Devotee readers who have missed earlier chapters can read from the links below.
|Introduction||NA||Introduction & Preface|
|Chapter 1||Part 1||Sai Baba – The Saint of Shirdi|
|Chapter 1||Part 2||Sai Baba – The Saint of Shirdi|
|Chapter 2||NA||Understanding Shirdi Sai In Baba’s Own Words|
|Chapter 3||Part 1||Building Up Of Lodi Road Temple, New Delhi|
|Chapter 3||Part 2||Urge to Know Baba|
|Chapter 3||Part 3||First Visit to Shirdi|
|Chapter 3||Part 4||Meeting with Sri Satya Sai Baba|
|Chapter 3||Part 5||Paramhamsa Omkara Swamy|
|Chapter 3||Part 6||Functioning of Delhi Sri Sai Samaj|
|Chapter 3||Part 7||Building of Lodi Road Temple in New Delhi|
|Chapter 3||Part 8||Commencement Of Puja At The Temple|
|Chapter 4||Part 1||Stray Thought! On Bhakti|
|Chapter 4||Part 2||Stray Thought! On Bhakti|
Stray Thought – On Building Temples
Very often, news is received that at such and such place a very big temple of Baba is coming up. Even those connected with the construction of such a temple do not hesitate to say, again and again, that their’s would be the biggest temple in the whole of a particular region or even in the whole of India. A thought has often arisen in my mind, “Will Baba sitting in a huge temple shower greater largesse on His devotees and be more effective than the one sitting in a small temple or even under a tree?” “Will His devotees experience more grace from a bigger place than a small one?” Some are building temples on a few yards of land while others talk of many acres of land, sometimes extending to more than 100 acres for the construction of the temple along with its ancilliaries. People seem to be engaged in a rat race. In my view, Baba’s idol installed in a thatched hut by one person or a group of persons who have dedicated themselves to Baba heart and soul, may generate much better vibrations than the one built on a huge plot of land by an individual or a group of persons with a lot of money power at their command.
Baba spent His whole life in a dilapidated mosque. To me it seems a little incongruous to make Him sit in a huge awe-inspiring building totally covered by marble and granite, with a gold canopy over His head, and wearing a diamond-studded gold crown on His head. An explanation to this flashy mode of Baba’s worship is given that it is the devotees wish to see Him being worshipped as a ‘Raja Dhiraj’. They contend that huge temples of other Gods/Goddesses have also similarly come up. But Baba is supposed to be an Avtar of Lord Siva, whose temples are generally small and unostentatious. Has Lord Siva lost His glamour by being worshipped in small temples? Should we not encourage building similar small temples of our Baba and the money thus saved on the construction of lofty buildings becoming available to serve the poor and needy, who were so dear to Baba? I would humbly, request my worthy fellow devotees/Gurus/Avtars to give the matter a thought and throw more light on this subject.
In the North, a tendency has been witnessed to erect more and more temples of Baba or to instal Baba’s idol in the temples already functioning. As a humble devotee of Baba, I consider it my sacred duty to discourage such a tendency on the part of my fellow devotees which would result in a haphazard growth of Sai temples. A Baba temple should only be constructed by people who can ensure the spirit of Baba to flow in abundance in such a temple after it has been erected. During my visit to Jabalpur in September 2001, I was taken to a Baba temple where, in my humble view, things appeared appalling. The face of Baba seemed to be mutilated. Again and again stretching my eyes, it was found that the idol had a black scar on its nose. Hundreds of flies and ants were found on the ‘Charan Padukas’, on which prasad was scattered in abundance. The shawl wrapped around Baba was unclean. Only one young boy was sitting in a corner of the temple awaiting the arrival of somebody who would give Baba bath and clean the place. There seems to a definite need to avoid such situations.
The decision to build a Baba temple should only taken-up by a devotee after deep and careful thought, take into account his own potentiality to take up and maintai such a project. If one looks into the history of spirituality, would be seen that great devotees of God, who have left mark of their spirituality, did not build a temple. They on occupied a particular place of God from where their spirituality developed and flowed. In my humble view, the building of a temple is not the only appropriate reflection of one’s devotion to Baba, as seems to be the case today, when a large number of devotees all over are aspiring to build temples. Every heart is a temple of God. A small picture or idol of Baba placed in a corner of the house, where the devotee cries out his heart and soul to Baba, is a much better temple of Baba than an elegant building housing an image of Baba, where the organisers indulge in cut-throat competition to occupy the high seats in the management and which has become a hot¬bed of politics. The vibrations emanating from that secluded corner of the house could be much more powerful and effective, than the temple which vibrates with jealousy, hatred and political pranks of its constituents. Building a temple to show one’s gratitude to Baba, who has bestowed His Grace on him, may thus not be the only and appropriate way for a devotee.
Early in my journey on Baba’s path, I had read in a book written by a saint of Shri Ramakrishna order, “The success of a religious body depends, not on its external achievements, its efficient organisation, its buildings, the size of its membership or its philanthropic activities but upon the inner life of each of its members and the measure of their progress towards devotion and knowledge of God.” These words have left an indelible mark on my mind. Before taking up a project for the building of a temple a lot of thought, planning, availability of funds for the running of the temple and most importantly, the constitution of the organisation have to be given a deep thought. Nothing should be done in haste, based on emotions. It is difficult to plan and build a temple but it is much more difficult to ensure its smooth, flawless functioning and to generate vibrations in the temple wherein even a non-believer should feel the presence of Baba. When a person or a group of persons decide to build a temple, more often-they have no previous experience of the task. They associate whosoever comes their way and who either seems to be a devotee or who is capable of generating funds. When the temple gets ready, invariably the administrators out of this crowd come up to administer the temple, making those who had given their life and blood to this work but who are sincere devotees and would not like to indulge in dirty politics, run away from the temple. From the experience gained, I would suggest that the following areas in building a temple should be given deep thought:
The temple does not mean merely the installation of an idol and ensuring its regular worship. It encompasses a whole lot of things, other than worship, such as: creating an atmosphere laden with Baba’s way of life and leelas, the principles Baba cherished and lived for, regular reading of Sai Satcharita; delivering talks on Baba and revealing that which was peculiar in Baba; devise programmes for the service of the poor and needy; and the like. Baba’s emphasis, all through His life, was on the following three aspects of humanity:
i) Oneness of man irrespective of caste, creed, religion, or geographical boundaries.
ii) God is one and dwells in all living beings,
iii) Service to the poor and needy.
- Personal life of those associated with Baba’s work, at every step, should reflect these strains and the temples built for Baba should vibrate with these feelings.
- The constitution of the society should be drafted taking into account the need for its smooth functioning for at least the next 30 years. Generally people with feeling initially build a temple and once it starts functioning, the administrators come and ease them out. This aspect should be taken care of while drafting the constitution and it should be ensured that all those who have initiated the proposal or those who have translated their thoughts into action in the initial stages are not ignored or removed from the centre stage for quite some years to come. So also, the membership of the society has to be taken care of. Most founder members should not all be old, as in that event they would create a vacuum in the organisation within the next few years. There should be a judicious mixture of the old and the young in the society.
It has been observed that Baba’s temples gather a lot of funds. The piling up of these funds is likely to provide an impetus to wrong persons to grab the seat of power in these temples. To curb this desire, huge amounts of money flowing to Baba’s funds should be diverted at the earliest towards philanthropic activities of a permanent nature which can help in the improvement of the lot of the poor and needy people, who were dear to Baba. Also, great care should be taken in inducting new members in the institution and self-seekers should be eliminated to get an entry into the organisation. The form of membership should be drafted in such a manner that no non-devotee finds a place in the organisation. The following suggestions could be considered:-
a) The form should include a column in which the applicant should be asked to write 10 lines on Baba. This would show the depth of his devotion.
b) The applicant should be asked to state the reason for which he is seeking the membership of the institution along with information as to which field of functioning in the temple, he would be able to make his contribution.
c) The form should be scrutinised by a committee of experienced members who should endeavour to find out the real motto of the person to seek membership and ultimately, the applicant interviewed to ensure his meaningful contribution to the institution.
Continued…Part 4 of Chapter 4
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