Visiting Krsna's temple is visiting the spiritual world. That was my impression the first time I went to the Hare Krsna temple near Washington, D. C.
Unfortunately, a great majority of Indian people do not take the time to go to the temple. Generally speaking, in this Age of Kali people are enamored with Krsna's external energy, maya. As a result, they wrongly think that by increasing material comforts they will achieve happiness. They don't know that material nature is very strong and that everyone is tightly bound by its stringent laws. According to the Bhagavad-gita (8.16), "From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place."
Understanding the nature of this world, we should find at least a couple of hours every Sunday to leave behind our mundane activities to inquire about the Absolute Truth in the temple atmosphere.
Sometimes people avoid the temple by reasoning that because God is all-pervading there is no need to go to the temple. But if God is all-pervading, then He is certainly in the temple also. A temple of Lord Krsna is a house of God and is completely spiritual and transcendental, a place where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is worshiped with love and devotion. As such, the temple is there to purify us, and we should take advantage.
Actually, God's presence in the temple is especially beneficial to us. Despite His omnipresence, He is not readily perceivable except to one with spiritual vision. In a Krsna temple we can associate with people trained in spiritual vision, and we get to enhance our own realization of the all-pervading nature of the Lord by hearing the transcendental philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Furthermore, we learn to perceive the Lord's personal presence in the Deity (arca-vigraha). Thus, by taking advantage of spiritual association, by hearing the transcendental philosophy, and by worshiping the Deity in the temple, an ordinary person is more likely to remember the Lord's all-pervasiveness in day-to-day life. Moreover, the temple offers us an opportunity to meet others also interested in broadening their spiritual perception. Only a temple can afford all these advantages.
In fact, a temple of Lord Krsna is like an embassy of the spiritual world, Vaikuntha-loka. So in the material world a temple is a place to experience the flavor of the kingdom of God. When we enter the temple we can genuinely feel and see the omnipotence of the Lord. As a result, we feel uplifted and reminded of our original relationship with Krsna in the kingdom of God.
The temple is also a hospital where we receive treatment for our spiritual disorders. All of us suffer from a sort of amnesia: We identify with our material bodies and forget we are spirit souls. We have forgotten our real identity and our eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. Consequently, we have to take birth after birth; hence, there is no end to our miseries.
But when we enter the temple we feel relief, because there the Lord is worshiped according to the rules and regulations of the revealed scriptures. So the temple is reminiscent of the spiritual world, our original home. Even in the conventional sense, when someone has amnesia expert psychologists agree that the most reliable cure is to put the patient in familiar environments. No other remedy is quite as effective. Similarly, when one goes to the temple, associates with devotees, and chants the holy names of God Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare one is cured of the amnesia of material life. Soon one becomes spiritually aware and blissful and develops love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Krsna's temple is also the place where we can realize the magic of a real guru. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21) says, "Any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation." Lord Krsna Himself declares in the Bhagavad-gita (4.34): "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls [gurus] can impart knowledge unto you, because they have seen the truth."
The foremost qualification of the guru is that he is able to arouse in our hearts dormant love for Krsna. Therefore, learning about our relationship with Krsna and how to approach Him should be our purpose in approaching a guru. The Krsna temple offers us a unique opportunity to learn from a bona fide guru.
The temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), being genuine temples, are fully spiritual and transcendental. Therefore, although they appear to be within the major cities of the world, they are also within the spiritual world. People experience a transcendental phenomenon when they go to the temples daily, for the Sunday feast, or for other festivals. If you visit the Krsna temple today, you too might remember something you have long forgotten.
Srila Prabhupada has build a house where the whole world can live. He has given a very open, honest, and practical way of life of song, dance and music, of tasty and nourishing vegetarian food, of healthy moral habits, enriched family relationships, and indispensable knowledge. To transform so many lives throughout the world in such a powerful and beneficial way is a bit of the real magic of a real guru. You can see that magic at Lord Krsna's temple today. Hare Krsna!
Purusottama Dasa (Pritam S. Verma, Ph.D.) and his wife, Padma Devi Dasi, are disciples of Gopala Krsna Goswami. Purusottama Dasa works as a pharmacologist for the U.S. government and is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is a regular contributor to The India Globe, a local newspaper. He and his wife have three children.