I have seen many people asking questions like:
Why do we waste so much milk in the name of religious rituals and don’t even feel guilty about it?
Answer: To all critics of the milk-pouring ritual of Shiva, your point of view is correct when we are taking things from a materialist point of view. However, you should not mix and compare the materialistic and spiritual world together to make a comparison of profit/loss from an activity.
It is coming from a human being who does not know the importance of an activity and only looks at the materialistic view of it. You can only judge anything in the world correctly if you are empathic and know, understand and experience both sides of the story from an unbiased point of view, instead of a single-sided story and half-truth.
Here, you are absolutely correct about the wastage of milk, but also wrong on the other side of the activity. Half knowledge and experience are always dangerous. If you are judging and commenting from a partial view of something, it will hardly ever be correct.
The world is facing huge problems such as pollution, deforestation, hunger, extreme poverty, loss of biodiversity, diseases, desertification, malnutrition, regional conflict, aging population, nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, child poverty, child labour, child abuse, child mortality, child exploitation, global climate change, human rights violation, slums, humanitarian crisis, human migration, human displacement, war crimes, overpopulation, water scarcity, water conflict, water privatisation, water pollution, gender equality, women’s rights, global warming, habitat destruction, depletion of the ozone layer, ocean acidification, Holocene extinction, natural resource depletion, and the list is endless.
Below are some facts about Earth:
And I can go on with a list of all the pains and suffering human beings are going through in the world, and it is endless.
So, deriving the same logic from the question of wasting milk for spiritual purposes, the world should not be wasting any amount of money on wasteful expenditure and should only be sticking to basic human needs to survive in the world. We should contribute each and every extra money we make for the cause mentioned above.
There is a difference between needs and wants. Looking after the problems faced by mankind, we people should stick and limit ourselves to only our basic needs.
Now, let me make a counter question to you. Despite huge problems being faced by humanity today, why are we people wasting so much money just to fulfil our unnecessary wants?
You question is like asking the world why everyone is wasting money in watching movies when the entire world is suffering from huge problems.
So, here are my questions based on the same logic as yours:
And I can go on with a list of all the wasteful expense people in the world take up.
Most of the people on Earth are wasting money just to show off and maintain class among peers and the world. They do not care about the suffering of the world. They just want materialistic pleasure and enjoyment for them, and start lecturing others on social issues they themselves hardly care about.
The question of why follow religious rituals amid the sufferings of the world is like criticising our mother when she tries to apply tilak on our forehead after puja, and arguing that it doesn’t serve any purpose and we can save that money to feed the poor. It is like science students claiming that commerce does not exist and vice versa. If you do not know anything in the world, it does not mean that it doesn’t exist. What exists will always exist, regardless of what people of the entire world think. Was planet Earth flat when hundred years ago, people on the Earth thought so?
Reality will exist regardless of what you think or what I think of it. Period.
The problem is that critics don’t think about problems in the world before purchasing their next iPhone, but pouring milk on Shiva is the greatest wastage of money for them and can be used for saving humanity. I think if everyone in the world sticks to basic human needs only and contribute to humanity, then world problems will start disappearing very soon, and we’d be able to make planet Earth a better place to live on for everyone.
Have these critics questioned about all the rest of the people who waste money? Or do you only want to damage and target Hindu sentiments?
Spirituality is the need of the world. It is not any form of want. People must investment in spirituality as much as possible. It brings true peace and contentment in life regardless of your financial status, gender, caste, culture, religion, race etc.
Pouring milk on Shiva’s idol has spiritual signification, which many people including these critics definitely wouldn’t know, otherwise, the question of milk would not have arised. Hinduism recognises all forms of living and non-living beings as a part of Creation, and so, everything moving or not moving is a part of Creation itself.
So, the ‘rock’, as you will call it, is a part of the Creator Himself and is being served with water and milk. Will you ask anyone on the planet to stop eating basic food to survive, citing the various problems being faced by the world? No, will be the answer. Right? People just cannot survive without food and for people to serve the world and tackle world problems, they themselves must be fed well to stay strong and healthy. Similarly, the milk being poured on Shiva is a kind of food for the ‘Shivalinga’.
Now, let us dig deeper to understand the significance of the process:
According to the science of Ayurveda, every person has three components in them: Vata (Air), Kafa (Cough) and Pitta (Acids). All three elements are necessary for the smooth functioning of our body. However, when the proportion of any of these components goes out of natural balance, the body begins to suffer from various ailments.
During the month of Shravan, the Vata component of an individual gets higher in proportion. During that period, an individual must avoid food that increases the Vata component. For instance, greens contain higher amounts of Vata in them. (Jains even have Paryushan during this point and avoid green vegetables.) Thus, an individual is asked to avoid these foods during the season (especially Shravan month) to avoid the ailments.
During the monsoon season, the cattle also eat a lot of green grass, and hence, the available milk is high in Vata and, at times, is susceptible to viral infections. Hence, milk is considered harmful during the Shravan month. Thus, Ayurveda advices us against consuming milk during Shravan.
In Sanatan Dharm, Bhagwan Shiv is understood to consume the poison that came out during Samudra Manthan (Churning of the Oceans). Thus, it is customary to supply whatever is poisonous to Bhagwan Shiv. Therefore, Hindus offer milk over shivlings (Sanskrit for symbol of Shiv) during the month of Shravan, because it is taken into account like a poison by the science of Ayurveda.
Hinduism says, “Feed to others only what you’ll eat for yourself (which means, don’t offer to others what you’ll never consume), always give the simplest to others and do welfare for all. Always lookout of the poor and feed them the fresh and healthy food” — from the Vedas. Now, if we feed milk or green leafy vegetables, which is poison during the Shravan, then it is a sin because it will cause them diseases. Hence, to the ignorant ones who do not know any better, let us just clarify directly that Sanatan Dharm is a spiritual philosophy and know-how of life. Science has some things inherent thereto and at an equivalent time, it is a philosophy much beyond those realms.
According to Shiva Agamas, the Sacred Literature Of Saivism, it’s called ‘Abhishekam’ – Shiva Agamas give a lot of importance to abhishekam in Shiva pooja, making the ceremonies repeatedly simpler. You can perform Abhishekam by simply using water or by performing elaborately with milk, curd, honey, ghee, sugar, coconut milk, holy ash, sandal paste, fruit crush etc.
The Sanskrit word ‘abhisheka’ means a sprinkling. It is derived from the root sic, to wet, and with the prefix ‘abhi’ (i.e. around). Abhisheka literally means “wetting around”. An abhisheka is the bathing part of a puja that sometimes is completed with sacred water. Abhishekam is the offering of ablutions to an energised deity. Water, being an electrolyte, transmits energy much faster than air. Pouring water upon an energised deity releases powerful vibrations, which we devour more easily than from air.
Similarly, different substances have the power to release different vibrations once they are come in contact with an energised object or deity. Many of those substances are edible, and everyone features a unique quality that heals or energises a selected part. As an example, honey utilised in the abhishekam has the capacity to truly make one’s voice sweeter!
This is often the science behind abhishekam (reminds me of the movie Satayam Shivam Sundaram and all its immortal songs)! It is by a devotee’s faith that Shiva gets pleased. He is bathed with the prescribed eleven ingredients, including water, milk, curd, ghee, honey etc. We also use the same ingredients once we marry and perform many similar rituals.
The chant “Om Namah Shivai” is the infinitum abstract macrocosmic consciousness. So, intrinsically, your water is not happening to Shiva literally, but it is just representative of what is being offered with water and milk. Water and milk are both liquids, sure, and water is connected to our human mind. Now, it is going to sound very intriguing, but that’s how it is.
When the moon is waxing and waning, it changes the standard of water. As you recognise, when the moon is waxing on its full-of-the-moon night, there are huge waves on the ocean. Psychologically, it’s been found that this is often the time when people with mental disorders undergo a really rough time. If moon has such an impact upon water, then what can we say about its impact on the human body that is 72% water?
Once we shower the Shivalingam with water and milk, the rationale is that symbolically, we try to correlate water and our mind and therefore, the symbol of Shivalingam into one. During this ritual, the sensation is “Let my mind be washed away of all dirt and pollutants.” Milk is considered a nourishing ingredient, pure and satvik. So, during this ritual, when it’s wiped out in the correct way and our eyes are concentrated doing trataka (meditation) on the Shivalingam and when it’s bathed within the water, it’s actually a prayer that is being chanted, “Let my mind be washed of all impurities.”
And once we shower the Shivalingam with milk, the emotions are “Let my mind be nourished and washed of all impurities with noble thoughts, purity, compassion, satvik, goodness, friendship, etc.” The benefits of Abhishek are: it burns away all Karmas collected over many births; it awakens the Kundalini Awakening of the pineal eye – the Ajna chakra Power of grasping, retention, memory and intelligence take a quantum jump; and there is visible improvement in creativity and clarity of thought.
We should question everything and not blindly believe in anything. But the problem with the critics is that they do not know things fully and just comments their views on each and every practice being done from thousands of years ago in the world. Anyone can question anything in the world and that should be completely okay, but first, they should understand the whole story, practice, significance, logic, beliefs and reason behind them, and then question them.
There is no problem with any question in the world, but when the critic who questions without knowing seems to be wearing a huge crown of ignorance.
Sadhguru rightly said, “The Greatest EVIL in the world in not the EVIL itself, it’s IGNORANCE”