Amitanshu: Disciples of some gurus say that vedas had idol worship. They are confusing us what to do?
Swami Ram Swarup: Though, I paste my article on idol worship which will give you the knowledge, still the best process to destroy the illusion, misunderstanding, one will have to study the vedas under the guidance of learned Acharya of vedas traditionally and as ordered by God in Vedas.
Idol worship is not mentioned in Vedas
If an aspirant will concentrate over mouth of idol then for sometime he will concentrate on chin, nose, head etc., but concentration on one point will not be achieved. Secondly, Vedas do not preach to concentrate outside the body. Yog shastra sutra 3/1 also states, “DESHBANDHASYA CHITTASYA DHARNA” i.e., concentrate on a point of body like agyachakra, tip of the nose or heart. So we cannot go against the ved-shastras. Yes, idol worship has been started within two thousand and five hundred years. That is why, Vedas do not tell for idol worship but if people desire, they can go ahead.
Pictures, drawings etc., may not be considered idols but it is an art and not worship of God. We must know that knowledge of Vedas emanates direct from God and idol worship has been made by human beings. So now we have to decide whether we obey God or human beings. If we still follow the path made by humans then no problem, one must go ahead. On the other hand, follower of Vedas must continue his own path.
In four Vedas, the media to realize the God has been stated as –
Study of Vedas under guidance of acharya which is a real media and as mentioned in the Vedas, one has to follow the preach mentioned therein viz., performance of Yajyen, name jaap of God , regular contact with learned acharya of Vedas, ashtang Yoga Practice under his guidance etc. The said media is stated by God Himself in Vedas. Man, an artist, clay and every matter right from straw to sun, moon, air, space etc., is the creation of God. It thus concludes that we have to worship and realize the creator and we must not be attracted towards creation. Attraction is the task of senses, perceptions and mind which is destroyed but the creator is immortal. No other media is stated in Vedas except the human body through which the said worship is done by a Yogi, Rishi-muni or aspirant.
Vedas-shastras state that God is omnipresent and according to Yajurveda mantra 40/6 it is true but other mantras state that God is “Ninnaya” that is hidden in the universe and we have to locate the hidden God and not the visible, non-alive matters of the world.
T.V., radios etc., all articles are man-made and controlled by some mechanism. And examples of man-made mechanism are actually not applied on Almighty, omnipresent God. Any mechanism, for example- rocket launching , launching of satellites etc., involves the mind of a man and mind has limited power otherwise mind could have searched the hidden Almighty God also but Vedas state that mind, intellect , senses etc., have limited power and God is beyond imagination , beyond description, beyond calculation. That is why, our ancient Rishis, Rajrishis practised Vedic path that is did practice of Ashtang Yoga Philosophy, yajyen etc.
As such they exercised control over mind, intellect, senses etc. A Yogi when makes the mind dead etc., and forgets even himself (soul) then he realizes the God. This eternal Vedic path of Yoga philosophy has been very well preached by Rishi Patanjali in his Yog Shastra.
God is not a matter to be seen with eyes. So how can He be seen alone in everything with the destructive eye?
Ego is not one-sided matter. If there is ego, neither a formless God is realized nor difference between idol or formless God is established. It is ego that most of the people respect the idol worship as well as formless God’s worship mentioned in Vedas but when an aspirant follows the Vedas, his mind becomes stable, then he only accepts worship of formless God and not others. Whereas, the worshipper who worships idol, he accepts formless God also i.e., he cannot ignore Vedas and can not accept one path alone. We must deeply think over it that why is it so?
God being formless has not preached regarding any of His substitute or symbol, so the aspirant who knows Vedic philosophy accepts the God’s preach accordingly. When God in four Vedas, has not stated about His mark or representative then how the follower would accept the same? Vedas have been preaching the formless worship as quoted above eternally whereas the worship of idol has been made for the last about two thousand five hundred years ago by the human-beings. So there is difference of worship of formless God and idol.
Idol worship is the worship where the sentiments and emotions of heart are involved and all the said involvements are man-made as well as destructible. How a mind/intellect having limited power can dig out the Almighty, formless, hidden God from the creation? God is Almighty i.e., He has unlimited powers whereas soul who is being assisted by mind, intellect and senses etc., has limited power.
Yajurved mantra 1/5 and Rigved mantra 3/56/1 states that even God cannot transgress His rules. So how can God be transformed according to our emotions and be forced to accept our sentiments which are not according to His laws of nature.
All Vedas state that His laws of creation remain unchangeable. So there is no value of our sentiments etc., contrary to His rules and regulations. In the said Rigveda mantra, God strictly states “that all mountains, seas, rivers and even the Yogis who have realized Him (God) are incapable to change His rules and regulations and the way of worship etc.” So our self-made worship, emotions and sentiments etc., are of no use until these are according to Vedas.
As regards flag, yes it is invaluable not only for soldiers but for countrymen as well. However, the flag of each country is different. Will any other countryman sacrifice his life for our Tiranga? We, the Indians are enough to sacrifice our lives to maintain the dignity of our adorable Tiranga. So flags are different, the countries being different but God is one and only one for entire universe. So worldly example in the matter of formless, Almighty God is not applicable, please.
Also the matter of image being very clear to the devotee when it speaks to him in his own language of devotion, forces a learned man to say that the said speech between his mind and soul is worldly speech and even destructible whereas when a Yogi realizes God, he is completely unable to speak, hear, see, smell, eat, think etc. In this connection, the description of Yog shastra sutra 4/30,31, 32 pertaining to Dharmamegh Samadhi refers.
Yes, only currency notes are valuable. Similarly the Yogis –like Yogeshwar Sri Krishna Maharaj, Sri Ram, Vyas muniji, Guru Vasishth, Atri Rishi, Patanjali Rishi and the present Yogis-Rishis –Munis who have realized God, following the Vedic path are valuable. The stamp of beloved God is everywhere that is in sky, water, vegetation, in each living being etc. But as far as worship is concerned then the follower of Vedas only worships formless God who creates, nurses and destroys the universe, alone being Almighty. He is Almighty, therefore, He doesnot need any assistance from anyone.
This is never forgotten that the image has been brought from Jaipur etc., so if one can worship an image then why can’t one worship all pervading, omnipotent, omniscient, merciful God, who is the source of everything, who is eternal, unchangeable, life of life and soul of soul etc. Why do we change Him from being unchangeable to changeable idol?
Practice makes man perfect. So the beginner will get the sanskar (effect) on his chitta of idol worship and the same will never be omitted again. Secondly, according to the Vedas idol worship is not authentic. You see, there is no shape of soul. Atharvaved mantra 10/8/25 states that size of soul is less than the tip of hair i.e., soul is the minutest matter which remains unseen. But when an aspirant tries to know about the soul, he knows based on qualities. We know about a person according to the description of his qualities- good or bad. Accordingly, we know Ravanna, King Harishchandra etc., based on their bad and good qualities respectively. So is the case of formless God. God has given His description/His divine qualities in Vedas only. After studying the Vedas, we first know the God based on Shabda Brahma i.e., ved mantras. Thereafter, when we worship Him according to Vedas, we attain Samadhi and realize Him. This fact has also been mentioned in Shantiparv of Mahabharat wherein Bheeshma tells Yudhishthir that Oh! Yudhishthir, he who gets perfection in ved mantras first, then he realises God.
When Formless, Almighty God has not stated in any ved about the idol worship then how will He be pleased by idol worship? Yajurveda mantra 32/3 states “NA TASYA PRATIMA ASTI” i.e., God cannot be measured. So there cannot be any idol of God because He is immeasurable. However, if people get peace in following idol worship, they may continue. Here I am only discussing the fact of Vedas.
Touching of hand and body etc., is materialistic matter which can only please mind, intellect through skin but it can’t be quoted in respect of Formless, Almighty God.
Whole world can be considered as the body of God but in reality God does not have body because God is alive whereas world is non-alive matter. So God is separate and world is separate. God remains immortal whereas world is destructible.
The image will be destroyed one day but not God. When there is no body of God then how will we be able to offer flowers, sandal wood paste, food etc., to Him.
Yajurved mantra 40/8 states God to be the purest and He needs not to be purified by bathing, changing clothes and applying sandal wood paste etc. It is an idol or body of human-being which requires purification again and again.
External form of worship will strengthen the idol only because we will be singing, describing the attributes of idol/creation and not to Formless God. If we in the beginning are not able to judge the true, divine qualities of formless God then our love and faith will remain unstable.
Such aspirant will only feel nearness to the idol and not formless God who is already within him and who already resides the nearest to the soul i.e., within the soul.
We will have to study the Vedas which state that idol worship is not permitted by God. Yet, if an aspirant wants to worship an idol then I am telling again and again that he can go ahead at his own. On receipt of your e-mail, I am giving answer based on Vedic philosophy only that what Vedas say about idol worship. Vedas do not speak about idol worship and avtarwad. However, people are free to go ahead on their own and do whatever they like.
When I will see any art which is liked by soul through eye, definitely it will be admired and the scene which is disliked will be ignored. So if many people admire the idol of Ganesh sitting on conch, admiration is natural. As far as Vedas-shastras and other holy ancient books written by Rishis are concerned in the worship of formless God, spirit has no concern. Neither spirit exists nor has any concern with the worship of God.
Deepak: स्वामीजी चरण स्पर्श, जैसे आपने कहा था आप अष्टाङ्ग योग बाद में सिखाएंगे, तब तक उपासना से पहले जैसे मैंने आर्य समाज में एक आचार्यजी से पतंजलि प्राणायाम सीखा था, वह कर सकता हूँ? आपका शिष्य, दीपक
Swami Ram Swarup: My blessings to you. Han! Aap pranayaam karein. Parantu Patanjal pranayaam koi nahi hota. Patanjal Rishi ne yog Shastra mein Ashtang Yog shiksha mein Pranayaam ka bhi varnan kiya hai isliye Pranayaam ko pranayaam hee kaho.