While the Vedas, with myriad Deities, bind all Hindus together, the Agamas, with a single supreme God, unify each sect in a oneness of thought, instilling in adherents the joyful arts of divine adoration. Aum Namah Sivaya.
God is love, and to love God is the pure path prescribed in the Agamas. Veritably, these texts are God's own voice admonishing the samsari, reincarnation's wanderer, to give up love of the transient and adore instead the Immortal. How to love the Divine, when and where, with what mantras and visualizations and at what auspicious times, all this is preserved in the Agamas. The specific doctrines and practices of day-to-day Hinduism are nowhere more fully expounded than in these revelation hymns, delineating everything from daily work routines to astrology and cosmology. So overwhelming is Agamic influence in the lives of most Hindus, particularly in temple liturgy and culture, that it is impossible to ponder modern Sanatana Dharma without these discourses. While many Agamas have been published, most remain inaccessible, protected by families and guilds who are stewards of an intimate hereditary knowledge. The Tirumantiram says, "Nine are the Agamas of yore, in time expanded into twenty-eight, they then took divisions three, into one truth of Vedanta-Siddhanta to accord. That is Shuddha Saiva, rare and precious." Aum Namah Sivaya.
A mother's place is within the home and not out in the world working. When she is in the home all day, she brings love and security to the children, sensitivity and stability to the husband. By raising her children, she changes the course of history. How does she do that? She raises strong children, good and intelligent children. They will grow up to be the great men and women in the community, the leaders of the nation. They will be the worthy farmers, artists, businessmen, the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the architects, the presidents and, most importantly, the spiritual leaders. They will be the good mothers, the homemakers and child-raisers, scientists and inventors, pioneers and poets, artists and sculptors and creators in all dimensions of life. It is such men and women who change the course of human history. This is the great power held by the mother and by no one else: to properly mold the mind and character of her children. And she trains her daughters to do the same by example and gentle guidance.
Of course, she also holds the opposite power, expressed through neglect, to allow her children to grow up on their own, on the streets where they will learn a base life. Such children will as surely change society and human history, but negatively. They will be the common men and women, or fall into mental and emotional abysses, there to express the instinctive nature and become the exemplars of violence and lust, of dependence and crime. The very direction of mankind is right there in the early years, to be turned toward a great potential through love and attentiveness or allowed to decay through neglect. The mother is the child's first guru, and she alone can shape the mind in those impressionable years. So, you can all see the truth in the old saying: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Take the case of a mother who is at home every day, morning and night, attending to her children. As she rocks the cradle, her love and energy radiate out to the infant, who then feels a natural peacefulness and security. She has time for the child, time to sing sweet lullabies and console when the tears come, time to teach about people, about the world, about the little things in growing up, time to cuddle for no reason except to express her love. On the other hand, the working mother has no time to do extra things. When the infant cries, she may, out of her own frustrations of the day, become impatient and scold him, demanding that he keep quiet. "I told you to be quiet!" she shouts. The infant doesn't even understand the language yet. You can imagine this helpless child's feelings as he receives an emotional blast of anger and frustration directed toward his gentle form. Where is he to turn? He cannot find refuge even in his mother's arms.
What will the next generation be like if all the children are raised under such circumstances? Will it be strong and self-assured? Will it radiate kindness to others, never having had kindness given to it? Will it be patient and understanding? No. It is a proven fact that most prison inmates were seriously neglected or beaten as children. It is also a proven fact that nearly all parents who mistreat their children were themselves mistreated by their parents. Unless mothers care for and love their children, society will inherit an entire generation of frustrated adults who were once frustrated children. These will later be the people who rule the world. Then what happens? They in turn raise their children in the same manner, for that is the only example of parenthood they have. They will think that neglect is natural, that children can get along on their own from an early age or be raised by a governess or nurse or at a day-care center. It's a circle: a childhood of neglect produces a bitter adult life; a childhood of love and trust produces a loving and happy adult life.
Siva's followers see that the spirit of helping and taking care of one another prevails between family and family, monastery and family. The group helps the individual, and the individual helps the group. Aum Namah Sivaya.
Hindu temples are new to this side of the planet and the knowledge of the very special and entirely esoteric nature of the Hindu temple is unknown in the West. One of the first misunderstandings that arises in the West is the purpose and function of the "graven image." The Judaic-Christian tradition firmly admonishes against the worship of graven images--though, of course, in Catholicism saints and images, and in Eastern Orthodoxy their pictures, are reverently worshiped. The Hindu doesn't worship idols or graven images. He worships God and the great godlike Mahadevas. The image is only that, an icon or representation or channel of an inner-plane Deity that hovers above or dwells within the statue. The physical image is not required for this process to happen. The God would perform His work in the temple without such an image, and indeed there are Hindu temples which have in the sanctum sanctorum no image at all but a yantra, a symbolic or mystic diagram. There are other Hindu temples which have only a small stone or crystal, a mark to represent the God worshiped there. However, the sight of the image enhances the devotee's worship, allowing the mind to focus on the sacred bonds between the three worlds, allowing the nerve system to open itself to the darshan.
Sight is very powerful. Sight is the first connection made with the Deity. The sight of the icon in the sanctum stimulates and enhances the flow of uplifting energies, or pranas, within the mind and body. Each Deity performs certain functions, is in charge, so to speak, of certain realms of the inner and outer mind. Knowing which Deity is being worshiped, by seeing the image of the Deity there, unfolds in the mind's eye a like image and prepares the way for a deeper devotion.
In a Hindu temple there is often a multiplicity of simultaneous proceedings and ceremonies. In one corner an extended family, or clan, with its hundreds of tightly knit members, may be joyously celebrating a wedding. At another shrine a lady might be crying in front of the Deity, saddened by some misfortune and in need of solace. Elsewhere in the crowded precincts a baby is being blessed, and several groups of temple musicians are filling the chamber with the shrill sounds of the nagasvaram and drum. After the puja reaches its zenith, brahmin priests move in and out of the sanctum, passing camphor and sacred ash and holy water to hundreds of worshipers crowding eagerly to get a glimpse of the Deity. All of this is happening at once, unplanned and yet totally organized. It is a wonderful experience, and such a diverse array of devotional ceremonies and such an intensity of worship can only be seen in a Hindu temple. There is no place on Earth quite like a Hindu temple.
Esoterically, the Gods in the temple, who live in the microcosm, can work extraordinarily fast with everyone. There is so much going on that everyone has the sense of being alone. The weeping woman is allowed her moment of mourning. No one feels that she is upsetting the nearby wedding. No one even notices her. The temple is so active, so filled with people, that each one is left to worship as he needs that day--to cry or to laugh or to sing or to sit in silent contemplation in a far-off corner.
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These daily Master Course lessons are drawn from Gurudeva's 3,000 page trilogy on Hindu philosophy, culture and metaphysics, available in the full-color volumes of Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva at our Minimela online store.