I have stated again and again that the people must perform the rites handed down to them from forefathers, that they must adhere to the practices pertaining to the tradition to which they belong and they must wear the symbols appropriates to the same, like the holy ashes or Tiruman, the rudraksa, etc. Some people hold the view that all that is needed is conduct and character, that conduct is a matter of the mind, that religious customs are but part of the external life.
In truth, however, your outward actions and the symbols worn by you outwardly have an impact on the inner life. There is a relationship between bodily work and inner feelings. Let me illustrates this truth. One day, unexpectedly, a man comes to know he was won prize in a lottery, say, one lakh rupees. His joy knows no bounds, but it makes its own impact on his body. He becomes so excited that his breathing itself stops for a moment and he faints. "A particular feeling creates a specific change in the process of breathing". From this practical observation yoga develops lessons in breathing to create healthy and noble feeling and urges. Often the outward appearance reflects the inner feelings. When you are angry your eyes become red, your lips quiver. When you are sorrowful your eyes become moist and you shed tears. If you are happy you are agape, showing all your teeth. Thus there is a definite connection between the body and the mind, between the boy and the inner feelings. Based on this fact, the wise have devised yogic postures that are calculated to nurture particular Atmic qualities.
Will soldiers be less valorous if they do not wear their uniforms? All over the world members of the defence services wear uniforms and it is claimed that they keep them fighting fit and inspire courage in them.
The symbols worn outside, the samskaras performed outwardly, are inwardly beneficial. If you think that it is all a disguise so it will be. You must resolve to wear the symbols in all sincerity and perform the rites too. Then they will truly cause purity within. Outward action help you inwardly.
It perhaps natural that I should give importance to samskaras, to the custom of wearing symbols like the sacred ashes, rudraksa, etc. After all, I am the head of Matha and you will come to me only if I wear all these. You will give me money for the conduct of the Matha. So all these symbols that I wear serve a purpose in my case. But your case is different. You have your own means of livelihood and you may be able to perform samsakaras even more sincerely than I do and make yourself pure by wearing the symbols of our religion.
Let us wear the signs that remind us of the Supreme Truth. Let us perform the rites that keep us away from evil. Let us be of good conduct and character and cleans our consciousness. And let us meditate on the Ultimate Reality, experience It inwardly, realise bliss.
For a general background, please see here