It always seems to me that the temple is really a portal to another world. It seems that when you step inside the temple you are no longer in Sydney, or Florida, or Paris, but that you have been transported somewhere else. When you step inside the temple is like you have been transported to Goloka Vrindavan, that you have been transported to Vaikuntha, where Krishna never leaves.
I read somewhere once that Srila Prabhupada said the temples are really for the householders. For the ones tangled in the material world. The temple allows the householder to step outside of the world of the modes of material nature. Going to the temple can give you some relief from the mundane world. The temple can give you some opportunities that you just don’t get in your mundane existence.
In his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 2, chapter 3, verse 22, Srila Prabhupada says “Visiting the temple of a devotee and looking at the profusely decorated forms of the Lord, well dressed in a well-decorated, sanctified temple naturally infuse the mundane mind with spiritual inspiration.“
Looking at the deities can infuse your mundane mind with spiritual inspiration. Allowing your eyes to gaze upon the forms of the deities can inspire you. I like how the process is also expressed the other way around. You go to the temple to take the ‘darshan’ of the Lord. Whilst you are looking at Him, He is seeing you also.
The vision of Radha and Krishna at the Sydney temple is often awe inspiring. The devotees go to a lot of effort to decorate the altar and to dress the deities in beautiful clothes with attractive jewels and hats. It is always brings a great smile to my face.
The smell of the sweet incense pervading the whole building is also other-worldly, as if the very air is itself perfumed by the presence of Lord Krishna. It is such a blast to gaze on the deities. I always find it very uplifting. It feels like some change is going on as if Krishna reaches inside you and does something.
In New York in the USA, in July, 1972, Srila Prabhupada was giving a lecture he said “This temple, these ISKCON centres are open, just to give everyone the chance of hearing about Krishna so that his dirty heart may be cleansed. This is the purpose.” That is what happens to us when we visit the temple of Lord Krishna. The temple is not for Krishna, He doesn’t need it. It is for us, for our transformation.
Where else do you get to hear the glories of Krishna? Where else do you get to hear the holy names being chanted and sung with abandon? What a place. I am continually amazed to find myself in the temple, surrounded by people worshipping Lord Krishna with their minds and their bodies and with loud voices.
If you are at the temple during arati you can get to participate in the worship by touching the flames that have been offered, by smelling the flowers that have been offered and being touched by the water that have been offered. You can taste the Caranamrita, the sweet liquid that has washed His lotus feet. Imagine that, how incredible.
At the temple you get to associate with the devotees of Krishna. You can ask questions and hear them talk of Krishna and his pastimes. You can see how they have been transformed from normal people into devotees of Krishna, into lights amongst us.
The temple always seems to me to be like a palace of amazing things. I always come home singing the Mahamantra, smelling sweetly of incense and feeling blissful. If you have the opportunity I suggest that you take it, over and over again.