Q: I wish to know your views on the priesthood of Hindu temples. Does Agniveer hold that anyone can take this up? How do you propose to ensure the sanctity of temple customs and rituals?
I support you anyway. This is for something I want to understand.
A: Pranam. Thanks for the question and support.
Rituals need to be understood in most fundamental form. There is a huge misconception about rituals and Aadhyaatma. First of all rituals are not gateway to Brahma/Eeshvar/God. Rituals were meant to keep people busy and disciplined so that the same can be inculcated in other walks of life. Rituals = Discipline. However, Yog Shastras tell us that rituals are mere tools and not goals themselves. To get Eeshvar, one must get their Pravritti (focus) towards Yog which is –
1. Yam (Ahinsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmcharya, Aparigriha)
2. Niyam (Shouch, Santosh, Tap, Swadhyaay, Eeshvar Pranidhan)
All of the above components of Yog have whole dimensions and meaning. And they are related to our thoughts/actions we perform throughout the day and not just specific to rituals. Thus, as per Vedas and Yog Shastras, Yog is essential. For that, you need discipline. For that you may adopt any ritual that suits you. There is no right/wrong ritual. Only thing is, it must not inflict any pain to others. And it must be beneficial to you from body, mind and soul’s perspective. So in short, rituals are at best gateway to discipline for Yog. And once discipline is established, they are no longer relevant. This is evident from all Shruti and history of Yogis. Look at Krishna, Ram, Shankar or Dayanand. They never emphasised too much on rituals.
However, with time, rituals themselves became goal. Hours long cumbersome processes where role of a ‘learned priest’ became critical and real Yoga was thrown on back-burner. People were told they can get Sukh through shortcut rituals and thus need of good actions- Karma/Purusharth was made irrelevant. This made Hindus passive and we saw the time when Ghazni’s armies were hammering down Somnath, our priests were either performing rituals or were helplessly crying in Ghazni’s feet.
Rituals that didn’t teach us to fight are useless. Rituals that end without a message are useless. They have to go and they went in oblivion. Dharma thrives on merit. Vedas say it clearly. Krishna says it clearly, One with Vidya is Brahman. One with Shourya is Kshatriya. One with business sense is Vaishya. One with other qualities is Shudra. We are all B, K ,V and S at same time coz we possess all these 4 qualities all the time in varying proportion.
Thus, Dharma is to give all equal opportunities. IF rituals are gateway to Yog, they must be allowed for all. Coz Yog is to get Eeshvar and Eeshvar calls Herself ‘mother of all’ in Atharvaved – ‘Tvam hi nah pita vaso tvam MATA shatkrato babhhovitha’.
Let us simplify this ourselves. Or else Ghaznis and Ghoris do it for us. Bottomline is, keep merit on top. Traits decide Varna. And equal opportunities to all for everything is essence of Vedas. Things that slow down our process need to be changed. Rituals that can’t protect us must be changed. Go back to Vedas that say- for a Sanyasi, even rituals are not important. Be that Sanyasi of Vedas. For those doing Purushaarth, even a Maanasik Jap is sufficient as per Upanishads. Once disciple asked his Guru, if we don’t have Ghee, how should we perform Yajna? Rishi said – Do it w/ other Samagri. If there is no Samagri? Do it with Samidha (woods). If no woods, do it with dry leaves. If no dry leaves, do it with water. If no water, do it in your Aatma. Crux is, Dharma is important, Purushaarth is important. Rituals are good as long as they help us in Yog, Purushaarth and better actions. If they are burden, they must be simplified.
Lastly, Eeshvar judges Aatma based on its deeds/Karma. And rituals are no Karma. They are just start of the day. Hope I could clarify.