Posted by: satramana | September 1, 2011

Temples of Being

Alighting at Tiruvannamalai station on the morning of 1st September, 1896, Venkataraman beheld his promised land in the starry-pointing towers of Arunachaleswara’s Temple from afar.

from the train

Arunachala and the Temple towers coming into view from the train.

 

As with the Saint Nanda, the very sight of the towers filled his soul with joy, arising not merely from the sense of achievement but also from the close proximity to Bliss itself. With quick steps and a bounding heart he proceeded straight to the great Temple. The gates of the three high compound walls and all the inner doors were open.

temple gates 3

temple gates

 

There was not a soul beside him there; and it looked as though the Father was thus preparing to welcome his beloved son, who marched straight to the inmost shrine, the Holy of Holies without any hindrance and addressed Arunachaleswara (in the shape of lingam) thus:

 

“O God, obedient to Thy call, Here have I come,

deserting all.”

 

pathala lingam 2

Pathala Lingam. (Courtesy: Sri Ramanasramam, Bhagavan Sri Ramana, A Pictorial Biography.)

The above excerpts appear in “Self-Realization, Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi,” by B.V. Narasimha Swami, published by Sri Ramanasramam, and the accompanying quote is by Bhagavan Ramana.

 

pathala lingam

Old image from outside Pathala lingam.

 

 

anamalai

Lord Sri Arunachaleswara and Goddess Apithakuchambal, painted by Anandhi Muthukumarasamy. These dieties are enshrined in the Sri Arunachaleswara Temple in Tiruvannamalai. The painting is located at the SAT Temple.

 

The following is an excerpt of Ramana’s recounting of his Self-Realization as it appears in the book “Self-Realization, Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi,” by B.V. Narasimha Swami, published by Sri Ramanasramam. 

 

“…One of the new features related to the temple of Meenakshisundareswara. Formerly I would go there rarely with friends, see the images, put on sacred ashes and sacred vermilion on the forehead and return home without any perceptible emotion. After the awakening into the new life, I would go almost every evening to the temple. I would go alone and stand before Siva, or Meenakshi or Nataraja or the sixty-three saints for long periods. I would feel waves of emotion overcoming me. The former hold on the body has been given up by my spirit, since it ceased to cherish the idea “I-am-the-body.” The spirit therefore longed to have a fresh hold and hence the frequent visits to the temple and the overflow of the soul in profuse tears…

 

meenakshi temple 

Meenakshi Temple (c. 1900, Vintage images)

 

63 saints

Sixrty-Three Saints within the Meenakshi Temple.

 

Meenakshi mother

Mother Meenakshi.

 

meenakshi lingum

Lingam inside Meenakshi Temple.

 

 

 

The importance of the temple…

Visiting the temple regularly for worship and offering one’s service in its care is known to those whose life is drenched in Sri Ramana’s lineage of the Sanantana Dharma (Eternal Truth) and Advaita Vedanta (Nonduality).

For eons, the wise have built temples, worshipped and meditated in temples, realized in temples, and cared for temples, viewing them as foundational to their spiritual life. Temples are a wondrous blessing for all humankind.

 

The significance of the temple …

Hindu temples known by present-day researchers date back as far as 3300-1200 BC, however, there may have been earlier temples whose material existence is no longer present. Certainly, the temples are an ancient tradition within Hinduism.

In Hinduism, temples vary greatly in their architecture, appearance, rituals, traditions and customs according to the presiding deities or Gods of each individual temple. Traditional temple architecture is complex and by no means randomly designed. Many temples simultaneously mirror the outer cosmos—all manifestation–the inner cosmos—the mind space–and the Absolute, which transcends both. In other words, temple significance is no small thing as it represents the entire gamut of the cosmos and human experience pointing the way to Knowledge of the Supreme, which in Advaita Vedanta is understood to be Self-Knowledge. One could say that the Siva temple is born out of the mind of Siva, leaving a map, as it were, to oneself—Siva. Regardless of the school of thought or the deities or Gods each person worships, common among all practicing Hindus is the belief that visiting the temple plays a primary role in one’s spiritual practice. Depending on the approach of the spiritual seeker, it is a place of worship, prayer, and meditation. It is a place where one seeks solitude, solace, worldly and spiritual boons, blessings, and Self-Knowledge.

A temple may be perceived as the embodiment of the Divine. So, when one enters the temple, he or she leaves the dust of the mundane world behind (symbolized by removal of the shoes) and enters the abode of the Absolute, or the Absolute itself, where one meditates upon the Absolute and thus becomes the Absolute. So, in a Siva temple, the highest view would be that Siva abides within Himself.

Our temple, the SAT Temple, which is the “Temple of Being,” is a Ramana-Siva temple, the presiding Gods being Sadguru Ramana and Lord Siva, which are viewed as One. Though it is non-traditional in its architectural form, the essence of its method of worship is the ancient, primordial, original Supreme Knowledge with the forms of worship consisting of spiritual instruction, meditation, recitation, puja, and such. 

 

sat temple sign

 

temple from field 

SAT Temple.

satsang hall 

The Satsang Hall inside the SAT Temple.

 

 

Within the One like Space

1.

Ever present everywhere,

The One like space is worshipped,

Upon the space-like One one meditates,

Within the One like space.

2.

When, filled with space, a vessel moves,

The space within moves not,

So, when the body moves, the Self does not,

The One within like space.

3.

The vessel created, the space not so,

The vessel destroyed, the space is not,

Without a beginning or an end,

Within the One like space.

4.

The space within, the space without,

No difference is there of the space,

Pervading entirely all forever,

The One within like space.

5.

Containing all, binding none,

Embracing all, untouched by any,

In which all are, which none can grasp,

Within the One like space.

6.

Space of the cave, deep within,

Space of the temple, shining, divine,

Space of the sky, with no limit,

Within the One like space.

7.

Itself unseen in which all see,

The seer’s nature alone is seen,

Transparent, vast, immeasurable,

The One within like space.

8.

As space emptied into space,

Is only changeless space,

So the “I” and the Self,

The One within like space.

9.

Space in space is only space,

Undivided Being,

The one who realizes, the One realized,

The One within like space.

10.

Within the One like space,

Is solely the One within like space;

The One within like space is always

Within the One like space.

11.

The space of God,

The space of the Guru,

The space of the Self,

The One within like space.

In the Temple of Being

The Space of Consciousness

- Nome

 

serving ramana

offerings to ramana

You must help the man as a means of worshipping God in that man. All such service too is for the Self, not for anybody else. You are not helping anybody else,
but only yourself.” 
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
  (The Ramana Way, March 2011)

 

Enjoying Servitude

By A.R. Natarajan, Founder President, Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning.
The Ramana Way, March 2011

The very word “servile” is obnoxious. To lose one’s dignity, to be reduced to mere doormats, is unthinkable. To serve human masters is bad enough. To obey the orders of their puerile and capricious mind is anathema. But we often do. Why? Forced, of course. Because fear of the consequences of disobeying looms large. You cannot disobey your boss without fear of losing your increment, promotion or even your job, if worse comes to the worst. So, you obey and carry your resentments, secreted in the inner recesses of your mind adding to the load of hurts you have been harboring.

         Often, our subordination in the hierarchical set up may be covered up, may be camouflaged, in so-called meetings, discussions and so on. For one is always aware as to who wears the pants, who decides. One is also aware that one’s own reservations about the wisdom of the decisions is of no consequence. Most people are clogs in the vast machine of industry, business and profession, servile not by choice, not voluntarily, but because that is the general set up in which one has to get along in life. You slog away night and day for a few crumbs in the form of salary, perquisites and bonuses.

        This makes one wonder if there can be a servitude which is to be opted for, which is most welcome. There is one such. One might be surprised at this assertion. For, servitude and joy are opposites, poles apart. Where is one’s much cherished love of freedom, which is being trampled mercilessly, albeit with a velvet hoof? Yet there it is. The enjoyable servitude: it is the servitude to Bhagavan Ramana. Oh, for the joy of it. What nectarine bliss it is.

        If one regards himself as Ramana’s servant, still there is the ego-based relationship; Ramana the master and “I” the servant. That is how one might begin, casting himself in that role. If the self-made casting is to be perfect, one should stand in attendance, looking out for an opportunity to satisfy every wish, let alone orders, of Ramana. Should he not? But, as soon as such an attempt is made, one is straightaway faced with the problem of dealing with a master who has no wishes, no desires, and one who is ever content. Ramana’s cup of happiness if full. His mind is dead. He is Bhagavan, the very embodiment of plentitude. So we are at a loose end, in a fix to find a way to serve him.

        There is another difficulty, too, with this master Ramana. He goes on giving, bestowing his bounties in endless succession, including the priceless treasure of an inner life. Instead of our pleasing him with our service, he seems bent on pleasing us, in making us happy, in showering gifts asked and unasked.

        Now, what is one to do? What is the way to serve him? It is only to attempt to glorify him even though, really speaking, he is beyond all glorifications. This takes one back to the first Ramana Jayanti, the maiden celebration of Ramana’s birthday. A group of devotees decided it was time that they expressed their feelings for Ramana, their love and devotion. What better occasion could there be than the birthday! So they decided to go ahead, in the quiet, lest Ramana should negate any body-related celebrations. Ramana did protest but allowed himself to be overruled when the devotees with one voice said, “We want to have the joy of singing and dancing, taking your name. Your birthday is just an excuse. Why do you protest? Why deny us this happiness?” All modes of enjoyment given to man could be channeled to talk about his sweet, exemplary life of wondrous detachment, to set to music and sing his compositions and the outpourings of Muni, Muruganar, Sadhu Om and others on him. To make it possible to visualize his enchantment through dance. To be joined in this service in common brotherhood with devotees, with seekers of truth, to broadcast his grace in all the eight corners of the world, would be an integral part of this mosaic of worship and servitude to Ramana. As Muruganar sang, “His feet outspread he placed for worship and, for those who worship, grace.”

        It is said that willing and unquestioning acceptance of the results of our action, of the realties of life, is an article of faith if one has surrendered, if one is wedded to implicit obedience to the guru. This of course is a must. But it does not go far enough. “Thy will be done” we say. That of course is the law. It seems necessary that one has to take the self-effacement even further and recognize that one is an absolute zero. The intelligence to act, the sustaining strength, and not only the results, are Sadguru’s gifts. Constant remembrance that he is the number one, which adds value to the zeros which follow, is needed.

        If only we serve his devotees, how pleased would Ramana be! In this regard, Ramana’s own life serves as a standing example. What motherly solicitude he would show in insisting on their having breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Ashram? Nearly always, a new visitor’s leaf would be laid close to Ramana’s. Looking for opportunities to serve the growing world-wide Ramana family seems to be the obvious thing to so. Borrowing his own expression, one has to be the “devotee’s devotee.”

        But, if a servant of Raman stops with this, would it be service at its best? Would it be enough if one washes his feet with tears of love? Is it enough if one feels his presence in every pore of his being? Is it enough if Ramana’s name thrills one to his core? Seems enough. Does it not? But it is not enough. For Ramana, himself, has given the ultimate test. It is to become food unto him, which is to lose the servant-ego, to lose all identifications with the body and with the mind. When this happens, these limitations cease, there is only the limitless ocean of consciousness, of intelligence, which the master is. Does this happen by chance or through steadfast, vigilant self-enquiry? When will it happen? One does not know. We know that it is only his grace, indescribable grace, that makes possible this culmination of the servitude to Ramana that one has opted for, by steadily immersing one in boundless bliss.”

 

Blessed are the one’s who, generation upon generation, upon generation, selflessly serve the temple, keeping it alive for all humanity.

 

Below, are a few images of devotees enjoying service
at the SAT Temple in servitude to Ramana devotees.

 

nome jim woodwrork

Nome and Jim prepare a wood piece to install in the Lotus room staircase.

 

nome jim bob woodword

Installation is complete….now it’s time to stain and varnish. Bob stands near ready to assist as needed.

jim woodwork 

Jim carefully varnishes the wood.

 

myra vacuum

Myra vacuuming the Lotus room, preparing it for the next event.

 

tristan vacuum

Here, Tristani, too, vacuums the entry to the Temple. With miles and miles of carpet it is a big job!

 

bob bathrooms

Bob is making sure the bathrooms are clean for everyone.

 

jaden sweeps drive

Here, Jaden sweeps the driveway that exits the SAT Temple.

ryan cleans weed

Ryan removes the weeds growing next to the driveway.

tim whips weeds

Tim also removes dry weeds near the Temple to reduce fire hazard.

tristan sweeping

Here, Tristani sweeps the walkways around the Temple.

nome cutting bushes

Nome trims the bushes near the SAT Temple sign.

ryan clears jasmine

Ryan cuts back some jasmine that is growing too near the outside lights.

raman tim change lightbulb

Raman changes the lights outside the Temple side entrance while Tim holds the ladder.

richard windows

Here, Richard cleans the cobwebs from the Satsang Hall windows.
Has anyone ever seen a cob?

raman instal smoke d

Raman installs a new smoke detector in one of the residential rooms.

eric electrical

Here, Eric installs new outside lights on one of the residential houses.

jaden cleans nataraj

Jaden cleans Nataraja preparing Him for fresh flowers.

jim flowers murti

Jim prepares Nataraja for Satsang adorning Him with flowers.

jaden cleans shrine

Jaden thoroughly cleans the shrine room, the inner sanctum, preparing it for fresh flowers while Ramana looks on.

nome tim soundsystem

Here, Nome and Tim set up the sound system for Sri Ramana’s Self-Realization celebration.

jaden cleaning brass

Jaden cleans the brassware, preparing it for next puja…

jaden malas

…and then makes malas for Ramana!

raman bookstore

Here, Raman takes book orders from the SAT website and will prepare them for shipment…

sangeeta bookstore

…while Sangeeta unpacks a book shipment from Sri Ramanasramam.

sasvati watering

Here, Sasvati waters the Temple garden.

 

Blessed are the keepers of the Temple of Being,
The Space of Consciousness.

 

 

Blessed are the keepers of the Sanantana Dharma (Eternal Truth) and
Advaita Vedanta (Nonduality).

colorful Ramana small

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya!

www.satramana.org


Responses

  1. wonderful work, keep it up! Hope to visit some time soon. we in Toronto
    are not so lucky!

  2. Dear Ramana Devotees,

    Apologies for the typo in Sri A.R. Natarajan’s article on “Enjoying Servitude.” The last paragraph, first sentence reads: “But, if a servant of Raman stops with this, would it be service at its best?” Please note that the sentence should read: “But, if a servant of Ramana stops with this, would it be service at its best?”

    With Love,
    In Sri Bhagavan
    Sasvati


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