Abhishekam and The Hungry Feeds

In olden days, Rajyabhishek used to be performed for royal coronation in some kingdoms.

But Abhishekam or Abhisheka is a custom still practised routinely in some religious institutions around the world, either as a ‘bathing ceremony and anointing of the deity being worshipped’ (sanctification) or as an ‘esoteric transmission’ (empowerment of the disciple).

Depending on the type of Abhishekam, the libations on deities could be holy-water, milk, yoghurt, ghee, panchaamrutam, honey, sesame oil, rosewater, sandalwood-paste, etc. Among all these items, it terribly hurts us to know and to see buckets of milk being poured on the deities. It ultimately goes down the drains, leaving both the calves and the children hungry on the pavements, some right in the temple’s premises !!

Moreover, this milk comes from cows that are considered as the most sacred of animals and even worshipped as ‘divine mothers’ (gow-mataa) as per certain beliefs and customs. By pouring all those milk for Abhishekam and keeping the calves and our children malnourished, aren’t we being dishonest, selfish and treating our gow-mataa disrespectfully ?

Many argue that the milk and other liquids are collected after the Abhishekam. Even if it is somehow done and converted into ‘Prasadam’, hygiene cannot be guaranteed ! And token amounts of such offerings by each one of us shall lead to a huge wasteful quantity at the end !!

Folks- is preserving such rituals meaningful than filling the empty stomachs of the calves and feeding the hungry mouths of teeming millions ?

As the human race holds big conferences to eradicate hunger and poverty from the whole world, why can’t we sensibly contribute by altogether doing away with offerings of milk (and its derivatives) and similar practices ? Like ‘money saved is money earned’, ‘food saved is also food generated’.

And with increasing or unresolved demographic, economic and environmental crisis, that is what Time also now demands of us…

Let us engage ourselves on a little introspection and thoughtfully hear our Conscience……perhaps the Lord’s answer lies within !!!

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

 

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11 Responses

  1. You’re absolutely right! Such practices should be stopped. And surely, that milk isn’t used again for prasad? It is used to “clean an idol”. How can they reuse it for prasad!
    I do believe in God, but do not visit temples much. I’ve nothing against people who do, but they should make a conscious effort to stop these practices.

  2. One of the best thought on food saving. Though I am a part time priest, I strictly advise people not to throw like this, rather ask them to feed the kids of the ashram located adjacent to the temple.

  3. Rightly said Aamjunta. Things have changed over the years and there should be reforms in our society. And we should lead these reforms.

  4. Every practice, not just this one, has a meaning. Just that we have lost the context, we should not say that the practice is meaningless. Because we don’t know the science behind them.

    I am not in favor or against the milk being offered to the deity statues, but I would like to write a bit about why cold substances are poured over the deity, as I have heard from very authentic sources on why this being done.

    A deity idol is the physical form given for an underlying energy form. The energy or the ‘sookshama’ form – the one that you cannot see with human eyes, which is present in all of our bodies also, is the basis on which the physical body is built. The physical body will die and go to earth, but the energy body will continue to take many birth till it realizes the ultimate bliss and dissolve itself into nothingness and the nature.

    So, when one sits near the deity idol, the transaction happens between the energy forms of the person and the idol. The physical manifestation of the energy form could radiate a lot of heat around it. This is probably why when one goes near the inner sanctum, they can experience a lot of heat.

    In order to sustain the physical and/or the energy form of the idol, this heat has to be dissipated, and that’s why cold materials like water, milk, sandhanam and other liquids are offered.

    Now, to the question of when so many people being hungry, should we waste these food on idols? You tell me. But, if you ask me, if you have noticed, after the Abhishekam is over, annadhanam is done and food is distributed to the less fortunate people around the temple. This is the way of taking care of the people around the temple.

    As far as hygiene, yes, it’s the responsibility of the temple priests to keep the inner sanctum clean, and thus maintaining the cleanliness of the liquids that are offered to the idol, such that they are safe for consumption by people.

    Thanks & Best Regards,
    Venkat.

    My blogs are at : http://liveandexpress.wordpress.com

  5. @aamjunta – Well, it us just not the milk only, many other food materials are also bring wasted in the process. People will claim that wasting is beneficial as the ants and other insects get food from these wastes. But the point what to waste and when? Even after death our body is also waste. The point I am trying to put here what and when to throw. Going by the tough food problem around the world, I fully agree with you. Do not waste, but taste as you said in another article.

    @Liveinexpress- After seeing your recent post in your blog I thought you will not be that biased with what you heard, rather what you experience. Over the years things have changed and population has increased. So the same philosophy does not work here all the time. And your justification that ‘annadaan’ is being done after ‘abhishekam’ and hence I have the right in doing this- I think some maturity is required here. You can, that does not mean you will. On a different note, during the last tsunami in Japan even the rich people did not keep food more than the need and allowed others to use the food. They could have but they did not. I hope you got the point.

  6. @Nandhini Dixit – What I described is not a philosophy, but a science, coming from people who have experienced it. It’s not from sacred texts. Having said that, as I already said that, the context is very important. These days, there are temples built everywhere without even knowing what it takes to bring energy to an idol. It’s not just a stone. One needs to do several processes as maintenance to sustain the energies in the idol, and these offerings are part of them.

    In traditional old temples in Tamilnadu, where people understood this science and have been following the processes through generations and generations of priests, the energies are taken care of. I am hearing that in many temples, the energies have faded away.

    Temples were built based on specific scientific rules to sustain the energies – that’s why they had mantaps with specific corners, deities at specific places, dwajasthambams, inner sanctum etc, built on specific architectural requirements.

    These energies are for human well-being, and thus it had become the tradition that when one lives near a temple, they visit the nearby temple, absorb the energies there and then go on with their day to day business, so that they can conduct themselves in a stress-free way.

    One needs to understand the significance of this science so that they can appreciate these offerings.

    Now that you have mentioned population, I have been writing elaborately on population and I understand very well the stress any waste puts on the people. Completely agree that we should avoid waste, but I differ where you say that temple offering is a waste – for the reasons I described above.

    One more point – we tried heavily to correct our environmental issues in the past decade to make the population live well, but, it should be the other way around – we should contain the population such that the environment is sustained.

    More views on population at my blog : http://liveandexpress.wordpress.com/category/population

    Thanks & Best Regards,
    Venkat.

  7. @liveandexpress – Well, I am a temple-goer and can understand the energy and peace but could not connect the science which you have mentioned. I think you are matured enough to understand science. Temples are built for a purpose but no where God says offerings; and that too waste afterwards; and if you don’t offer then energy will fade away !

    I think there is a term superstition, which should be used here. By telling this, I don’t say I don’t believe in temples and God. But they are different. If you want to offer, then offer your ego and offer your good-will with less fortunates. Manav dharm hin Ishwar dharm.

  8. @Nandini : Fair enough that one doesn’t understand immediately the science behind the temple energies and upkeep, but to classify anything that one don’t understand readily as superstition would be a big mistake.

    If one believes in temples and God, they should be inquisitive enough to explore, question to find out (not pre-conclude as false or superstition), find a knowledgeable person and seek their guidance in understanding the science – because temples are the real assets that this culture leave for the next generations.

    A whole sect of workers called sthapathis were assigned to design the architecture of temples. Generations of priests were assigned to take care of the upkeep of the temples. Centuries and kingdoms of empires and kings patronized the maintenance and glory of our culture of well-being through temples.

    Several methods of upkeep of energies were established, and methods were devised to maintain them.

    Instead of going into this science deeply and understanding it, just because the mankind was irresponsible enough to procreate and generate millions of babies in the past 3 decades, and then calling the small amount of consumable food and water used in the temples as waste and deny our tradition as superstition amounts to sheer ignorance.

    I will stop here.

    Thanks & Best Regards,
    Venkat.

  9. I beleive offerings are ok, but should not be thrown out to drains. Good introspecting article. Hope some more light on similar and different areas in future.

  10. @Venkat (liveandexpress): Lets not mix belief with science. Belief does not need science always, but it should not be blind. No Dharma says that you keep the baby hungry and malnourished to fulfill my beliefs !!

  11. That’s what I am trying to explain – I am not talking about prayer in the temple, and believing that God will do something for me.but the science behind idol and energies that uplifts and enables anyone coming in its sphere. And people have experienced it practically. Just that, we have mostly lost touch of this tradition, and there’nt many who can teach the stuff anymore. That does not mean it’s not factual.

    Feed the baby and then ask them to go and sit in the temple. Both should happen.

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