The Pilgrimage ( 13 )

19/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

From their knowledge of the supreme harmony of Brahman, the Supreme Truth, the Causeless Cause of everything, the ancient sages devised diverse means of spiritual pursuit suited to the psychological stages and temperaments of different individuals to bring the freedom of that harmony to human life. Man’s further evolution achieving freedom from his limitations was the aim of their science of inner transformation.

Overcoming the Limitations of Personality

Their approach is based on the biological fact of human individuality. In insect societies such as that of ants, etc., individuality may not mean much and in higher animals it is rudimentary. Man, the most evolved being on earth, has a distinctive personality that varies with individuals. He has to make an evolutionary effort in line with his characteristic personality for further expansion and to enjoy the freedom it brings. The approach of India’s sages to this possibility and natural urge for evolution is based on this biological fact. The Bhagavad-gita points out this natural trend of human evolution, of evolving a harmonious social consciousness through the expansion of human personality, which can never be achieved by suppressing it.

Personality has various limitations, and the evolutionary effort involves the transcendence of these limitations. Man has within him higher faculties which manifest in life when the narrowing limitations of personality are overcome. His spiritual urge indicates the natural trend of evolution. The explorers of Truth contemplated on this and studied it with an unbiased approach and scientific temper. How to make man establish contacts with his freedom-giving higher dimensions? Temple worship was found to be one of the effective means to achieve this end.

Spiritual concepts were evolved in India through generations of experimental explorations; and these cannot be equated with religious dogmas and blind faith. The ancient explorers maintained a rational and scientific temper. The unbiased spirit of present-day scientific enquiry is well suited to rediscover their knowledge in modern terms for evolving a broader and deeper perspective about life.

Significance of Temple Worship

The sages of India cultivated the science of spirituality for raising human consciousness to the higher stages of evolution, through intensive search and evolved a form of applied science that suits different human temperaments. Temple worship forms a part of this applied science, mainly to benefit the masses who are mostly occupied with day-to-day affairs of living and do not find time enough for meditation and intensive spiritual pursuits. Temple worship is an effective means to come in contact with the harmony and powers of the spiritual dimensions within. So, the sages prescribed the technology of making temples vibrant with various aspects of spiritual power, which help activate the spiritual dimensions of the worshipper. Going to a temple, a person with even a little sensitivity would feel a pervading peace there that makes him composed, gives consolation and a refreshing strength. A worshipper standing in front of an idol prayerfully with folded hands can be seen closing his eyes making a dip into the spiritual Source within, which is the very Source of everything. Temple worship, as some think, is not based on blind faith, but on the time-tested psychological and spiritual knowledge of the great explorers of Truth. As one studies the science of temple worship, one would marvel at its profundity and would come to know that it is rooted in the subtle discoveries of the evolutionary stages of the universe. The various aspects of man and the universe and man’s relation with Reality are well represented in this science of worship. Worship in temples with an attitude of humility and sincerity, which are necessary to overcome the limiting factors of the mind that obstruct it from coming in contact with the higher dimensions of spiritual power, would result in satisfaction, healing of diseases, even in developments that may appear miraculous, transforming one’s views about life.

Blind faith also sometimes helps to establish this contact. But it will often degenerate into hysteric behaviour, intolerance and fanaticism. True spirituality is all-round expansion, resulting in reinforcement of the physical, mental and the spiritual dimensions of life. Temple worship is a science that harmoniously blends faith, ritualistic disciplines and knowledge. What is needed is a scientific reassessment of spirituality.

Spirituality is the attunement with the Supreme Fact. One who engages in spiritual pursuits at home or regularly worships in temples, gradually acquires this attunement, which will be evident from his refined behaviour and harmony in life.

The unique feature of Sri Dharma Sasthatemple in Sabarimala and the pilgrimage to the holy place, is the pre-pilgrimage disciplines extending for 41 days. It provides an occasion for intensification of the life-reinforcing Yogic attunement. The whole pilgrimage is designed in such a way that it gives one an occasion and opportunity for a harmonious cultivation of the spiritual dimensions, breaking away for a few days from the routine, ordinary set patterns of everyday life.

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