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more and more on "cleanliness in temples, dd"

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Tue Nov 02 1999 - 07:06:56 PST

Dear members,

One member who is corresponding with adiyen on subject
of "cleanliness in temples" (after reading adiyEn's
posts last week)  sent one private message asking
adiyEn about how we can have "preventive cleanliness"
in temples, DD, mutt, ashram etc. He is asking very
good questions and so adiyen is thinking it good idea
to reproduce excerpts (with that member's permission
of course) for discussion if other members are also

He is asking following (his own words):

(1) "We are asking how to keep our temples, mutts
clean but it is more important I think to ask how to
prevent them from becoming unclean?"

(2) "It is one things to talk about creating awareness
of cleanliness in temples/dd/mutts etc. (like your
well-conceived "CITTA-SHUDDHI" project) and quite
another thing to prevent un-cleanliness or un-hygiene
in such holy places."

(3) "Let's ask ourselves what are the principal causes
of uncleanliness in temples, dd etc.. Is it the
crowds? No. If crowds by themselves create
un-cleanliness how is it that mosques and churches
where also people throng in great numbers, how they
are comparatively so free of un-hygiene or trash?

(4) "I personally think the biggest cause of
un-cleanliness in temples/mutts is the practice of
cooking inside the temple ("talligai") and the need to
maintain a holy-kitchen ("madapalli"). This practice
is something unique only to our religion by which
places of worship have unfortunately also over the
years been turned into places of eating buzzing with
activity all the time. (I believe that the historical
beginnings of this practice can be traced back first
to SriRamanujacharya, but I may well be wrong here).
In church, synagogue or mosque people come only to
pray; they do not expect to eat. Why in Hindu temples
things should have been made different, is one of
those questions of temple history that one can
endlessly speculate on but still be very unclear

(5) "Once you bring the institution of a kitchen into
the temple or mutt precincts, naturally, next you will
also be forced to accommodate within the same
temple/mutt area the need for a mass dining-space
where pilgrims have to consume what is served to them
("prasAda-viniyOga"). Next you also need a washroom of
sorts where they can wash after eating the "prasAdam".
Then you also need a dish-washing area adjacent to the
"madapalli". Then you need a place to dump trash like
"donnai", "yechhyilillai" and kitchen left-overs. Once
you dump these left-overs somewhere in the vicinity of
the temple-area you can bet it will attract cows and
all sorts of vermin. You need next a store or a larder
within the temple… and it goes on endlessly.. . and
all what you have created from the start is more and
more opportunity for fouling the place and creating an
unclean mess that is evident today in our
temples/dd/mutts. (Sri.Ramanujacharya may have allowed
"madapalli-s" into temples with the noblest of
intentions i.e. out of a caring attitude for poor
pilgrims, but then he may not have fully foreseen the
long-term public-hygiene implications of his decision

(6) "I feel the only way to create cleanliness in our
temples and mutts is to first prevent un-cleanliness.
And that prevention can be enabled only by rooting out
opportunities for creating a mess inside the temple
precincts. And for that to happen it is important that
temples do not serve anything more than "symbolic"
prasAdam to pilgrims and limit whatever is served to
"theertham" "satari", "tiru-thuzhAy" and perhaps a
piece of sugar-candy ("kalkanndu") rather than
serving, as they all today compete to do, wholesale
quantities of "pooLiyOdharai", "dOddhyOnam",
"chakkarai-pongal", "vada-mAlai", "panchAmrutam" etc. 

(7) Distribution of  "pooLiyOdharai", "dOddhyOnam"
etc. must be left entirely to the private initiative
of philanthropic devotees who can be told they are
most welcome to carry on the noble task of
pilgrim-feeding and poor-feeding well outside the
temple area and jurisdiction and for which separate
arrangements may be made.

(8) Another cause of un-cleanliness and un-hygiene in
temples/dd is the practice of "archanai-thattu" being
offered to the deity. It is usually alright if
devotees are permitted to offer one or two flowers to
adorn the deity as a symbolic offereing. But if you
think about it deeply, is it really necessary? After
all the deity is already well adorned with
"pushpa-alankAram" and often the flowers offered by
devotees is just piled up one over the other by the
archakar on the "archa-murthy"… sometimes even
drowning the deity out of sight. Why cannot devotees
enter the sanctum without carrying the burden of the
archanai-thattu… i.e. coconuts, banana, floral
garland, camphor, betel-nut and leaves etc.? Why can't
devotees be encouraged to enter the sanctum with
nothing more than their bare heart and devoted mind?
Why don't they be encouraged to spend the few moments
they are in the presence of the deity in absolute
silence, contemplation and prayer? Rather what we find
in the sannidhi is commotion of all sorts…
"archana-thattu" sounds, the crack of coconuts being
broken, the archakar preoccupied in keeping count of
archanai-tickets, slashing of floral garlands,
yelling, jostling …At the end of it all what do we
get? Unclean interiors in the sanctum, smelling
sometimes of rotten coconuts, decaying betel leaves,
withered flower-petals strewn all over the floor,
attracting insects and beetles and cockroaches even in
the main sannidhi! How nice it would be instead if in
the sanctum-sanctorum we were all allowed to
concentrate on the main "archA-murthy" and not on the
"archanai-thattu"? How nice it would be to hear the
archakar reciting a few pasurams more instead of
listening to him all the time yelling at devotees
about coconuts, "pazham" or to take their
"archanai-thattu-s" back? How nice it would be to have
the floor of the sanctum dry and clean instead of
having it sloshing with coconut-milk and withered
flowers and scattered betel nuts? My feeling is that
our sampradayam actually emphasises devotees that do
well to offer coconuts, flowers, fruits etc. to
perumAl in their respective homes as part of their
"ijya-arAdhAna" and not to offer them wholesale at
temples. I don't know about this, maybe I'm wrong. But
it is certainly another cause of a great amount of
litter in our temples and mutts." 
  ----------        ---------------  --------------

Dear members, all points raised above are good points
but adiyen is unable to respond to them adequately as
adiyen does not have proper gnyAnam. So adiyen is
offering to group for comments.



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