The Kind of Temples
the Hindus Need
by S. Vyas
The Hindu communities all over the world have temples of God and demigods (devas/devies) worship. However, all temples are not run is same way. What would be a best way to run a temple? To answer it, we need to consider the mission of a temple.
A Temple’s Mission:
- A place to worship God/ deva/ devi.
- A place where children and people could learn what is Hinduism and how to practice it correctly.
- A place to learn about the pastimes of God, devas, and devies.
- A place for listening religious discourses, and doing bhajan kirtana.
- A place to glorify God and His great devotees.
- A place to seek association of devotees and saints/ sanyasis/ sadhus.
- A place to conduct samskaras, ceremonies and festivals.
- A place to religiously celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, new home or business opening, etc.
- A place to conduct classes for Sanskrit and other Bharatiya languages.
- A place to use all arts to glorify God and Sanatana Dharma.
- A place with a little facility where sadhus (or some one in emergency difficult time) can stay for a short time.
- A place where one can practice yagna, daana, and tapa.
- A place whose programs build unity among Hindus first, and then all the people.
- A place where the Hindus can be made aware of the threats to Hinduism and decide to take action necessary to protect Hindus and Hinduism.
Now let us see how a temple should be run.
God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is one. He is for all living beings. Therefore, a temple should provide equal access to services to all persons. It should not matter whether one is rich or poor, king or beggar, famous or infamous. If one comes to temple for darshana, then one should get it without any discrimination.
Temples receive donations and fees for religious services. These funds should be used for temple maintenance and expansion as necessary. It should be used to promote Sanatana Dharma. It should be used for helping those who are in need and less fortunate with the intent that they become Krishna conscious. (God is a vague term. So, Sri Prabhupada prefers to use Krishna word.) A temple should not become a money making business.
Each temple should have a religious news letter and or a web site. A temple should be run under the religious guidance of a guru who is initiated in a bona fide parampara. In the absence of a qualified guru, a groups of disciples of a guru could run it per guidance from the guru, saadhu, and shastras. A temple should not become a place of local personal politics.
A temple should not allow smoking, drugs (including caffeine), gambling, meat eating, violence, or lust inducing or induced activity on temple premises or in the surrounding area. A temple should have manpower, means, and a process available to control these irreligious things.
A temple with one main deity is best. Krishna or any of His incarnation deity serves all the religious purpose of life. A temple should not become a museum of all the deities of devas, devies, and Krishna. This is because saadhanaa for each deity is different, and could be conflicting with each other. If it is a temple of a deva or devi, then it should be understood that a deva or devi is not the Supreme being, because the Supreme could be only one and not many. If this rule is not followed, then no temple would agree as to who is the Supreme. This then causes disunity, and the Hindus become a laughing stock for the non Hindus. Remember what Krishna has said in Gita:
… aham.h aadirhidevaanaam ..
… mayaadhaksheNa pR^iti ..
… aham bIjaprada pitaa …