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This is Part I of - Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods of Hindus
33 Crore Gods of Hindus – I
Idol Worship & 33 Crore Gods - II
Mathematics of God - Idol Worship – Part III
Hindus are often attacked for being ignorant as they practice idolatry. Idols in Hindu religion are of various shapes and represent various creatures including humans. The basic concept of Idolatry, as seems to be practiced by Hindus, reflects creation of idols and images, establishing them in temples and home and performing proper worships towards it. Obviously, the interpretation of non-believers is that it is stupidity to bow before stones and paintings. Islam goes ahead to describe this as Crime. And eventually, rationality appears in accepting what is as stated by them. In this article, we will discuss various aspects of idol worship practiced by every religion and make the non-believers to reconsider their ironic conclusions.
IDOL WORSHIP – IS IT ONLY IN HINDUISM?
Before we elaborate Idol Worship, we need to understand the concept of worship, as practiced by religions like Islam and Christianity. Both these religion has their own declared God – “Allah” and “Jesus” and bowing before them and only them is true form of worship. Both these religions have their own methodologies defined for worship and places built to worship with togetherness. Islam goes beyond Christianity to harden worship with time, duration and direction, the ground reason being United Worship. Up to this, everything seems fine as the Worship is defining what you should do in worship. But then the boundary of worship starts getting strengthening further – what you should not do in worship? Boundaries are important, but only till the purpose of creating balance and harmony. Boundaries and Balance are relative to each other as religion and region are. Worship is a boundary that binds one with God according to Islam and Christianity. But to a Hindu, the first binding should be with Godly qualities and only then we can think of God. If God has created everyone, if everything happening around is known to God, if every occurrences are not beyond the wishes of God, if God is merciful to all his creatures – then as a human, our first duty to bind to Godly quality starts with respect towards everything. Worship in Hindus is a realization of at least three positive attributes of humans, necessary for existence as human beings – respect, love and faith. While all other religions have objection to how Hindu worships, Hindu have never shown such objects in return as per the quality of worship attributes; thus proving their behavior to be qualifying to achieve Godly qualities first. For Hindus, worship don”t mean just rendering prayer with folded hands and heads down – worship means an effort to attain purity with the virtue of purest form of power – GOD. Their worship don”t mean at all that you bind your understanding to one and only concept of the world, it means to bind your thinking to one and only knowledge of the world that is infinite and incomplete as far as human thinking arena goes. Conclusively, worship to God according to a Hindu doesn”t mean simply bowing before God; it more simply means adapting to Godly qualities and getting richer in awareness of God, every next time we worship.
If worship in other religions means bowing only before God, it is also important to understand what they exactly mean by God. Surprisingly, they have even tried to bind God with similar definitions which are not only incomplete but are unrealized and unfathomed by them. God is infinite, is free from material, do not have mouth or ear like humans, no image can represent him, etc are few of their conclusions about God. Let us understand the simplest thing on earth – whenever we negate anything, we straight away put a boundary over there, a boundary which cannot be crossed, a boundary beyond which you should not look and a boundary which remains unquestioned – no Why – simply accept. How far is it correct to put boundaries around understanding of God? How far is it correct to declare perfection, when every other things around are changing fast? Perfection has stability and stagnancy – are we intending to put God under these two conditions by defining him? I hope, our critics would open up their mind to read further in this article that they are not doing anything different from Idol Worship – only their own impressions are varying, which they are not able to perceive.
Now, we will understand how Idolatry is very common in every other religion. While doing so, I have no intention to attack any other religion, nor any wish that they should change upon any condition. My only intention is to protect my own religion that has ever been the greatest in all its qualities executed by its followers through their actions from thousands of years. And I am bound to do so, because the onslaught on humble Hindus is getting more and more aggressive, day by day.
God according to many religions is a power, a power that in true sense is not material; it is not a tangible entity, it cannot be measured or quantified as we find for many forces in Physics. Hindus also believe that Power of God is more a belief and goes beyond other religious belief to state that such power is more an implementation of un-manifested realities through varying manifestations. To understand this we will take an example of Money Power. What if I tear a $100, nothing seems to be harming me. What power does a piece of paper do have? Doesn”t that paper merely hold certain believed images and numbers? It does, yet the world believes that it has power. This power exists because it is religiously believed, adopted and practiced by every individual across the globe. If you agree I can dare to say now that God is a bigger power than money. Why a bigger power can”t exist in bigger images, may be in idols? Surprisingly, every country religiously practices money power with different images and numbers and respects other country”s images and numbers equally, even more. As the image and the number on the paper changes, so accordingly the power of it changes. Unlike this, Hindus perception of power in images and idols, are not respected by the same believers of images.
Every religion exists on certain beliefs. Hindus are also assumed to exist on such fictitious beliefs, though the reality of Hindus are based purely on either empirical observational conclusions or on scientific derivation of logics about life, nature and God and this is most reflected in their respected religious books. I could not find any book stating the law of nature as in Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagwad Geeta. It is the books of Hindu that states the theory of detachment from our actions in order to eliminate miseries from our life. It is these books that open our mind to realize knowledge over ignorance as a source to reach God. It is these books that let us devote completely to God so as to keep ourselves above the grievances and materialistic pleasures of life. And it is these books that actually works over our ignorance about God and allows us to expand our thinking to realize God within us. And very beautifully and uniquely, none of the Hindu book talks about any other religion anywhere, not even about itself as a religion (I find no other religious book so pure and universal in nature which does not talk about its identity as a separate religion and this is the first basic reason, why they attack other religions). Hinduism is considered as “Way of Life” as it talks purely about work, knowledge, devotion, life, standards of living and realization of God within us. How has this happened then that the owner of such high knowledge is worshipping idols in ignorance?
To me, the ignorance factor attached to idol worship is an external view. We require analyzing many things before sarcastically declaring idol worship wrong. Some faith declares that their religion and religious books are the words from Gods. Some interpretations dictate that God declared it through messengers who in turn revealed to humans. Religious books contain words and sentences framed in a language that are understandable by people of respective regions. Now, words and sentences are part of a language, a language of humans. Question arises, who formed this language, did they pre-exist than humans and was known to God and messenger. Or God or messenger came to know about it only after it was in practice by the faith-followers. Anyway, we conclude that messenger, being an angel, must be the knower of these existing languages. Questions build up: What medium did Allah or Christ take to describe the book to these Angels? Was it through words and sound? If no, then was it just by his mere wish? We will consider both here.
Word is a property of language to be perceived by our senses either through vision or sound, both of which are a property of matter. If word was the medium to produce any of these books by God, God undoubtedly exhibited quality of a matter, which negates the definition of God according to the same books. So, if God used words as a medium, it is clear that he executed materialistic properties. And idol, also a matter can well exhibit property of God. In fact, a picture is worth more than thousand words. Idols can be more worthy – we will see. But, if God did not use the medium of words or sounds, as he is free from the property of matter, first conclusion would be to ask a straight forward question, “what is the use in chanting verbs from Religious Books as the words or sounds won”t reach God – God is free from it”. Surely, you will say here that it is the feelings out of our belief that reaches God. Then my dear friends, who said that when a Hindu stands before an idol with closed eyes, he is devoid of all feelings? In fact, we find that while other religions fail to worship God beyond a certain time period, Hindus do not have any time limit. They can worship for a minute, for an hour, for a day or even for months. And the reason is so simple, their idol helps them to concentrate on God, and develop a deep feeling for God, which kills their impatience through love. And who said feelings are devoid of matter. Feelings are part of our existence, and if God is realizing the same feeling, by what means does he do that? If he executes no human capability (if he does, worship of Idol is straightforward proven to be correct), then this question would be a dead end – God”s definition needs to be re-corrected in order to answer questions like this.
Coming to the other part of the answer that God made the messengers realize the words of holy books through mere wish, and then also God is exhibiting our behavior. Wishes and desires are human behavior born out of attachment to objects and goals. I believe, if God starts wishing, then there are two options – he is materialistic (because he is executing same quality as a human and hence idols are proven) and he is powerless (because he is showing the incapability to make every creature realize his wish the way he did to messengers – A phenomena of job delegation strongly practiced in modern management science). Existence of messengers reflects the weaknesses of God, but this goes against the definitions? Thus, it is sure that if God existed as per the definition of those books, he neither used words or wishes as a medium to communicate anything to the messengers. And hence, the only thing remained to conclude is that the book has no relation to God dictating it to anyone and is a pure creation of human super mind. In fact, who have seen the concepts like messengers and God”s words, other than the words of Religious Books? Anyway, a Hindu is not bigotry and believes that we exist in materialistic environment and God has to use same media to make us realize his existence. Quran, Bible and Bhagwad Geeta are books in material form containing words about God, the maturity and completeness varying in them, which are subject to study. A Hindu would and must accept God first in material form (as manifestations) before declaring that Bhagwad Geeta is words from God. And understanding of God also is different in Hindu than from other religions. Hence, it is required to understand Hindu philosophy first before attacking on their idol worship methodology.
As per many religious books, God is “One” and he does not require anything or any resource of this world. This means he do not require our prayers too. He will still be the same as he is complete. But then, why do people deliver “Namaz”, why do they go to church, and why are temples in place? Do we want to reach God and if not reach, we surely want to communicate to God for something that is probably not known completely to us. But God don”t require anything including prayers; he requires nothing as he is complete – any thing delivered to God would prove him to be incomplete. God accepting even our prayers would simply mean that some void was filled to which then God would respond, which goes against the definition of Religious Books. Thus, God do not require even “Namaz” or “Prayers”. We require; we require many things.
The fact is – we humans are very petty animals, who either want to impose on others our beliefs. Humans very selfishly have even imposed definitions to God restricting him to exist as per the definition in the religious books. How can the very complete and free from all material God listen to the prayers that are delivered by humans who are pure materials? God needs to deliver material behavior in order to make materials like human realize him. And if God has been doing this for other religions, what is stopping God to take it via the medium of Idols the prayers of Hindus which come deep from their heart?
The belief that prayers can be delivered only through chanting words of Bible, and feelings can erupt only out of delivering “Namaz”, for God can listen and feel them alone – is a meaningless conclusion to restrict God and his powers, thereby falsifying the existence of God at all. God is one who is equal to all and he can see the tears of Idol worshippers and understand their feelings equally well. Why is it wrong to create an idol of God which one can visualize as God and shed tears of love, to which he can talk, to which he render all his belongings and accept all what he get in life as the Almighty”s giving. If I draw a picture of my father, does my father come to my level – No.? Rather he praises my effort to try to remember him so closely as to put him on papers. Will God become angry if we try to create a beautiful image of him even though that resemble to human beings or any creature (creature as created beautifully by the same God) and deliver our whole life to it? Is anger a behavior of God that he would impose upon those who ever tried to picturesque him with the depth of their heart and concentrate upon him through it as a medium? Does this actually mean that one has tried to consider God as humans? Does this mean that one is expecting the idol to move and do things for him? I believe, not at all and no Hindu even thinks that the Idol would move for him. In fact, it has more positive impact on society. If I start praying an idol which is of human form, I will not dare to harm human beings in any manner. And history proves this. Hindus has never tried to impose themselves at any point of time over any other religion. Hindus have never invaded any other country. Hindus are the only religion in this world which does not talk of religion at all. It is all because they know and understand God better and try to live in peace. It is the challenging environment which provokes them to do wrong and not their religions for sure.
Idol thus is not a God for Hindus, it is a representation of his manifestations, which is amazingly beautiful and unparallel worthy to be respected, loved and believed upon – in other words worthy to be worshipped. Worship is one of the strongest powers that impacts human attitude and configures his behavior in the world. Thus, what we worship and how we worship is also very meaningful. If the worship has not come through the depth of the heart and we are doing it under the boundary of belief, it should be such that it conveys a message of peace, love and harmony in the world. Idol worship has proved through thousands of years that Hindus have been one such society. Instead of attacking them, all other religions must come ahead to look into the depth held by a Hindu for that would teach them how to hold their family intact, how to build a peaceful society, how to develop a sense of humanity, how to configure our behavior as per the laws of nature, and overall how to feel God inside us by realizing the Self.
I would like to summarize the above conclusions and ask the Critics to consider following points and give their criticism a better shape.
1. Animals don”t have names, humans do have. “Allah”, “Ishwar”, “Jesus” and all are names stating that our imagination towards God is like humans. Name is an identity. And an identity is for material. Humans are materialistic. If God is beyond imagination, names cannot apply to God. This means the names as “Ishwar”, “Allah”, “Jesus” are all an imaginary name with the notion to link God with material. And this is reasonable also. Unless there is a media, we cannot outreach God. All religions use names as media to call on God. And names can be any and many, media can be any and many, either all apply or all fail, because God is unknown to all. There is no logic in declaring that “Jesus” is the correct name or “Allah” is the only name. Thus, name is a proof of materialistic recognition.
2. We say everything is as per God”s will and wish. Will and wish are related of human thinking. Are we trying to say here that God also thinks as humans do and produce will and wish? God”s will or God understanding and realizing our wish is a proof of material relation of God.
3. If God don”t eat, he don”t speak or behave as humans do, how can he hear to what humans say? Why do we chant prayers (in all religions)? Belief would have been enough to make things work for us. The very concept of delivering prayers through words (in any language) brings God to posses hearing capability as humans. And if you say that you use words just to convince yourself about your thinking, then also you need not do it as God is powerful enough to know about it. And why say anything to God, as he knows what is happening and what is about to happen. Why ask for anything to God when God already knows what is happening to us? Thus, rendering of prayers itself binds God to materialism.
4. Why do we go to Temples, Mosques, Churches and all? Why do we have Mecca as a unique place for God? Why do we look towards sky while praying? It is not just for group activity as individuals also visit them. It means we have tried to capture the image of God inside these holy houses – God also live in houses as humans. And if these places are for the whole mass to accumulate and pray, then is God like a king who can listen to all at that place and give prizes or punishments. But who said kingly behavior is not human made. Human mentality requires these materials to concentrate on God.
5. The concept that God is “One” itself is a selfish definition. “One” is a number which is there because of the concept of many. “One” has come into play to understand materials. Imposing the say that God is “One” restricts him to be materialistically an alone entity in the Universe with almighty capability. And if God is not material, either no mathematical finite can be applied to him, or all counts applies. And hence, we have many copies of Quran, Bible and other religious books, all manifestations of same God. Hence, we have many images and idols created by Hindus, all manifestations of same God.
6. If God is infinite, and cannot be captured in images or idols, how can he be captured in words? Because the vocabulary exists to describe that is reachable. Vocabulary and Images can exchange each other, rather Images is worth more than thousand words. Thus, the boundaries and definitions created in various religious books is an attempt to image God. At least, Hindus are sincere enough not to say that idols are what God looks like!
7. If God is complete, then any thing delivered to him including “Namaz” or “Prayers”, which if accepted by him, would prove to fill some void, thus making God incomplete – not a truth. Thus, if we pray in whatever form and feel that it is correct, then we also have to understand that our prayers are also a manifestation of the same God thus neutralizing the void and keeping the God Complete. And if everything is a manifestation of same God, idols too represent him – a good methodology to picturesque the Universal form and develop respect, love and faith towards him under the power of concentration developed through material nature of man.
The above points signify that all religion tries to realize God as humans only and the very basic reason of this is our own human nature. Then what is wrong if Hindus have tried to create images and idols of God in the shape of humans and tried to communicate with him more deeply and more personally. I think if idols are criticized, all religions come under the umbrella of hypocrisy as their words and practices immediately become distinct. If God is actually powerful enough to make anything happen in this world, if he is looking at us, if he loves us – why can”t God take the shape of humans for the sake of his love? What power stops God from becoming a human when time demands it? How can a human declare that it is not needed for God to come at par to humans to deal with humans?
Questions add up – If there is only one true religion as told by God, what prompted God to create so many other beliefs prior to that? And who said one religion is the last religion in this world to have got created? We have Sikhism for example which came into existence after Islam, and there would be yet another religion trying to take shape and would erupt with time.
Questions add up – Was God so immature to realize after thousands of years that all that he did early was wrong and one thing is the last thing he is doing as a correction over his errors? How silly – one cannot even think of these beliefs out of rationality – God can commit errors and improve upon it through his last say or he was incorrect of incapable of communicating previously in right and complete manner?
Christians come and go from Churches, stay for few minutes or hours at churches, either chanting words from Bible or silently calling upon God. Islam has fixed time, direction and guideline of worship. These are respectable and all Hindu respects this. Not only this, if allowed a Hindu would love to go and worship in their methodology with them. But, how correct is to make things comparative and condemn Hindus, endeavoring to make them inferior. If such is the attempt, then question arises - how many Christians or Islamic followers we find have the power to meditate on God for few hours. Unlike them, Hindus have not defined or bounded anyone with the limitations of time and worship methodology. Hindus goes beyond the limits to allow humans to meditate on God whenever they feel about God, and for any length of time. And thus, we easily find meditation and “Yoga” as important aspect of Hindu religious science that gives human tremendous power of control over the Self. And let anyone prove, that he or she can concentrate on the void or the infinite for even few minutes. This is the reason, Hindu practitioners have been found to be in meditation for days – and that too not in strain but pretty easily – as they have the idol power helping their mind to hold upon one vision. Thus, if one has to concentrate on God, he or she has to have a figure to start with.
Human mind evolves around matter. We clearly see in this nearly all walks of life. Science is successful because it went to visualize the design of electron and protons as the composing particles of all elements. Nearly all businesses of the world are successful as they have first modeled their behavior. Metaphors are the means for humans to represent more descriptively an abstract thing. Idols of Hindus are nothing but metaphors used to understand God. Hindus have no idea of believing on God with partial faith. Hindus want to visualize powers of God with perfection. And any so seeming unachievable targets needs models and metaphors to represent it. As “Design” of a building or software is for an Architect, so is an Idol for a Hindu.
If Idol worship is ignorance, than I must say that all other religions hold much greater ignorance; and why religions, we find science too existing on such belief about life (Evolutionary theory) and creation (Creation of Universe). In fact, ever since existence took place and till existence would be there, Ignorance would be there. Science has not outnumbered variations of artificial creations, nor has God been devoid of all lively creations. Creativity occurs due to exploration of unfolded knowledge, which will ever remain. This is one of the reason, actual scriptures of Hindus goes deep into realizing the Self first, and then endeavoring to find God in relation to the Self. For a Hindu, worship in form of Love is of utmost importance and true knowledge of God comes only after that. And a Hindu sincerely believes that such a pure love cannot get developed unless there is a controlled and harmless behavior executed by human. And to make such actions controlled, the so called Idol worship plays a vital role, conveying a message to Hindus that all creations are manifestations of God, thereby establishing the environment of harmless behavior.
Moreover, Idol for the world external to a Hindu might be a representation of human form. But for a Hindu, idol is never a human form. Had it been so, we would have found idols only in proper human shape. It is not so. We have “Goddess Durga” with 8 or 10 hands, Lord Vishnu with 4 hands, Lord Ganesha with the head of an elephant and 4 hands, Lord Shiva in the shape of a “Diya”, Lord Hanuman in the form of a monkey. We don”t find humans with 10 hands or 4 heads. A Hindu temple is not a house of a statue in human form. It has many more idols often representing creatures other than humans. Doesn”t this convey a clear message - Hindu is not worshipping God as human Idol. An Idol for a Hindu is simply an acceptance that every creation around is a form of Godly representation and with love, regard and worship towards every creature, this world can achieve ultimate peace – which what is the goal of all religions. No religion in this world dares to give regard to such understanding about God and his presence all around. Idol worship is not worshipping humans or animals, it is simply a message to the society that God requires love to be developed for all his creations around and worship is realization of such love.
Worship in any form is beneficial to humans as it kills the arrogance, anger and other negative attitudes, helping the human to morally rise in life. Once a tendency or understanding that “my concept is correct” and “his concept is wrong” develops, it immediately frames an arrogance, envy and ego around, which eventually results in hatred, anger, onslaughts and war. It is stringently required by all religious believers to respect each other towards anything they do to achieve godly behaviors in life – why not then respect the Idol worshippers as they have proved to be the most tolerable and peaceful society on this earth. Why not live together to extend this tolerance and peace across the globe?
It is not the paper piece of dollar or the Idol of Lord that is powerful; it is the faith and complete belief of the person realizing them in its complete meaning that constructs upon the power. We all have universally accepted concepts like “confidence”, “self-motivation”, “belief on own ability”, “positive attitude”, etc. playing important role in uplifting our day to day work outputs. And whatever means we adopt to pray God, what is more important is to realize the power of God in our life. Attacking others on their methodology of worshipping or remembering God is a very negative quality and it proves that one who does so actually never worships God in true sense. If we render worship to God, we would surely find changes in our lives and these changes are reflected through our actions, behavior and approach to live in society. We would grow more positive, we would develop better understanding about God, we would develop our intelligence and memory more, we would learn to control our desires, we would get inspired by right things more than wrong ones, we would find love in our heart for every creature, we would find peace in our mind persisting in all situations, we find patience to bear the odds, we would realize God in everything we do. Irrespective of religion, this is the sole purpose of all prayers. If we are not able to see these things happening, it is sure that we are trying to dupe God and the world through our falsified means of worship. Whether it is Idol or just the name, it hardly matters, what matters is how it controls our lives.
Temples, Mosques, Church, etc, are simple arrangement to help humans remember God and Hindus go beyond this arrangement to create idols within them so as to realize that creations of God are equally respectable and important for peaceful existence. While other religion simply ignores the fact that creation is also a part of God and considers that creativity is what God did, Hindus goes beyond to realize that under the law of cause and effect, all creation, creativity and creator are God only. While other religion simply accepts that this Universe was created by God, Hindus go beyond to ask, “If it was created by God, from what was it created” and, “what was there when there was no creation”. Hindu philosophy is clear to fathom that if creator existed before creation and only creator existed before creation, then creator is the cause and creator is the effect too for creations. This clearly means that whatever has been created has come from the creator and whatever has been created, has been done by the same creator. Today science is also trying to talk in the same language through various theories like Big Bang. But it requires a huge effort for science to digest the concept of Big Bang, while such concepts are well explained in Hindu myth and Idols are simple examples that reflects this. Idols clearly convey that if Earth is the cause of creation of a Pot, the “Potter” is also the cause of the creation of the “Pot”, but there is a difference in these two causes. While earth still remains the same even after creation of “Pot” and simply goes cyclic transformation, “Potter” is no more than a medium to make this transformation take place. In the world of creation, Universe is the transformation of God and God is the medium too and hence we say he is omnipotent and omnipresent. If this is digestible, how materials can then be not a part of God, when materials is transformation of God only. While other religion sees, Potter and Pot as separate entities, Earth and Pot as separate entities, Hindus bring them together to realize mater and non-matter as coexisting entities, all being manifestations of the same creator exactly as Science have proven that matter and energy are inter-exchangeable.
Idols and Ideals are very close words. We get inspirations from Ideals we choose, we configure our actions and thinking around our ideals. This is a practice in west and is found to be effective in shaping humans. The acceptance as an Ideal itself delivers the high regard towards them. Idols are similar ideals for Hindus. They get inspiration to live a peaceful life. Who can be the best ideal than God himself? Thus, for most of the Hindus, ideals are idols of Deities and they deliver regard of highest form – worship, towards them. This is the practice in India and among Hindus – Why are then the world worried about this?
Idols and God exist as coexisting realities for a Hindu. Only truth and such high philosophy can be practiced from thousands of years and yet not loose its charm. If science is able to discover such huge energies from stones and the world has accepted it, Hindus have tried to unfold a greater energy from the same stone and the world should accept it. Only then, the secret of God would get unfolded before the religions of the world.
Science has failed to describe life and hence denies accepting God. It is all because, Science has tried to look at the definition of God from the views of religions other than Hinduism. I hereby, try to present the Hindu understanding of God and the mystery would be unfolded. As I said earlier, mystery of God remains as long as the understanding doesn”t accept to answer my question – “From what did God created the Universe”. A more generic question that Hindu philosophy attaches includes – “Why”, “How” and “What” to every concept that goes unanswered by all other religions. While other religions along with science, simply ignore such questions, it becomes very necessary for a Hindu to answer these questions and this unfolds for them the truth of God, which become a scientific and believable explanation for them. And it is this belief on a practical theory that makes them realize God and live in no ignorance and darkness.
I call upon the religious leaders of the World of all Religions to go back into the words of Swami Vivekanand, who had brought a revolution of elaborating Hindu philosophy on the Globe, and then turn again towards Hinduism to understand this amazing religion which has shown peace and tolerance since existence – a lesson that no other religion could learn till date.
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