.
From time to time, a few wise ones came amongst men and tried to direct these activities into a more rewarding direction. But the curving dog’s tail is not straightened by gentle restraint; the moment the restraining influence is removed, the tail curves again, much as before…..
Our venerable Seers have left on record, their transcendent visions of The Perfect Perfection, The Alpha and Omega of Creation, The Supreme Cosmic Infinite, The Supernal Intelligence, The gracious Glory, The Mighty Almighty, The Most High Being, Who, in His Kindness, limits His Glory for our edification. (Eesaavaasyopanishad etc.)
Our Seers have told us that man is endowed with mind and intellect which can receive, perceive, interpret, and record, sentient knowledge, through the medium of our senses functioning in and through our physical bodies, - IF the senses, and the mental and intellectual faculties are trained in this direction. Our bodies and our senses are thus most valuable instruments of sentient education, and of meaningful action. And to prostitute these precious organs by pandering to the senses on the one hand, or mutilate them and destroy them in a mistaken mode of suppression and control, would tantamount, to say the least, to an unwise abuse of our heritage. And yet, these organs had to be brought into action in certain modes of communing with the Divine. And the unwary walker on the Path, became too body-conscious in the process, and was more often than not, distracted from the sublime Goal.
Our hoary Seers have also told us that when man is totally engrossed, absorbed in the sublime Walks of the Path, and in the Glory of The Goal, he rises above body-consciousness, and receives his experience of Communion Supra-sensually. But for that perception, for that rapprochement, for that rapport with The Most High, man’s body-consciousness must go.
Disciplines have been devised to give direction to our understanding –
A DISCRIMINATION between the REAL and the UNREAL, must result in the apprehension of the REAL and an abandoning of the UNREAL.
FOREBEARANCE must bestow a capacity to endure the trials of tribulation with unruffled serenity and a stoic indifference to Fame or Blame; to Pleasure or Pain.
GRACIOUS SYMPATHY with those who suffer,
SPONTANEOUS COMFORTING of those in need of comforting;
A COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE SENSES;
AND AN ALL ABSORBING LOVE OF THE GOAL,
WITH A PREPOTENT NEED FOR AT-ONE-MENT WITH IT.
AND AN APPROACH TO RAPPROCHEMENT & RAPPORT IN
ALL HUMILITY, FAITH, HOPE, AND DEVOTION.
These are the facets of personality which transform man into a god in miniature manifesting his innate divinity. And it is only when a measure of these qualities become his natural rule of daily life, that man’s Supra-sensual faculties gleam in his horizon, and Divine Communion becomes Real.
To aid in the control and banishment of frustrating body-consciousness, Our Wise Elder Seers changed the venue of imagery from the concrete to the abstract; they shifted the focus from the body to the mystic Elements composing the manifested worlds of Creation,; shifted the attention from the Host to the Guest – from the Sacrifice to The Logos.
Where a modicum of body-consciousness was inevitable they transmuted it to a conscious cognition of the Divine Presence in each part of the body, so that when the mind got directed to the need of a particular organ, it might immediately revert back to the memory of the dedication of the organ concerned, to a Facet of Divine Presence, and so resume its flight of adventuring into spiritual realms.
Thus we come to the Science of dissolving and resolving the Elements back into the Uncreate Home of all Creation in what is known today as LAYA-YOGA or PANCHA-PUJA. This is a part of the more elaborate SHODASOPACHAARA PUJA.
Here we invite The Divine Guest and adore HIM, in our hearts, - in our shrines.
Body-consciousness, in the ideal functioning, was the shrine housing The Immanent Presence of The Most High, and this was an ideal theatre for silent contemplation and lonely communion with The Maker. But this was not so suitable for communal worship, where the supra-sensual perceptions of the worshippers could not be at the same elevation of exaltation.
The impersonal and abstract Ritual Worship, dealing with the abstract Mystical Elements of Creation, and focused on a concrete symbol of The Unseen Creator, incorporated into the theme of the shodasopachaara puja, has been found to be the answer for this need. The Ritual actions of the worship are simultaneously performed by each votary of the same Icon, or are performed by the Priest, in the presence of, and on behalf of, each votary partaking in the Worship.
While this may be permitted, that one priest performs all the several acts of the Ritual Worship, so that even in the physical actions there may be a minimum of movement in the assembly during the worship, causing a least amount of distraction to the attentions of the members of the congregation; and so that even when certain individual members are not quite expert in the Ritual, the prowess of the priest ensures a correct directioning to the procedure; it is still VITALLY IMPORTANT that each votary must be harmoniously feeling and following the Ritual, with the same zeal and attention that it would need if he were performing on behalf of the priest.
For a true appreciation of the Ritual and its Mode of thought, it is necessary to know something of the Symbolism employed in the imagery.
The Number Four, and the geometrical figure SQUARE indicate The Earth = BHUUMI, ShiningWorld which reflects like a cosmic mirror, the Play of The cosmic Divine. Bhuumi is the Home of Agni, the Divine Guide and Leader, by whose Kindly Light, one might reach Heaven’s Delight. AGNI helps us to grow to our full stature of maturity, while also leading us unto the Very Throne of God.
The Number FIVE, is associated with PANCHA BRAHMA, The FIVE FACES of INFINITE, EXPANDING, PERVADING, COSMIC GLORY:- in the four cardinal directions and vertically upwards, into the Great Beyond.
SADYOJAATA facing the West.
VAAMADEVA facing the North.
AGHORA facing the South.
TAT PURUSHA facing the East. And
EASAANA facing Upwards.
All radiating from an UNSEEN POINT in TIME & SPACE, in The Refulgent Eternal Glory that we call BHUUMI.
The Number FIVE is also associated with many other symbolic thoughts and predicables.
The Five Elements of Creation:-
PRITHIVI, the Vast and Expanding Refulgence.
AAPAS, the Mystic Waters of Life.
TEJAS, the Cosmic Glory Coruscating in the Many giving each a Form
and a concomitant name.
VAAYU, the Cosmic Vehicle carrying the soul to GOD
and AAKAASA, the Scintillating Space, - The Sublime Field of Refulgence.
These Cosmic Elements ranging respectively from solidity to subtility in successively increasing measure, themselves are but Facets of Manifestation of The Most High.
The FIVE Organs of Sentience – Gnaanendriyas.
The FIVE organs of Action – Karmendriyas.
The FIVE PRIMARY VITAL LIFE-FORCES – Praanas.
The FIVE SECONDARY VITAL LIFE-FORCES – Upa-Praanas.
THE FIVE DIVINE FORMS OF MANIFESTATION;
GANESA -0 THE FIRST-COGNISED LORD OF HOSTS.
VISHNU – THE OMNI PRESENT NOURISHER.
SIVA - FATHER OF CREATION : EMBODIED BLISS.
DEVI - DIVINE LIGHT AND DELIGHT : MOTHER OF
SUURYA- RESPLENDENT LORD OF THE MID-REGIONS
REVEALER OF ONE TO THE MANY.
THE LORD OF INTELLECTION.
The Number EIGHT is associated with the Eight-fold Manifestations of The One in Creation:- The Five Cosmic Elements, and The Lord of The Mid-Regions: Suurya, The Light of Delight in The Heavens Chandra, and the Sacrificer on Earth: man. On Earth, it is the Primal surrender of the individual Will to The Cosmic Will; In the Mid-Regions, it is the Revealing Light of Intellection; In the Heavens, it is the Divine Light of Delight showering Bliss on the worlds below.
The Number SIXTEEN indicates CHANDRA, The Light and Delight of The Heavens in His FULLEST GLORY OF PEFECTION.
The Number SIXTEEN therefore indicates The Gracious Lord in Full Manifestation, intent on bestowing Bliss to His Creatures.
The SIXTEEN Acts of Adoration in magnifying The Lord, therefore symbolize a total At-One-Ment and Rapport with HIM as the intended Objective of the Acts. A Shower of Bliss and a downpour of untold Blessings would immediately follow the Worship, resulting in the superb well-being of the world in general, and of the votaries in particular.
The SIXTEEN ACTS OF ADORATION UNTO AT-ONE-MENT ARE:-
1. AAVAAHANAM – The calling down of the LOGOS: Invitation.
2. AASANAM – The Enthronement: Welcome.
3. PAADYAM - The Waters of Bliss on The Feet of The LOGOS.
The FEET are the HOME of BLISS: LIGHT ON THE PATH.
4. ARGHYAM - The Waters of Divine Love on The Hands of LOGOS.
The HANDS graciously Bestow Bliss and Beatitude.
5. AACHAMANEEYAM – This is a mystic Act involving several concepts:-
Chaandogyopanishad 5/2/2 relates how MUKHYA_PRAANA or DIVINE LIFE FORCE enclosed and clothed in The Mystic Waters of Grace and Bliss, in minute atomic form, enters the microcosm and pervades into Omnipresent Immanence, the Divine Presence equally manifest at very Point, and Having every single point as Its Centre of Activity, and as the Starting Point of Its Divergence and Radiation. The Waters of Bliss are taken three times before, heralding the Entry of Mukhya-Praana, and three times after the entry cognizing, and proclaiming the Presence of Divine Life therein. This then, is an imagery signifying The Descent of LOGOS into the microcosm – a dramatic cognition of Eternal Immanence.
6. AACHAMANEEYAM –
Chandogyopanishad 5/2/7 describes the Aachamanam of the votary. He chants the Manthra Rg.Veda 5/82/1 in three stages, and partakes of the remnant of the Holy Offertory in three stages praying to Savithaa that HE may enter the microcosmic being with Divine Life, and transform the votary into the Perfection of His Own Image. Although in this Ritual Act, visualizing the Divine Permeation and the consequent transformation of the votary, stipulates only one verse of the Hymn R.g Veda 5/82, the Hymn consists of 9 verses, all sublime prayers addressed to Savithaa, in the same vein. This hymn is really an elaboration of the R.k famous as the Gayathri Manthra (R.g Veda 3/62/10) prescribed for our daily meditation. Among the Christian people, this Act corresponds to their receiving the Holy Ghost.
Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 6/3/6 visualises this Act as the partaking by the votary, of the remnant of the Holy Oblations to the manifold manifestations of God, in all the Divine moods and modes, - the Ritual of the Oblational Offertory being described in the earlier verses : Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 6/3/1-5.
Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 6/3/6 is the culmination of the Sacrifice: The Most Gracious Beneficient, kindly, and Glorious aspects of the Divine are interlaced with the Bliss pervading throughout the Universe of Creation, and now specially cognised as Entering and Pervading, and transforming the votary into the Cosmic Being in all His Glory and Perfection. This is the supreme and ultimate aspiration of every votary.
This Act is performed in this form by Guests welcomed in a home, by the Bride-Groom immediately before his marriage, by the Elders and Fathers and Fathers who come to Bless their children, and by the Sacrificer at the completion of his Sacrifice.
During the daily Worship and Meditation, the devotee performs this Act sanctifying the Divine Entry with the Three Mystic Names of Bliss – Achyutha, The Imperishable Eternal Lord of Time; Anantha, the Infinite Eternal Lord of Space; and Govinda the Omni-Scient and Omn-Potent Knower of Creation, of the Refulgent Light revealing Creation, and of the Eternal Life pervading through Creation. And to This Great and Mysterious, Magnificent Being, we offer our humble adorations. This Ritual reception of minute qualities of Holy Water, is then followed by a Bahirnyaasa, or external dedication and consecration of the body parts. In Image Worship, this Act visualizes the Pervasion and Divine Presence of the Immanence in the Image. This is also the mystic and symbolic clothing offered to the Immanence, before and after its entry, so that It may not be naked either before or after. The same idea is carried through before and after The Offertory of Holy Food in The Rite.
7. VASTHRAM – The Mystic Clothing: Veiling and Limiting the Divine
Glory for our Cognition and apprehension. For, who can see the unlimited Glory of God with the creature’s puny eyes? Therefore does the Seer pray to God to limit his Glory so that he, the Seer, may be enabled to perceive, and cognise HIM (vide Isavasyopanishad – 16 )
Thus, when Arjuna desired to see God in His Full Glory, The Lord endowed Arjuna temporarily with the power of seeing Him with his eyes. (Bhagavad Gita XI/3-9. Even so endowed, Arjuna could not bear to See the Lord’s unveiled Glory very long, and again prayed that the Lord should appear to him in a limited form which would be easier for him to see and apprehend. This the Lord did. (Bhagavad Gita XI/51)
Thus, as qualities reveal the Unconditioned, as limitations reveal the Infinite, as withdrawal of rays reveals the Light, so the veiling or clothing of the Lord reveals The Presence.
H.G.Wells, an English novelist of repute, has given us another illustration for the revealing function of clothes in his story of The Invisible Man. The man was invisible by himself, because his body was perfectly transparent. But when he wore his clothes, the clothes were seen to have come to life, and walking about. This may well be deemed to illustrate our Act of veiling.
The Lord, who is invisible, becomes visible when veiled in His Clothes, which limit His Glory and Bring It within our vision.
8. YAGNOPAVEETHAM. – The Symbol of Sacrifice.
The PURUSHA SUUKTHAM –(R.g Veda X/90, and Vaajasaneyam 31) describes the Cosmic Sacrifice, when The Infinite, by Its own volition, permitted the Limiting of Itself, so that Creation could be manifested out of itself. This LIMITING of the Infinite Glory, for the sake of Creation, and for the nourishing and cherishing of the creature, is the Cosmic Sacrifice, that is every moment undertaken and performed by The Benevolent Most High. This we cognise, and in humility accept, by the Symbolic investiture of the Sacrificial mark.
In the foregoing Eight Acts of Adoration, the Totality of the Lord’s manifested Presence in the Image has been cognised, experienced.
In the following five Acts, we visualize the resolving and the consecration of the Elements of Creation.
9. CHANDANAM –Symbol of Fragrance, the subtle aspect of BHUUMI
This is anointed on the Lord’s Image, and its total absorption and transfiguration is visualized.
10. PUSHPAM – Flowers. Based on Earth, they extend their fragrance, and scintillating beauty right into the heavens. They are therefore
considered as representing AAKAASA, The Gleaming Space, whose Characteristic is The Pervasion of Sound. SABDAm. MOVEMENT. VIBRATION.
11. DHUUPAM – Incense. Fragrance carried to the heavens by VAAYu.
For, being the Divine Courier, Vaayu carries the fragrance of our personality, of our aspirations, of our actions, unto the very heavens. And all these we resolve and consecrate in The Lord.
12. DEEPAM – Light. A Symbol of Agni. Who gives us our Form and our
Name. He leads us into maturity and fulfilment. And as we grow in spiritual stature, so do our Forms and Names change, indicating our state of development. For, the seed becomes the seedling, then the plant, then the tree, which flowers, and the flowers give rise to young fruit, then ripe fruit, and then come seeds all over again, in repeating cycles. Although the basic material is essentially the same in each case the forms and the corresponding Names are different in each case, indicating the stage of development. This is the function of Agni. And this we offer up.
13. NAIVEDYAM – The Final Report at The Feet of God.
The Ultimate Dedication of personality.
In the evolution of our spiritual personality.
We manifest certain aspects of a modicum of Divine Immortality. This is
the nectar flowing in our veins. The RASAM; The SOMA. That RASAM
is indeed a fragment of the Lord. For, RASO VAI SAH proclaims the
Taittireeya Upanishad (2/7). Lord Krishna tells Arjuna : RASOHAM
APSU’ – Bhagavad Gita 7/8. ‘SA ESHA RASAANAAM RASATAMAH’
says the Chandogyopanishad – 1/1/3. And so on.
In this Act of Reporting, the votary reviews his achievement and offers up to the Lord Most High, all that he has sublimated and transmuted until that moment. For, unto Caesar must be rendered all that is Caesar’s. The Symbol of this offering, is the Milk, the Soma, or The Annam that has been brought to the worship as an offering. And these are verily the Symbols of Divinity.
But the Offering is also received back from the Lord in a sanctified state of holiness. And herein are born two Schools of thought. One school considers the Lord as much the same as His creatures, in His needs, and reactions. HE is thus visualized as actually eating and enjoying the food offered, and as giving the leavings, left over from His Dinner, to the votary. In visualizing this act, the food is conceived as actually being consumed by the Lord, strengthening Him, enlivening Him, as in our case. In the other School of Thought, the Divine Presence is conceived as entering and pervading the food offered, and so as making the consecrated food specially and specifically good and desirable for our increased well-being. This is the imagery favoured by Christians in their performance of Eucharist and Communion, when the Host descends into wine and water.
According to the Ritual in most Temples and Homes today, the former school of thought prevails, and the more sublime significance of the Act remain unknown. For men hardly pause to think that the Good Lord who made us and the food we offer Him, is not in need of our feeding Him. But that we are in need of His Grace.
14. THAAMBUULAM. – The Summation of The Elements.
The ‘Dessert after the Dinner’.
As in the previous Act of Worship, RASAM was
Annam in the Bhuumi, and SABDAM in the Aakaasa, with all the concomitant variations of Name and Form according to the locale of Its functioning, and thus signified the Elements of Creation in their severality, and their individuality, here, Thaambuulam symbolises the manifestation in the summation and totality of the Elements of Creation. And in the ultimate offering of this totality of Creation, comes the realization that ALL THIS, IS BUT THE LORD. (R.g Veda – 10/90/2)
Finally we come to the third and lasts stage of the Worship, comprising of the last two Acts:
15. NEERAAJANAM, LUSTRATION. A lustrous Lighting up of the Image by a burning piece of Camphor, or by a lit Lamp, so that the Divine Presence may be seen in Its Image, in The Symbolic Form, and treasured in our memory, filling our vision, transforming our being into Its Likeness.
16. MANTHRA-PUSHPAM: The Fragrance and Sound of The Name.
In this ultimate Sounding of The Mystic Name, the Sacred Sound ruling our thought, we offer a final prayer, a final banquet of flowers, seek a final benediction. We pray for universal welfare & peace. In these last two Acts we achieve the ultimate cognition of the Cosmic Life in Its entire gamut of Vibration from Visible Light to Audible Sound; from the Seen Form to the Heard Name. And imagination furnishes the Ultra-Spectral to the Infra-Audible(SUB SONIC) gambits of Cosmic manifestation. And with this clear realization in our hearts, we go to resume our life in the world of men; and the priest adds a tangible token of God’s Blessing to the departing votary. A portion of the offering which is received and cherished in reverence.
The Divine Presence is Established in the Symbol in two modes – The Permanent or Stable Establishment for Temples and Places of worship which would ever be used only for worship, and would be constantly in demand for this purpose. And the Temporary or Movable Establishment, where the Presence is installed for each occasion, and would be commissioned for other use after the Ritual is concluded, - as for instance in a home where no separate and exclusive room is available for Worship.
In the case of the Permanent Establishment in Temples the Ritual of Establishment after calling down the Logos is not obligatory. But man wants to make sure that the Presence is still Immanent, and reiterates the Establishment each day. At any rate, this practice is prevalent in the Temples in Kerala.
And as a logical reasoning, the Presence is also invited to vacate the Image and go elsewhere until called down again. But this would not be a very polite way of treating house guests. And God is more than a Guest. He is the Architect and Maker of The Universe, omni-Present and Omni-Potent Owner of all that is. And it is highly improper to ask Him to go away, and leave us alone while we are otherwise engaged.
We may now review the Ritual as practiced in Kerala for Temple Worship.
THE SIXTEEN-FOLD TEMPLE WORSHIP IN KERALA,
The TEMPLE. A suitable site, answering to all the stipulation
Prescribed for the purpose, and convenient to all the
Votaries who found the Temple, has been Chosen.
The prescribed Design adopted. The requisite material gathered and The
Temple built and Consecrated in proper order.
The IMAGE. The Image has been duly sculptured out of the
Prescribed material, examined, and approved by experienced elders who
Guide men in these matters duly and ceremoniously installed, and consecrated. The Divine Presence is Called in for permanent Residence in the Image.
THE ATTENDANT DIVINITIES. Suitable Images have been made for these Divine Attendants, and installed with due ceremony in their appropriate places. The External premises of the Temple are tidied and cleaned by men appointed for the purpose daily or several times daily according to the needs of each of each temple.
GOING FOR WORSHIP. All votaries, as well as the Officiating Priest, as a rule perform a ritual Bath and cleanse themselves further with purificatory ceremonies incorporated in their individual and daily spiritual practices, before wearing freshly washed and cleansed clothing and going to the temple. Even today, it is the practice in Kerala that all men bare their bodies above the waist before entering the Temple precincts. And often their nether cloth is dripping wet with water from their bath, - to ensure that they are entering the Temple directly after their bath. It may also be recorded to their credit that most temple-goers in Kerala are serious anddisciplined. Silent, and Devout.
Such is the environmental back-ground of the Temple to which men resort for congregational worship.
After his daily bath and purificatory ceremonies the priest approaches the Temple, worships the Guardian Deities and with their permission, enters the Temple Sanctorum.
He now divests the Image of the faded flowers and other used articles of Worship from the last Rite, and washes the Image, and the interior of the Sanctorum, cleanses and burnishes the Vessels, utensils etc. used in the Ritual, then offers a preliminary token of reverence by a handful of flowers and sits in the South, facing the North, the Image facing the East.
Then with controlled breath he rouses the dormant Power resting in his person, and leads it on to the heart where he unites It with his soul. These forces he draws out and upwards to the thousand petalled Lotus, where he worships The Guru, and comes down to the starting base to worship Lord Ganesha there.
Then he dedicates the organs and parts of his body to the Divine Presence in several Names and Forms, over and over again in various modes, until he feels that all his person is rendered holy.
Now he takes up the Installation of and consecration of the Utensils and vessels holding the holy water for use in the worship.
The Throne for The Presence, and the several lesser Seats for the attendant divinities, are now placed in due form .
The image is Installed, and the Presence is invited afresh. And Welcomed and worshipped in the mode already described earlier in this thesis.
While fundamentally the Ritual is meaningful, some considerable time is spent in the preliminary aspects of Self-Purification and dedication, in the repetitions of rites for the consecration of the environs, and the thrones for the Presence and the attendant lesser Divinities, and in the individual worship offered to each divinity.
By shifting the emphasis to the main Acts of the Worship, and by cutting down on the repetitions, the interest and attention of both priest and votary could be secured to a more meaningful participation of the Worship.
In order to work up an atmosphere of Mystery and Secrecy, it is usual for several Acts of the Worship being performed from behind a veiling screen which precludes view. But if the priest and votary were both more educated in the Science, and are able to perform the Rite with appreciation and interest, it would be desirable to perform all Acts openly.
Our Temples are designed to permit only a favoured few to view the Image and the Acts of Worship at a Time. But the need for this viewing is for several times that number at a time. It is therefore a serious matter for consideration if the structures in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum should not be demolished and remodeled in our Temples, so that a large number of votaries may take part in the Worship at the same time. This idea may perhaps sound like blashphemy to the more orthodox and conservative members of our society. But if the Temple should function efficiently now and in the days to come, some action in this direction is inevitable. Let the learned elders ponder on this problem.
Another important factor contributing to the sad state of our Temple Worship, is the woeful ignorance of the priests as well as the votaries in the matter of the meaning and purpose of worship in general, and this mode in particular.
Where the priest is in poverty and distress, making a precarious livelihood from the offering in kind and coin brought by votaries, he would perhaps be more keen to pay homage to his immediate benefactor rather than to his Maker who consigned him to this poverty. And as long as he could do what is necessary to earn his daily bread, he would not be overly enthusiastic about learning the intricacies of the Science of Symbolic Worship. This condition must be dealt with and eradicated. The priest must be chosen for his devotion and piety, for his spiritual educability, and must be made care-free, and adequately educated in the Science. He must evince a continued predilection towards Communion with the Divine, both on his own behalf, and on account of the votaries.
Often, on the part of the votary, the immediate need is also for material benefits, and his attendance at the worship is often for begging some boon in the secrecy of his heart, even when his intentions are not openly avowed. He is not then interested in impersonal At-One-Ment. Often he is not sufficiently evolved spiritually for true Worship to have any meaning for him. For such men who yet yearn for the glitter of the ephemeral, separate shrines must provide scope for their begging, while separate Temples must exalt true votaries to spiritual ecstasies and ultimate Beatitude. And in these latter Temples the emphasis may be more on meditation and silent prayer in perfect stillness, rather than in hectic physical activity involving the Worship-Rites.
MAY HEAVEN’S LIGHT BE OUR DELIGHT.