By Amrutvijaydas Swami
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
Man’s quest for eternal joy has seen extraordinary strides in science and technology, giving birth to countless amenities that simplify and enrich life. From the wheel to luxury cars, horse-drawn carriages to aircraft, swords to missiles, carrier pigeons to smartphones – human innovation knows no bounds. Yet, despite all these advancements, true happiness remains elusive. The comforts we’ve engineered have certainly transformed our lives, but our mindset remains the same, reminiscent of our ancestral cave-dwelling days.
We’ve built bridges, not just of concrete and steel, but of communication and technology, yet our ultimate destination remains undefined. We’ve extended our lifespan but forgotten the inevitability of death. Our means of enjoyment have increased manifold, yet we continue to chase after that elusive eternal bliss. As materialistic pleasures prove increasingly hollow, we find ourselves desperate for answers, which surprisingly, have been with us all along.
Swami Vivekananda rightly said, “The greatest source of strength for any society is its faith in God.” Our biggest folly is not our lack of knowledge, but the failure to sincerely embrace this simple yet profound solution. As the renowned electrical engineer, Charles Steinmetz, stated, “Someday, people will learn that material things do not bring happiness… When scientists turn their laboratories over to the study of God and prayer, the world will see more advancement in one generation than it has in the last four.”
This is a truth steeped in our own heritage, taught by the ancient, enlightened rishis of Bharat. They emphasized the importance of bhakti, prayer, and meditation, and inspired the construction of mandirs as spiritual laboratories. Mandirs have been the bedrock of our society, nurturing spirituality in people who’ve sincerely sought it.
Mandirs are our ancient Vedic legacy, a powerful antidote to rampant materialism. As Pramukh Swami Maharaj observed, “Mandirs preserve the cleanliness of the soul and keep it from becoming diseased…Our scriptures have shown the medicine to be mandirs.” India is home to 3.5 million mandirs – big and small, ancient and recent – which have helped generations of Hindus to successfully absorb and adapt to the shocks and turbulence of daily life and progress spiritually. Mandirs contribute significantly to personal and societal harmony, echoing Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s words, “A mandir stabilizes the mind… teaches mutual respect… preserves and protects culture and tradition… strengthens belief in our true identity… gives ultimate peace… and takes us to God.”
In the forthcoming articles, we will delve deeper into the significance of mandirs as revealed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.