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Treating Our Body like a Temple

-Thrineshwara M.R.
No. 17/1, "Sunaada", Krishnappa L/O,
Nagashettyhalli, R.M.V. 2nd Stage,
Bangalore - 560094. , Karnataka, India.


Temple and God within our own Body

I am making an attempt here to visualize the concept of Temple and God within our own body. When we think of a temple we get different feelings, which are common. A temple is a place of worship and hence there will be a God inside, devotees come to that place daily and a priest performs pooja in favour of the devotees, there will be bhajans, chants, dhyan, etc., What is most important is the fact that everyone thinks that a temple is a holy place where only good things or holy activities should take place and no violence nor quarrels should happen and since God is there the whole area in and around the temple structure should be kept clean always and a serene atmosphere should be maintained. Suppose there is no God inside then people may not go there for worshipping and hence the feeling of a temple may vanish from our minds. So, in the minds of people the presence of God only, which is a belief is responsible for getting various feelings, doing various activities, etc., and the moment the God is taken out or displaced to some other place either physically by removing the Idol or conceptually from the minds of people all other related things will vanish or come to standstill.

Since God is almighty and omnipresent he must be inside our body also. If we believe in this concept then should we not treat our body like a temple? Lord Basavanna has given a wonderful idea of transforming our body into a temple in one of his (poems) Vachana, the Vachana goes like this

ಉಳ್ಳವರು ಶಿವಾಲಯ ಮಾಡಿಹರು,
ನಾನೇನ ಮಾಡುವೆ ಬಡವನಯ್ಯಾ.
ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಲೇ ಕಂಬ, ದೇಹವೇ ದೇಗುಲ,
ಶಿರವೇ ಹೊನ್ನ ಕಳಶವಯ್ಯಾ.
ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವಾ, ಕೇಳಯ್ಯಾ
ಸ್ಥಾವರಕ್ಕಳಿವುಂಟು, ಜಂಗಮಕ್ಕಳಿವಿಲ್ಲ.

The haves make temples for Shiva.
Ayya, what can I do? I am poor.
my legs are pillars, my body the temple,
and my head the golden pinnacle.
Koodalásangamadeva, listen,
the sthavara comes to an end
but the jangama does not. -Guru Basava

Meaning, wealthy people can build a Shivalaya (temple) but as I am poor what can I do, my legs are the pillars, my body (deha) is the Garbhagriha and my head is the golden (pinacle) Kalasha.

A temple in general is characterized by a central enclosed portion called Garbhagriha or Sanctum Sanctorum where the God’s idol is placed for worship and this is nothing but our body portion between the head and the two legs, above this a Gopura or Dome on top of which is a golden Kalasha, which is considered as our head and the whole structure standing on the pillars, which is considered as our two legs. Now, having transformed our body into a temple next thing to look at is how and from where do we bring God? Or where do we place the God in side this body-temple? A very tricky question! Should we just believe that God is there already inside us somewhere and be happy with that? Eventhough this belief is true let us try to define him appropriately so that we can feel his presence always.

Let us try to visualize the concept of God for a moment. This step is very important to us because we do not know anything about the God since he is Niraakaara and Nirguna swaroopa. Even if he is there somewhere in some form then what can we do if we are blind and deaf by birth in which case we would not have seen him nor heard about his appearance or qualities? Whenever we receive a big help or sacrifice from a person or any other living creature we try to treat the helper as God because of the gratitude filled in our heart. For example, we treat our parents as God because of our birth, caring and protection that we get from them, we treat our teachers as God because of the knowledge obtained, we treat our friends as God when they save us from fatal accidents or any other casualties, we treat our cows as God because of various benefits we get and the holiness attached in our culture, we treat the doctor who saved our life as God, we treat many trees such as coconut, thulasi, ashwath, etc., as God because of various medicinal and other benefits we get from them and the list may go on like this. By now one would get an idea of what the God might be. So, the idea of God may be replaced by all the good things and good thoughts such as Love, Protection, Caring, forgiving, etc. It is a strong belief that resides in our mind always. The same belief we should instill in our heart the center of garbhagriha as God. If we are able to do this then it naturally means that God is there inside. With the same belief we all go to temples. If we do not believe that God is there in a temple then we may not go there for worshipping. Once the God is instilled in the body-garbhagriha then we should try to maintain the body- temple cleanly by purifying our physical body both inside and outside and our mind together. Good habits in all walks of life and good thoughts help in keeping our body healthy and free from diseases just like cleaning the temple and preventing it from misuse by miscreants. If God is there inside naturally we perform prayers, dhyans, bhajans, etc., within our mind.

A devotee with the spiritual mindset will be interested in only dhyan, meditation, praising his deity, etc., and put effort in self-realization and enjoy the life that way. He will never wish to pray him for material wealth because he believes that the God has already given him enough to sustain his life and also enough strength to earn more if needed. So, if at all we need more, then it should come from our own effort. This effort should be spent on our work, which Lord Basavanna considers as Kaayaka. With this Kaayaka one would try to earn what is just sufficient for his life with his own effort and not hurting anyone. If something is left after his consumption, then he would give away the excess to other needy people as Dasooha (Charity). This he would repeat every day. He would not stop this Kaayaka even if his stomach is full because he would try to share it with all those who do not have similar strength to earn on their own. If everyone practices this kind of Kaayaka then probably there will not be any difference between rich and poor because all will be getting equal share no matter who earns and no one will think of amassing the wealth for next generations also as many of us do normally. Such a devotee will not be afraid of any difficulties in life and welcomes them happily and pray God to just give him enough strength and courage to face them. For him both joy and sorrow come as per God’s wishes and hence he would only welcome both. Guru Basava wrote in one of his vachana –

ನಾಳೆ ಬಪ್ಪುದು ನಮಗಿಂದೆ ಬರಲಿ,
ಇಂದು ಬಪ್ಪುದು ನಮಗೀಗಲೆ ಬರಲಿ,
ಇದಕಾರಂಜುವರು, ಇದಕಾರಳುಕುವರು
`ಜಾತಸ್ಯ ಮರಣಂ ಧ್ರುವಂ' ಎಂದುದಾಗಿ
ನಮ್ಮ ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವರು ಬರೆದ ಬರೆಹವ ತಪ್ಪಿಸುವಡೆ
What has to happen tomorrow, let it happen today.
What has to happen today, let it be this very instant.
Why fear it, why shrink from it?
One who is born is sure to die.
What our Koodalasangamadeva has inscribed
not even Han, Brahma and other gods can undo it -Guru Basava

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