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People are scared to go to this Hindu temple, here is why!

This temple in Himachal Pradesh is the only temple in the world people are scared to go to

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Hindu Temple
A temple with no devotees (representative); Source: Pixabay
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Himachal Pradesh, Mar 15, 2017: In a culturally diverse country like India, many different ethnic communities co-exist and follow their distinct religious and social belief. Visiting temples in as integral part of practising one’s beliefs in India, more so in the Hindu community where more than 330 deities are worshipped. The third largest and oldest religion of the world, Hinduism lays emphasis on idol worship. With more than a billion followers, there are innumerable Hindu temples in India.

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Going to temples to pray and seek blessings or on festive occasions for rejoicing etc. has become synonymous with the Indian way of life. To put it simply, people cutting across religions in our country love visiting temples and places of worship.

However, as pointed out by an article in Merinews, there is one Hindu temple located in India people are scared to visit. This is the only temple on the planet dedicated to Yamaraja: the Indian God of Death. Located at Bharmour, in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.

A temple with no devotees (representative); Source: Pixabay

This temple resembles a home rather than a religious place of worship. Most people are afraid to enter this house of the Death Lord and prefer to leave from the threshold itself, offering prayers from the outside. The reason for this is that it is believed that Yamaraja resides in this abode, being the only temple in the whole world dedicated to him.

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Chitragupta, Yamraj’s secretary cum accountant, who keeps a record of all good deeds and sins of all the mortal beings, has been dedicated a room in this temple. It is said that after death, each soul is first brought to this place before continuing on its journey further.

As per common belief, the temple has four invisible doors made out of gold, silver, bronze and iron. It is Yamraj who decides which soul should pass through which door. The same mythological reference can also be found in the religious text Garud Puran.

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The legend goes that the soul is first produced before Chitragupta, who reads out the accounts of the person’s good and bad deeds and karma. Based on this, it is decided which gate the soul should pass through. Lord Brahma’s son, Lord Shravan assists Chitragupta in this task. It is believed that Shravan knows everything about Earth, heaven and hell and also has the power to clearly see and hear the people living on the planet.

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)