Murtis and worship
London Seminar – 1st to 2nd February 2014
DEVOTEE: Can I worship a broken Murti? How do I choose the correct Murti?
ou see, there are a lot of traditions associated with this and you mustn’t be overly worried about that. Every Murti has a vibration associated with it. You can see that. And you will find that some Murtis you will be drawn to and immediately you have an affinity and you think “Oh, that’s got something for me. That form kind of excites me somehow.” And other Murthis will just leave you cold and you don’t want to have anything to do with them.
When you are starting a temple, or you are preparing a Murti to be inaugurated for a temple, then that Murti has to be created and fashioned in a very particular way according to the astrology, according to the materials that are used and the whole time structure. How that Murti is going to come into being has to be done in accordance with an astrological prediction, an astrological chart. But we are talking then of establishing a Murti in a temple.
If you have a Murti on a private shrine, you can be a little bit more flexible. If you have a great love for that Murti, over time, you will overlook its imperfections and, in fact, the more you worship it you will find that that vibration becomes more and more refined. You wouldn’t want to start worshipping a Murti if it has, say, it’s missing an arm or there’s something overtly wrong with the form. You wouldn’t be drawn to it in the first place. But if, subsequently, you may find that there’s an imperfection which you hadn’t seen when you first saw it, those things can be overlooked. Your love will transform all of those vibrations in time.
You have to choose a Murti that you are happy with. It becomes a living vibration. You have to be very conscious of everything you bring in close proximity with that vibration and you treat it with the utmost care and respect, and it will give you that feedback when you need it.
DEVOTEE: A friend of mine has a Murti and he’s not quite sure how to look after it. So, how do you look after a Murthi?
It depends where that Murti has come from and what is its background. You know, sometimes, some friends in Switzerland, they’re very fond of going to antiques shops. And, you know, you go to an antiques shop somewhere and find a big Murti of Lord Nataraj, “Ooh, look at that one!” And before you know it, it’s back home in the living room. So you’ve got this ancient temple Murti that’s been worshipped for many centuries. It’s been stolen from India, or somehow been taken to the West, been left in a dusty antiques shop as an item for sale, and then suddenly you’re bringing that vibration and putting it in the middle of a domestic living space. Recipe for problems, you know, because everything doesn’t fit.
You’ve taken a Murti that should be in a place of worship and now it’s not receiving its normal attention and it’s not being worshipped properly. So that obligation of worship that’s established in the Murti turns sour. And the Lord is being neglected within that form and so it will start to accumulate all sorts of negative vibrations. And when that Murti enters into somebody’s house it will wreak havoc, it can wreak havoc in their daily lives. People will start tripping over things and having accidents and all number of difficulties because they’ve no idea where that Murti has come from and the background that they’re bringing with it.
DEVOTEE: If someone has an idea, it’s a new Murthi, and they know where it comes from. How do they worship it from that standpoint?
Well you don’t initiate the worship of a Murti unless you are in circumstances where you can sustain that. In Skanda Vale, we’re very fortunate because our daily lives rotate around activities in the temples. We’ve got a calendar where everything is regimented, so each Murti is brought out at a very specific time and it is worshipped according to a very strict schedule and we never miss that. You know, it’s something that we don’t compromise about. All of those Mahabishekams, all of those acts of worship, will take place at that prescribed time. But somebody who’s living in the world, with a family, with a job, with various other commitments; it’s very hard for them to make that same level of commitment to worship a Murti.
DEVOTEE: So, if they don’t do Abhishekams to it? Do they just pray to it and chant to it? Is that okay?
It can be okay, as long as what they’re doing is sustained in a regular way. You see, people are often drawn to Murtis. There was one lad who came to visit Skanda Vale for the first time just last week. It was nice; he had never been before and straight away, he was like a duck to water. You know, suddenly he just found everything that he saw in the temples, all the rituals and all the people, were so familiar somehow, like it was something he’d always witnessed and always seen. And it’s lovely when you see people like that who just have such a natural affinity with what we’re doing. And just before he left I was having a conversation with him and he said “Oh, by the way, where can I get a Murti of Kali?” And I said, “Well. One step at a time, okay?”
Now, you try to explain: “If you want a Murti of Kali, then you’re looking at a very exacting aspect of the personality of God. If you want to invite Kali to come and manifest in your life, then you’ve got to be ready to change anything and everything according to how she wants to dictate life to you. And so, are you sure that’s something you’re ready to embark on, having just arrived in Skanda Vale and, for the first time, started to see all these exciting things?”
So, you see, it’s something new and it’s something exciting for people. Lots of people want to have a Murti, or they go into a shop or somewhere and they see a Murti and they’re drawn to that vibration, without giving time and space to think “Well, how am I going to sustain this act of worship?” Because, if you’re not able to make a commitment, then you shouldn’t really be taking it on in the first place. A picture is a much safer medium to start with.
DEVOTEE: I’ll stick to pictures.
DEVOTEE: So, Murtis made out of wood and concrete, are they the same as the Murtis of granite and metal?
It has a different quality. The highest vibrations have to come into being in the creation of a Murti that you will install in a temple and be the central deity for worship in that temple. Then the circumstances for that Murti to come about have to be very carefully controlled, all the ingredients have to be brought at the right times and brought together in the right way to make that vibration as perfect as we can possibly make it. But then there’s scope for many other forms and many other Murtis. You might have a Murti outside the temple. You might have peripheral Murtis which are maybe not so perfect as the central aspect depicted in a temple. They can still be worshipped but they don’t have the prime position.
DEVOTEE: I’m asking about home worship Swami, because I’ve got a concrete Murti of Lord Ganesha which has somehow come to us, so we keep it in the shrine room.
It will work just fine for you. You know, the most important thing is the feeling you have for that Murti. If you express your love, you express your devotion to God through that form, then you transcend the form. It doesn’t matter what it’s made of or how it’s constructed. It resonates with the love that you put into it.
But some materials are more suitable, more conducive, to holding that vibration of energy than others. And so, we’ve found the Murtis which are the best at holding that vibration are those which are either made of the five metals, Panchaloha Murtis, or made of a natural stone like the Murti of Lord Ranganatha or the Divine Mother, which is a black marble, or Lord Ranganatha is a black granite. It’s a detail and we shouldn’t get too hung up about that. If you have a Murti that’s made of concrete, it’s what you put into it that’s the most important thing.