Monday, June 10, 2013

[gita-talk] Re: Belief in Existence of God, but not Idol Worship. How to guide ?


Pranam. I have a question which I wish to share with you frankly so that I could
be guided accordingly to follow.

My both grandsons, aged 21 and 18 years believe in the existence of God but do
not believe in 'idol worship' in temples or in home! We tell them to worship the
Lord in the morning and evening in our home and apply 'vibuthi' in the forehead
and do pray by reciting some prayer! On compulsion they obey and do it. They
don't believe in rituals too. Their father is no more who died in an accident
when they were very young. Her mother and we(grandparents) are supporting them.
One is in the final year of Engineering and the other has just completed of one
year of Law at Cochin. Can we be guided in this respect and oblige to enlighten

With our pranams,



Shree Hari
Baluji, We have posted your query. However, as per the guidelines of this
forum, kindly commit to responding to this thread, which will help us bringing
it to a closure. thank you,
Gita Talk Moderators, Ram Ram


Pranam, Though I myself do idol worship as a mark & symbol to almighty as it is difficult to pray and focus on intengible/invisible/abstract. It takes time for normal/common man like us to go to higher planes and be with formless God. This is is to my long trust & habits in 'worldly visible items' only. Our interface have become limited.

Therefore all these "means(Pooja/Vibhuti/IdolWorrship/hawan etc)" are to basically generate confidence in abstract concept of God using the forms and not an end in themselves. If someone, by default, has a faith/trust/confidence in almighty or all that is felt by "sensory organs" as a form/presence of God on sustained basis, it is much better. Therefore, I feels kids should not forced as long as they have basic spritual approach & values towards life.

Misra DC


When I follow a ritual –आचार- I should not think what I get, what benefit I will have.. It is the best foolish though. I should think what I loose when I do not follow the ritual. Rituals are the backborn of Hinduism. When I wear the sacred thread -janov- , when I apply Vibhuti, when I apply Chandan, when I wear the saffron dress, all these things, prevent me from doing even petty wrong things. Remember, Ravan appeared in front of Sita in saffron dress, rudraksha, bhasma/vibhuti, kamandalu etc etc., exactly in the dress of a saint/Sanyaasi. But, before Ravan forcefully took Sita, he had to comedown to his own original dressings and appearance as Raakshasa. The sacred things prevent man to commit wrong doings. My elders were applying Vibhuti, what they got… nothing. Then why I should apply it when I am not deriving anything. My elders were idol worshipers but they did not get anything in their life time, then why I should worship the elders. This kind of thoughts are of the brain. We are not realizing that my grand father, grand mother and the people of their time, even if they had little or less finance, money, they lived successfully, they lived peacefully, they lived happily, they lived without any major health problems, and of course, they lived upto 90 or 95 years without any illness. They had a dozen children, they had managed a large family, number of cows/buffalos and a large agriculture land and such other things. They had followed all rituals including idol worship.

Those who have reached at the top of spirituality, there is no idol, there is no ritual. Their life and experience itself is the ritual and worship. Sanakaracharya was and is the primary personality counted in the Bharateeya Spiritual arena. Remember, Sankaracharya made a number of temples, did poojas and also prescribed the rules for that temples and a number of temples in this country. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Swami Prabhupad and innumerable Achaaryas were idol worshipers. At one point we quote these pure souls and at other point we argue that these idol worship is not necessary. It is all waste and useless talks, specially at the present time. If one do not have any picture of an Idol in mind, his mind will definitely wander elsewhere. Those who can realize the `self' without any sign, he is a pure soul. One should make such young boys and girls understand what the Dharma will lose if we do not follow the rituals and rules.



I am reminded of an instance from Swami Vivekanand. Just to refresh my memory I browsed on Internet and got it again. Here it goes ...

Swami Vivekananda once went to the Maharaja of Alvar (a state in India) to meet him. This was the pre-independence era where the British had given powers to the Maharaja, and hence he had become a powerful king.

While talking about religion and faith, the Maharaja and his minister expressed doubts about idol worship. In short, they looked down upon it and made some cutting remarks about the same.

Addressing the minister, Swami Vivekananda said, “Take this picture of your King, the Maharaja of Alvar, and spit on it. Can you do it?”

There was pin drop silence in the room. Nobody was sure how to react.

Then Swamiji said, “Even though he is standing next to you, you have the 'emotion' that Maharaja is there in the picture, hence you cannot spit on it. Similarly, when a Hindu worships an idol, he doesn't say, 'O stone, I am worshipping you.' He has the 'emotion' that God resides in that idol.”

The Maharaja was satisfied with the reply and profusely thanked Swami Vivekananda.

Ramu Vempaty


Dear Sirs,

Nobody "worships" idols. We worship god; idols are just mediums. That is one of
the ways of experiencing god.

We cannot enjoy a sweet by merely talking about it. We must have that in our
mouth to enable us to understand and feel the sweetness. That is, any
experience can be validated only if it is accessible to at least one of our
senses. Here in the case of idols, we experience god in the form of an idol
through our eyes, one of our senses - that is the sensory perception of
god.Direct experience of god is impossible without first establishing a "goal
post" in our minds.

Muslims also pray with an idol in their minds and that is the Kaaba. They turn
to the East recall the picture of Kaaba in their minds and to that they pray. It
is wrong to say that they don't worship idols they do; but they don't replicate
the Kaaba, possibly to retain the importance of the original. They picture
the Kaaba every time they pray. Every mosque has also quotations from the
Koran. Thus they they connect to god through sensory perceptions only. During
mohurum , they carry the shape of a mosque in a procession. Christians pray to
the idols of Jesus or Mary or the Cross - (a form of idol only). The Greeks in
the ancient days "idolised" gods of beauty , rain , war,and so on and prayed to

When Muslims and Christians killed or condemned the idolators, it was only
because they wanted others to pray their way and believe in their gods; that's

Anything that exists must occupy space. And anything that occupies space must
have a shape at a given point in time. God cannot be an exception to this
scientific compulsion. Since he has not revealed his looks to any one, picture
him the way you choose and pray.

K.A.Krishna Rao


Hindu idol worship is a beautiful method of worship, it's benefits transcends
all other world methods to the spiritual aspirant.
Now for the academically minded it would seem pointless. For the bigot of
non-idolatry it is vile because their mind is thus prejudiced. For the sage it
is irrelevant. To me it's a beautiful thing. The Church Alter is an idol. The
Kaaba is an idol. Humans can't think formlessness. They merely say it
academically. Be honest to yourself.
Anil Bhanot


Parampita Parmatma - the father of all we souls, is Nirakaar. He needs no
rituals & idol worship. He is Gyaan Saagar, our Father, our Teacher, our
Sad-guru. The only commitment he needs from us children is love for Him &
promise of & adherence to Purity. This is the surest way to get connected to
Him, our source of everything good, sweet & positive.Â

Best wishes. Om Shanti.

Sanjay Jhunjhunwala


Dear Sri Balu I believe the answer lies like "Air is every where but we still
need a fan to feel it. Like God is every where but we need idol temple to feel
his presence. Kamal


dont force anything, ten men can take a pond to a horse but no man can
make it drink, such things should be taught at tender age of 8, tell
them the importance with love, thay are grown up
god bless you


Hari Om

There is nothing in this world which can not be called IDOL. Gita defines every
Jeeva / Creature to be idol also, what to talk of inert objects. All sentient
and inert bodies are idols only including currency notes. In Sanatan Dharma
there is no idol worship. We worship Paramatma situate in idols. The top most
principle of Sanatan Dharma is VASUDEV SARVAM ( All is God) ! If God only exists
and nothing else exists,... then where is objection if somebody worships his God
in an idol?

Worshipping God through an idol form is highly beneficial to humanity. It
strengthens your belief and can be said to be the first step as you get
initiated in spirituality thereby. People do not understand this and find a
way to criticise our religion and beliefs . Worshipping God in an idol is a
perfect method and there is nothing wrong in the same.

There is no Jeeva on this planet who does not do Idol worship.

Jai Shree Krishna

Vyas N B


Harry Desai >> However to reject or oppose Image worship is Aasuri
characteristics and not Daivi characteristics in Kaliyuga.

Dear Harry Desai,

It is very strong statement to label grandsons of Balus as having aasuri
characteristics. We should not pass judgment on others and Gita does not teach
us to do so.

Most probably, they are rejecting blind faith of Balus or the sectarian outlook
of God. The principle behind idol worship is presence of God in everyone and
everywhere. Since God is all-pervading, He is in idol also. Since we can't see
God everywhere, we start with idol with the goal to see God in all.

Many idol worshipers stay at the low level of seeing God in just image. That
kind of worship is considered as futile as mentioned in Bhagavatam 3.29.21 to
3.29.27. When new generation sees people worshiping idols and at the same time,
leading life of cheating, cruelty, non-giving, non-helping etc, then they can
sense of hypocrisy. They reject the hypocrisy of idol worshipers and not idol
worship. Therefore, it is very important that the devotees lead exemplary life
of service, charitableness, compassion, loving and caring attitude. People
develop faith on truth and dharma when they see such people.

Murari Das


Dear Balus,

Image worship and rituals are important, but it is only one of the many ways to
reach Nirvana or Moksha. However to reject or oppose Image worship is Aasuri
characteristics and not Daivi characteristics in Kaliyuga. So you should explain
them the stories of Ravana, Hiranyakashyapa etc. to explain that to worship only
one god and oppose other will ultimately lead one to ashtray, unless one had
done lots of Punya in past life, so if they are sure they have done lot of punya
in previous life they should accept Image worship.

If they want further understanding tell them about concept of Dvita-Advita,
which causes confusion[ Moha] even among Rushis & Maharshis.

Image worship is also accepted by Buddhists, since Buddha is the only
incarnation of Bhagvan Vishnu in Kaliyuga until now , people of Arya Dharma
[Hinduism] should keep with Image worship. Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Arya
Samaj oppose Image worship and they outnumber people of Arya paths; Arya
Dharma[ Hinduism] & Arya Marg[ Buddhism], which is natural as this is Kaliyuga.
But Kaliyuga has one advantage over other yugas; One has to do lot less
meditation, puja etc. to get Moksha.

Harry Desai


dear brother,loves
please let me know what type of God you want them to
believe. first you should know that they are the children born and brought up in
the world full of logic and reason. so you have select the method that clears
their doubts and other quieries. then only they will accept the God that you
want them to believe. ckkaul.


Please do not impose your belives on your grand children let them reason it out
for themselves
thay are adults

arun sharma


it depends on our attitude,as to whether we perceive Divinity in the idol, or
the idol as Divinity.

Denis khan


Dear Balus nand other Sadaks,
Read with interest debate whether or not Balus grand children should accept Idol
worship or not! My following personal discussion with one Muslim mechanic of
Jorhat Assam would probably soilve thre riddle question Balus has put:

the Muslim mechanic was busy repairing my scooter. Suddenly he exclaimed with a
shout: One thing of ours (Hindhus) was not clear to him! I asked what happened
what was that tell me! He told a sculptor makes a Murti and then how come that
very Murti becomes the God of that sculptor. He went on say this was very much
For a moment I too was mum dumb and felt what he told is very much correct!!
Suddenly as if it came direct from Parmeshwer himself I said then tell what
should have been done otherwise. He said what is to be done!!! Just remember
Allah and always bow to him!! I asked him how could we bow!!! I asked have you
seen HIM??.....No, Has your father?...No, His father? ...No.....anybody till
now.?....probably No!!! I immediately said till you get the real Allah before
me, I would continue to manage with Murti, artificial one!

The point is Idol worship is for beginners on path of spirituality. Nothing can
be wrong, when there is no duality, Vasudeva Sarvam!

Kuldeep K. Kaul



Let them explore themselves through good books of Swami Vivekananda.
Let them learn the translation of Mantras. That can infuse in them a
mental attitude towards worship also.
It may take some time. BUT THEY SHOULD BE IN company of cultured people.

M K Muju

People who believe in god but not idol worship are only half rational. Just ask
whether they have their photographs in their pass-port, pan-card, voder ID card
driving licence. Now these pictures in government documents are not these
themselves but help in identifying them. Same is the story about national
flag. No body
says tri-colour is India but every one respects it as much as the country itself
it represents the country. Idol worship is the same rational. Nobody says it
is god but
just the symbol same way the person is represented by photograph in his

Even Christians and muslims who talk endlessly against idol worship have idols
cross (symbol) around their neck or posters of Kaaba in their drawing rooms.

Once one Christian missionary from England told Vivekananda that Hindus are
fools to
consider idol as god when it is only a stone. Vivekananda did not reply but
only spat on the
photograph of Queen of England. English Christian missionary was very furious
and said
you have insulted our Queen. On this Vivekanda asked "Why ? I spat only on
the piece
of paper ! Is the piece of paper Queen of England ? If not, why he thought I
insulted the
queen ? Christian missionary got the message !


Dear Balus, Namasthe:

In Hinduism idol or image worship is just initiation into the belief in a
Supreme Power from which all creations emerged, exist and merge back. It can be
compared to initiating into learning by starting with the alphabets and slowly
progressing as a master of the subject. There has to be a beginning for
everything. One cannot join a race without following the basic principles. The
question "Why follow the principles when I am ready to partake in the race?" is
immature and thereby one fails to be a good athlete. When one systematically
progresses in his study of scriptures, he/she will understand how significant or
insignificant the idol/image worship was. In Sanatana Dharma in its highest form
there is no name, form, attributes etc. But to realize this there is a long way
to go by studying the scriptures carefully with attention interest and
sincerity. As an youngster I too was of the mind-set of your grandsons, but
before accepting or rejecting the concept I took the pain of understanding the
principles underlying idol/image worship because even great Saints like Adi
Shankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Chinmayananda,
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi etc. have not talked against idol/image worship and in
their teachings encouraged sadhaks to start with idol worship. Moreover,
idol/image worship is like the lower rung of the ladder without which we cannot
hope to reach higher level in our spiritual quest. Read "Kindle Life" written by
Swamiji Chinmayananda, even an atheist will not have another say in the matter.
Mohan Nair



What every one said on the question is true, But can we convince these boys on
all the points touched. The impacr of the explanation comes from the source from
which it came.. Therefore I suggest that let your grand children visit once sri
Ramanasramam and read life and Talks with Maharshi.

Ramana Sarma


If someone believes in the existence of God?Almighty/Creator, that is a great
characteristic in itself. It does not matter if they do not believe in 'idol'
worship or rituals. The fact that they do not object to or argue against your
worshippin idle or your practicing rituals is also a great quality. We should
not worry. But you owe an explanation to them: you need to tell them that you
worship God with an idol or deity in front because it helps ypu conceptualise
God much moreeasily andrelate to Him. But there are Santana Dharma/ Hindi Dharma
scriptures where one can meditate upon or worship the Formless / Nirakar God.
You can also tell them that the rituals have become habit for you from childhood
days and you feel better psychologically practicing them along with Mantras.
About Mantras, you can translate them into English and give them copies so that
they understand what youare saying to God through the Mantras. They will feel
better if they see you explain what you do rather than pleading them to follow
Basudeb Sen


Dear Sadhak,
We do not worship idol or image, but the ideal that they represent. When you
look at the photo of your near and dear ones, you do not think of the material
with which the photo is made but to the memory of those whom you love or
respect. Similarly, each name, form and attributes given to different deities
should be remembered when you stand in prayer before the idol or image. In fact,
these idols and images are just tools to help you to train your mind to absorb
in concentration and thereafter fly higher in spirituality which is beyond name,
form, attributes etc.
Mohan Nair


dear Gita Group members
Spiritualism is different and need not be confused with idol worship or
religious mindedness. A person may be spiritual but not necessarily
religious/idol worshiper.
thanks and regards
G K Agrawal


Rituals (idol worship specially) when forced on growing young children, often
result in strengthening their anti-ritual mentality. Please follow the principle
: Example is better than Precepts.



They don't need to do idol worship. God resides in everyone and everywhere.
Therefore, they can worship God who is in us. How is that done?

Treat people around with love, respect, care and service attitude. See the
presence of God and have sense gratitude, respect and reverence. This is more
powerful than just worshiping idols.

Please read these Srimad Bhagavatam statements carefully --

SB 3.29.21: I am present in every living entity as the Supersoul. If someone
neglects or disregards that Supersoul everywhere and engages himself in the
worship of the Deity in the temple, that is simply imitation.

SB 3.29.22: One who worships the Deity of Godhead in the temples but does not
know that the Supreme Lord, as Paramàtmà, is situated in every living entity's
heart, must be in ignorance and is compared to one who offers oblations into

SB 3.29.23: One who offers Me respect but is envious of the bodies of others and
is therefore a separatist never attains peace of mind, because of his inimical
behavior towards other living entities.

SB 3.29.24: My dear Mother, even if he worships with proper rituals and
paraphernalia, a person who is ignorant of My presence in all living entities
never pleases Me by the worship of My Deities in the temple.

SB 3.29.25: Performing his prescribed duties, one should worship the Deity of
the Supreme Personality of Godhead until one realizes My presence in his own
heart and in the hearts of other living entities as well.

SB 3.29.26: As the blazing fire of death, I cause great fear to whoever makes
the least discrimination between himself and other living entities because of a
differential outlook.

SB 3.29.27: Therefore, through charitable gifts and attention, as well as
through friendly behavior and by viewing all to be alike, one should propitiate
Me, who abide in all creatures as their very Self.

Hopefully, these statements of Bhagavatam clarify your doubt. They don't need to
worship idols. Lets them be kind and loving person who has sense of gratitude
towards God.

Murari Das


Why is idol worship or vibhuti or rituals that important ? You as grandparents
have given them good values and that is all that matters. Unless, as
grandparents you are not sure of the values. Let them bloom and become
individuals in their own right. Hopefully, they will both make you and their Mom
very proud some day.

Kalpana Jaggi


Hari Om Balus,

Since my kids were 3-4 years old, we do prayers. We chant mantras in sankrits
for 1-2 mins and do prayer in mother tongue for 1-2 mins. This takes total 5
mins. We try to do it at least once a day and most of times twice a day -
morning and evening. Sometimes, kids don't want to do it. I remind them that
they are showing gratitude towards God for giving them everything. I had asthma
and many times, I just wanted breathe. At least, they can breathe properly. They
have so many things in life to be thankful of.

They don't need to do these prayers to idols. They can do them to God within
them. God within us hears whenever we talk. Listening to God is sometimes called
inspiration from within. Developing the sense of presence of God in our life is
great support which helps us to be strong and steady in the life and also, be
happy and optimistic. Help them develop inner understanding of God instead of
focusing on rituals or idols.

Murari Das


To see God, you have to be there. So, you is all.You and what you are observing,
experiencing is a singular process and not that God is an object separate from
Now to realise God, Truth-'Why' you want to realize, the motive behind
realisation contains the key and not any answer. Any answer will satisfy the
intellect only.
God is essentially used as an explanation, a device to cover up pain and
uncertainty. If the comfort of this explanation is not there, see what you find
What is being conveyed is that if you just do not depend upon what is referred
as God, you are one with yourself, one with pain and uncertainty you are facing.
All pain and uncertainty is psychological discomfort, if it is not immediate
physical danger. You can always see rest here and now.
Here you have a brush with Truth, the Original energy.
You may authentically know ‘what God means’.

To experience pain (any uneasiness) and uncertainty is normal. There is nothing
to feel comfortable about future now. This can just be made clear to the
children not as an assertion or application but through daily interactions.
Children will sense freedom to create, to find 'what is True'.
Y V Chawla

No 'Event' in this Cosmos can happen without a 'Cause' and without the
involvement of some amount of some kind of 'Energy'

Since this cosmos is an event, there must be a cause for its creation.
The cause of Creation of this Cosmos was a fundamentally correct concept by the
Great Thinkers of the Past (GTPs)They named this Cause as God, Ishwar and the

This concept is abstract in nature. To give it a physical form, the idols were
created. Worship is nothing by meditation

Gee Waman

A simple suggestion. They are grown adult about whom we are talking. Let them
try to sense their heart-bits along with the cosmic sound "AuM" and they
themselves will understand what is what. No question of thrusting any
pre-conceived ideas let them understand themselves. Only thing to be followed is
time and place of the seat of course direction of orientation is an added

Barin Chatterjee


One should ask themselves first, does one understand what are all those
practices about. If he is confused, so will children be. Your narrative in terms
of prayer and worship and God is christian narrative so they will think like
christians. One cannot blame a child if he talks when he learns. What word in
Samskrutam implies idol worship. What is the word for worship in Samskrutam? If
you do not have a word, then you translations may be wrong and teh imagery you
are building must be wrong too.
Ravindra Koul

Idol worship is not necessary, search on Arshabodha, understanding G without
faith lectures in English have your grandsons listen to it. Let me know how it
works out



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