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Why is idol worship faulty?

To: alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.hindu,alt.religion.tantra,alt.religion.vaisnava,,
From: "Bhaktisiddhartha Dasanudas" 
Subject: Re: Why is idol worship faulty?
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:36:32 -0400

Here is a so-called tantrika who does not even know that the very Deity
worship he criticizes is highrecommended in the tantric scriptures. There
are thousands of instructions in the Tantras, especially the Sattvata
Tantra, on Deity worship, yet he chooses to ignore them.

It is stated in the Tantra-sastra, "If the smell of the garland
which was offered to the Deity in the temple enters into a
person's nostrils, immediately his bondage to sinful activities
becomes cleared. And even if one has no sinful activities, still,
by smelling such remnants of flowers, one can advance from
Mayavadi [impersonalist] to devotee."

If Mr. Dharmadeva actually knew anything about dharma, he would understand
this. Wake up and smell the flowers! Even the very beginning students in our
temples can quote the following verse:

   For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested,
impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very
troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always
difficult for those who are embodied. [Bhagavad-gita 12.5]


   The group of transcendentalists who follow the path of the
inconceivable, unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme
Lord are called jnana-yogis, and persons who are in full Krsna
consciousness, engaged in devotional service to the Lord, are
called bhakti-yogis. Now, here the difference between jnana-yoga
and bhakti-yoga is definitely expressed. The process of
jnana-yoga, although ultimately bringing one to the same goal, is
very troublesome, whereas the path of bhakti-yoga, the process of
being in direct service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is
easier and is natural for the embodied soul. The individual soul
is embodied since time immemorial. It is very difficult for him to
simply theoretically understand that he is not the body.
Therefore, the bhakti-yogi accepts the Deity of Krsna as
worshipable because there is some bodily conception fixed in the
mind, which can thus be applied. Of course, worship of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead in His form within the temple is not idol
worship. There is evidence in the Vedic literature that worship
may be saguna and nirguna--of the Supreme possessing or not
possessing attributes. Worship of the Deity in the temple is
saguna worship, for the Lord is represented by material qualities.
But the form of the Lord, though represented by material qualities
such as stone, wood or oil paint, is not actually material. That
is the absolute nature of the Supreme Lord.
   A crude example may be given here. We may find some mailboxes
on the street, and if we post our letters in those boxes, they
will naturally go to their destination without difficulty. But any
old box, or an imitation, which we may find somewhere, which is
not authorized by the post office, will not do the work.
Similarly, God has an authorized representation in the Deity form,
which is called arca-vigraha. This arca-vigraha is an incarnation
of the Supreme Lord. God will accept service through that form.
The Lord is omnipotent and all-powerful; therefore, by His
incarnation as arca-vigraha, He can accept the services of the
devotee, just to make it convenient for the man in conditioned
   So, for a devotee, there is no difficulty in approaching the
Supreme immediately and directly, but for those who are following
the impersonal way to spiritual realization, the path is
difficult. They have to understand the unmanifested representation
of the Supreme through such Vedic literatures as the Upanisads,
and they have to learn the language, understand the nonperceptual
feelings, and they have to realize all these processes. This is
not very easy for a common man. A person in Krsna consciousness,
engaged in devotional service, simply by the guidance of the bona
fide spiritual master, simply by offering regulative obeisances
unto the Deity, simply by hearing the glories of the Lord, and
simply by eating the remnants of foodstuffs offered to the Lord,
realizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. There is
no doubt that the impersonalists are unnecessarily taking a
troublesome path with the risk of not realizing the Absolute Truth
at the ultimate end. But the personalist, without any risk,
trouble, or difficulty, approaches the Supreme Personality
directly. A similar passage appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is
stated there that if one has to ultimately surrender unto the
Supreme Personality of Godhead (this surrendering process is
called bhakti), but instead takes the trouble to understand what
is Brahman and what is not Brahman and spends his whole life in
that way, the result is simply troublesome. Therefore it is
advised here that one should not take up this troublesome path of
self-realization because there is uncertainty in the ultimate
   A living entity is eternally an individual soul, and if he
wants to merge into the spiritual whole, he may accomplish the
realization of the eternal and knowledgeable aspects of his
original nature, but the blissful portion is not realized. By the
grace of some devotee, such a transcendentalist, highly learned in
the process of jnana-yoga, may come to the point of bhakti-yoga,
or devotional service. At that time, long practice in
impersonalism also becomes a source of trouble, because he cannot
give up the idea. Therefore an embodied soul is always in
difficulty with the unmanifest, both at the time of practice and
at the time of realization. Every living soul is partially
independent, and one should know for certain that this
unmanifested realization is against the nature of his spiritual
blissful self. One should not take up this process. For every
individual living entity the process of Krsna consciousness, which
entails full engagement in devotional service, is the best way. If
one wants to ignore this devotional service, there is the danger
of turning to atheism. Thus this process of centering attention on
the unmanifested, the inconceivable, which is beyond the approach
of the senses, as already expressed in this verse, should never be
encouraged at any time, especially in this age. It is not advised
by Lord Krsna.

"Dharmadeva"  wrote in message
> Why is idol worship faulty?
> Answer--An idol is nothing but the imaginative creation of the human mind,
> with a finite beginning and end. On the other hand Brahma (God - Supreme
> Cosmic Consciousness) is beginningless and endless. This we can deduce
> through reason. An idol, this finite creation of the human imagination
> cannot, therefore, be the cause of emancipation/liberation of the living
> entities. Moreover, the external idols of clay, stone and wood are
> of the five fundamental factors (ether, aerial, luminous, liquid, solid).
> Ideation on such crude objects cannot lead human beings towards
> Non-qualified Consciousness; rather it will lead them towards
> Would it be true to say that Prakrti/Shakti is the Singular Entity?
> Answer--No. Prakrti is the Operative Principle that creates diversity. The
> original entity from which diversity has been created is not Prakrti.
> Objects are created due to the crudifying influence of Prakrti on that
> original entity. The differences amongst objects are due to the varying
> degrees of influence of that crudifying force. Thus, in no way can Prakrti
> be considered as the Singular Entity.
> In no way is Shakti the object or thought of worship.
> --
> 'The main characteristic of PROUT-based socioeconomic movements
> is that they aim to guarantee the comprehensive, multifarious
> liberation of humanity.'  P R Sarkar
> PROUT - PROgressive Utilisation Theory
> New Renaissance: A Journal for Social and Spiritual Awakening:

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