Gowtham: You people mean idols are prohibited. idol worship is correct or not?
Swami Ram Swarup: Idol worship does not exist in Vedas. Vedas preach to worship only a Formless God Who is omnipresent, Almighty, Creates, nurses and destroys the universe. Knowledge of Vedas emanates direct from the God in the beginning/creation of the universe. The description, divine qualities, divine deeds, divine knowledge and divine power etc., of the God is mentioned in Vedas, so without listening Vedas under the guidance of a learned acharya, the method of worship, prayer and the said qualities of the God can never be known. I paste here some of my articles as under-
God has made universe and blessed us with human body to do pious deeds to attain salvation only. He has not made any heaven or hell. All have to face the result of their deeds, good or bad here only, even by taking rebirth. (Rigveda mantras 10/135/1,2 refer)
God has not only made universe but has also given knowledge of four Vedas where answers to your and everyone’s questions have been given. There are four Vedas:
1. Rig Veda – gives knowledge of science, matter of the universe like sun, moon, air, body etc., etc.
2. Yajurved – gives knowledge of all the deeds and duties to be performed by men, women, students, leaders, king, agriculturist etc., etc., etc.
3. Samved – gives knowledge how to worship God who gives peace and long happy life etc. In this way, details of Yoga philosophy, qualities, supreme deeds and nature of the God are also given.
4. Atharvaved – gives details of God, medical science and details of medicine etc.
Actually in four Vedas there is unlimited knowledge. Yajurveda mantra 40/8 says that God is everywhere, is Almighty, formless, devoid of nervous system, purest, away from sins and does not have to face any result of any karmas (deeds), knows every soul, knows what is in everyone’s mind, no body has made God, but God creates universe, has given the eternal knowledge of four Vedas and always gives the said knowledge at the beginning of every universe to know the science and deeds to all concern. Similarly four Vedas say about God that God is an omnipresent, omniscient, formless, beyond imagination and beyond calculation. Actually God has unlimited qualities. There is only one God who creates, nurses, destroys the universe and recreates. Atharvaved mantra 4/1/1 also says that God gives the knowledge of Vedas at the beginning of the earth to four Rishis of non-sexual creation. And thereafter only public listens Vedas through Rishis- Munis as yet and become learned. Rig-Veda gives knowledge of Almighty, Yajurved gives knowledge of karmas (deeds), Samved tells about worship-Yoga philosophy and Atharvaved about medicines and God. Actually all Vedas commonly says about God also, so this is about Vedas in short. But the knowledge of Vedas is endless.
It is a fundamental law that knowledge is always given by somebody. Otherwise knowledge can’t be gained at any cost. If a new born baby is nursed well in a dense jungle and is not educated then he will not be able to gain any knowledge even if he becomes young or old. So we have to think about the origin of the knowledge prevalent in the world today. In this connection the Vedas themselves say that God gives this knowledge to four Rishis. As said by Rishi Patanjali in Yog shastra sutra 1/26, God is the first Guru of the four Rishis. Yajurved mantra 31/7 also refers. This is all in short about Vedas.
The Vedas are not a book, rather it is a knowledge originated in the heart of Rishis. At the time of beginning of the earth those Rishis preached Vedas by mouth and all others remembered the same orally. At that time there was no pen, pencil, paper, etc. This process of studying Vedas orally remained till Mahabharata time. Muni Vyas too remembered Vedas traditionally by heart. Then Muni Vyas for the first time wrote the Vedas on Bhoj patra about 5300 years ago. In 16th century when printing press came into existence then the Vedas were printed. Still Vedas are not those which have been printed but those which are preached by mouth by an Acharya/yogi and the printed Vedas are called Sanhita.
Now if somebody worships a statue etc., then it is their own creation please but Vedas deny. According to Vedas the best worship of the God is Yajyen for which all Vedas are self-proof. Yajurveda mantra 31/16 says that the learned persons worship God by Yajyen.
So many people have asked me that most of the scholars/preachers of different religion state that their religion incorporates all matters of the world including science. What about Vedas? I wrote so many Ved Mantras describing science matters therein. For example, Yajurved Mantra 3/6 states
“Ayam Gauhu Swaha Pitram Puraha Prayan Mataram Prishnihi
This earth revolves around the Sun in the space and it also rotates on its own axis. Vedas are eternal like God because Vedas emanate from God. Now, according to Vedas, this present creation is about 1 Arab, 96 crores, 8 lakh 53,111 years old. So are the Vedas but as said in Rigveda Mantra 10/191/3 the present creation is same as was the previous one and this process of creation is eternal. So are the Vedas which emanate from eternal God. This all concludes that Vedas are the oldest in this creation also and no other book of science, maths or pertaining to spiritualism is written before Vedas.
Like the above example of rotation and revolution of earth, the significance of whole present science is mentioned in Vedas. We can see that whatever is happening in the universe, is all according to the Vedas. For example, occurance of six seasons, actions of Sun, moon, process of death, birth, worship, yoga philosophy, atomic energy, agriculture, animal husbandry, knowledge of politics, administration, architecture, solar energy, knowledge of home appliances like mixer, grinder, business rules, about men, women, children, marriage, Brahmacharya, education, clothes etc., etc., i.e., knowledge right from a straw to Brahma is all in Vedas. God is Almighty and has unlimited powers. So through His power He is able to originate the knowledge of Vedas in the heart of four Rishis without pencil, paper, help of mouth or any other worldly assistance.
We, i.e., the whole world depends on Almighty God but God is forever independent. That is why, He is God. We are the souls who reside in human bodies. We need assistance of senses, perceptions, mind and body to do deeds but not God.
Nowadays, so many saints are writing books. What is the background to write their books? Background is clear that they have first studied or listened the preach from their Gurus, keeping aside the matter of truth or falsehood. And after studying or listening the same, they became able to write the books. So this is also fundamental law, based on which, the ancient Rishis first listened Vedas and when they became learned then only they wrote the Vedic books like Valmiki Ramayana, six shastras, Mahabharat (Bhagwad Geeta), Upanishads, etc., etc. So, first the knowledge of Vedas is initiated in the universe and afterwards other books come into existence.
Somebody may say that human beings have knowledge by their nature to create anything like books etc., but we see that the newly born baby who is nursed in a jungle, in the absence of knowledge of a learned person, he becomes incapable to do anything. Thus, he can’t be M.A, M.Sc, doctor etc. So there are two types of the words and meanings. First, eternal which are from Almighty God and second, natural made by human beings. Eternal word meanings are always from Vedas i.e., from God. After listening/studying Vedas, human beings become learned and then too based on their own natural knowledge, they make their own words and meanings, literature etc. But it is very much clear that in the absence of knowledge of Vedas, no one can become learned. Nowadays, also people live in dense jungle and do not lead a civilized life because they are not learned as cited above. Vedas are not sects because they emanate direct from God and God is one for all human beings. God creates sun, moon, air, water, food etc., which are meant for the best use of all human beings for their long, happy life, so are the Vedas.
So all human beings must accept Vedas as an eternal knowledge from God, for the benefit of whole creation.
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 Yajurved 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 Rigved 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? Yajurved 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.
So, God Himself in Vedas prohibits Idol worship not I or anybody else.