Temple Worship is great in Kaliyuga.
People may wonder that in Kaliyuga, things are fine. Temples are still being well-maintained. A lot of temple restoration and reconstruction is happening. There is no shortage of devotees or flow of wealth. Rivers are much cleaner and devotees are flocking to places of worship like never before. Festivals are now being held at a much grander scale. This has never happened before, prior to Kaliyuga. This is an essential fact. In the earlier days, about 20 to 50 people would assemble and festivals were conducted on a much smaller scale and also on a low note. However the whole equation has reversed.
Purpose of Hari Katha is for Jnana and Vairagya – nothing else
Temple worship and holding of festivals in line with Sanatana Dharma are happening on a much broader and larger scale, where even heads of states participate. To this sage Narada responds, “There is no doubt, this opinion is valid and there is Truth in the statements stated. But there seems to be something missing. I went close to the well accumulated rice-husk and blew it a bit, on the top. I realized then that, there is only the covering, the chaff but there is no rice grain inside the husk covering. The arrangement of the husk looked full, but there was no stuff in it. There is a lot of Hari Katha that is going on in the world today. But the heart of Hari katha, is Jnana and Vairagya, that is supposed to be transmitted as the grain, enveloped within the husk of Hari Katha. That Jnana and Vairagya is totally missing, said Narada. If someone were to ask, what you gained out of Hari Katha, someone may say “I gained money.” Someone else would claim “I forgot all my family problems.” To this Narada said “All effort is wasted. If Hari katha does not instill Jnana and Vairagya, Hari Katha has no meaning.”
The merits of Vairagya
Now one may say, “Does it mean that on attaining Vairagya, we will lose attachment to one’s family, thereby the family structure by itself shall stand dismantled?” To this sage Narada says “No, this is not the right understanding. Of course when Hari katha is delivered to transmit Jnana and Vairagya, one shall lose attachment, no doubt, but this shall reduce expectations amongst family members and people can intermingle within the family truthfully, without fear of losing them. Understanding amongst the family members will increase. It is an important thing to note that unless attachment in the heart is sacrificed in the fire of Vairagya, liberation shall remain a far-fetched dream and that is the main motive of delivering Hari Katha. When there is wealth, position, relationships, occupation and so many other material subjects attached to the individual, sorrow and pain shall accompany an individual without relief. On the other hand, if Vairagya blossoms within the heart, it acts as an insulator to pain, sorrow and suffering and enables the Jiva to declutch so that he remains pleasant and content, irrespective of his worldly situation. Happiness can only be the original by-product of Vairagya.
Attaining the non-sticky nature
Nothing sweet, oily or an eatable of any nature can influence the tongue. After eating, the tongue maintains its original state. It is not necessary to wash the tongue after eating, but it is required to wash hands. The swan walks over a marshy land nimbly without sinking into the marsh. The Lotus leaf does not get wet with water drops, which falls of the leaf without a trace of wetness on the leaf. Similarly, enlightened beings continue to live in the world without the least getting influenced by the circumstances or the activities of the world. Similarly when one consumes the scripture of Shrimad Bhagavatham, one shall automatically develop the qualities of the tongue, swan, Lotus leaf or enlightened beings, who are described above.
Disservice to the Lord in Kaliyuga
In Kaliyuga although there is a great supply of prasadam (प्रसादम food offered to the Lord), where a variety of food stuff is supplied to people after offering it to the Lord, one cannot be sure whether these foodstuffs are prepared by the right type of people, with right consciousness and mood, with the right articles, where there is no compromise made with respect to the ritualistic offerings that are made to the Lord. One is not even certain whether people who are consuming the food, have come to earn merit through attending temple activities or have come without any mood of affection or service to the Lord. The external manifestation of great temple service may appear to be existent, but one can never be certain of the quality of service that is being rendered in Kaliyuga. Many times it is seen that people get happy offering many things to the Lord and then using it, thinking that it is offered to the Lord. However there are many things that cannot be offered to the Lord, which Shastra prohibits. For example, if someone is interested in eating non-vegetarian food, he offers that food to Vishnu and then consumes it, saying that he is abiding by the scriptures which instruct him to offer it to the Lord before consuming it. But this is half-knowledge and half-knowledge is equivalent to being ignorant. Such an act cannot qualify as an act of service to the Lord. It is disservice. In Kaliyuga, such prohibited activities are also being carried out because of such self-motivated ignorance.
Jnana and Vairagya continue to sleep
In the first three Yugas, Bhakti Devi used to visit the houses of people. If she liked the people in that household, she would look back at the Lord following her. She would then signal to the Lord, “This household is good, come behind me, My Lord.” The Lord would follow Bhakti Devi into the house, just as a calf would follow the mother-cow. Sage Narada said, “Initially Bhakti, Mukti, Jnana and Vairagya, all of them co-existed until the first three Yugas. In Kaliyuga, Mukti has gone back to Vaikuntha. Bhakti who had become old in Kaliyuga, regained her youth after reaching Vrindavana. But Jnana and Vairagya continued to remain old. When Bhakti Devi expressed her grief regarding her old sons Jnana and Vairagya to sage Narada, the great sage tried to implement some techniques to enliven the two brothers Jnana and Vairagya. He sang the Gita, the Puranas, the Mahabharata and other Vedic Literature to them. The two brothers, owing to their infirmity continued to sleep without any change in them. Sometimes the brothers would slowly lift their eyes to see what is being rendered and then they would shut their eyes tight, extremely tired and exasperated.
The Sanat Kumara brothers arrive to advise Narada
Then suddenly sage Narada heard a voice that said “Oh Deva Rishi, Do what is appropriate and things shall turn out fine.” This worried sage Narada further. He wondered “What is it that I have done that was inappropriate and what is that thing which is appropriate that I need to do further?” Having contemplated for a long time, he could not come to any conclusion. Right at that time, the four mind-born sons of Brahma; the Sanat Kumara brothers arrived at the scene. Sage Narada offered obeisance unto them and narrated his predicament about Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya. Further, he discussed with them about the celestial voice. The Kumara brothers look at their brother, the great sage Narada, and enquired “Is that all?”
Reciting the Bhagavatha is the only solution
The mind always conceives solutions to problems as difficult and it only appreciates contorted solutions to things. If someone were to give a simple solution, to a certain problem, which the mind conceives as a complex problem, it starts doubting the solution and shall not want to repose faith on the solution. Similarly the most complex problems of life, usually have the simplest solutions, to which the mind sometimes may not have access to. The Sanata Kumara brothers continued “What the celestial voice has asked you to do is to recite the Bhagavatha to Jnana and Vairagya. That is all. Once you do that, Jnana and Vairagya shall at once spring back to their feet and attain their youth”