Idol worship helps the mind to ideal worship.An idol is a symbol for the human mind to adore and the intellect to idealise.
All major religions in the world have idols. Greeks,Romans and Hindus have gods and goddesses, Buddhists have Avalokiteswara, Sahastrabahu and Buddha.
The Sikhs have the holy Granth Sahab, the kabah in Islam, the Mahavir idols in Jainism and the Cross, Madonna and Christ in Christianity. At the root of every altar is the devotion and faith of the devotee.It is a tangible symbol of the otherwise intangible divinity. But one must not mistake the idol for the Real. It is mistaking the finite for the infinite, the container for the contained!
Similarly, the national flag is the sacred and revered symbol of my beloved motherland. That piece of coloured cloth represents an adored culture of my people. So, that is what I respect when I stand up and salute it. My father’s picture is just bromide paper, but I cannot bear to see that paper torn or stamped upon because that act tears at my emotions and stamps on my adoration.
All faiths agree that God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He is a timeless reality, a super power,the projections of which you see in the multiplicity around you. Called by various human given names,surrounded by prescribed rituals, in multiple human given shapes,that one reality is one alone! All symbols therefore, merely help the mind of the seeker to tangibly hold on to an imperceptible and highly subtle reality.
Concentrating on an idol is a technique to calm the human mind and gather it’s thoughts from their restless wanderings, agitations and mad dances to focus on a holy presence that could flood tranquility and peace in the soul.
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission New Delhi.