We the Idol Worshipers

Idol worship is something Hindus get accused of a lot. And I use the word “accused” because saying someone worships idols is like some kind of short hand for saying that their religion is baseless and wrong and primitive. None of which is true.

Hindus do have idols. We have statues that we pray to in our temples and in our homes.

For some Hindus the statue represents a God symbolically and is not itself worshiped. For others the spirit of that God is called into the statue and becomes a living aspect of that God. Others see the Gods in every single molecule of creation including in the statues.

Picture: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
Picture: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

Whether you’re a Hindu who worships idols or not, it doesn’t matter. The only reason anyone sees it as wrong is because the Jewish/Christian/Islamic God said so. And he’s not my god so I don’t really care what he thinks.

I’m an idol worshiper and proud of it. 

I won’t let people in exclusive monotheistic religions make me feel ashamed. They’ve had a campaign of hate against the word “idol” for several thousand years. But we don’t need to believe the hype.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    you are doer an actionist may you reach the highest reality before coming to conclusion make a deep thought every reason has a reason go with logic it is hair splitting example nyaya and tarka shastra none can beat you in debates go under dharma.. to understand any scriptures in world any religion any cultures in any part of world must get advaita(non duality ) first where selfishness greed lust none can touch you or even you feel it or u need it whole universe is in you and you in universe and you are infinite

  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    Every religion has some form of Symbol worship. Just imagine Christianity without the cross. The issue is people don’t consider it a form of idol(symbolic) worship.

    or even bible or even sound (Allah), Hallelujah contradicts the definition of God at mystic level sound cannot reach it yet they need kaaba crescend black stone (extreme shiva shaivism ) contradicts the definition of God

    • Ambaa

      True!

  • SK

    I find it hypocritical of Abrahamic religions when they criticise/ridicule idol worship. Idol worship is there because you need a symbol when performing your act of devotion/prayer etc. The statues of Jesus Christ, Bible, Quran, the cross, the Kabba etc are nothing but these symbols. If any of these symbols is insulted in any way, respective Abrahamic religion followers will, rightly, feel as angry as anyone. In fact, people will feel angry even if other symbols they revere/respect are insulted. Say I spit and stomp on pictures of someone’s parents/grandparents,
    won’t they feel angry ?! Similar for things like national flags. Obviously I am not saying that this should be a reason for violence, but just making a point about different people having different symbols who they deeply revere in their lives.

    So, once we have established that symbols are important, it is stupid to ridicule a symbol just because it is in the form of an idol. If you are going to do symbol-worshipping anyway, why not go the full mile and take it to its logical conclusion and worship in full glory. Make idols as sensuous/beautiful/mesmerising as you can like those south Indian temple architectures, and perform “puja” which gives much more pleasure.

    So, idol worship is the logical conclusion of how humans are. People might try all they want to say that they don’t do “idol-worship” – by re-defining “idol-worship” narrowly – but that’s just deluding themselves.

    PS : I wonder what Abrahamic people think of the shiv-linga ? Would they consider it an idol ? I obviously think it is, but will it fit their definition of idol since it’s in an abstract form, and not a human-looking form ?

    • Ambaa

      Great points!

  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    abrahamics are religious not spiritual world is colorful lots of colours lot of ppl be diverse they both religions destroyed all ancient cultures and wisdom vedic is only livid survived for its intrinsic vitality greek mesopotamian macedonian egyptian mayan all these died away vedic is just reminder of all and teach all dogmatic rigid pale religions of what they have done

  • Loretto Taylor

    Having come out of the Byzantine Catholic tradition, I take the Eastern Catholic/Orthodox view towards the murtis. In the Eastern Christian tradition, icons are considered to be windows to Heaven- the images themselves are not the reality of God, but you can see that reality through them. And I’m a proud practitioner of murti puja.

    • Ambaa

      That’s a lovely way to put it!

    • Seeker

      Come to think of it that is how I was taught as a Roman Catholic. I have several Catholic icons and also Hindu Mertis. I love them all

  • mike
  • M Raghavan

    I think the difficulty is differentiating our sense of the idol, whom we bathe, dress and feed, with the Byzantine role of the icon. Hindus do not see a window to the infinite, they see the Presence of the Divine in form. The idol can at times even be considered an Avatara, a direct manifestation of the Divine on earth. So, to say that Hinduism is not idolatrous would be false; but it would be just as bad to say that because we do, we limit ourselves to superstitions and baseless ritual.

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org Stephanie Ellison

    For some Hindus the statue represents a God symbolically and is not
    itself worshiped. For others the spirit of that God is called into the
    statue and becomes a living aspect of that God. Others see the Gods in
    every single molecule of creation including in the statues.

    —————————-

    Let me get this right, because I struggle with the idea of murti puja and or image/idol worship. It sounds like to me what you just said is that the statue is not itself worshipped, but this “force” or presence that inhabits it at the time. The spirit of a God being called into the idol would be like, you approach said idol, you see in your “eye” a presence materializing in the idol by you putting it in the idol. All the idol is, is a means of giving form to the various aspects of a God you are engaged with. It’s not like, “Wow, look. Ganesha is here! You see him? You see him?!” as though he was really there. The idol is really a means to an end, the acknowledgement of one of the facets of the Ultimate Reality and helping you to remember it.

    Now, I really have to see what it is I really do every day. Let me see if I can figure this out. I really struggle with this. I do because it is amorphous, without form. The latter statement of yours, I don’t know how to explain it, and I run into a deep, yawning chasm every time I try to explain the Unspeakable. It’s beyond words of any kind. When I try to put it in words, the experience I’m trying to share disappears because it can’t be shared that way. Like the various discussions between Arjuna and Sri Krishna. Arjuna doesn’t get it until Sri Krishna takes him on a journey to a total vision that liberates him from his self-identity. The only way he could get it was to be brought to that place. There was no explaining it, as Arjuna kept asking and asking, over and over. That is what I see, from Sargeant – “Finally, after so much preparation and so many discourses, Arjuna asks Krishna in chapter 11 to reveal the form that is described as Lord and Highest Self. He asks for a direct experience, a showing (dars´ana): “If Thou thinkest it possible for me to see this, O Lord, Prince of Yoga, then to me cause to be seen Thyself, the Imperishable” (XI:4).” This was what Arjuna saw when he was wordlessly brought to that place. This is AMAZING considering that like Sri Krishna, the most effective way to explain what it is I experience is for me to take you there myself, because it can only be experienced, not spoken of, which is the original intent. Problem is, I’m in this human body…

    My issue now seems to be, how do I move from this amorphous place I find myself in towards something with form, or can I not because I have already arrived there?