Nitya-Dharma & Idolatry

There a many reservations from other religions about the worship of deity’s (form’s of God’s and Goddesses in the temple) in Hinduism. Its called idolatry and is not recommended in Christianity, Islam and perhaps other beliefs.

The ‘Jaiva Dharma’ book – compiled by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has a chapter (Nitya-Dharma & Idolatry) where a Islamic Mullah ask questions and brings arguments like this:

Isn’t meditating on a form of the Lord within one’s mind superior to imagining a form with the help of the material elements?

In our Koran it is written that the Supreme Entity has a divine all-conscious form, so we are compelled to accept this fact. However, any image of that spiritual form is material; that is what we call but. The worship of but is not the worship of the Supreme Being.

Matter is distinct from God. I think that it is better not to worship material objects, because it is said that Satan introduced the worship of matter to keep the living entities bound in the material world.

Than the Vaishnava Pandit Goracandra Das Babaji of Mayapur gave some points and views on this topic: (its shortened here to bring some interesting points only)

Isvara (God) is one without a second, and He has no rival. Everything in this world is created by Him and is under His control. Therefore, He can be satisfied with any object when it is used in His worship. There is no object in this world one can worship that can arouse His malice, for He is all-auspicious.

Even if a person such as Satan exists, he is no more than a special jiva (living entity) under the control of God, and has no power to do anything that is opposed to God’s will. However, in my opinion, it is not possible for such a monstrous living entity to exist. No activity can take place that is contrary to the will of Isvara, nor is any living entity independent of the Lord.

You may ask, “What is the origin of sin?” My answer is as follows. Vidya (knowledge) is the understanding that the jivas (living entertis) are servants of Bhagavan (God), and avidya (ignorance) is forgetfulness of this. All jivas who, for whatever reason, take shelter of avidya sow the seed of all sins in their hearts. In the hearts of those jivas who are eternal associates of Bhagavan, there is no seed of sin. One should understand this truth of avidya carefully, instead of imagining an extraordinary myth about Satan.

All human beings are grateful to God. No matter how many sins they commit, occasionally they become aware that God is the supreme entity, and when they are endowed with this belief, they bow down before the extraordinary things of this world. When ignorant people are inspired by their gratitude to God, they naturally offer respect to the sun, a river, a mountain or to enormous animals. They express their hearts before such things and display submission to them.

Granted, there is a vast difference between this type of worship of material objects, and transcendental affection toward the Lord (cinmaya bhagavad-bhakti). Still, when such ignorant people adopt a mood of gratitude to God and reverence toward material objects, it gradually produces a positive effect. Therefore, if one examines the situation logically, one cannot ascribe any fault to them.

Meditation on the formless, all-pervading feature of the Lord and offering Namaz (Namaz-e-Tawbah; Islamic prayers of repentance, also Salaat al-tawbah) or other types of prayers to an impersonal aspect of the Lord are also devoid of pure transcendent love. We consider that it is essential to arouse bhava (affection) towards Bhagavan by any means possible.

The door leading to gradual elevation is firmly shut if people on any level of worship are ridiculed or condemned. Those who fall under the spell of dogmatism, and thereby become sectarian, lack the qualities of generosity and munificence. That is why they ridicule and condemn others who do not worship in the same way as they do. This is a great mistake on their part.

Expects from the book ‘Jaiva Dharma’ Chapter 11, Nitya-Dharma & Idolatry, by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura,  ভক্তিবিনোদ ঠাকুর Bengali philosopher 1838 – 1914

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