Dialogues with Swami Dayananda Ji (Arsha Vidya Gurukulam)

Question : Swamiji, What is the role of idol worship in Self-realization?

Swamiji : What is an idol ? We say that the whole creation is Bhagavan, the Lord. Every form is Lord’s form: therefore in any one form I can invoke the Lord.

Traditionally, some forms have been handed over to us and the bhagavad-buddhi [seeing it as the Lord] is associated with those forms in our mind. Today, they spend a lot of money for creating such identity. 7 O’clock means a blade. Lux means a toilet soap. Who creates that buddhi ? The commercials in the media.

For generations the Lord is worshiped in certain forms and those forms have been handed over to you. The tradition did not begin just yesterday. It is coming down to us for generations- a great benefit! When i see Ganapathi, I recognize the form as the Lord, not as a strange creature with an odd head and a big belly – I recognize the form as the Lord and this is what we call ‘Tradition’. This is a treasure, we should understand. Just to create that buddhi for ‘Lux’ as a toilet soap you have to do so much publicity and keep doing it: otherwise people will forget and soap would mean to them Rexona or Hamam!

The idol worship is handed over to us generation after generation. Even atheists in this country have to first accept Ganesa as God and then negate that there is no God!

We have received this particular legacy in heritage and therefore the idol invokes in us the devotee and that is a great heritage.

Nobody worships the idol; everybody worships the Lord.

There are sculptors in Rajasthan. They make marble idols.

An idol of Lord Siva was supplied by a Rajasthani sculptor to a temple in Bombay. Certain parts of the idol, the eyelashes, the lips, the naga (snake) etc.. were color-painted by the sculptor. In course of some five or six years, that painting got erased. The manager of the temple wrote to the sculptor asking him to come to Bombay and repaint the idol.

Do you know what was the reply of the sculptor?

Who am I to paint the Lord? If you want a new idol, I will make one and send to you, but I won’t paint my Bhagavan.

Why ? Because the sculptor creates a statue, an idol and not the Lord. Do you know what he does at the installation of the idol ? He also attends the function. Until the installation ceremony, the idol is a stone only, it is not the Lord.

During installation, they do Prana-Pratistha, imparting life to the idol, by mantra, by samskara – like even a person by samskara is made a dvijya, twice-born; by the diksa of gayathri-mantra, you make him a different person.

Similarly here, even though it is a stone idol, it is given life by samskara and the last act of the sculptor is to open the eyes. He brings a fine chistle and a hammer with him and when the samskaras are done, he opens the eyes of the idol. Till then the eyes are covered. The sculptor removes bits of stone covering the eyes, and then he is the first person to fall at the feet of the idol which is no more an idol for him.

Till then it was only a stone but now it is the Lord and the Lord he worships.

You do not need even a stone for worship. Stone also for us is Lord, but we do not require even a stone; we require only haladi (turmeric) powder. We make a lump
out of haladi and then say.

Asmin bimbe mahaganapatim avahayami (I invoke the great Lord Ganapathi in this lump.)

All you have is water in a bucket and you say.

Gange ca yamune devi godavari sarasvati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru. ( O Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, may
you all be present in this (bucket of) water.)

In this manner, everyday people bath in the Ganga, Yamuna etc. – they need not go to the Ganga, Yamuna etc; local water is enough. All there is, is the attitude. It is everywhere and everyday it is the same.

What is there in the picture of your father ? It is just a black and white photograph, but you place a flower there. Why? As a mark of respect to the father and not to the piece of paper. And without such forms of expressions of respect, of friendship, of love, life will be nothing. So even the people who criticize idol-worship, do worship some books and places.

People worship the Lord, why do they worship the Lord — you ask me. Don’t ask me why do people worship idols.

You never worship the idol; you always worship the Lord.

Well, for self-realization, why do you worship the Lord ? To know that Lord is everywhere. Until you know that, you have to keep your ego under check. In fact the Lord is everything and so you ego is swallowed by Lord. But you think you are different from the Lord and so you place a flower at the feet of the Lord and your ego is kept under check.

Worship brings about antahkarana-suddhi, purity of the mind, which is needed to understand that Lord is everywhere.

“I am everything”, is self-realization. “Lord is everywhere” or “I am everything”, both are one and the same.

Self-realization is not elimination of thoughts. Self-realization is to know the fact that I am the Self which is everything or that the Lord is everything and that Lord I am. That is the knowledge for which I require a pure mind and for that I seek the Lord’s grace by worship which is an action, an act of devotion.

Harih Om Tat Sat