(GEN. 11 : 1ó10)
This was a huge ziggurat, called Etemenaki, which literally means `house of the foundation of heaven and earth'. It was called the Temple of the god Bel-Marduk at Babylon, named `Babel' in Hebrew. It was begun by an unknown, prehistoric Sumerian king; but was left unfinished, probably on account of much opposition from within as well as invasions from without.
For thousands of years its ruins were one of the wonders of the world. King Sennacherib tried to obliterate it when he destroyed Babylon,. but its massive foundations resisted his efforts. King Esarhaddon, and two other kings after him, endeavored to finish this temple, but did not succeed. Nebuchadnezzar was the first king of Babylon to bring the tower to completion.
In his inscription, he gave an accurate account of its appearance. The bottom stage was three hundred feet in length and breadth, and about one hundred and twenty feet in height; and above this, there were six other stages that diminished consecutively in size. Since the decline of Babylon, its ruins have served the surrounding country as a brick quarry, for many cen-turies. Now, all that is left of the tower is a hole three hundred feet square, where the foundation once stood.
The historical facts concerning the Tower of Babel are given here in order to clarify the idea for which it stood. Mounds and Pyramids, all over the globe, had a similar principle in their portrayal of the seven strata or levels in the creation of the finer energy realms which linked the heavens above with the physical world below. That was symbolized by the statement in the Bible, in Gen. 11:1-9, when the men of Shinar proposed to build a tower whose top might reach unto heaven. The seven days of Creation, as recorded in the Bible, have a similar meaning.
The seven planets in Occult Philosophy occupy a similar position as the chakras in the body, which are but reflections of reflections of reflections of the One Sun in the Center, and swing and vibrate around Its orbit, expressing the One Energy from the Central Core.
The historical Tower of Babel, being an earthly structure, naturally the foundation had to be put on the ground in order to support the weight of the building.
This structure, like man himself; is an inverted picture of the Real One above it, and is being demonstrated or imitated according to the pattern above. Man's roots are in his brain, from which all his energy flows to support him. So the foundation is the first cause in the Etheric Energy Field of the Central City of Sahasra Dal Kamal, the thousand rays of energy and light which support all the visible creation.
The connecting link between man and the first Great Region above, also called the Thousand Petalled Lotus, is within man's own head. This is beautifully illustrated in the follow-ing poem by the Great Saint, Paltu Sahib, and trans-lated into English by Professors Jagmohan Lal and Janak Raj Puri :
"An inverted well is there above, and therein burneth a lamp ;
The lamp burneth therein without the oil and without the wick.
It burneth night and day; for the six seasons and the twelve months, 'tis lit.
He alone seeth it who hath the Satguru with him.
For, without the Satguru it ever remaineth unseen.
From within the lamp's flame cometh a melody.
He alone listeneth to it who sits in `Cyan Samadhi'.
Whosoever listeneth to it, 0 Paltu, is the one with perfect fate.
In the inverted well above burneth the lamp that never pales."
(This is a very unusual form of poetry and is called a `ICundli'. Paltu Sahib was a Master of this particular kind of poetry. An attempt to retain the original form has been made in rendering this. translation.)
In the Bible this light within man is referred to in Revelation 22 : 5 as follows :
"And there shall be no night there; and they need no' candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light : and they shall reign for ever and ever."
The Great Pyramid of Gizeh was built on the center , of the earth, as a temple of God on earth, to commemoate His Creation and to give hints of its Inner Mystery to posterity. It has symbolic passageways and chambers inside to further explain the mystery of man to himself. The Atlanteans had built a similar huge tower like that of Babel and which resembled the Pyramid. The ancient Indians of North and South America also built their mounds, pyramids and temples for a similar reason, besides the intention to worship either in them or at the base.
The original intention was to bring to man's mind, over and over again, in various ways and symbols, that all these are but replicas of the real place of worship within himself. But, alas, man has forgotten the symbolism and origin of the external temples, churches, mosques, tabernacles, etc. in which he externally wor-ships God. These outer forms are venerated as sacred places while man's real shrine, the soul within his own body, is neglected or forgotten. "Mine own vineyard I have not kept" (Song of Solomon).
Behind it all there was an urge for man to build a structure of some kind in which to worship God, and to leave it to posterity as a sign and symbol of what had been experienced internally. This very impulse explains all the idols, statues, religious objects, rites and ceremonies ever built or instituted by man. It was not foolishness, nor was it due to gross ignorance that images and idols were created by minds of men in many lands and throughout the ages.
The building of the first Tabernacle in the wilder-ness (Exodus 20 : 24,25) was to create a house of God among men; a house which they could see and in which they could worship. The pattern of this tabernacle was shown to Moses by Jehovah on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25 : 8,9). And the tabernacle was built as an exact duplicate of that vision.
The leaders of the races, such as the Rishis who saw and heard the finer energy currents and their structures in the universe, tried to convey this to the people by means of the embodiment of their vision into some figure or image which would demonstrate its powers and abilities of action. It is impossible to do justice in endeavoring to convey that which is beyond the mind, to the mind.
So images of deities were designed with three heads, many hands, etc. because that particular energy did so many things in the field of energy which man does not see. Similarly, the Rishis heard the four great Truths, called the "Mahavaks", upon which the four Vedas were founded. The Essence is simple and Real, but the effects and the writings and symbols of its portrayal are many.
What Saints and Mystics have done in the ecstasy of an internal experience, others try to imitate in an endeavor to reach the Source of that ecstasy. But, unfortunately, throughout the years even that very objective is forgotten and only the empty form of ex-pression is carried on. The Light goes out. Only the forms are left behind.
It became the specific duty of the Sages, the Patri-archs, the Prophets and the Judges of Israel in the Bible, the same as the Manus or Law-givers in Vedic history, to instruct their people and posterity in that which they had seen and believed to be true in their life-time. In some lands this became idol worship, or pilgrimages, or worship in temples or at the foot of mounds or other structures symbolizing the base of the Throne of God Who created this world.
Worship and Devotion was the keynote; no matter how, where or why it was done. Devotion alone expresses the urge of the soul. And since the people in general could not withdraw their attention from the outside and go within their own being, the real temple of the soulómade by God Himself and in which God always dwells in Essence and in Reality-the outside temples and images filled a need to picture to their minds the ideas which would incite their devo-tion to God.
All means have an end or an objective, and it, in turn, has means or paths which lead to it. If a picture of a Saint or a statue of the Savior or the Virgin Mary brings out the devotional qualities of the soul and per-meates the mind, then it has an uplifting effect in its purpose. In essence, it is helpful to the worshiper.
Of course it is all symbolism, since the Reality resides within all beings; only man's consciousness cannot be aware of it without the necessary connecting Link. Anything which engenders the feeling of devo-tion to God is a step in the right direction. It was not the original intention to worship the picture or the image, but rather to concentrate the mind on That which it represented.
When ways and means serve an uplifting purpose, according to the mentality and development of the worshiper, who can say that they are or were bad? In the same manner, it was not intended to take Mystic Texts literally as an objective Reality or Knowledge, but as a food for the higher mind and the soul.
The Prophets who fought Idolatry in Israel for centuries, were really against the licentious ways to which such means had been bent, until there was no Truth, no uplift, no devotion nor sincerity in any of its practices. It had deteriorated into nothing but hindrance toward the liberation of the soul, a worship of false idols of man's own desires and cravings, and the expressions of them.
When one sees the ruins of such huge temples or pyramids all over the world of ancient times, it seems as though the major energy of the nations was spent in erecting such monumental edifices. Their Deity was the central idea around which the glory and accom-plishment of whole nations was built.
Their effort, with simple means, was certainly supreme in this respect. If individuals or any nation of today were to spend a fraction of such sincere effort in conquering themselves, and would devote that amount of energy and time to know themselves and find their true place in the Universal Essence, that would leave a greater monument to posterity than all the others which can be seen with the physical eyes. It would have an uplifting and practical effect. Ex-ternal things eventually crumble, but internal values flourish throughout eternity.
When external forms and customs rule, the Truth is obscured by them, and It leaves behind only those forms which have no life nor devotion to sustain them. Where the Light of Truth leads the Way, there all forms take their proper place, as a natural sequence of Cause and Effect.
God geometrizes energy fields and substances into myriads of shapes and forms and functions, but He is not caught or confined in any shape or form. Man imitates God and is caught in the trap of pride and possessions by his own ego and his personal glory of accomplishments. The hungry soul goes away empty, because the Mystic point and Essence which can link the soul back to the ONE WORD, the HIDDEN NECTAR OF LIFE, is lacking in the external forms and ceremonies. The entire purpose of human life is to have a mystic temple for the soul, wherein God can dwell in living communion with man in deed and in Truth.
This is the impulse behind all the external efforts of temple building in all times. Memories in stone do not help the soul. God is a God of the living, not of the dead forms, for all live unto Him (Luke 20 : 38). A living devotion is needed by which all souls may aspire to God-Realization.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?" (I CoR. 3 : 16).
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (I COR)