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Glories Of Temple Construction
In the Puranas, there’s an inspiring history of a dacoit (thief) who due to his karma was going through a difficult period. One evening he shared the camp of a party of pilgrims who invited him to share their meal. While honoring their prasadam together, the pilgrims, who were devotees, were describing the wonderful opulence of the beautiful temple of Lord Krishna that they have recently visited. The dacoit then prayed within his mind as follows, “O Lord, You are the cause of all causes and the maintainer of every living being, by Your transcendental sanction (anumanta), my destiny is that of being a thief, and it has been many months since I have been able to steal anything worthwhile in order to maintain my livelihood. My situation has now become so desperate that I shall now steal from You at this opulent temple that these pilgrims have described to me”.
And so the dacoit went to the holy place where the temple of Lord Krishna was situated and upon entering the temple through the seven gates, he saw that the opulence was much more than he expected. Sri Sri Radha and Krishna were decorated with fabulous gold ornaments incrusted with huge diamonds, rubies and emeralds, even Lord Krishna’s arati plates and bowls were made of solid gold. Following the example of the other pilgrims, he offered his prostrated obeisances and mentally prayed to the Lord for forgiveness for coming there to steal from Him. But that he had no choice seeing his situation was so desperate.
After carefully studying the rounds of the guards and the temple timings, he made his plan and, choosing a stormy night during the new moon, he climbed over the temple walls and entered into the temple. Due to the stormy weather, he noticed his feet were covered in mud. On the marble floor slabs of the temple entrance, there was one corner of a floor slab that was missing, so he scraped the mud off his feet against the hole, thus filling up that missing corner of the slab. Then he broke in. Once in front of the Deities he offered his obeisances, took the Deity’s dhoti off, spread it on the floor, put all the valuables and gold articles on it, thus making a bundle. Then he again offered his obeisances, praying to the Lord for forgiveness for having stolen from Him, and made his escape. While climbing over the last wall, due to the rain he slipped from the rope and fell down at the bottom of the wall. The bundle of paraphernalia made a loud clattering sound which alerted the soldiers guarding the entrance gate. Upon discovering that the thief had dared to steal from their worshipable Lord, they became so angry that they beat the dacoit to death. The Yamadutas (the servants of the demigod of death and hell, Yamaraja), came to take him to hell, but were prevented from doing so by effulgent Vishnudutas (four handed servants of Lord Vishnu) who suddenly appeared before them. The Yamadutas inquired, “How come you want to save this sinful soul from punishment in hell? All his life he has been committing all kinds of crimes and sinful activities, and now he has had the audacity to steal from the Supreme Lord Himself.”
The vishnudutas replied, “By his prostrated obeisances when first entering the temple, all his past sinful activities were forgiven. By having filled up that missing corner of the temple room floor slab, even though only with mud, still he has acquired a house in Vaikuntha (the anxiety-free Kingdom of God). After stealing from Lord Krishna’s Deity, he prayed for forgiveness while offering his humble obeisances. Thus the all merciful Lord has pardoned him and sent us to bring him to His spiritual world.” So we can see from this story how beneficial it is to participate in even the smallest way in the construction of a temple where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is worshipped with love and devotion.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam we find the following verses: “By installing the Deity of the Lord, one becomes king of the entire earth, by building a temple for the Lord, one becomes ruler of the three worlds, by worshiping and serving the deity, one goes to the planet of Lord Brahma, and by performing all three of these activities one achieves a transcendental form like My own. But one who simply engages in devotional service with no consideration of fruitive results attains Me. Thus whoever worships Me according to the process I have described will ultimately attain pure devotional service unto Me.”
And, “One who offers the Deity gifts of the land, markets, cities and villages so that the regular worship and special festivals of the Deity may go on continuously will achieve opulence equal to My own”.
In the Narsimha Purana we find: “O devoted one, one who builds a beautiful temple for Lord Nrsimhadeva will be freed from all sinful reactions and he will enter the Vaikuntha planets.”
In the Skanda Purana there is the following verse: “Just by starting the construction of a temple for Lord Krishna, sins committed in seven births will be wiped out and one will deliver his forefathers who are suffering in the hellish planets.”
In the Vamana Purana we find the following verses: “Whoever constructs or helps to construct a Vishnu temple will protect eight generations of fathers, grandfathers, and forefathers from falling into hell.”
And, “By building a temple for Sri Madhava, one can attain the eternal spiritual world (Vaikuntha). One who offers a garden laden with fruits and flowers for the service of the Deity will attain heavenly pleasures.”
In the Vishnu Dharmottara, “A person who builds a temple of Sri Vishnu will get the same results as performing the Rajasuya yajna and Ashwameda yajna. O best of the brahmanas, as many atoms as there are in the temple, for so many thousands of years will he be able to reside in the heavenly planets.”
As you can see from the above quoted Puranic histories and verses, all of you who have helped with financial and material contributions, or physically given a hand, and are still helping, how much spiritual benefit you will derive. All those of you who have not yet had the opportunity of helping in the construction of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama’s temple need not despair. There are many aspects of the temple that are as yet unfinished, due to insufficient funds and time. Actually Sri Sri Krishna Balarama’s temple has mainly been built from numerous small donations from the poorer sections of our society. However, personally I think that it’s a shame that everyone in Mauritius, rich and poor alike don’t get the opportunity of benefiting from engaging in devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
My humble entreaty to all my Mauritian compatriots is “Please don’t waste your lives in fruitless materialistic endeavors and goals. Make your lives perfect by rendering loving devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
In the Bhagavad-gita (2.44), Lord Krishna says, “In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place”.
If one contributes towards temple construction, devotional service becomes increasingly a more tangible and feasible reality in one’s life. Srila Prabhupada’s intent, his transcendental scheme, in having us, his disciples and grand disciples, build temples around the world, is especially to provide an opportunity for fallen souls everywhere to acquire spiritual benefit by participation and charity. This is known as ajnata sukriti, which means pious credit acquired unknowingly.
Please take advantage of this rare occasion by coming forward and helping us in our service to Srila Prabhupada, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Sri Sri Krishna Balarama. By doing so, you will find that your lives will become happy and prosperous and that the darling of all our hearts (Paramatma - Supersoul) will fulfill all desires. Om Tat Sat
Arjuna Das ACBSP