Image Worship in the Vedas: Sringeri Acharya

ganesh kutty



Compiled  by London swaminathan

Date: 24 September 2015

Post No: 2185

Time uploaded in London :–  20-52

(Thanks  for the pictures) 

His Holiness Sachidananda Siva Abhinava Narasimha Bharati Svaminah of Sringeri Mutt (33rd Head of Sringeri Shankara Mutt) said in one of his lectures:

As long as God remains but a notional hypothesis, it is impossible for our gross to have any contact with Him, much more to surrender ourselves to Him He has to be conceived of as manifesting Himself through forms which are gross enough to be comprehended by us. That conception of Godhead is not a mere abstraction for, by reason of His omnipresence, there is really no form which is not permeated by Him. He can therefore be contacted through any form in the universe. Though this proposition is theoretically perfect and true, when our capacity for such contact is taken into account, it is only some form that help us to have such contact and what those forms are prescribed by the Sastras (scriptures). The grossest of such forms but a very necessary step towards establishing contact with subtler forms is the image of God. It is sheer ignorance to decry the value of image worship.

It is sometimes urged that, in the Samhita portion of the Vedas, there is no warrant for image worship. The several Gods like Agni, Indra and Varuna sre described there with hands and feet, as holding several weapons and as doing several exploits. How can this be possible if they have no forms?

Assuming that the Samhitas do not mention image worship is it not enough if the Brahmana portions mention it? If the Penal Code makes no mention of the law of succession, does the latter lose its validity? As the Vedas comprehend both the Samhitas and the Brahmanas, it is illogical to expect that every portion should mention all that the Vedas intend to say.

It is thought by some that in image worship God the omnipresent is sought to be confined within the dimensions of the image. On the other hand, it is quite illogical to say that the omnipresent God is not in the image. Nobody who engages himself in image worship ever commits the mistake of limiting God to that image. He knows clearly that the image is resorted to for the purpose of establishing contact with the intangible universal godhead who can manifest Himself in any form.

dubai muslim deeparadhana

Nobody who wants to write is immediately able to write small letters and in a neat hand. He has to begin the practice of writing big letters on sand or on rough sheets till he gets some proficiency. Similarly, the aspirant who wants to contemplate on god has to begin by concentrating his mind on a gross visible image of God.

It is meaningless to say that we are in anyway decrying God by worshipping Him in a limited concrete image are we decrying the ruler of the land if we show respect to a picture of his> the ruler will really be pleased to know that even his picture is worshipped. He does not commit the mistaking of thinking that the picture is being worshipped in preference to himself nor is the worshipper foolish enough to think that the picture as such is his ruler

garauda, alakar koil



Post No. 725 dated 28th November 2013

“As the tastes and inclinations of people are infinite in their variety, it cannot be said that a single uniform form of God will appeal to all as worthy object of worship. Our system therefore prescribes innumerable forms from which any aspirant may choose that which most appeals to him, as the result of his pre -natal leanings and training.

“This explains why saint Vyasa has written so many Puranas in each of which he has extolled a particular form and described it as the highest. Do we not see that a hospitable host who invites a large number of friends for dinner does not content himself with preparing a particular tasty dish to be relished by all of them but has several dishes prepared so that each guest may select what is most palatable to him and partake of it more than from other dishes? The host will really be inhospitable if he wants all his guests to take only the single dish which he chooses to prepare.  The guests who are not able to relish it will have to return disappointed and hungry. It is to avoid such a contingency that several forms are prescribed for God.

“As the satisfaction of the guests is the prime motive of the host in having a variety of dishes, the variety in the forms of God is intended only to help every aspirant  towards the feet of God.

“If we take children to a sweat meat shop and ask them to select what they want , a child may prefer to have a ring shaped sweat meat, another a rod like one , another in the form of a peacock, another in the form of a chair, and so on. We know all these are made up of sugar and it is not material to us what form each child chooses. We know also that, once the children put the sweat meats in to their mouths and begin to taste them, the particular forms will easily dissolve themselves leaving only the taste of sugar and that this taste will be common to all the children though the forms through which they obtain it are quite different from one another.

ganesh drawing

“Similarly our religion recognises that forms of God are necessary and that the forms lose their significance when the Godhead in them begins to be realised.

It is only by constant practice of worshipping the formful God that one attains competence to contemplate on God who transcends all forms”.

From the book ‘Golden Sayings’,1969 publication by Sri Jnanananda Grantha Prakasana Samiti, Thenkarai, Madurai District.