Mandir - The Keys to the Divine Treasures
Suppose we have a key of a Lost Treasure in our hands.
We cannot directly understand the purpose of it from the key itself, nor it is possible to imagine from the key itself that a great treasure can possibly be revealed with its help. There is no hidden indication in the key regarding the treasure; the key itself is closed. Even if we break it or cut it into pieces, we may find the metal of which it is made, but we cannot learn anything about the hidden treasure which the key is capable of revealing. And whenever such a key is preserved for a long time, it only becomes a burden in our life.
In life there are many such keys which can open the doors of treasures even today, but unfortunately we neither know anything about those treasures nor about those locks which can be opened. When we do not know either about the treasures or the locks, then what is left in our hands cannot even be called a key. It can only be a key if it opens a lock. This same key may have revealed treasures some time in the past, but because today nothing can be unlocked, the key has become a burden. But even so, somehow we do not feel like throwing it away.
The key has left a sort of lingering fragrance in the unconscious mind of man. Maybe some four thousand years ago that key did open some locks, and treasures were found: the remembrance of that in the unconscious mind makes us carry the burden of that key to this day. However much one may be persuaded about the uselessness of the key, we cannot gather the courage to throw it away. In some unknown corner of the heart there still lingers the hope that some day some lock might be opened by it.
Take, for example, temples.... There is no sect on earth which has not built something like a temple -- it doesn't matter whether it is called a mandir, masjid or a church or a gurudwara. Today it is possible for us to learn something from other sects, but there was a time when we did not even know about the existence of other sects, so there was no way to learn from others. The temple is not the fanciful result of the imagination of some eccentric people, but its roots lie somewhere deep in the inner consciousness of man.
Man may have lived far away in a forest, or on a mountain, or in a cave, or on the bank of a river -- he may have lived anywhere for that matter -- but wherever he has lived man has built something resembling a temple. Something has come out of his consciousness. There is no blind imitation in it; they were not constructed by looking at other temples. So all temples have been of different shapes and types, but they have always existed.
There is a lot of difference between a temple and a masjid, their arrangement and planning are quite different from each other, but there is no difference in man's aspiration or inner urge. Man may be anywhere; however unfamiliar and unacquainted he is with others, he carries the same latent seed somewhere in his consciousness.
Another thing worth noting is that though thousands of years have passed and we have no clue about the locks or the hidden treasures, still we continue to carry strange keys as though under the spell of some lingering memory. Despite all the attacks on this -- reason tries to shatter it from all sides; the so-called modern intellectual doesn't accept it -- still the human heart treasures this memory and continues to be fascinated by it. So we ought to remember that though today man is not aware of it, yet somewhere in his unconscious there is a resounding echo which tells us that some locks once used to open.
Why is this stored in the unconscious? It is because none of us is new to this world. All of us are born again and again, and there was never a time when we did not exist. What we knew consciously in days past is now, today, unconscious, buried within us under thousands of layers as the unconscious. If in days past we knew the significance and deeper secrets of a temple and experienced the opening of some inner door, then somewhere in the deep recesses of the unconscious that memory still lies embedded. The intellect may totally deny its existence, but intellect cannot reach that depth where the memory is retained.
So despite all obstacles, despite its appearing meaningless in every way, this is something which persists, which can't be removed. It may take new forms, but it continues. This is only possible if we have known something an infinite number of times in our infinitely long journey of births and deaths -- though we may not remember it today.
Apart from having an outward use -- as a means to an end -- each of these things also have a deeper significance and purpose.
The universal appeal for making a temple is inherent only in man. Animals make their dwellings, and birds build nests, but they do not build temples. When distinguishing man from animals, one prominent feature is that man is a temple-making animal; no other animal makes temples. To provide some shelter for oneself is absolutely natural because it is done by every creature. Birds and animals do it, even small insects do it, but to build a house the divine is a distinctive feature of man.
Without man's having some deep awareness of the divine, a temple could not be built. Even if that awareness is later lost, the temple will still remain; and it is quite certain that it could not have been built without a deep experience of the divine.
You make a guest house because guests go on visiting you. If there were no guests, you wouldn't waste money on a guest house. But even though there may be no guests now, the guest house remains. So the whole idea of building temples or shrines for the divine must have been conceived of in such moments when the divine was not just a matter of imagination but a living reality for people. The very process of the incarnation of the divine on earth made it necessary to have special places in every nook and corner of the world which could serve as special abodes for him. To properly receive anything, adequate arrangements have to be made.
It can be understood this way.... Radio waves are passing by all around us, but they cannot be picked up without a radio receiver. Tomorrow, if there was a third world war and if all technology was destroyed but somehow a radio receiver was luckily left intact, you wouldn't want to throw it away. Though you know that you can't broadcast, or tune in to any program, or even find a technician to repair it, you wouldn't want to throw the radio away.
After several generations in your family, if anyone were to ask the use of the radio, none of your family members alive then would be able to reply. They might only say that their fathers and their forefathers were insistent on its being preserved, so they continue to keep it. Their forefathers never told them what it was for, they don't know its use and so it is of no help to them; even if that radio is dismantled nothing could be known. By opening the radio it couldn't be known that some time in the past music and talks could be heard through it. The radio only used to act as a receiving station for some happening elsewhere, but it could pick up the waves and act as a medium to present them as sounds to listeners.
Exactly in the same manner, temples used to function as receptive instruments.
Though godliness is everywhere and human beings are also present everywhere, only in some specific circumstances within us do we become attuned to that godliness. So temples served as centers of receptivity to enable us to feel the divine existence, godliness, spiritual elevation. The whole arrangement in temples was motivated with this end in view. Different types of people thought up various arrangements, but that is not of much consequence. It makes no difference if various manufacturers produce radios incorporating their own specialities, with different shapes and forms, as long as the ultimate purpose is the same.
The temples in India were mostly constructed from one of three or four patterns; other temples were just copies of these. The domes of the temples were based on the model of the sky. There was an underlying purpose to this. If I sit under the open sky and repeat "Aum," my voice will get lost, because the strength of an individual voice will be enveloped by the vastness of the sky. I will not be able to hear the reverberation, the echo of my chanting -- all my prayers will get lost in the vastness of the sky.
Domes were constructed so that the resonance of our prayers can rebound on us. The dome is just a small, semicircular prototype of the sky. It has the same shape as the sky touching the earth on all four sides. Whatever prayers or chantings are made under its canopy will not get lost as they would in the vast sky, because the dome will throw them back towards the supplicant. The rounder the dome, the easier it is for the sound to travel back, and its echo increases in the same proportion.
As time passed even stones were discovered which could multiply the resonance to a tremendous degree.
There is a Buddhist prayer hall in the Ajanta caves where the stones echo sound with the same intensity as that of the Indian musical instrument, the tabla. If we strike those stones with the same force as is used in playing the tabla, they will give out the same volume of sound. Ordinary stones used in the construction of domes do not possess the capacity to echo certain very subtle sounds, and so that specific type of stone was employed.
What is the purpose behind all this? The purpose is that when anyone chants "Aum," and it is done very intensely, the dome of the temple makes the sound reverberate, forming a circle of the chanting or sound. The dome of the temple, by the very nature of its design, helps in the formation of a circle by echoing the sound. Such a sound circle is unique. If "Aum" is chanted under the wide open sky, no sound circle will be formed, and you will never experience that joy.
When the formation of the circle happens, you don't remain just a humble supplicant before the divine, but you become a recipient -- that is to say, the one whose prayers are answered. And with that resonance, the divine experience begins to enter you. Although the sound produced in the chanting is human, when it is echoed it resounds with a new speed, and as it is imbibed, other potentialities are released.
The dome-shaped temples were used to form sound circles through the chanting of mantras. If one does the chanting sitting all alone in perfect peace and silence, then as soon as the sound circle is formed, thoughts will stop. On one side the circle is formed, and on the other, thoughts come to a stop. As I have often said, a circle of energy is formed even in the act of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, and when the formation of such a circle takes place -- that is the moment pointing toward superconsciousness.
Look at the statues of Buddha and Mahavira in padmasan or siddhasan. These indicate other methods for the formation of such circles. When we sit putting both our feet together and our hands on our legs, then the whole body begins to act as a circle. Then the body electricity cannot escape, and a circuit is created. As soon as the circuit is created, one becomes thoughtless. If we use the language of an electrical engineer, it could be said that the crowd of noisy thoughts within the mind is because of our not creating a circuit of inner electricity. As soon as the circuit is created the inner energy becomes balanced and silent. So, creating a circle of energy with the help of the temple's dome was a great process, and this was its purpose and deep significance.
We find big bells or gongs at the entrance of temples, and these serve the same purpose. When you chant "Aum," although you may be doing so very quietly and your attention may be elsewhere, the sound of the bell will instantly bring your attention back to the circle of sound created by the vibrating bell. It is just like when a stone is thrown into a pond, creating ripple upon ripple.
In Tibetan temples instead of a bell or gong they keep a bowl-shaped vessel made from various metals, and a wooden stick to revolve inside it. The stick is rotated within the vessel seven times, and then it is struck once on the bowl with a loud bang. The vibrations created in the bowl produce a sound like, "Mani padme hum" -- the whole mantra. The bowl echoes the sound, "Mani padme hum," not once, but seven times. Turn the stick inside the bowl rapidly, seven times, strike the bowl and then take the stick out -- and then you will hear the echo of the mantra, "Mani padme hum," seven times. Though the sound will gradually become softer and softer, it will be heard seven times.
Similarly, in a domed temple create within yourself of the mantra, "Aum mani padme hum," and listen: the temple will echo it. Every cell of your body will receive the vibration and return it with a deeper resonance. After a few moments neither you nor the temple will be there -- only circles of energy will be left.
It should be remembered that sound is a subtle form of electricity. Now even science agrees with this. In fact, everything is a form of electricity. But the Indian sages go one step further and say that electricity is a form of sound, that sound is the base, not electricity. That is why they call the supreme being shabda-brahma -- "sound is the ultimate reality."
There is now a great similarity of approach between Eastern thinkers and modern scientists, the only difference being over which of the two is primary. The scientist says that electricity is primary, whereas the sage says that density of sound produces electricity. This means that in the near future science will have to research the absolute aspect of sound.
The sage's understanding stems from the experience of the sounds produced under the dome of a temple. When the intense sound of "Aum" is created in a temple by a devotee, within a few minutes he feels that neither he nor the temple is there, but only electricity remains. This conclusion is not reached in any laboratory -- those who made such declarations had no laboratories, their temple served as their only laboratory. There they experienced that although they started with sound, what remained in the end was electricity.
To experience this transformation of sound, dome-shaped temples were made.
When Westerners saw Indian temples for the first time, they thought they were very unhygienic. By the very nature of their conception the temples could not have many doors and windows. There could only be one door, and that too was very small. The idea behind this was to ensure that the circle of sound being created in the temple didn't become obstructed. It is no wonder then that those Westerners went away with the impression that the temples were dingy, dark and dirty, and that even fresh air could not enter them. By comparison, their own churches were airy and clean and had many big doors and windows through which light and fresh air could easily enter and keep them hygienic.
When the secret of using a key is forgotten, all sorts of difficulties crop up. Today not one person in India will be able to say why temples were not provided with windows and many doors. So when asked we also felt inclined to agree that our temples are unhygienic; no one could argue that in these temples lived the most healthy people and that no disease had been allowed to enter. The people who used to pray and worship there happened to be some of the healthiest people, in the true sense of the term.
Why? Slowly it began to be realized that the sound produced by the chanting of "Aum" has a unique purifying effect. There are certain sounds which have a purifying effect, and there are others which contaminate. Some particular sounds act as deterrents for diseases, and there are others which invite disease. The whole science of sound, however, is lost.
Those who have said that sound is the absolute being have said the ultimate that can be said about sound. There is no experience greater than the absolute being, and they had not known anything deeper than sound which they could use to express themselves.
All the melodies and modes and their modifications are born in the East. These are the extensions of the experiences of the absolute being in the form of sound. Musical compositions, as well as all dance forms, originated in temples and later on developed elsewhere as specific arts. It was only in the temple that a devotee experienced the effects of sound in its innumerable variations -- so many that it is difficult to keep any count.
Just Sixty years ago there lived a recluse in Varanasi called Vishuddhananda. He gave hundreds of demonstrations to prove that through some special sound it is possible to kill somebody. This sadhu used to sit under a dome in a temple, a temple which could be said to be utterly unhygienic according to modern terminology. For the first time, in the presence of three doctors from England, an experiment was carried out. The doctors took a sparrow into the temple with them. Vishuddhananda made certain sounds: the sparrow fluttered about for a while and then fell dead. The doctors examined it and pronounced it dead. Then Vishuddhananda made some other sounds: he sparrow came back to life and began fluttering about again. Then it was realized for the first time that the impact of sound can produce specific effects.
Now we readily accept that certain effects are produced by certain sounds because science can prove it. We now say that if a particular light ray falls on your body, it will bring particular results; if a specific medicine is administered to a patient, it will produce specific results; if special colors are used, they bring about special effects. Why then shouldn't special sounds cause certain effects?
Now there are some laboratories in the West which are actively engaged in investigating the relationship between sound and life, and two or three laboratories have arrived at conclusions of deep significance.
In two laboratories scientists succeeded in proving that special sounds can produce more milk in lactating mothers. Through certain sounds plants can be made to blossom within two months instead of the usual six months. And cows yield double the quantity of milk if soft music is played at the time of milking. All the dairies in Russia today employ this latest method at the time of milking. And the day is not far off when all fruits and vegetables will be grown with the help of special sounds. Demonstrations have already been made in laboratories, and it is only a matter of time until it is done on a broader scale. If fruit, vegetables and milk are influenced by sound, should not be influenced by sound.
Disease and health are dependent on special sound waves, so in the past people made hygienic arrangements in their temples which were not in any way dependent on air. They did not believe that only an abundant air supply lead to good health. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that over a period of five thousand years they could not hit upon the idea of proper ventilation in their places of worship.
The Indian recluse usually sits in caves where no light or air enters, or he sits in temples with small doors where one has to bend low to enter. There are some temples where you have to lie down and crawl in to enter; and there are even some temples one can enter only by chanting. In spite of this, there were no ill effects on the health of devotees. That is our experience over thousands of years. But when, under the influence of Westerners, we can began to doubt that for the first time, our temple doors were made bigger and windows were installed. We modernized the temples; but in doing so we converted them into ordinary houses.
The acoustics and the architecture of a temple have a deep connection.
There is a specific stipulation as to the angle at which a sound is to be made. There are stipulations for making a sound while standing and while sitting. It is even stipulated which sounds can be made only while lying down, because the impact of the sound will have a certain affect when made standing, and will change again when made while you are sitting down. It is also clarified which sounds should be made together and which are to be made separately. So it is interesting to note the confusion that was created when vedic literature was translated into Western languages.
Western languages emphasize the linguistic rather than the phonetic, whereas the vedic view gives more importance not so much to the meaning of the written or spoken word as to the special sound it should produce, and the composition of that sound. Hence the Sanskrit language is phonetic, not linguistic; the emphasis is more on the sound than on the word. And so, for thousands of years it was felt that these valuable scriptures should not be written down, because it was natural that no sooner would it be written down than the emphasis on sound would be lost. The insistence was that the knowledge be passed on by word of mouth, rather than in writing, because in writing words down -- they would be mere words, and the subtle sensations associated with the sound would be lost and so become meaningless.
If we write down the word Rama, those who are reading it will say the word in many different ways. Someone will put more emphasis on "r" and someone else, more emphasis on "a," and still somebody else will put more emphasis on "m." It will depend on the individual reader. So as soon as a word is written down, the effect of sound is destroyed. Now, to understand the effect of the sound of those words, a whole decoding exercise to pronounce the words correctly will have to be done. So for thousands of years there was a strong insistence on not writing down any scripture, because the ancient seers did not want the phonetic arrangement lost. The scripture had to be passed on to others directly by word of mouth, so scriptures were known as shrutis, meaning that which is learnt by listening.
What was passed down in the form of written books was never accepted as scripture. It was all scientifically based on the arrangement of sound. At some places the sound had to be soft, and at others it had to be loud. It was very difficult to write these words in script form. The day the scriptures were reduced to writing, the essential, inherent, original, inner arrangement of sound was lost. It was no longer necessary to understand only through listening. You can read a scripture -- it is available in the market. Now there is no relationship or relevance to sound.
It is important to note that the emphasis of the scriptures was never on the meaning. The emphasis on meaning became relevant later, when we reduced those scriptures to writing. If some thing written down has no meaning it will look insane, so meaning has necessarily to be given to the written word. There are still some parts of vedic lore where no meaning could be deciphered -- and these are the real parts, because they are totally phonetic. They do not convey any meaning.
For example, the question about the meaning of the Tibetan mantra, "Aum mani padme hum," does not arise because its significance is totally phonetic. Similarly, there is no question of any meaning in the mantra,"Aum," but it has a sound-based impact which creates a special effect. When a meditator repeats, "Aum mani padme hum," again and again, the sound affects the various chakras and they are activated. The question is not of the meaning, the significance concerns the sounds themselves. So the fact that the old scriptures did not lay any stress on the meaning, but on their utility -- the purpose for which they could be used and the benefits which could be derived from them -- deserves our special attention.
Buddha was once asked, "What is truth?" He replied, "Truth is that which can be used." The definition of truth is that which can be used. Science will define truth in the same way. Its definition will be pragmatic: Truth is that which can be made use of in life and which can be demonstrated.
If it is said that when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed, water is created, we don't care whether that statement is true or not; if we can see that water is made from mixing hydrogen and oxygen, it is true, otherwise not. The statement in itself has no validity, its validity is its utility. If it is possible to create water that way, it has to be proved by actual demonstration. Now science has adopted this definition of truth which religion accepted five thousand years ago. In religion utility was the test to verify a truth.
The mantra "Aum," has no meaning but it has utility; a temple has no meaning but it has utility. To make use of it is an art, and there is an inherent flow in all the arts which cannot be taught, but must be absorbed.
I have read that there was an emperor in China fifteen hundred years ago, who was very fond of meat -- so much so that he would have a cow or bull slaughtered right before his eyes. The same butcher slaughtered cattle in front of him regularly every morning for fifteen years. One day the emperor asked, "I haven't seen you sharpening your axe once in fifteen years. Doesn't its edge become blunt?"
The butcher replied, "No, Your Majesty, it doesn't. The edge becomes blunt only when the butcher is not an expert, if he does not know where to strike. The butcher must know where there are bones and joints, and then the axe can cut the animal in two with one blow. This art of cutting is passed on from one generation to the next. So not only does the edge not become blunt, it becomes sharper daily, with every fresh stroke."
The emperor asked the butcher to teach him the art.
The butcher replied, "It would be very difficult to. I have not learnt this art but imbibed it from watching my father since my early childhood. It wasn't taught to me, I absorbed the art through watching my father every day. Sometimes I would fetch the axe for him, and sometimes I would stack up the limbs of the animals. That was how I learnt the art. If you are ready to do the same -- standing beside me, sometimes handing over the axe to me and then putting it back, sometimes simply sitting and watching -- then perhaps you will learn the art. But I cannot teach it to you."
Science can be taught, but art has to be imbibed.
All these mantras have no meaning, but they have pragmatic value and we have made our children absorb them at a very early age. They used to learn the use of the temple without ever even being aware of what they had learnt. They would learn the art of entering a temple, how to sit there and how to make use of the sacred precincts. Whenever there was an emergency or any difficulties, they would run to the temple and then return home, having regained a balance and tranquility. Each morning they would go to the temple, because what they got there was not possible to find anywhere else. But all of this was not taught to them, they incorporated it at a very early stage in childhood. It was not taught to them but imbibed by them. Wherever there is art, it cannot be taught.
The effects of sound in the temple, and the temple itself, was an arrangement for experimentation. As long as the effect of the sound of a word was not understood, the whole experiment was meaningless.
For example, it was a convention that a mantra should only be given to a disciple by a master. The emphasis was on the mantra being recited by the master in the disciple's ear. You might have known the mantra for a long time, but still the master would whisper it in your ear.
You might wonder, "What is new in this? Couldn't I have done it without the master? Everybody knows how to repeat a mantra, and still this master has whispered it to me as if it is a great secret!" But what is to be understood is that when the master says it in the disciple's ear, he does it in a particular way, so as to emphasize certain sounds -- something which is not known to all. As a matter of fact there are various phonetic variations of "Ram" that have different effects.
We know the story of the sage Valmiki, but this tale has now lost its true significance and so seems rather childish. It is said that Valmiki was illiterate and a mere rustic. His master told him to repeat the mantra, "Rama, rama," but after some time he forgot and started chanting it in reverse, "Mara, mara" -- and became enlightened!
When the real keys to unravel such mysteries become lost, all sorts of troubles arise. The fact is that while chanting the mantra, "Rama, rama," after a period of time you automatically begin to chant, "Mara, mara," so creating a circuit. When "Rama, rama" is chanted quickly the chanting turns into "Mara, mara"; then it has the right phonetic emphasis. Then something unique happens: you cease to be, you are no more, and in that very moment when you cease to be or you die to your identity, the mantra becomes complete. That is the moment of real experience -- when you have ceased, your ego has died.
It is interesting to note that if this process is completed properly -- you will begin with the repetition of "Rama, rama," and very soon the moment will arise when you will be repeating, "Mara, mara" instead, and even if you want to say, "Rama," you will not be able to; your whole being will repeat, "Mara, mara".... At that moment you will die to yourself -- and that is the first step of meditation. When your dying to yourself is total, you will suddenly find that "Mara, mara" is beginning to revert to, "Rama, rama." When that "Rama, rama" begins from within you, without you doing it you will actually experience rama -- but not before that. In between, the transformation to "Mara" is essential.
So there are three parts to the mantra. Begin with "Rama," lose your identity in "Mara," and then the mantra will evolve into "Rama." The second step of "Mara" is the necessary part of the process; unless that happens in the middle, the real, ultimate rama experience in the third step won't happen. If you know the true phonetics and if you chant it properly -- if you lay stress on "ra" and less on "m," only then will "Rama" change into "Mara." When "m" has less emphasis, it becomes like a valley, and "r" becomes the crest, the highest peak. In your repeating the "m" of "rama" with less emphasis the transformation happens and very soon you will find that "m" becomes the peak and "r" becomes the valley. Then you are repeating, "Mara, mara" without your knowing it.
Like waves in the ocean, after every crest there is a valley. Like waves in the ocean, sound also has waves like a crescendo and diminuendo in music. Unless you are aware of the proper phonetic pronunciation, you can go on repeating a mantra but it will produce no results.
Whoever wrote this story about Valmiki repeating "Mara, mara" because he was illiterate and an ignorant rustic, is far from the truth. Valmiki was illiterate and a rustic, but in this particular instance he was quite clever. He knew the whole science of how to chant "Rama" to transform the sound into "Mara." Only after that intervening transformation will Rama be born. That "Rama" will not be the one spoken by you, because during that second step of "Mara" you cease to be. Who will repeat it? The real "Rama" that is born within you at the end of the second step will not be spoken by you but will be just a happening, in spite of you. It will happen automatically, it will not be your repetition.
The value of the shrutis -- meaning the scriptures that are heard or listened to -- is the phonetic emphasis. Only a person who knows the science of phonetics can pass on the knowledge of shruti; then only will it be useful. Otherwise the words will be the same as written in the book -- anybody can read them -- but the science will remain unknown. That science of sound -- its ascents and descents and the lengths of soundless intervals -- constitutes the whole mystery.
There used to be a complete scripture of mantras, and temples served as laboratories where they were tested. This was of great value for the seeker. The number of people experiencing god-realization within the precincts of temples has always been more than of those who have experienced it outside the temple. This has happened in spite of the fact that godliness is present outside the temples as much as inside.
People like Mahavira, who had to experiment outside temples, had to find different methods, more painstaking than the ones used in temples. Mahavira had to spend years mastering many different types of postures so that he could create the circuit of energy within. He didn't want to use the help of the temple, but the alternative was a lengthy process of difficult practices which took years and which could only be accomplished by a man with the iron will of Mahavira.
Buddha also attained enlightenment without the help of a temple. But soon after the deaths of both Mahavira and Buddha temples had to be constructed because what a temple could offer to the ordinary man was not necessarily what was given by either Buddha or Mahavira. What Buddha and Mahavira advocated was not always possible for the common man to achieve.
Today, if we can fully understand the science of sound circuits we can invent better instruments than a temple. Now some research is already going on in this direction. It is possible to invent better instruments because now we know a lot about electricity. But such experiments can be dangerous too. Still, if properly scientific arrangements are set up, whatever help a temple used to give will be got from scientific technology, because the circle of energy that was created in a temple will now be created by some other method. Now, you can keep a small instrument in your pocket, which can activate an electric circuit within you. On that electronic instrument, you may even be able to store recorded sounds which may create circuits within you. Some research is presently in progress in this area in America.
Seven or eight scientists in America are now engaged in a fascinating study aimed at showing that all our experiences of pleasure and pain are nothing but electrical currents passing through some centers of the body.
For example, if your body is pricked all over with a needle, at some of those points you will not experience pain. There are a few dead spots in your body where you won't feel anything. If someone pricks your back at a dozen spots or so, three or four of those places will have no sensation. Exactly in the same way, there will be five or ten spots of great sensitivity where even the slightest pricking will cause a lot of pain.
Our head has many sensitive spots. There are millions of cells in the brain, and each one has a particular sensitivity. When you say you feel happy, electricity is flowing through one particular cell giving you a sense of happiness. Suppose you are sitting next to your beloved, holding her hand, and you say you are feeling happy. What is happening? If a scientist described this phenomenon, he would say that electricity is flowing through a particular center in your brain, and that it is only your past mental association with this person which makes you so happy in her presence. But you may not feel that happiness after two or three months, because if you use a certain center very often, letting the electricity flow through it frequently, that cell becomes insensitive.
For example, if you repeatedly prick your foot at a particular spot with a thorn, the pain will become less and less. Tomorrow the pain will be less than today, and the day after that it will be even less. If you go on doing it, that spot will develop a knot which will become insensitive and will not feel any pain at all. People who play the sitar develop insensitive surface skin on their fingers. Then any amount of plucking on the instrument's strings does not make any difference; their fingers don't feel any pain.
So if you feel that your love has died after three or four months, or become less, it does not mean that your love was fragile, it only means that the point within you from where the feeling of happiness was coming has become insensitive because of frequent use. If she goes away for three or four months, when she returns she can make you feel happy again.
Scientists' experiments on mice are very revealing. They opened up the brain of a mouse, and a sort of window was kept open to observe what happens when a mouse is having sexual intercourse. The particular point through which the electric current was passing mouse ejaculated was marked. After that, that point was connected to an electrode, and the "window" was closed. The other end of the electrode was connected to a machine which can release a controlled amount of electricity. There was a switch, which could be operated by pressing it, which would release electricity -- the same intensity of electricity as flowed at the time of the mouse's ejaculation.
The mouse was taught how to operate the switch, and whenever it pressed it, the required amount of electricity was released by the machine, and that activated the point of the brain connected at the other end of the wire, giving the mouse the same pleasure as in sexual intercourse. The mouse felt very happy when it pressed the switch; it was so happy that it began to press the switch again and again. You will be surprised to know that the rat did not do anything else after that for the next twenty-four hours. It simply went on pushing the button -- six thousand times within each hour. It did not bother to eat or drink or sleep, but just kept pressing the switch until finally it collapsed, exhausted!
The scientist who was doing the experiment said that the mouse enjoyed the pleasure of sex so much -- more than it had ever done through intercourse, although it was not actually having intercourse but only experiencing sexual pleasure because of the electrical current released in its brain. The scientist claimed that very soon that same sensation would lose its charm for the mouse and become very ordinary.
The day we are able to connect the human brain to an electrode to receive the right electrical current at the right point, we will not be able to find anyone who will actually want to take part in sex -- because he gains practically nothing, and loses a lot of energy. He can have a small battery-operated device in his pocket, and whenever he wants to he can activate the sex center and experience the same joy as in sexual intercourse. But this has its own dangers.
Once it is possible to locate the various centers in the brain for doubt or for anger and so on, those centers can be surgically removed. The center connected with rebellion can be disconnected and man will become very docile. The government can misuse such scientific achievements.
Scientists do not know it, but it may be that with the help of scientific instruments we can provide a milieu like that which exists in a temple. The experiences which took hours, months and years to obtain with sound effects in a temple can be more easily created with scientific instruments. So I am saying that the temple was based on a very scientific foundation, and through using the medium of sound, feelings of happiness, peace, love and bliss were aroused. And in the presence of those feelings your whole attitude towards life was transformed.
On the other hand, what the scientists might do might be full of great dangers. The main danger is that whatever science does becomes technological, and consciousness does not play a part in it. It may be possible, with the use of electrical instruments, to bring about the same state as is possible through being in a temple, but then real transformation of consciousness will not be possible. The heights of consciousness and transformation cannot happen that way; what a man can get by pressing a switch will not bring about any fundamental transformation.
So I do not see any possibility that such instruments will fulfill the need for temples.
You may wonder if temples can be used today in these changed times. Yes, it is possible, but the conventional orthodox priest who is in the temple today will not be able to explain what was happening and how, in temples in ancient times. He still has the key but he does not have any idea of the hidden secrets behind it. The whole philosophy and science of temples can still be of use today. And we can create better temples now because we have better building materials. We can set up a whole sound system in such a way that sound can be magnified a thousandfold. Walls can be made that are so sensitive that if you chant the mantra "Aum" once, the walls will echo it thousands of times.
Today we have better instruments, but we should know the key which unlocks the secrets of our being.
In the old days there had to be at least one door in a temple, but now we can build a temple without any doors. In the old days generally the people who built the temples were living in houses like huts, made of cow-dung and clay. They did the best they could within their limitations, and what they did was great. Today we have wonderful technological skills, but we are not able to benefit from them.
So far we have been discussing the benefit of temples on those who entered them. But temples have their external significance and utility as well. So far we have discussed how a devotee would go into a temple and go deeper into meditation and prayer. But even a person just passing by a temple was also benefitted, though now that does not happen; today even those who go inside come out with nothing. But in those days the temple could help a person who had just been near it because those who were inside the temple were really doing something. Hundreds of devotees in the temple were activating special sound vibrations by which the whole atmosphere of the temple became charged. The temple was not just vibrating within, it was also vibrating outside, and spreading subtle waves outside as well. The whole environment became alive because the temple itself was alive.
The significance of a living temple was only this much. A living idol signified the same thing; they affected even those who had not come there for any particular benefit. A temple could only be called living if someone could pass by it casually and suddenly sense that the air had changed and the atmosphere had been transformed, even though he might not have known that there was a temple in the vicinity.
Suppose you are walking along a road on a dark night, and when you pass by a temple you experience some sudden change within you.... You were thinking of doing something wrong, and suddenly your thoughts change. You were thinking of killing someone, and suddenly you feel full of compassion. But this can happen only if the temple is charged. Every brick and stone of that temple, the doors and gates, should have become vibrant; then the whole temple will vibrate with sound.
A unique method is used to charge the bell that hangs in front of temples: whoever enters, rings the bell. He does it with total consciousness, not with a sleepy mind. When you ring the bell of a temple -- not half asleep but with alertness -- that creates a discontinuity in your thoughts, a sort of break in the chain of your thoughts, and you become aware of a changed atmosphere. There is a similarity between the sound of the bell and the sound of "Aum"; in fact there is some inner relationship. The sound of the bell continues charging the temple all the day long and the sound of "Aum" also charges the temple with its vibrations.
Many other things like that were made use of in the temple, they have their inner connections. It might be an earthen lamp filled with ghee, the burning of incense, or the use of sandalwood paste or flowers or any other fragrance -- all were related. It was not a question of a particular deity liking a specific flower, it was a question of the harmony of the temple. What type of sound and what type of fragrance was harmonious with the temple was decided through experiences. Only a certain flower with a certain fragrance which blended harmoniously with a certain sound was used; others with different fragrances were prohibited.
In a mosque only lobhan, benzoin oil creosote, could be used as incense, and dhoop and agarbatti incense in a temple. All these had their connections with sound. With the sound of "Allah," there is an inner harmony with the fragrance of lobhan. These links or connections were all discovered through the inner search for the ultimate; they were not found through any thinking process. I will tell you how this was done.
You may sit in a room where no lobhan has been burnt and repeat, "Allah" -- not just "Allah" but "Allahooh" with a special emphasis on "hoo." You will find that slowly that "Allah" sound disappears and automatically only "hoo" will go on being repeated. When this happens, suddenly you will find that your whole room is fragrant with the smell of lobhan. It was discovered that lobhan is similar to a substance that emanates from you. So lobhan is burnt in mosques with a view to helping people repeat "Hoo." Then the process is twofold: the emanation of the fragrance from within a person may take some time, but the same fragrance can initially be provided outwardly in the mosque. But the repetition of "Aum" can never bring about the fragrance of lobhan. This sound strikes another center which cannot produce this smell.
There are separate areas of fragrance within our body, and these are linked with our thoughts and feelings.
That is why Jainas believe that Mahavira's body never gave out any bad odor. His body had a certain fragrance, on the basis of which it was possible to recognize a tirthankara. In Mahavira's time, eight other people claimed to be tirthankaras, but this particular fragrance was not coming from them. None of them was less knowledgeable than Mahavira, they were of the same spiritual stature, but they were not practitioners of that system of spiritual discipline which produces this fragrance, so their claims were rejected.
Buddha also was in no way inferior to Mahavira. He was of the same caliber and state of consciousness as Mahavira, but because he was not following the same method as Mahavira, his body could not emit the same type of fragrance. That fragrance had also emanated from Parshwanath, a tirthankara who had died long before Mahavira's time. His contemporaries were still living and they confirmed that Mahavira's fragrance was similar to Parshwanath's. The ultimate result of a certain mantra process was that particular. The ultimate result of a certain mantra process was that particular fragrance.
This was a memory-based arrangement for determining the authenticity of a tirthankara. So though Mahavira never claimed that he was a tirthankara, he was readily proclaimed to be one. Makhkhali Goshal, on the other hand, did make the claim but could not prove it. You may wonder at how fragrance was used as the criterion. The test had to be that deep and infallible -- words cannot be relied on. The whole individuality of that person should emit the special fragrance that would indicate that a certain flowering had happened within him, that the culmination of the mantra process which gives birth to a tirthankara had happened.
Makhkhali Goshal, Ajitkesh Kambal and Sanjay Vilethiputra were all claimants, were very knowledgeable, were of equal caliber to Mahavira -- each of them had thousands of followers who claimed that their master was a tirthankara -- but they all disappeared into oblivion. On the other hand, Mahavira was absolutely silent on this point and never made any claim. But in the end it was decided that only that person's body that omitted that particular fragrance could be a tirthankara.
Every mantra creates its own fragrance. Those who have practiced chanting "Aum" have known a certain fragrance. Similarly, every mantra produces a particular type of inner light. How much light should be provided in a temple was decided on the basis of that inner light -- neither more nor less. The ignorance of those who sit under dazzling electric lights in temples is simply amazing. They are not needed at all, because only that much light is needed as is within the inner sky -- a very soft and inoffensive light. So a ghee lamp was used because it is not at all offensive and does not dazzle the eyes.
It may not be easy to understand the difference between a kerosene light and the ghee light because we have never experimented with meditating on light. Light a lamp filled with kerosene oil and concentrate on the flame for one hour: your eyes will start burning and become tired and painful. Then light another lamp with ghee in it, and concentrate on that flame for one hour: your eyes will feel cooler and soothed. The inner experiences of thousands of people revealed all this, and parallels were found which became external aids. Of course, it is not possible to provide a lamp exactly the same as the inner light, so only the most approximate was found. The exact fragrance which is produced within you after chanting a particular mantra cannot be found outside, so we have to be content with the nearest approximation.
Sandalwood paste became popular in all temples. The place on the forehead where the sandalwood paste is applied is called the agyna chakra in Yoga. Practicing certain mantras produces an inner experience of sandalwood perfume, but the source of that fragrance is the agya chakra. Whenever the third eye experience intensifies, the sandalwood perfume is given out, so the sandalwood perfume has become symbolic of that experience, hence we apply sandalwood paste to the forehead. When the agya chakra emits this fragrance there is a sort of coolness felt, as if you have put a piece of ice on the third eye. There is a difference between cooling things and soothing things -- just the same as between a kerosene oil lamp and a lamp filled with ghee.
Ice is cold, but it is not balmy or soothing. The cooling sensation of ice lasts only a short while and is followed by a feeling of heat. Ice is certainly cold, but not soothing or balmy. The ultimate feeling is bound to be that of heat; you feel a little more hot than before. But sandalwood paste is balmy and not cold; it only soothes. Coolness has a kind of depth. If ice is put on the agya chakra it will only make the surface cold. If sandalwood is applied to the agya chakra you will feel that its soothing effect is seeping into deeper layers beyond the skin. The coolness has to penetrate to where the third eye is located.
Those who experienced the working of the agya chakra and felt its balmy effect looked for a parallel and found it in sandalwood paste. It has the same fragrance as that which emanates from within.
All these external aids are just parallels. And when a temple is equipped with them, it becomes charged. So there is a stipulation that no one should go to a temple without a bath. Taking a cold bath breaks one's mechanicalness and thought associations. Nobody was allowed to enter the temple without ringing the bell. And nobody was to go into the temple in old or dirty clothes; in fact silk clothes had to be worn when visiting a temple, because silk helps in generating body electricity and protecting it, so silk clothes always remain fresh, however much you wear them.
All these precautions and arrangements made the temple charged, and so anyone also just passing by was affected by the magnetic field of the temple.
It is said about Mahavira that within a certain radius around him -- wherever he might be -- it was impossible to commit any violence. It was his charged field, within which no violence was possible. He was like a walking temple, and within that sphere anything happening would suddenly be changed.
Teilhard de Chardin coined a new word, noosphere, in place of "atmosphere." Atmosphere means the external environment. Noosphere means the mental or psychological situation, and within that field, certain types of happenings do not take place at all.
In earlier days, schools were conducted by rishis. The surrounding atmosphere of the schools was considered pure, inviolable. If anything wrong happened among the disciples, the rishi punished himself, not them, because it meant that the field had lost its essential quality -- so the disciples couldn't be blamed. To reprimand them was futile; some untoward event only meant that the field had lost its sanctity. So the master himself would repent, undergo a fast and purify himself.
But this idea was misunderstood by Gandhi. Self-purification was not meant to be a way to reprove anyone else, it was not intended to put pressure on another person. The idea was not to torture oneself or to go on fasting to death to change someone else's heart or conscience. Gandhi didn't understand. The rishi was not purifying himself to change somebody else, he was doing it to recharge the field or purify the surroundings. If the thinking pattern is transformed, if the mental sphere is transformed, If the thinking pattern is transformed, if the mental sphere is transformed, the man living within it will also become transformed. There was no question of changing someone's conscience but of changing the surroundings and the magnetic field everybody carries around themselves.
People like Mahavira were like walking temples. Such people cannot be expected to stay permanently in one particular place. So we need something else, more stable, which can become the center of life for a whole town -- something around which the lives of people will go on being transformed. Around which the lives of people will go on being transformed. We need a place, a temple, where we make our daily offerings and receive something in return. We may not even be aware what is happening, everything happens by itself. Anyone passing by the temple received something invaluable. There was a huge magnetic field created around it, and just as an iron filing attracted by a magnet is caught in its magnetic field, so anyone passing by the temple would be attracted and influenced by its energy. The field of a temple was like that.
It is said about Moses that when he went to the mountain he saw a divine fire burning there. The whole bush was on fire, but in the middle of it there were some flowers in full bloom and green leaves. Moses had set out in search of God. He immediately stepped towards the bush and then suddenly heard a voice coming from it, saying, "You foolish man! Leave your shoes a few paces away before entering this bush!" There was no demarcation line -- so Moses continued walking further, looking for the border where he could leave his shoes. When he crossed a certain point, he ceased to be Moses; something within him changed. Just outside the border he left his shoes, entered the field and prayed for forgiveness for desecrating that sacred place.
A temple has a charged field around it which is very vibrant, and that field had a helpful influence on the entire village. It is not a fiction; results were actually achieved. The characteristic simplicity, innocence and purity of Indian villages for thousands of years was more due to the charged field of the temples than to the villages themselves. However poor a village, the existence of a temple in it was absolutely necessary. Without a temple everything seemed chaotic, without a rhythm.
For thousands of years villages had a sort of sacredness, and there were great, invisible sources of that sacredness. The worst thing which could be done to destroy the Eastern culture was to destroy that charged field of the temples. With these vibrant temples destroyed, the entire Eastern culture crumbled. That is why today people are skeptical about the value of temples. Whoever has gone to school or college and has been taught only languages and logic -- who has only developed his intellect and his heart is closed -- never has any experience of the life of the temple. So temples are slowly losing their significance.
India cannot be India again until temples become alive again. The whole alchemy of India was in its temples; from its temples India received everything. There was a time when everything that happened in the life of a person was considered to be because of the temple. If he was sick he went to the temple, if he was unhappy he ran to the temple; even if he was happy he ran to the temple to give thanks. If something good happened in the family he went to the temple with fruits and flowers; if there were problems he would go to the temple to pray. For him the temple was all and everything. All his hopes, expectations and ambitions revolved around the temple. However poor he was, he kept the temple decorated with gold and silver and all sorts of jewels.
Today we think all that extravagance for the temple is mad. How stupid, when people are dying of hunger, that new temples are being built! Stop this! Make hospitals and schools; let the temples be opened up for refugees, let them be used. Because we have forgotten the real use of temples they have become useless. We think, "Why should gold and silver and jewels lie in temples when people are starving to death?" But it is worth remembering that only such hungry people have given the gold and diamonds to the temples; whatsoever they felt to be the most valuable, they gave to the temple, because whatsoever they had known of great value in their life, they learnt from the temple. There was nothing which would sufficiently repay their debt, so whatever they had they gave. Whatsoever was done was done for a reason, because nothing can continue for thousands of years without good reason. The invisible fruits of the temples' influence were continuously being received. There were clear and conscious benefits to being near a temple.
Man always forgets. Whatever is very high and of value we forget; whatever is trivial and commonplace we remember continually, twenty-four hours a day. We have to make an effort to remember God, but our desires and passions don't need to be remembered, they are there all the time. Going downhill is easy; going uphill is always difficult.
So the temple was built in the center of the village so that during the day one could go there as frequently as needed. It kept the search alive. Very few of us naturally remember what we are looking for; most of us only feel inspired when we actually see things. When there were no airplanes, we didn't have any desire to travel by airplane. Yes, someone like the Wright Brothers did dream of fly because they invented the airplane, but the ordinary person won't have such dreams unless he sees an airplane.
So when we could see godliness personified within the shape of a temple, something of godliness lingered on in our minds. This was especially so for people who could not visualize the unmanifest god. For those who could, there was no need for a temple. But in one way these people caused great harm to the temple because they said there was no use for temples and that they should be dispensed with.
If temples are useless, remove them; but if temples are destroyed, how will those who can't visualize an unmanifest form of godliness be ever able even to think of godliness? From that angle sometimes difficulties do arise. If a person like Mahavira, who never needed a temple, speaks from his level of consciousness, he may want temples removed; but if he thinks about your need, he will stop saying so.
The temple remains a source of inspiration for the twenty-four hours of our day. You remember that there is one more door in life other than your shop or house, apart from your wife and wealth... a dimension which is neither part of the market nor of desires. It gives you neither wealth, nor fame, nor the satisfying of desires; the temple reminds you of that continuously. There are moments in life when you are tired of the marketplace, bored with your family: in such moments you can find harmony in the temple.
If the temple is destroyed then there is no other alternative. If you are tired of the food at home, you can go to a hotel or restaurant. If you are tired of the market, where will you go? The temple provides a different dimension, away from the world of give and take. So those who made temples like the marketplace have destroyed them. The temple is not a place for bargaining, it is a place for rest and relaxation, where, tired and exhausted from all your worldly activities you can find relief and peace. There are no conditions to enter the temple, the temple accepts you as you are. There does exist a place so simple that you are accepted as you are.
Many times you have become tired of the type of life you are living. At such times you might have felt the door to prayer open. And if even once the door opens then it can open again and again, even in your shop and your home. Whenever you want, that door should be easy for you to reach at any time -- because the moments that can be call truly great come rarely. It is not necessary to go on a pilgrimage, or in search of a Mahavira or Buddha. Such moments are too short-lived. There should be somewhere just near at hand which you can simply enter.
Childhood memories are very important. Scientists say that by the age of seven a child learns almost all the fundamentals; on that the superstructure of his knowledge is built. Very little that is new is added, but a of his knowledge is built. Very little that is new is added, but a few basic things can be added. If we are not able to form an association with the temple in the child's mind by the time he is seven then it becomes difficult, even impossible, to do so later. A lot of effort will be needed and then too the memory will only be superficial.
That is why we wanted the temple to be the child's first memory after birth. His surrounding were planned in such a way that he would grow up near the temple, gradually coming to know it and absorbing it in his life. The temple would become an integral part of his being, and when he entered the worldly life, the temple would have its own special place inside him because was to provide a retreat for him during all the hectic activities of his life. So we wanted the temple to have a place in his mind from his very birth; later on it would be difficult....
All those who lived in the vicinity of the temple had an impression of it imprinted on their minds. It went so deep into their unconscious that it was no longer a matter of thought but became a part of their being. So all the world over, the forms and shapes of temples may have differed, but the temple was indispensable.
Now in the world that is being shaped the temple is not considered indispensable; other things have taken that place -- schools, hospitals and position; other things have taken that place -- schools, hospitals and libraries. But they are very material and have no connection at all with the beyond. Instead, what is needed is something which indicates the transcendental. When we get up in the morning, we should hear the temple bells ringing; when we go to sleep at night, we should hear the religious songs from the temple.
There is an incident in Mahavira's life.... A thief was lying on his deathbed, and his son asked him to give him some final word of advice that would help him in his work. The thief said, "Don't have anything to do with a person called Mahavira. If you know he is in your village, run to another. If he passes your way on the road, hide somewhere on a side street. And if without realizing it you are somewhere where you can hear his words, close you beware of him!"
When the son asked him why he should be so afraid of Mahavira, his father told him not to argue: "Just listen to what I say. If you go near that man our business will be in danger and the family will starve."
What happens next is very interesting. The son of that thief always ran away from Mahavira, but one day he made a mistake. Mahavira was sitting silently in a mango grove, and, unknowingly, the thief's son happened to pass that way. Suddenly yyhavira started speaking. The thief heard half the sentence, closed his ears and ran. But he had already heard half the sentence, and that landed him in a lot of trouble.... He was being chased by the police -- the whole state police were after him for his thieving -- and after a few weeks he was eventually caught.
Thieving was in his family and so he was an expert in his trade. He was so clever that he never left behind any incriminating evidence. It was well known that he was a thief and had committed a lot of thefts; everybody knew about it, but there was no evidence. So there was no alternative but to make him confess.
He was made totally drunk and kept in such a state of intoxication that he remained unconscious for two or three days. When he did open his eyes again, he was still in a state of semi-consciousness. All around him he say beautiful women standing and he asked where he was. He was told that he had died, and that preparations were being made to take him either to heaven or hell. He was told that people were waiting for him to become conscious so that he could confess the sins he'd committed. If he did, he would be taken to heaven; otherwise he would be sent to hell. If he spoke the truth he would be saved.
He felt that now he should tell the truth and not lose the chance of going to heaven; now that he had died there was nothing to fear. But just at that moment he remembered that half-sentence he had heard Mahavira say. Mahavira had been talking about gods and ghosts. He had also hinted about the yamadoots, who take people to the worlds beyond death. The thief had heard him say that the toes of yamadoots are always inverted: he opened his eyes and saw that the feet of the people standing by him were normal, so he became alert. He now saw there was no need to confess. He saw through the trick, and said that he had not committed any sins; what could he confess? If they wanted they could take him to hell. But as he hadn't committed any sins, how could they? So they had to let him go.
He went running to Mahavira, fell at his feet, and asked him to complete the sentence which had saved him. When half of Mahavira's sentence had saved him, of how much more benefit would be the whole sentence! He said he was totally surrendered to Mahavira. Sometime or other he was bound to be caught and hanged but if he heard the rest of the sentence he might still be saved. So Mahavira used to say that even if half the sentence of an awakened one was heard, it could be useful one day.
Similarly, a man running past a temple, or just passing by casually, hears the sound vibrations coming from a temple or smells the fragrance of the place... and even that can be of help to him.