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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hindu Religion and Idol Worship

Hi Mani,
That's really news that Hindu scriptures have condemned idol
worship. I too had come across some sanskrit scriptures with direct
mention of Jesus. They are not as old as the Vedas (which are said to have
descended to men much before Jesus was born). Those scriptures are all
after Christ, with direct mentions of his name. It's even hinted that
Jesus had visited India during his life time.


As for the sanskrit rendering of the arguments against
idol-worship, they can be ignored (as I had said, my faith in scriptures
is to the figurative extents). Believe me, I would have equally easily
ignored any suggestions which gave directions that idol worship is
the only valid way of worship. I think it's all a matter of love of lord
and expression of 'bhakti'. Whichever one finds appropriate in his case.
Man has praised the Lord from time immemorial. Scriptures have come
only later. Prayers have brought peace to men even before anybody was
there to tell them how to pray. The only important point is : Man has love
for the divine and wants to reach him. Sincerity pays. Not the method.


I would also like to draw your attention to yet another fact.
Hinduism is not exactly a religion. It's a massive framework which has
evolved to address a large society, constituting of enlightened saints to
the man on the street. Inadvertently, there are some surface
level discrepancies. What is said in one part of a text, may seem to be
contradicted by another. The reason is that they have been written
separated largely by time and space, inside a rapidly evolving society
that's said to be the oldest on the planet. For instance, Rigveda has the
mention of worshiping Agni and Swaha, which are just material
representations of the divine. All other Vedas came later. So, a
contradiction arises.


I would also like to draw your attention to yet another fact.
Hinduism is not exactly a religion. It's a massive framework which has
evolved to address a large society, constituting of enlightened saints to
the man on the street. Inadvertently, there are some surface
level discrepancies. What is said in one part of a text, may seem to be
contradicted by another. The reason is that they have been written
separated largely by time and space, inside a rapidly evolving society
that's said to be the oldest on the planet. For instance, Rigveda has the
mention of worshiping Agni and Swaha, which are just material
representations of the divine. All other Vedas came later. So, a
contradiction arises.


The essense, or wisdom, of Hindu texts lies not in any of these
things. One may truly ignore them. There're far more abstract descriptions
of the divine in the form of 'Brahma', 'Brahman', and 'Vishwaroop'. There
is this concept of 'Sat-chit-anand' too. These constitute the essential
experience of the wisest sages of Hindu philosophy. The uniformity in them
is mind-boggling. And they are in no disagreement with the experiences of
great people of other places and other faiths.

In Hindu scriptures, there is this term 'Yoga'. In its original
sense,
it's the act of reaching out to God, and ultimately becoming 'one' with
Him. As you may be knowing, Yoga means addition. There are several ways of
yoga, all leading to the same goal. Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga
etc. Bhakti yoga is the way of being a bhakt (devotee), and expressing the
love through prayers. Karma yoga is working hard treating the output as an
offering to the Lord's divine intentions. Gyan Yoga is to learn what is
there is to learn and spread enlightenment by the way of learning and
teaching.


All this is said to lead man closer to God. Far from any strict
recommendations for a type of worship, originally, there's no such
restriction that only worshiping leads man closer to the lord. In a sense,
everything we do goes as an offering to God. All depends on what's there
in our heart; what motivates us into doing our deeds.


I have even come across similar references in other religious
texts. Please, if you have some material of Bible text to this effect, do
forward.


I think this exchange may potentially grow very fruitful. I am
very much eager to know more about philosophical foundations in
Christianity. I would be very happy to tell you more of the little I have
learnt about Hindu philosophy. What I tell will not necessarily be of
religious nature. I think all religious faiths have some wise portions and
and some not so wise portions. The wise portions bring out the common
thinking (since God is only one); while unwise portions set one believer
against another. According to me, there's little point in discussing very
surface level things. Most of them are handed over to us from our
ancestors and cultural background. And that's a strong force. Going
against them involves a lot of difficulty and trauma. (e.g. My going
vegetarian against the family customs involved a lot of embarrassing
situations in the family). Two intellectuals can talk for or against them.
Two devotees can't talk about them without hurting severely hurt or
getting hurt severely, since it's emotions that bind them to customs, not
their descretion.


Let's always stick to discussing the wise portions only like two
intellectuals, and leave the rest to others!


Thanks,
Sujit

4 comments:

PEEVEE said...

Hi sujit,
I like your blog and your thinking...
I am way very very similar to your thougths...
nice post...

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biju kurian said...

no religion allows idol worship in these reference points.

(7) Oneness of God & Prohibition of Idol Worship:- VEDA: Yajur Veda 32:3, 40:8-9; Rig Veda 1:164:46, 6:45:16; UPANISHAD: Khandogya: 6:2:1, Shwetashvatara 6:9, 4:20; GEETA: 7:20, 10:3; BRAHMA SUTRA; //BIBLE: Leviticus 26:1; Exodus 20:4; //QURAN: 2:163, 2:255, 4:171, 7:191, 16:20, 25:3, 112:1-4.

refer the blog below for complete text of those points.

http://comparative-religion-points.blogspot.com

raaena said...

This is a very good blog. Hinduism is a biggest monotheist religion. Everything in the universe makes to be a god, hence is formless, without birth and death, hence is ever pervading, omnipresent, can't be perceived etc..etc...we the aatma need to realise param-aatma, the supreme, we the finite need to realise infinite....but the question is if u dont know the form, can't understand the infinite then how will one imagine the supreme and thus realise the infinite, how can one merge with everything..to be everything or limitless when our perception is very limited. Thus come into the picture the idol worship. Every god has specific name, character and image and quality. While praying to these gods we make mental picture of these gods and thus imbibe in us those qualities, positivity and energy related to that particular god. For eg: ganesh is to removing obstacle, hanuman is to fearlessness, krishna is to that charming persona. This is kind of cause and effect thing. You actually pray the ONE through these gods. When u relate to these gods, u either become them or the ONE provides the bhakta the form asked for. Its like the caterpillar which knows that it is a butterfly. In caterpillar's perspective its devotion is so strong that it one day becomes a butterfly by breaking all the connection to the exterior world. What i mean to say is that all are the different ways to reach and to realize the true nature and that we all are... that is GOD. Like stated in BhagvadGita there are different ways Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. We guys can only discuss but to understand all this spirituality one needs to do it to understand.