Riya: Babai, we will be going out for dinner today. It’s already 7:30 pm now. Why don’t you get ready and come down quickly?
Me: Sure Riya. I will be back soon.
[I went to my room, washed my face, picked up a fresh pair of clothes from my wardrobe, quickly changed into them and now needed a mirror.
I walked into the dressing room, switched on the light and looked into the mirror. I put on the lights and then could see myself clearly. I applied some oil and combed my hair. I took a good look at myself, from top to down. Tucked my shirt properly and was now ready.
Thanks to the mirror, I was able to take a good look at myself (to be precise my body and clothing)]
Me: Amma, there is a big project coming up at my office. I am quite tensed about it. I am not quite sure if I will be able to fulfil the expectations of my organisations leadership team.
Mom: Hmm….Don’t worry, all will be fine…..Come let’s go to a temple.
Me: [in my mind…..Temple, now, suddenly….?!what’s the connection]
Me: Sure Mom. It’s been a while we have gone out together. It will be nice. Shall we go to…..
Mom: Yes, let’s go to Hanuman Temple.
Me: Hmm….ok…..I was thinking of Shiva Temple….Anyways…..whatever….it’s ok…Let’s go
[I accompanied mom and went to the beautiful temple in my neighbourhood – Ragigudda Hanuman Temple. It’s situated on top of a small hillock. Having stood in the winding queue for a long time, all the while craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the idol of Hanuman, I finally reached the sanctorum. And so naturally, I closed my eyes ! And what did I see….!?!
As I closed my eyes, it seemed like I was seeing myself through a mirror. Only this time, it seemed like a very different mirror ! I was not able to see my body or clothing. I was able to see my inner personality.
But what was this mirror of Hanuman idol showing me?
It was showing me, the personality of Hanuman. It was radiating the attributes of faith (a giant leap he took to cross the ocean), confidence and courage (he feared not a single bit in confronting the enemy king Ravana) and intelligence & strength (brings the Sanjeevani mountain for ensuring the timely cure for Lakshmana)]
Like the dressing room, so is the temple. Like the everyday mirror so is the Idol (embodying certain attributes of the infinite Divine). In both I see myself. In one my body and in the other my inner personality.
Scene 2 continues
Me: Thank you Mom. My visit to the Hanuman temple brought forth to my minds eye, the great many challenging tasks undertaken by Hanuman. It gives me a sense of confidence. It reminded me of my inner strengths. I could see myself (to be more precise my inner personality) more clearly and now know where to focus my attention and energies !
Mom: I am so glad to hear about your experience. I chose Hanuman keeping in mind the project you have to do and state of mind you were in.
Me: That’s thoughtful and so purposeful Mom.
Mom: Truly speaking, if one considers the lifeless stone to be God, then what about the myriad beings that have life…plants, animals, humans, etc. God is truly immanent in each of us.
Me: Then….why did we go to the temple?
Mom: Let’s learn from your own experience. The atmosphere of the temple and the sanctorum helps one to focus ones attention. Closing the eyes, turns the vision inward. Going to a temple, seeking to see ‘GOD’ outside of us, is the mistake we mostly make. Instead, using it as an opportunity to see ‘GOD’ within us, is the true purpose.
Me: hmm….Then why so many temples, so many Gods?
Mom: Very often, it’s the vocabulary we use that distorts our understanding of things. There is only one GOD. The forms are many. Each form is focusing on specific attributes of the One God. Shiva form symbolises detachment. Saraswati form represents knowledge and intellectual blossoming. Ganesha form is to convey the attribute of commitment and dedication to work.
Me: Aah. I now understand why you took me to a Hanuman temple. Sorry, I now understand why you took me to a temple that has the form of God represented in the form of Hanuman.
Mom: Inside each of us, there is already the infinite. But we often forget about it. Going to a temple, is to remind ourselves of this. Looking at the idol, is nothing but looking at ourselves. Looking into a mirror, that shows us our inner self.
Me: Wow. This is so revealing ! Every time I go into a temple, I now know why I am going there. To see myself ! My true inner self. Infact, whoever walks into a temple, the reflection one sees is the very same !!!
Each form of God – Shiva, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Sai Baba, and countless others…each time highlights a few attributes of the infinite divine. Our visit to a temple, essentially is about looking into a mirror to see our true innerself. (Exactly why we close our eyes as we look at the idol!) We essentially use the temple as a space to find the infinite within ourselves. There is no GOD inside a temple. There is definitely the mirror, reflecting the GOD inside us-standing like an idol of GOD.