What is it that makes people build temples on hill tops all over the world? It’s not so prominent in ISKCON but maybe that’s because we open our temples wherever we can find urban property, and it’s not so prominent with Krishna’s temples, too, but still there are some like that even in Vrindavana – Madan-Mohan, for example, or Gopal temple at Govardhan.
Somehow people assume that visit to a Deity should entail some personal sacrifice, it should be difficult, and one should not come empty handed. Why is that? Does it have any shastric or philosophical basis? Coming with a small gift is understandable, it’s just good etiquette, but why some temples have thousand step long staircases?
In Buddhism perfection is achieved through a tremendous personal effort so it easily explains why seekers of truth need to climb high up the mountains, but what about more merciful deities? Is the difficulty of access determined by the those who build them or by God Himself?
I can’t imagine Lord Chaitanya appearing in an inaccessible place, doesn’t mesh with His mission at all. Not so much with Krishna, too, and all His main temples are smack in the middle of towns. Puri is even build around the temple of Jagannath. Vishnu, however, is a more traditional deity, as so is Shiva, one doesn’t come to them with love but with awe and respect and so a little difficulty in attending might show the value the visitor places on the object of his worship.
In modern Christianity this doesn’t make sense, it’s all about Jesus serving his congregation, but in medieval times most famous monasteries were hid in the highest mountains, too.
How to achieve proper balance between the need for preaching and easy accessibility and the fact that God cannot be approached without making sacrifices, the ultimate of which is giving your whole life. We make Hare Krishna mantra available to all without any screening or requirements, even Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami didn’t disclose it in Chaitanya Charitamrita, but can we do the same thing with our Deities? I don’t think so.
I see it like that – everyone must have a chance to serve the Holy Name but only those who serve the Holy Name should be allowed a chance to serve Deities.
Being in the presence of Deities is not the same as hearing the Holy Name. There are too many rules and there are serious offences, some practically unforgivable within this lifespan.
Preaching centers should be everywhere and they can all invite Sri Sri Gaura Nitai as presiding Deities but “real” temples, with Radha and Krishna, should have some sort of screening for the general public. A few weeks ago some devotees complained about karmi marriage ceremonies being held in one of our most prominent temples in front of Radha Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, I think they have very legitimate grounds for these protests.
The very name of Srimati Radharani should not be said in front of non-devotees, what to speak of staging sex-enjoyment shows in the presence of Her Deity. Okay, they didn’t have sex in the temple but let’s not kid ourselves, that’s what karmi marriages are for, and they were seeking blessings for that abominable activity from Radha and Krishna.
I don’t know what to say, I see no excuses.
We are not on the platform of loving service, we install Radha and Krishna but we worship them in the mood of Laksmi Narayana and so we should behave with awe and reverence in their presence, and we should make appropriate sacrifices to obtain their audience.
It should be done with appropriate difficulty. Their Lordships like when their subjects work hard to earn Their favors.