Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hindu Temple

Over the holidays, while visiting my family in Atlanta, we took a field trip to the Hindu temple known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in my home town of Lilburn, GA. This was my first experience being inside a Hindu temple and one word I would describe it with is intricate. It is the largest temple of it's kind outside of India according to Wikipedia. At 75 feet tall it also makes the structure the tallest in the city of Lilburn.

When entering, visitors are required to take their shoes off which I assume is out of respect for the place as well as generally a good housekeeping policy. After spending some time looking around I have a vague sense of what the BAPS demonination of Hinduism is about. Basically, a man named Bhagwan Swaminarayan started this denomination during the 1800s. There were several idols inside and figures of previous spiritual leaders known as gurus.

My sense was that it was a good works oriented faith and that you can either be "god" or eventually through reincarnation work your way towards a state of nirvana. While it seemed that those following the principles of the religion would be moral people, there was also a certain sense of emptiness to it from the standpoint that there is no ultimate authority who can give power to overcome sin like Jesus Christ. There also does not appear to be a relational aspect to it but rather one must of his or her own power come to a greater state of being and peace. In my experience the only times I have true peace and fullfillment is when I'm walking daily with Jesus through reading the Bible talking with him through prayer and worship whether that be singing, playing guitar, running, being outdoors or some other form of worship.

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