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The Logic of Idol worship – Golu

Idol worship started in India somewhere in the Puranic times.  Vedas talk about several divine forces such as Adityas, rudras, vasus, Vishnu, Purusha, Amba etc., that guide and evolve the Universe and its intelligence. During Vedic times, these divine forces were only extolled.

Such divine forces were extolled, not to ‘worship’ them,  but to invoke their power in us, so that we evolve further in intelligence.

One example I can quote is the Gayatri Mantra, where in the ‘Savitr’, which I call as the ‘Seed of Fire’ is extolled and requested to be invoked in us. More on Gayatri here and here.

Small Idols were made as a representation of  ’divine’ forces and the divinity of these forces extolled to invoke their power in us. Such idol representations gained ground and soon morphed to current day’s idol worship, where idols became important and their ‘divine’ force representation was lost.

To put in short, idols in themselves do not have any power in them, in the Hindu religion. It is the invocation of a ‘divine’ force or multiple ‘divine’ forces in these idols that brings the ‘power’ to them.

In other words when we worship an idol, we are not worshiping the idol itself, but the divine force represented in the idol. Again worshiping an idol is to invoke the power of divinity in us.

It is in this perspective that Navratri festival is celebrated. I had written about different dimensions of Navratri festival in Indian blogger earlier, here.

During these nine days and nights, it is said that divine forces visit the planet earth. Multiple idols are kept in ‘Golu’ to capture the divine forces and make them available at home, was one of the basic concept of ‘Golu’ festival, in which idols are stacked and kept all these nine days and nights. Since these divine forces reside in these idols for nine days, it is assumed that the home that hosts these idols become blessed.

Though it may appear a taboo that divine forces can be captured in idols,  it has been a practice for several centuries now. Though at the risk of being branded superstitious, I have seen a co-incidence of families that stopped celebrating Golu incurring hardships and families that revived it get rid of their woes.

So I would not comment on it, though it appears a bit illogical at this point of time.

Common sense may say that divine forces need not rest in idols or objects. Hence there is no need for idol worship. But if we keenly look around, there is an exemplary logic in it.

By keeping the representation of divine forces in an external object such as idol, the divinity of the object can be shared and spread amongst a bigger lot of population. It is no longer personal.

Once such a centralized representation is made, it is easier to invoke that divine power in us, as so many people are doing the same. After all man is a social animal and centralizing the divine representation in an idol helps human beings invoke that divine force in them, using this social characteristics of human beings.

In general we human being tend to follow the common way. Hence invoking these powers in us when everyone else does it should be much easier for us. This is the basis of idol worship.

This also works for Navarathri Golu, whether divine forces stay in the idols or not.  The networking and strengthening of relationship that happens here along with positive vibes that are produced definitely make a home blessed.

So I would strongly recommend one to start or continue this practice, as it has a very important role in Hindu religion, irrespective of caste or creed.

Above are some pictures of our Golu this time.

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5 Responses

  1. Dear Jehangir,

    Vedas and Upanishads exol and praise the divine forces with the aim of invoking them. They neither refer to idol worship nor prohibit them.

    In fact the Geeta chapter 7 verse 20 you had referred does not prohibit idol worship. Krishna says the one who does not have the absolute knowledge and desires for material benefits worship other divine forces.

    He had previously said in 19 that he who knows the absolute realizes that vasudeva is what everything is.

    He says in 21 even if they worship other divine forces, if they have devotion, their faith would make them realize the absolute knowledge of Vasudeva.

    So there is no way idol worship is referred or prohibited. Idol worship is just a custom and in my view gives diversity of thoughts and enforces unity in diversity, which is all the humans require.

    We should not fall into trap of Unitarianism which makes us think everyone should follow the same thing.

    Even in Islam there are many variants. I am not sure when and where Mohammad the prophet wanted to convert everyone into islam. In fact Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet.

    -TBT

  2. no religion allows idol worship as referred in these verses.

    (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.

    for the detailed text refer the blog.
    http://comparative-religion-points.blogspot.com

    • No religion allows idol worship is defenetly truth.I am happy if atleast some people can know truth through you.
      There is only One GOD many powers.Innocents are cheated by diffrent negetive powers which people belive its GODs power.The difference of both should be made understood.[Gods spirit & Evil spirits].
      The only way to pray God is only by your full strength,full mind,& full heart.Nothing more than this is expected by human beings.One can never satisfy God by any royal offerings or great idol poojas or being great orthodox ,or witch crafts or building temples etc.And if any one has proved that God has been satisfied by something his own way I can definatly say it is not that ,you made God satisfied,its something against to God,were you are cheated yourself.

      • While I have no issues in ‘praying’ or ‘worshipping’ in the way you want, why should we be worried about how others do it..?

        First question is, why should we pray at all..? Which God asked us to pray..? So it is not that God asked us to do something.

        So when God did not ask us to do anything (except in Vedas it is stated that evolution of intelligence is what is required), then why should we be against different people doing different things..?

        -TBT

        • Inteligence is” wisdom” which we can pray for.And TRUTH will set man free,which that can be seen only through inner eyes & hiden wisdom which is the great gift given by ALLMIGHTY the omini presence creater.