Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The House of God

Nimai Nitai worshiping Radha Krishna “A temple means people should come, people should learn the science of God. That is a temple.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Lecture, Calcutta, Mar 8, 1972)

Most of us love to share our passions with our friends and family. Young children attending school are often requested to bring something they cherish or that is dear to them into the classroom to talk about and describe to others. This presentation is commonly referred to as “Show and Tell”.

Our cherished possessions tell others something about us. When something good happens in our life, we like to tell our friends and family about it. Sharing is part of the human spirit. Our life’s passions are what drive us and bring us happiness. In many cases, our passions define who we are as people, so naturally we would want to share these interests with others.

The television show MTV Cribs goes behind the scenes inside the homes of celebrities, giving a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. Celebrities are more than willing to show off their elaborately designed homes and possessions to others. Everything is on display to see: cars, pool tables, elaborate home theater setups, Jacuzzis, the works. Not only celebrities, but most of us like to show off our valued possessions to others. Most men really enjoy having a nice garden. The day to day care that is involved in maintaining a garden brings great satisfaction to the mind. It is a very nice feeling to watch a plant go from being a small seed to a full grown vegetable or flower. Men who have gardens derive great pleasure from showing MTV Cribs others the “fruits” of their labor. The same concept holds true when we buy a new house or even have a new baby. We invite our friends and family over to visit so that they can share in our joy.

“As for actions, that action in accordance with duty, which is performed without attachment, without love or hate, by one who has renounced fruitive results, is called action in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.23)

According to the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, this idea of having a passion is completely natural. Living entities in the material world possess material qualities known as gunas. There are three primary gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva guna, or the mode of goodness, is comprised of pious qualities and activities such as charity, kindness, and study of religious scriptures. Rajo guna is the mode of passion, the quality possessed by most human beings, represented by fruitive activity. Tamo guna is the mode of darkness or ignorance and is represented by laziness and inactivity. Since we are all primarily in the mode of passion, the Vedas don’t necessarily prescribe us to immediately give up our activities. In fact, one is encouraged to perform one’s occupational duties with detachment.

“The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.” (Bg, 6.35)

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, urges His cousin and disciple Arjuna to perform his duty as a kshatriya and fight in the impending Bharata war. Arjuna was hesitant to fight since friends and family members were fighting for the opposition. Lord Krishna told Him to perform His duty with detachment and not worry about the results. The idea being that fighting on religious principles under Krishna’s direction is actually a spiritual activity not tainted by karma. Work done in the material modes of nature has karma associated with it, either positive or negative. Work performed in Krishna’s service is above karma.

The idea is to spiritualize activities that we already perform. If we like to garden, then we should plant an elaborate field of vegetables and flowers that can be offered to Krishna. Krishna says that if one offers Him these things with love and devotion, then He accepts them.

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Bg 9.26)

Radha Krishna If we have a nice house that we are proud of, why not set aside a special room in it for the Lord, where people can gather to worship Him and sing songs about Him? If we like to build things with our hands, why not construct a home altar or temple for Krishna? The process of archanam, or deity worship, is so nice because it affords us the opportunity to serve the Lord in so many ways. He is not always present before us in His original form, but He is still kind enough to incarnate as His deity so that we may remember Him and always think of Him. Krishna’s deity or picture is as good as Krishna Himself. If we dress Him up nicely, offer Him nice flowers, and make a nice home for Him, then we will have something really worth showing off.