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What is the importance of idol worship?

Why should we worship the idol of God?

Idol worship is a very big support in life! There are numerous reasons and tremendous benefits behind idol worship. Here are just a few of them:

  1. The whole day, one is busy thinking about making more money, buying more jewelry, buying a bigger house, a nicer car, etc. However, when he sees an idol of God, he gets something superior to think about. His mind stops thinking about his own life and material goods. It becomes still on God, and therefore he experiences peace and happiness. His meditation reverts towards religion and this invokes in him the energy to progress spiritually.
  2. When one faces challenges in life, his strong and unshakable faith in God will give them the strength to deal with the situation at hand. He will sail through and surpass any type of crisis that comes his way, without causing any harm to himself or others.
  3. When one worships God with genuine love and devotion in his heart, the seeds of merit karma are sown. These seeds, result in worldly happiness in the next life in the form of a good wife, a good life, good parents, good children, good money, good luck, a good house, a good religion and a good environment too. They are all attained easily and effortlessly.
  4. When one is surrounded by such a good environment, his thoughts mature, he rises higher in his spiritual development and he binds more merit karmas that yield even better results. When extraordinary merit karmas get credited in his karmic account, he is able to meet a Gnani (the enlightened One) in person. This opens the path of ultimate liberation for him.
  5. Until one recognizes the formless God, idol worship is a big and necessary support in life. With the help of the idol, one remembers the qualities and the Real form of God. And when he reaches the stage where he experiences the formless God, then this support will automatically leave.

Why do we decorate the idols of God and make them attractive?

The human mind is such that it likes looking at attractive things and it becomes still there. So when one sees the idol of God decorated with nice clothes, ornaments and garlands, then his mind becomes still and he thinks, ‘Wow, the Lord looks beautiful’ and thus he develops devotion for God. The result of this devotion is that the seeds of merit karma are sown.

It is because of this that the idols of God are beautifully carved. They are wonderfully dressed and decorated everyday, in order to draw people’s attention towards them and invoke their faith in God. This is very helpful in the initial stages of worship. Later, as worship matures, faith always remains irrespective of the outer circumstances.

‘An idol is a piece of stone, what can one benefit by worshipping a stone?’

We do not know what God looked like when He was living. The idol of God has been made from the imagination of the carver, so if we worship this idol, does it benefit us?

Even stone gives one the fruit of his faith and devotion. It is the faith within us that gives the results. Our faith should be such that we are praying to the real God, wherever He may be, through the idol. We do not have direct access to God, so we are connecting with Him through the medium of the idol. When we find God, then we no longer need the medium.

There is an interesting story of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas from Mahabharat, who believed in the Tirthankar Lord Neminath. His circumstances were such that he could not worship the Lord nor did he have an idol of the Lord, which he could use to worship. So he took a pot, wrote ‘Neminathay Namah’ (I bow to Lord Neminath) on it, and believing the pot to be God, started worshipping it every day with great devotion. He was able to yield the fruits of worshipping Lord Neminath in person!

So, ultimately it is our faith that counts; and that is what gives results!

If God is formless, then why do we need an idol?

Idol worship is one of the biggest sciences of India.

Whose idol is being worshipped? The idol of the One within whom, God has manifested, the One who has realized His true Self, the fully enlightened One. So if you bow down to the idol, then it reaches the Real God within. By worshiping these idols, the seeds of vitaraagata (State of absolute detachment) are sown.

The goal of the human life is to attain liberation, where one stays in the Knower-Seer state, the non-doer state. In order to reach this state we have to worship the idol of God.

Whose idol should we worship?

There are idols of various kinds of Gods and Goddesses in this world. Every idol’s worship is correct in its place. Depending on one’s individual development, each person chooses to worship a particular deity be it a Goddess or Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Lord Mahavir, Lord Shiva, Jesus or Allah, etc., accordingly he keeps rising higher in the stages of spiritual development. In the final stage of development, he worships the fully enlightened God (the Vitraag Lord) the result of which is ultimate liberation.

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