If you ask anybody these questions, the answers often will be very subjective. "I get a lot of peace in a temple", "My parents have asked me to go there", "It's supposed to be good" - these are the common answers you are likely to receive.
But probe them further - why do you feel peaceful there? You can feel peaceful even in your bathroom, isn't it? Why do we sing bhajans? What is a mantra and why are they recited? Why is there a tall dome above the main idol in a temple? Why do we show the aarti? Questions and more questions which do not find answers easily.
That's because the correct answers have not been passed over from generation to generation. Information has got lost; as a result, we do things simply because they have been told to us, and without understanding why we do them.
A temple is the focus for all aspects of everyday life in the community - religious, cultural, educational and social. It is also the place where one can transcend the world of man. Hindus believe that their lives are merely stages in the progression to ultimate enlightenment. The temple is a place where it is believed that God may be approached and where divine knowledge can be discovered. All aspects of the temple - the principles of design and construction, the forms of its architecture and decoration, and the rituals performed - focus on the goal of enlightenment and liberation. And all of these are determined by ancient texts or shastras.
The temple is also an embodiment of the concept of energy which I have been mentioning. When we pray - it could be in the form of reciting mantras, or singing bhajans, or meditating - a surge of energy is created. In a temple, the intention of all devotees is common - to be united with God. When so many people think of a common goal and then take steps to create positivity, there is a lot of positive energy generated.
Positive energy is light and tends to rise. The purpose of a temple is to store this energy and hence the dome or vimana of the temple is constructed to do precisely that. Also, notice that the entrance to the garba griha or the sanctum sanctorum is low. All this is an effort to prevent the energy so generated, from escaping. The aarti is again a ritual which whips up energy. The camphor and ghee have particular properties which expedite the process.
The temple bell, which does the function of a doorbell - you are supposed to be ringing the bell before entering the abode of God - actually is a device which when rung creates vibrations to prevent the energy in the temple from remaining static. Even in our houses, it is advised to clap at the corners or in unfrequented areas like the attic. This is to keep the energy moving. Cobwebs trap energy. That's the reason we are advised to clean them up. Incense does the same function, or increasing and activating energy. The dhoop available in the market, is also used for this job.
These same principles apply to other religious institutions as well. The effort is to increase positivity and retain it in order for the devotees to gain benefit from it. When you go to a energy-charged temple, the energy washes you and you come out cleaned. Let's put it this way. We have a bath to remove our physical impurities. A temple is also like a bathroom: it's used to remove our spiritual impurities.
Crawford market is an amazing place. If you happen to walk through the maze of streets there, the most noticeable factor is the distinct loss of order. People spill out of every lane, tripping over the myriad bikes and cycles parked on every inch of space on the sides of the roads; pavements are non-existent; cars and buses tear through the little remaining space expecting you to walk on the huge mounds of stinking garbage piled up right in the middle of the road. Oblivious of this hodgepodge are the shopkeepers and hawkers who trade their wares dispassionately!
CST station also falls in the same category. Though not a shopping area, it is a smorgasbord of commuters. All of them enter the station with one eye fixed on the train indicators, oblivious of whom they bang into when searching for their train. A push here, a shove there doesn’t matter. Catching the train is.
Siddhivinayak temple has its own frequency. The garba graha where people take darshan is a vortex of energy. Every devotee who comes into that space gets sucked into it, spinning and moving the way the energy moves there. It’s a mesmerizing dance of devotion.
In all these three areas, normal rules of civilized behaviour don’t work. Everything is maaf. Sab chalta hai. People cross each other’s path with disdain, but no one complains. Things are not perfect, but it’s fine. Men and women brush against each other here, but there is no complaint of harassment. The same situation would not be fine, in say a Malabar Hill. Or even areas located off these places. There, the rules of the game apply. But in high energy zones like the three I’ve mentioned, it’s a different equation at play.
Why do different places prompt differential behavioural patterns in us? The answer lies in the fact that when the main reason – or in energy terms, the ‘presiding energy’ – is very strong, nothing else matters. Many take the concept of ‘God’ as the presiding energy. They are then ready to do anything to partake in that energy. Ask those who don’t mind inflicting physical harm on themselves during Moharram, or standing in a queue for 10 hours to get a darshan, to vouch for that.
In the case of the places I have mentioned, the energy there is so high, that ‘trivialities’ like logistics, traffic, comfort, etc., don’t matter. Crawford market is a haven for the bargain hunter. The motivation is to get goods at dirt cheap rates. CST station is the starting point of the central railway. The commuter can get a place to sit in the train here, and that is motivation enough! And Siddhivinayak temple is believed to be a powerful temple. A visit here can grant you your wishes.Energy becomes big if you concentrate on it, if you give it importance. A classic example is pain, which increases the more you think about it. That’s why it is advised to divert your mind in order to reduce pain. Similarly, the little things of life look larger if we concentrate too much on them. It is better to look out for bigger motivations, bigger ‘presiding energies’ to give us direction and to dwarf little inconsequential worries.
But what Parag didn't realise was that the worsening of his condition may actually be an indication that his body is getting healed. All he had to do was to bear with it for a day or two, and he would have recovered. Alas, Parag had been an impatient patient.
In healing terminology, such an aggravation of symptoms is called a healing crisis. It commonly occurs with holistic healing therapies like homeopathy, ayurveda, touch healing, etc. These therapies treat the whole body, and not specific organs. For instance, a treatment for headache would involve treating the entire body and not just the head.
Now, what is a healing crisis and how does it occur?
A healing crisis occurs when the body starts to cleanse itself by eliminating its stored waste. It sets the stage for regeneration whereby old tissues are replaced by new ones. Our body's inherent desire is to remain healthy, but it may have to go through this elimination process to achieve good health.
But before it achieves that, there are some adverse reactions that it may have to contend with. The symptoms may be identical to the disease; only this time, the disease is being removed, not suppressed. Sometimes the discomfort felt during a healing crisis may be of greater intensity than what was felt during the disease period. This may explain why there may be a brief flare-up in one's condition.
Reactions could include skin eruptions, nausea, headache, sleepiness, unusual fatigue, diarrhoea, head or chest cold, ear infections, boils, or any other way the body uses to loosen and eliminate toxins. The crisis usually lasts three days - but if the energy of the patient is low, it may last for a week or more.
Don't worry, a healing crisis is not as scary as it sounds. The best way to tackle it is to drink a lot of juices, and water, to help eliminate the toxins, and take plenty of rest - mental, as well as physical.
It is very important for the therapist to explain to the patient what a healing crisis is all about. And the patient too needs to be in touch with the healer when undergoing a crisis. Needless misunderstandings can thus be avoided. Sometimes, an aggravation of the disease may also result from wrong treatment, or excessive dosage of medicines. So, it's very important to contact your healer/doctor immediately and stay in constant touch with him/her.
Healing crises do not occur only with humans. Nations, relationships, issues... too undergo them. For instance, cricket underwent a healing crisis with the matchfixing scandal. Remember the "elimination" process the game went through, how skeletons tumbled out of the cupboard, and how everybody associated with cricket vomited out the sordid goings-on? Well, that's what a healing crisis is all about.
Have you seen train commuters booking their "seats" by placing a bag or handkerchief on them? Have you seen employees fighting with their colleagues over trivial issues like storage space? "Hey that's my shelf, okay!" - heard statements like that? Or have you seen strangers step back when you go too close to them? Have you noticed how corporates fight with each other to expand and maintain their markets? And how about this - our politicians holding on to their chairs. Surely, you must be tired of watching that. What is corporate warfare all about, where each one is trying hard to secure and protect one's position in the hierarchy?
The name of the game is territory management. Much of our waking hours, we are constantly guarding our territory. It could be our house - ensuring that no one enters it without permission; or norms of decency - ensuring that we are dressed properly; or self-discipline - taking care that we do not behave in a manner that could harm others; or respect - ensuring that we don't insult anybody and that nobody insults us; or business - making sure your market is not captured by your competitor; or position - preventing your colleagues from getting promoted ahead of you...The list goes on. You may study marketing management, financial management or whatever. But what runs through all these management concepts is territory management.
How do we determine our territory? What's a comfortable territory to have? Obviously that differs from situation to situation. A king may have a lot of territory to rule over but if he is henpecked, he does not have much room to manoeuvre, isn't it?
We have always determined success or failure by the amount of territory we possess. The larger the territory, the more powerful we are. And we decide rewards and punishment also on the basis of territory. If an employee gets promoted, he gets more power to wield - thereby, more territory to operate in.
Punishment is all about limiting territory. When a school teacher punishes a student by asking him to stand outside the class and not move an inch, he is limiting the student's territory. A prisoner in a jail is someone who has lost his territory for a specified period of time. (However, today's prisoners like our underworld dons enjoy their territories irrespective of being in jail. But that's another story).
Why humans? Even animals do the same thing. Have you seen dogs barking away when another dog enters its territory? It's the unwritten rule that animals follow and take care not to violate. Did you know that a fly does not fly more than hundred feet away from where it was born? That's its territory.
Unfortunately, we take only our physical territory into consideration. What we don't realise is that if we expand our mental horizons, much of these physical restrictions will cease to matter. We all need space - mental and physical. That's the reason we feel uncomfortable in crowded places; why we go for picnics to be one with nature, or meditate.
The best way to counter this physical claustrophobia is to create as much space as possible:
* Try to make your house look big: use light colours and mirrors. Manage the available space well.
* In your workplace if you are facing a wall, put up a picture of a scenery which gives a feeling of distance and space. For eg. a sunset.
* Be open to ideas, concepts. That way you will be creating mental space.
* Learn to forgive. That's creating emotional space.* And last, but not the least, practice meditation. That creates spiritual space, to which there is no limit. You could make the universe your territory.