Why do we pray?
Today, on the occasion of Ram Navami, I booked a new temple for my house.
I was running out of space to keep temple-related items, and Rohāmrta was having a field day reaching out for the agarbattis after they had been spent. These daily disruptions prompted me to lookout for options with closed doors, and I think I found the one I wanted:)
As I drove back (and it was a long drive), I reflected on why anyone would bother upgrading the temple. God is omnipresent no? So what difference does it make to God if he (or she) is housed in a smaller premises?
How does it matter if his murti is made of stone, or brass, or silver, or gold?
Well, in ancient India, it was believed that one’s own interpretation and belief is what constitutes our personal connection with God. Those looking for definitive answers, as in science, may never find one, since there is no one answer. Jaisa bhakt, waisa bhagavan – Like the seeker, is his truth.
सत्त्वानुरूपा सर्वस्य श्रद्धा भवति भारत ।
श्रद्धामयोऽयं पुरुषो यो यच्छ्रद्ध: स एव स: ॥ ३ ॥
śraddhā bhavati bhārata
śraddhā-mayo ’yaṁ puruṣo
yo yac-chraddhaḥ sa eva saḥ
The belief of each is in accordance with his nature, O Arjuna. The man consists of his beliefs; as a man’s belief is, so is he.
Bhagavad Gita 17.3
And so everything connected with prayer is relative. You decorate a temple, you bring flowers for it, and agarbatti, and clothe the idol in the way you like – your emotions drive your decisions. And your emotions drive your belief.
As for the truth, there is no one answer. But the Rig Veda puts it very eloquently, as below…
को अद्धा वेद क इह प्र वोचत्कुत आजाता कुत इयं विसृष्टिः । अर्वाग्देवा अस्य विसर्जनेनाथा को वेद यत आबभूव ॥
इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा न । यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद ॥
ko addhā veda ka iha pra vocat kuta ājātā kuta iyaṃ visṛṣṭiḥ | arvāg devā asya visarjanenāthā ko veda yata ābabhūva ||
iyaṃ visṛṣṭir yata ābabhūva yadi vā dadhe yadi vā na | yo asyādhyakṣaḥ parame vyoman so aṅga veda yadi vā na veda ||
Who really knows?
Who can proclaim it with certainty?
When, this creation actually sprang?
Did the Gods came later, after the creation of this universe?
Who then knows when it all started?
Whether it was the God’s will that created it, or whether He was mute;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
He only knows, or perhaps He does not know.
Rig Veda 10.129.6
See you tomorrow!