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Thread: Temple visits and now what?

  1. #1
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    Temple visits and now what?

    Hari Om!

    In a situation where I don't know what to do and am hoping to get some advice from others either in a learned position or who have been there themselves. Please offer what you may. This is my humble request.

    Have been attending a Mandir here that is to my liking. My only intents are to pray and to serve both the Mandir and a Swami who has taken me in and is teaching me of his own accord. Am ever grateful for the opportunity to do both. I want nothing in return, only to serve and worship which had been fine until about a week ago.

    Was entering Swamiji's chambers to change into Kurta and Dhoti at his request and was seen by another sevak performing her duties. She confronted me and asked what I was doing and why I was there. As I had nothing to hide, I told her the simple truth - I was changing at Swamiji's request. Before I could return to the Temple, she was outside with Swamiji and another Pandit screaming at the top of her lungs in Hindi which I don't understand. Later I was told that she had questioned why a "white person" was in the temple. She came back a short time later and started screaming again, same thing. I didn't see her after that and haven't since. Swamiji dismissed her, telling her to get out.

    Now it comes to my attention that a meeting was had by about 20 others about my presence. It seems that no one can recall a white person having attended before in the many many years of the temple's history. Although I haven't been asked to leave, I don't want to create a rif or make it difficult for Swamiji. He told me that most there have a "disease", a skin disease, and that he wouldn't tolerate such and has voiced such but I am truly lost. Quite simply, what should I do? Stay and start a revolution? Simply leave and destroy the work that we have done and the progress that we have achieved towards one of Swamiji's goals for the temple?

    Tomorrow is Krishna Janmashtami in the US and will be celebrated at the Mandir. I will not make today my last day in attendance at the temple as I have obligations to Swamiji concerning the celebration though have considered at least taking a break for some time ongoing after that.

    Am apologizing for the burden that have placed here but trust the family that has been made here. Anything that is offered is sincerely appreciated.

    Om

  2. #2
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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Vannakkam: For what its worth, I think you should listen to the swami. More importantly, the other people should. I had to laugh at the 'skin disease' comment He made. My Guru used to say 'colour conscious' in the same vein.

    But yes, if they make your life absolutely miserable, then I'd go find a more amiable temple personally. Out of curiousity, are some of the people there relative newcomers. Here, I'm noticing more 'staring' from the newcomers, recent immigrants just unfamiliar with us. My friends offer to 'clue them in' if necessary.

    Sad to here this, and best wishes for a positive outcome.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Nuts are everywhere and Hindu Dharma is no exception. There is no need to pay heed to such useless people.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Namaste,

    Before one reacts to the actions of someone, one has to get into the head of the offender to figure out the reason for their meltdown.

    So, what could be the reasons for this devotee's odd behavior?

    1. Does she think you are a seasonal Hindu who would move on to something else after 6 months and leave a stain on something (Hinduism) that she loves dearly?
    2. Does she think that your closeness to Swamiji threatens her closeness?
    3. Does she think that you are not sincere enough in your practices and have some personal agenda in your temple visits, other than spiritual progress?
    And you could add few more things to this list.

    I would assume that her fears comprise of multiple reasons. To diffuse the situation, I would suggest changing clothes at home before going to the temple and lying low while there. That means sitting in a back corner during temple visits and not being too visible. If Swamiji asks about your change in routine, you may tell him that you don't want other devotees to suffer by your presence. So, you can continue with your temple visits and spiritual progress but by making yourself less visible for some time, say 6 months. That seems to be the most practical solution to sooth the frayed nerves of others without you leaving the temple. Time heals everything and with time, they will get used to your presence, your dedication, your perseverance and may feel more secure about their relationship with Swamiji. Other forum members may have better practical suggestions. Best wishes.

    Pranam.
    Last edited by Believer; 25 August 2016 at 10:48 PM.

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Hari Om!

    First may I wish everyone a very Blessed and Happy Krishna Janmashtami! May Lord Sri Krishna shower His Mercy upon us all.

    Next may I thank those who replied to my query with thoughtful consideration. You are truly appreciated and I have taken your words to heart.

    Am deeply saddened at today's events. Arrived at the Temple as usual for seva and performed some duties before prasad and retiring to SwamiJi's chambers for sadhana. I was to spend all day in the temple and overnight as well and we would do our morning routines together in praise of Lord Krishna for the night before and then start the new day's activities.

    SwamiJi returned a couple hours later. He told me to stay in the room and that he would come when I was needed. A short time later, he arrived saying something about the neophytes and politics of the temple, etc and asked me to come tomorrow. Essentially I was dismissed for the day and was not permitted to attend the Janmashtami Festival. It seems clear that he is the only one that wants me there. I am to return tomorrow at 11AM but don't feel so comfortable with this now though do have a few items to return to the kitchen.

    Through all of this, I am not angry - just disappointed. Am so grateful that was given a chance to serve even if only for a bit. Certainly I received more than I could ever give and am forever indebted to the Lord.

    Now don't know how to bow out gracefully and to hopefully keep some sort of relationship with SwamiJi. We do text and talk on the phone as needed and I hope that this can continue.

    Again, any words of advice would be appreciated.

    Most Humbly,

    Om

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Namaste Smith,

    Is it the only temple in the area ? I have not seen such apartheid attitude even in India where it is not common to find such Hindus. While in Varanasi, it was quite common to see White-Hindus attending Seva at temples and they did it with full authority and confidence.

    My suggestion is to find out some other Hindus from your own country in that area and find out where they go. Otherwise, you may seek an interview with the temple management with the help of Swamiji and explain your case to the management. Most of such attitudes are based on hearsay and biases which can be overcome by direct interaction with the people there. They may be wary of your intentions and perhaps afraid. Otherwise, I don't find any reason why they should take such an attitude to anyone coming to a temple and offering Seva !

    I think if that temple is important to you because of your location etc., the best option is to talk to the management directly instead of through Swamiji. Swamiji can tell you who in the management can understand your position and help you. Better start from talking to that man / woman. Interacting indirectly to convey anything through Swamiji must be stopped as it would create further hardening of stand by those people.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  7. #7

    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Namaste C.Smith,

    I have also been to places and felt uncomfortable with some of the existing members, but that was not anything to do with race or nationality. I have also for no apparent reason been kicked out of some places very unfairly due to some people having a tight nit dynamic, mostly the problem has been by differing views and motivation.


    When I first read your message I thought to answer that if you could win over the current group then you will join into their unity, and that may take time. When I was younger I used to watch Kung Fu movies and many of them started with a person who wanted to learn the sacred arts which was held by monks in the monastery. So many times the master would tell the student to get lost and never come back, and the student would wait outside the temple and just sit, the master would again come out and throw water on him, threaten to get his other students to come out and beat him, but still the aspiring student stood firm and waited outside and showed undeviating will to get access into the monastery and win the favour of the master. After a long time the master would see the sincerity of the student and then allow or grant him access. Then the student would wash the floors, clean the temple and do nothing but work work work, and again from a low position he worked his way up and found out in the end that it was all test and his sincerity and determination were rewarded eventually. There are still traditions like in Japan and China where a travelling monk comes to stay at a new place, asks permission to stay and practice and the head monk refuses him and the monk waits in meditation for however long it takes the head monk to change his mind. The wisdom from this helped me immensely to deal with the adversity that is in this world that gets reflected in some spiritual communities. If something you feel is worthwhile then stick with it, things do change, its the knowledge and transformation that we want anyway and not to be accepted into a social club, so adversity is also our teacher, but it depends on how much you feel that place and the Swami is important to your development.

    Also there should be some sympathy with how outsiders are perceived these days. In India back in the 60's I feel mostly the international crowd were welcomed, people in India and Hinduism took great pride that their religion which is universal at heart is being accepted around the world, if we could have behaved better in many places and remained the student the relationship would be more healthy now than it is in certain places, so we may only have ourselves to blame for this. I could tell many stories about the growing separation between Indians and International Sadhaka's because it certainly exists and it may be up to you to prove your a different example. Knowing most Indians the way I do in real life is that if you show some sincerity even at first if they may come across as unaccommodating they will relax more and accept you more, so they may only be wanting to protect what they have, so dont take it all personally.

    Devotee Ji gave some good advice, talk with one of them, maybe one day walk in and see if anyone has some sympathy towards you, even if you see a slight smile, as soon as you see that then he has some capacity to listen to you and you can then build up communication. It does sound like a place which may take some time to settle in and prove yourself, and that is what you will have to do, but its down to you if you think that that place is worth establishing yourself in.

  8. #8
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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Vannakkam C. Smith: The story just seems odd to me now. Odd as in the style of temple. In my visits to 40 or so North American temples, I've never encountered one like you have described. Firstly, most temples don't have swamis attached to them. That style, in my experience, is a temple within a swami's ashram, and the main focus is on the ashram and teaching of yoga. The temple is there as an aid. The far more common style of temple is run by an elected board and hired priests. The entire focus is the temple, people come, people go, and 90% have little or no involvement other than worship.

    So all this makes it harder to comment on the situation at all, due to unfamiliarity with the concept.

    Aum namasivaya

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Hari Om!

    My Esteemed EM,

    Yes, Temple is an odd sort. Swamiji does not act in that official capacity at the temple but was rather hired as a priest and has taken sanyas. The other temple priest which is also 50% responsible makes an appearance when money is offered and at no other time - he is there for that reason alone so it seems and that is back from stories by several devotees. I have yet to see him no more than one time and for no more than 5 minutes. Never have met him.

    Yes, Temple owner makes an appearance on occasion but noting more am told. As far as Management, political in nature and more about money than any other. The meeting concerning me is an example of the political side.

    Would agree that 90% of people usually have no involvement aside from worship and wouldn't expect any difference here. Seems that out of all I see, I am one of few who put money in the hundi. Perhaps I should have paperclipped my name to the cash I left or left a check so they knew it was from the white guy! This aside, the temple does have large satsang, probably 500 people in attendance weekly and other well attended events. Swamiji also has small, up to 50 in each class, gatherings weekly in classes on Upanishads, Gita, etc in addition to nightly bhajans and the sort. It is a very active center.

    My only goals are to love and serve the lord and to achieve Self Realization. Have learned a lesson in detachment here as was growing a bond and in my desire to progress spiritually, these are not compatible. Yes, with such a large area as such that I live, there must be numerous choices. Will do the research. Thank you for your insights and guidance. You are appreciated.

    Om

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    Re: Temple visits and now what?

    Vannakkam: If it makes you feel any better, a temple I know had to ban an entire group. The group sponsored a monthly puja for many years, but over time, as the group grew, so did the problems. They just couldn't follow the rules of the temple, insulted the priest, did as they pleased, and more. For the last year or so 2 or more board member spent a frustrating few hours telling people not to talk, not to sit with legs pointed at the deities, not to bring food into the temple, not to touch the deities, not to wear hats, not to enter the moolasthanam, not to insult the priest. Finally they just said, 'Stop coming." It got nasty.

    I've heard decent things about the Malibu temple, and friends I know go to some smaller Hanuman temple around Anaheim. Hopefully neither of those is the one you're going to.

    Aum Namasivaya

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