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Idol Worship -- Vedic View

Idolatry does not find any support from Vedas. In chapter 32 of Yajurveda it has been said that God Supreme or Supreme Spirit has no ‘Pratima’ or material shape. He cannot be seen directly by anyone. His name is so great that only the Name is enough to invoke Him. He pervades all beings and all directions.                                  

As God is formless and his name is enough, syllables comprising the words may, therefore, be taken as adequate representation. What God is like? The answer is, it is like the word ‘God’ containing the syllables G, O, D. The most striking example of this is the word ‘Om’ which means God in spiritual and material form. Thus according to the Vedas God neither has any image nor He resides in any particular idol or statue.

However we find that Hindu temples are filled with images or idols of gods and goddesses. This phenomenon can be easily understood if we try to know the necessity of assumptions. If we teach a child at nursery stage that ‘A’ stands for ‘apple’ we are making an assumption for easy learning of a letter of alphabet. While teaching geometry the teacher draws a triangle and says, "Let ABC be a triangle”.  The word ‘let’ is used here because the lines forming the triangle are not really lines according to the definition of a line. A line, by definition, has length but no breadth. How to draw such a line on a blackboard? Breadth invariably accompanies length whenever one attempts to draw a line. Hence one has to use the word ‘let.’ One has to assume that what has been drawn is a line. Similarly, geometry asks us to assume a point also. A point is defined as having neither length, nor breadth nor thickness. It is without any dimension; still we try to draw it on a blackboard. What we draw is practically a circle, but it is assumed to be a point. A true triangle and a true point exist only in definitions. Yet we have to proceed on the assumption that they actually exist.

As the mind cannot concentrate itself on a formless being or spiritual form of Supreme Being one has to assume God in some visible object or image.

 During the Vedic period there were neither temples nor images or idols of deities. So God was invoked through the fire kindled for havan materials. The seers of Upanishads discarded the practice of havans and concentrated on Imperishable ‘Om’. When the Buddhism and Jainism flourished in India the idols or statues of Gautam Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir got much popularity. To rejuvenate Hinduism different images of God varied in shape according to different names of God came into existence. One may say that it resulted in spread of superstition in Hinduism. 

Yet it is a fact that all temples, mosques, churches and other religious buildings are also idols and images where God does not come to reside. It is weakness of the man that he likes human shape. So majars (graves) of Sufi saints among Muslims and crucified figure of Jesus Christ in the churches command much reverence. In the same way personification of different names of God and giving different forms to them have helped sculptors to make statues or idols that may find place in temples to be adored by devotees


We can say that idolatry, in whatever form it may be, is based on assumption that God comes to a sacred place (building) or resides in a statue. There is no harm in going to temples or other places of worship. There is also no harm in saluting the image or images of God. 

However it must be clear to every one that no temple or an idol kept there enjoys any supernatural power.

External form of worship will strengthen the idol only because we will be singing, describing the attributes of idol/creation and not Formless God. If we in the beginning are not able to judge the true, divine qualities of formless God then our love and faith will remain unstable. Such aspirant will only feel nearness to the idol and not formless God who is already within him and who already resides the nearest to the soul i.e., within the soul.

We will have to study the Vedas which state that idol worship is not permitted by God. Yet, if an aspirant wants to worship an idol then I am telling again and again that he can go at his own. I am giving answer based on Vedic philosophy only that what Vedas say about idol worship. Vedas do not speak about idol worship and avtarwad. However, people are free to go ahead on their own and do whatever they like.

When I will see any art which is liked by soul through eye, definitely it will be admired and the scene which is disliked will be ignored. So if many people admire the idol of Ganesh sitting on conch, admiration is natural. 

So in the end I again say that he who wishes to worship idol, he may go ahead at his own. I have only told Vedas’ views on the matter of idol worship . 

Source: http://various sources
Category: Vedic Wisdom | Added by: shubham123 (2011-02-05) | Author: shubham garg W
Views: 18635 | Comments: 6 | Tags: hindu, Islam, hinduism, worship, Idol, vedas, idolatory | Rating: 0.0/0
Total comments: 6
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6 Hariprasad  
The explanation given is very much impressive. I am very much interested to know what exactly Vedas describe about God. Hinduism passed through many years. Obviously, some people(Kings, Brahmins etc) may have twisted the concepts, rituals for their own benefit. So to make it clear to every one, and to make strong Hindu society, we should study our roots(Vedas) and history without any biased mind. There are many people support Idol worship in Hindu society, The reason for this support is that it will be easier to perceive the image of eternal god and worship him. It makes easy to concentrate your devotion. But it is not correct(in my opinion). I learnt, many people want to see the decorations, richness (jewels) of the idol. Even if there is some devotion, that will be directly proportional to popularity of the place. People believe that there is some magical power in the place/idol which will ease their difficulties in life.  These kind of faith easier to destroy. I saw many Lord Ganesh Idols heaped near lake side after the festival. The once worshiped Idols are became waste garbage. What a disrespect to the god! They are just a reason for celebrations. There are many rich people who build temples just for show off. There are many priests make fool of us by spreading rumors. 

I haven't read Vedas but I read Bhagadgeetha and I learned that Lord Krishna emphasizes to understand his 'Niraakara swaroopa'. Further he says those who worship him(God) as a materialistic body are in a illusion that they think themselves as mere bodies(not as eternal souls). There are many shlokas which describe how god should be worshiped. I found no clues of idol worship /Temple in our ancient books(as so far as I read). There are some instances of worship of Lingas. Lord Rama worshiped Linga before he went for battle with Ravana. Arjuna worshiped Linga to gain powerful weapons. Here, I guess that in olden days Linga was worshiped to attain higher power. In think these are the only objects(again Lingas means only symbols)allowed to worship in Hinduism. Many of the other demigods(Indra, Varuna etc) are worshiped through Yajnas for personal benefits. The Geetha says, each and everyone's goal should be to achieve "Moksha" and that can be achieved only by understanding true nature of himself and God( call him Krishna or eternal Omkara). 

I do not totally disagree the concept of Idol worship. Even though Vedas doesn't say anything about idol worship, I guess Idol worship was there during Vedic period. I want to study it further. 
Please share if you have better understandings (not guesses) in this subject. Open minded discussions will help in this regard.

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5 Bobby  
भगवान् का सिर्फ एक ही मंदिर है और वो है इंसान. अगर कोई सच में भगवान् का दर्शन करना चाहता है तो उसे अपने अन्दर चढाई करनी होगी. ये सार है वेड का

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4 shubham  
for debate and discussions shall invite you to ...

i am not much active here!! also as i said this topic is from agniveer so we shall put on discussions that site only!!

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3 Deependar Singh  
Jab tak vicharo mein samaanta nahi aayegi tab tak ekta aane ka prashn hi nahi uthta.........Jab tak nirakaar aur sakaar mein matbhed chalta rahega tab tak ekta hona asambhav hai.....bina haath pair ka brahm kis kaam ka......?? Arrey Bhaiiya ji jo Saakaar nahi ho sakta, jiska koi aakaar nahi ho sakta tau phir ye baat bhi bhali-bhanti satya aur pust hoti hai ki fir vo brahm ho hi nahi sakta......Brahm vah hai jo sarvsaamarth ho, jo ek samay par saakaar bhi ho aur usi samay niraakar bhi ho wahi brahm hai....... Jin vedo ne us brahm ko nirakaar bataya hai(na tasya pratima asti ) tau unhi vedo ne jagah-jagah par us brahm ko sakaar bhi bataya hai....

Vedo mein Parmatma ke sakaar rup ka bhi varnan hai..... Aapne kuch ek jagah kaha ki "a fraction of good hindus" kshma kijyega good hindu ya fir "learned hindu" saakar murti puja ke paksh mein hi hoga, vo kabhi bhi saakaar murti puja ke vipaksh mein nahi jayega.......Shastron mein jagah-jagah parmatma ke saakaar aur nirkaar rupon ka varnan hua hai....Shri Ramcharitmanas jo Parmatma ki katha ko kehti hai vahan bhi pujyapaad goswami sri tulsidas ji ne spasht kaha hai ki (Binu Pad chalahi sunayi binu kaana, kar binu karam karahai vidhi naana...) taki bhakt ye jaan lein ki jo nirakaar hai vo saakaar bhi hai........Sravpratham "Idol Worship" jaisa koi shabd hota hi nahi hai.....sahi shabd hai " Deity Worship".......Oxford Dictionary ko dekhiye vahan "idol" ka arth kahin bhi devpuja ya saakaar puja ko nahi darshata, uska arth hota hai khilona ya toy.........sahi shabd hai deity jiska arth sidha parmatmatatv ko suchit karta hai, jiska sambodhan sidhe parmatma ya brahm ko jata hai......Vedo mein bhi parmatma ke sakaar rup ki vandana ki gayi hai......

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2 nanu  
now u have said that there were no temples during vedic was after buddhism and jainism came into exsistence temples were built.but still i have some doubts regarding this.when arjun kidnapped subhadra,of course by her will,she was going to visit some goddess temple.then lord rama also installed shiv lingna and worshipped it.

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1 kd gupta  
परमात्मा के स्वरुप को वेद भी नहीं जानते किन्तु यज्ञ आदि ,पारलोकिक से लोकिक व्यवहार को अधिक महत्त्व देते हैं .
आज अशिक्षा के कारन आम परिवार का स्वरुप बदल रहा है . अध्यात्म की जगह फिलोसोफी ले रही है योगध्यान की जगह कसरत ले रही है .
आवश्यकता है की कुछ पाखंडियों को छोड़कर मूर्तिपूजा भगवन ज्ञान का एवं ध्यान का उचित साधन है .

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