Idol Worship (Bimbaradhana)
Our ancestors thought that the uninitiated require some material form to concentrate the mind.This is to exclude all extraneus thoughts, by concentrating on a single object. The Deity could be an ordinary stone which is easily available in the forests.
Pratishta, by recitation of Manthras, by a number of people in unison, brings in some power into the stone. If done as per all rules and devotion, the Kundalini Shakthi of the Pujari gets deposited in the Deity. The ordinary Individual can feel the Chaitanya in the deity. Originally this Deity was named Siva, the central power of the Universe. Later people started carving stones to give shapes of human beings etc to appear as their Ishta Devatha (favouriteGod). Siva is known as Swayambhu, ie not created by anybody. Rama invoked Siva at Rameswaram and Krishna offered prayers to him at Gopeswar (Vrindavan).
A Bhaktha (devotee) approaching the deity, praying with concentration, eyes closed, gets energy from the deity. It is also said that this power helps the individual to awaken the energy in the head (Sahasraram), in turn bringing up the energy from the Mooladharam and awakening the Kundalini. This process gives devotees mental energy to manage their normal activities at least for a day.
A study done in an Asram in Kerala found that when a probe from an audio oscillator nears these points (chakras) the oscillator increases its frequency to a high pitch, showing that there is some meaning in identification of these seven points.
The Poojari, during the Prathishta in the temple has to repeat several times that the deity is only a symbol.. He recites “I see God in you” (Twayee sampoojya meesam)– and not “I do pooja as though you are god “ . He recites” just like a fan brings air, I am bringing God’s energy into you.”.
Some of the meanings of the recitals are as follows.
1. One cannot easily see God. God cannot be understood by ordinary mortals, even after long concentrated prayers. Hence you have to imagine a material form for God, for convenience, in the beginning of one’s pursuit.
2. If you want to imagine a God without form, first remove all forms and shapes from your mind. In the beginning, it is impossible to concentrate this way. One without years of training may even feel sleepy or dull.
3. Hence knowledgeable people advise that you have to imagine a material form of God. However, keep in mind that the form is not God, and that God has no shape.
The above recitals are the same, whatever be the shape of God. Hindus do not worship corpses or remnants of corpses. They concentrate on the supreme energy, the significance of which is not known to those who call Hindus pagans and idolators.
In this context, Mata Amruthanandamayi says, “The formless and omnipotent God can easily assume form for the sake of his devotees. An ordinary individual may not develop love as easily for the formless aspect of God, as he would, if worshipped with form. We should worship Him seeing all forms as different aspects of the same God… See God in everything and everyone. Whomsoever you see, remember god’s form. Then everything will rise up from within .When our mind becomes expansive, we can merge with the infinite” (Times dt Aug 18, 2000, article by Surekha Menon).
The above is only a part of the utility of the temple ie the worship of God. The other aspects of the temple have to do with social uplift, health, culture, environment, sports and games, and above all to protect vegetation and all God’s creations to keep the balanced and calm existence of the world.
There was a time in Kerala when all land belonged to god (Temples) by law and the Rajas only governed them as Trustees. All Janmams were Devaswam, even though later some Rajas started to give the land as Danam (gift) to Brahmins, perhaps thus corrupting a community, whose only aim was to teach all types of knowledge including use of arms, to the people and to advise the Raja how to govern. (They had collective power even to change the king through Janapadas). The temple was then the centre of all Government and social activities.
Idol Worship (Bimbaradhana)