Sunday December 17, 2017
Home India The practice ...

The practice of Idol Worship in Hinduism

2
2616
www.vedicambassador.wordpress.com

By Nithin Sridhar

An Analysis of Hindu Symbols and Practices: Part 1

“In Indian society, idol worship is one of the major superstitions that preclude the development of a scientific bent of mind….. Almost all societies of the world practiced them in one form or another during certain period. But, considering its evil effect, many societies began to shed ‘Idol worship’. Jewish society dropped it during 600 BC. European societies gave-up idol worship from the third century onwards synchronizing with the spread of Christianity. Arabian societies dispensed with idolatry from the seventh century onwards coinciding with the spread of Islam…..

“In India, idolatry remains as an integral part of Hindu religion. It is being given much importance by the priestly class to further their interests. Many fictitious stories about the effectiveness of the worship of the idols of Gods and Goddesses are being spread by the priestly class. Believing those fictitious stories, Hindus throng the temples in large numbers to worship the different idols…..

“The masses assume that by worshipping idols, their sins will be forgiven and they will be rewarded in this life as well as after life. Only under that notion, they perform costly pilgrimages to the so called holy places and fill the temple coffers with money and valuables. This illusion prevents people from acquiring worldly wisdom. It also averts people from realizing the value of thought and work. As a result, people live in vain hope. They expect wonders to happen in their lives. Under this false hope, they don’t involve themselves in any productive and creative activities sincerely. This wrong mental attitude towards life and work acts as a major hurdle to our progress.”

Idol-worship has been the favorite weapon Hinduphobic people who have used it to criticize Hinduism for the last many centuries. It is considered as the foremost evidence that establishes Hinduism as being nothing more than a set of superstitions.

The passages about ‘idol-worship’ that have been quoted at the beginning are from an article titled ‘Superstition and Indians’ by N. Anandan, published in the July 2011 issue of ‘The Modern Rationalist.’ Though the article is a few years old, the views expressed in the article clearly sums up the view of many self-claimed liberals, rationalists, and secularists of present society about the issue of idol worship in Hinduism.

Now let us see what idol worship really is and how valid are these assessments and criticisms.

Idol Worship and Moksha

Photo: The Hindu
Photo: The Hindu

‘Idol Worship’ or ‘Image worship’ is one of the central aspects of Hindu practice. Sanatana Dharma has created a wide framework of spiritual practices and lifestyle choices to suit people of different temperaments and competencies. Hence, it has an equal place for those who worship nature as well as those who contemplate on their innermost self. Further, these diverse practices are not segregated belief systems distinct from one another as many scholars have concluded over last few centuries. Instead, these diversities are expressions of one united wholeness. There is a unity in the goal that various spiritual paths lead to as well as in the framework that upholds these diverse paths.

The ultimate goal of Hinduism is Moksha or Liberation and every aspect of life, both secular and spiritual have been propounded to assist a person to eventually attain this goal. Hence, there is clearly a unity in the ultimate goal. Further, there is another unity that interconnects all the various paths and stays beneath them, and acts as the very foundation of them. It is the unity provided by Dharma which upholds life and which is the framework that has made it possible for such diverse paths to express itself without losing the eye on the goal.

Hence, Idol worship is one of the prominent valid means that a person can adopt to travel the path that leads to Moksha. The validity of the worship of idols is its efficacy in helping a devotee to connect with his object of devotion i.e. Brahman.  In fact, the worship of the idol is not about worshiping stone or wood. Instead, it is about worshiping Brahman/God who has manifested in the form of a Devata (deity) in that idol. Before proceeding further, let us briefly understand how Brahman is understood in Hinduism.

Concept of God in Hinduism

God or Supreme reality is referred by the term ‘Brahman’ in Hinduism. Unlike some religions that conceive God as a creator who is different from his creations, Hinduism recognizes that Brahman is both transcendent reality as well as immanent reality. Hindu scriptures speak about Brahman as being present in all objects as their very innermost Self-Atman. The term Brahman therefore refers to the transcendent aspect and the term Atman to the immanent aspect. Hence, the often quoted Vedanta definition of Moksha as the realization of ‘Brahma-Atma-Aikyam-Union of Brahman and Atman’.

The scriptures further speak about Brahman in its transcendent absolute state as being nameless, formless, attribute-less, and birth-less infinite whole. At the same time, the scriptures also recognize that this Brahman can take an infinite number of forms and names as well. He is formless, yet a repository of all forms. Hence, the famous Veda statement “One truth is called by various names” (Rig Veda 1.164.46). Yaska in his Nirukta says that there is only one God, and that God appears as Agni on the physical universe, as Indra in the middle realms, and as Savitr in the celestial realms. Further, various other deities in these three realms are various aspects of these three manifestations of God.(1)

Therefore, though Brahman is one infinite whole without any forms, he himself assumes various forms of Devatas/deities to uphold the Universe. Hence, various Devatas are in essence non-different from Brahman, but in their limited aspect (of name and form), they represent particular aspect/attribute of Brahman. Therefore, Devatas serve as a bridge between devotees (who cannot comprehend Brahman because He is beyond perception) and Brahman (who is the end goal of spiritual path).

Worship or Upasana in Hinduism

As mentioned about, Moksha is possible only by the realization of Brahman as being non-different from the innermost Self (Atman). In other-words, Moksha is possible through Self-Realization or Atma Jnana. But, people in general are completely attached to the material objects. A person identifies himself with his name, body, and his possessions.

Therefore, in order to truly realize the innermost Self, a person must remove the false identifications with his possessions, with the body and the mind. But, this is not easy. The mind is full of thought patterns called Vrittis. The mind is further afflicted by impurities like lust, anger, delusion, pride, etc. that increase the attachment to the body and material objects. Hence, the false identifications can be removed only by purifying the mind by removing the impurities and further calming the mind by bringing thought Vrittis to rest. Yoga Sutra calls this as “Chitta-Vritti Nirodha”.

This purification and the stilling of mind in turn is brought about by the practice of duties (Dharma Anushtana) and devotion (Bhakti/Upasana). It is for this reason, the Vedas are divided into Karma Khanda (duty/actions portion), Upasana Khanda (Meditation/devotion portion) and Jnana Khanda (Knowledge portion). The purpose of Upasana is to attain one-pointed concentration, so that the mind can be stilled.

Upasana literally means ‘to sit near or become close to.’ Hence, the act of worship is nothing but bringing a devotee close to his devata/deity. In fact, Mahanirvana Tantra (14.123) defines worship as the union of the Jiva (individual) with Atman (God). How is this closeness achieved? By the practice of various external and internal spiritual practices.

In fact, every external practice has been designed such that it induces certain internal transformations. The external practices may be in the form of Yajna (fire ritual), Tarpana (using water), or Murti puja (representing earth element) wherein the Devata is invoked in the fire, water, or the idol respectively. These external practices are accompanied by internal meditations on the Devatas.

These internal meditations itself are referred as Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) in Patanjali Yoga. These meditations are referred as Vidyas (Knowledge of the deities) in the Upanishads. It is by concentrating on the Nama (name), Mantra, or the Rupa (form) of the Devata, a person purifies the mind and removes all thought Vrittis of it.

Therefore, Upasana is inevitable for spiritual progress. But, this Upasana is not a one size fits all kind of practice. Instead, there are hundreds of methods of Upasanas that have been explained in various scriptures to help people of various temperaments. Idol-Worship is one such important and very effective mode of worship.

Philosophy behind the practice of Idol Worship

Photo: www.newindianexpress.com
Photo: www.newindianexpress.com

The most important element of Idol worship is Idol itself. Idol called as ‘Murti’ is both a symbol for God as well as His abode. An Idol is basically a form, an image that represents a particular Devata. Hence, the primary function of an Idol is that of ‘Pratima’. It acts as a symbol that helps a devotee to have a connection, to have some perception of the essence of Devata, who otherwise is beyond sensory perception. Thus, Idol can be understood as a reflection, an image that gives a glimpse of the Devata, just as a photograph of a person helps one to remember him.

This function of the Idol or Murti as a Pratima is very crucial in the practice of one pointed concentration and meditation. A meditator who thus meditates realizes that the Idol itself is neither Brahman nor Devata, but it is a reflection, an image of the Devata that aids concentration. This concentration will further lead to deep meditation on that form, which will slowly result in the manifestation of the real Devata within the mind.

This fact is further brought out in the iconography details that is associated with each deity. Devatas have many common features, yet each one of them have some unique features as well. These are not accidental or the products of imagination of some artists of the old. Instead, each element of the iconography represents a particular element about that Devata. For example, the moon on Shiva’s head represents Shiva as being endowed with pure Knowledge. Similarly, the ten hands depicted in some deities represent the 10 directions that include the top and bottom. The idols are made only according to the iconographic descriptions given in various scriptures and not otherwise. These show that, idols act as symbols for decoding the essence of various deities and when concentrated upon the idols, thought Vrittis corresponding to those aspects of Devatas are formed in the mind.

This kind of meditation where external or internal aids are used as props to attain one-pointed concentration is well established in the Upanishads, Puranas, as well as Tantrika literatures. But, this is only one way of worshiping Devatas using Idols.

The other way is self-evident in the very name with which the idols are referred- ‘Murti’. Murti literally means form, manifestation, embodiment, or simply an abode. Hence, idol is not simply a symbol, but it is a place that can hold the energy and the essence of the particular manifestation of Brahman. That is, the idol is nothing but a body of the Devata. It is for this reason, the worship of the Devata begins with Prana Pratishtapana where in the life-force, the essence, as well as the form of the deity is infused into the stone or wooden idol. This is done through procedures like Kumbabhishekam etc. in the temples. In fact, without consecration, the stone idol remains simply a stone and does not become a Pratima (image) of God.

Regarding this, S.K. Ramachandra Rao, a renowned author and Sanskrit scholar says: “The devotee knows that the image of a god is a mere artefact and toy unless it is properly consecrated. And consecration involves the investment of the devotee’s devotion and passion, and getting the devotee effectively related to the particular god invoked in the image. Rituals are naturally important for transforming an artefact into an icon. The icon is meant to accommodate the rituals, so that human devotion can flower out in the light of God that is reflected through the icon.(2)

Therefore, the idols are not just the symbol or a reflection of the Devata, but it is the very abode of the Devata. A common criticism of Idol worship is that Hindus worship the stone and other such insentient objects. But, as seen above it is not the stone that is worshiped, but the Devata who has occupied the stone idol for a duration of time, who is worshiped.

Jagadguru Sri Abhivnava Vidyatheertha MahaSwamiji, the late Shankaracharya of ‘Sringeri Peetham’ says: “We do not worship mere stones. If we did, then, on seeing a stone idol, we would have addressed it as, ‘O Stone’ and not as ‘O Lord.’ We use idols as aids to worship, realizing that it is He who resides in them. In the temple deities, the divine presence is installed through the Kumbhabhishekam performed to consecrate the idols. This is strengthened by the sincerity and tapas (austerity) of the priests performing the worship, and by the special characteristics of certain idols. Though without form Ishwara (God) is capable of giving Darshana (appearing in front of) to His devotees. He indeed does so.”(3)

Photo: http://belurmath.org/
Photo: http://belurmath.org/

The fact that idols act as an abode, or a body of the deity can also be ascertained by the manner in which they are made and the philosophy that guides the idol making. The work of art is no different from that of Yoga. In the Hindu scheme of life, all actions are indeed a Yoga, or a Yajna when they are done with one pointed concentration and without the hankering of the results. Hence, for a sculptor, his making of idols for worship itself is a Yoga.

When a sculptor is commissioned to make an idol, he is supposed to prepare himself thoroughly through purification rituals, withdrawal from mundane routine, and meditate. The sculptor then contemplates on the Dyana mantra (meditation mantras giving iconographic descriptions of the deities) for an extensive period till the image of the deity becomes stable and clear in his mind. It is for this reason the Shilpa-Shastra(4) (treatise on sculpting) says that a sculptor must be well versed with Atharvaveda, treatises of sculpture, and the Vedic mantras by which the deities are invoked.

Shukracharya says: “Let the imager establish images in temples by meditation on the deities who are the objects of his devotion. For the successful achievement of this Yoga, the lineaments of the image are described in books to be dwelt upon in detail. In no other way, not even by direct and immediate vision of the actual object, is it possible to be so absorbed in contemplation, as thus in the making of images.(5)

Therefore, a sculptor should not make any idols by looking at other idols. For then, there will not be any spiritual element in the idol thus made. Instead, the sculptor must become so completely absorbed in the deity such that he must be pre-occupied with this even during mundane activities like eating food, going to sleep, etc. By such a practice, a sculptor is not only able to perceive clearly the image of the Devata in his mind, but he will also perceive the very presence of Devata all around him. Only an image carved out after such contemplation of God, can truly become worthy of worship. (6)

Thus, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy concludes: the imager is required, after emptying his heart of all extraneous interests, to visualize within himself an intelligible image, to identify himself with therewith, and holding this image as long as is necessary, then only to proceed to the work of embodiment in stone, metal, or pigment.”(7)

These clearly establish few points:

  1. An idol is first and foremost a symbol, a reflection of God who is formless.
  2. An idol is the body or an abode that a particular form of God occupies.
  3. An idol itself is prepared and concentrated, such that it becomes a proper body that can be occupied by the deity.

Therefore, instead of assuming Idol worship as stone worship, a correct understanding is that it is the worship of a Deity who has temporarily taken the idol as an abode or body. Now, just as human souls re-incarnate by changing bodies, similarly, the deities can be invoked in a new idol, once the old ones are degenerated, or broken, or are simply become unfit for worship.

This is clearly witnessed in the Puri festival of Nabakalebara, in which Lord Jagannatha is given a new body by installing new idols once every 19 years. Hence, no questions of Hindu Gods being harmed when an idol is broken, or Gods being insulted when some rationalist urinates on the idols arises. Such statements and actions only goes to depict not only the crass ignorance of such people, but also their perverted thinking.

Much of the misconception and criticism of Idol worship has been because of the perception of Idol worship in isolation and the subsequent branding of them as superstition. But, when idol worship is perceived from the standpoint of the framework of spirituality and worship, idol worship is just one among the various practices that can help a person to travel the path towards Moksha.

An analysis of certain criticisms that have been made against Idol worship will be taken up in the next part.

Footnotes:

  1. The Cultural Heritage of India, Volume 1, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
  2. K. Ramachandra Rao, Devata Rupa Mala, Part 1, Kalpatharu Research Academy
  3. Exalting Elucidations of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamigal, Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation
  4. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Shiva
  5. Shukranitisara 4.4.70-71. Quoted by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Shiva
  6. K. Ramachandra Rao, Devata Rupa Mala, Part 1, Kalpatharu Research Academy
  7. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Art in Indian Life, The Cultural Heritage of India, Volume 7, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture

More in the Series:

Part 2- Fallacies in Criticism of Idol Worship

Part 3: Hinduism and Cow

Part 4: Yajna, Madhuparka, and the use of beef

Part 5: Origins of beef consumption in India

Part 6: Beef Controversy: Beef parties and the celebration of violence

  • Rathish

    One thing that the author didn’t mention when referring to the reference passages from N Anandan’s work was, the word play used by him in stating that European and Arab societies ‘gave-up / dispensed’ idol worship. It is a well-known fact that the advent and spread of Christianity and Islam was very violent and people were forced to convert or were perished. And just because those religions do not believe in Idol-worship doesn’t mean idol-worship is incorrect. The author has very rightly put it that it should not be seen as simply a stone worship and the inner meaning needs to be brought out.

  • Krishna Kumar

    Nitin, I think you have used several wrong words to describe what in essence is a good argument. You should use Murti instead of the word Idol, ‘Devata’ instead of God. Also, Atman is not God. In fact, the word God as described in Bible is completely negated by the aspects of Atma that you yourself describe. Using wrong words to describe a concept defeats the very concept. It is high time we decolonized ourselves completely. Otherwise a good article.

  • Rathish

    One thing that the author didn’t mention when referring to the reference passages from N Anandan’s work was, the word play used by him in stating that European and Arab societies ‘gave-up / dispensed’ idol worship. It is a well-known fact that the advent and spread of Christianity and Islam was very violent and people were forced to convert or were perished. And just because those religions do not believe in Idol-worship doesn’t mean idol-worship is incorrect. The author has very rightly put it that it should not be seen as simply a stone worship and the inner meaning needs to be brought out.

  • Krishna Kumar

    Nitin, I think you have used several wrong words to describe what in essence is a good argument. You should use Murti instead of the word Idol, ‘Devata’ instead of God. Also, Atman is not God. In fact, the word God as described in Bible is completely negated by the aspects of Atma that you yourself describe. Using wrong words to describe a concept defeats the very concept. It is high time we decolonized ourselves completely. Otherwise a good article.

Next Story

Respected Holy Father: You need to walk the talk and stop Conversion, says Maria Wirth

Holy Father, if you are serious about respecting other religions, the claim of exclusiveness must be scrapped and Hindus who have given to the world a deep philosophy and a great culture, must be respected

0
0
Pope and Conversions of Hindus
Pope visits to Asia are often seen with suspicion of boosting religious conversions. Pope Francis greets believers as he arrives for a mass in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 1, 2017.

This was in December of 2013. Prominent spiritual activist Maria Wirth- who has made India her home- wrote this open letter to Pope. Maria says that on her recent visit to South India, she came across an increasing number of Churches and decided to bring this to the attention of Pope and appeal to him to stop conversion as Hindus do not need it.

Here is the letter. 

Respected Holy Father,

Great hope for a positive change in the Catholic Church is pinned on your Pontificate and recent statements indicate that this hope may not be misplaced. The future, your Holiness said in November 2013, is in the “respectful coexistence of diversity and in the fundamental right to religious freedom in all its dimensions, and not in muting the different voices of religion”.

This statement makes eminent sense and would need to be implemented by all who presently do not subscribe to a respectful coexistence of diversity in regard to religions. However, I sense (wrongly maybe) that it is a plea for other religions to respect Christianity, rather than a commitment by the Church to respect other religions. To be precise, since Christians are occasionally persecuted in Islamic countries, it seems to be an appeal to ‘live and let live’ between the two biggest religions on earth.

Your Holiness is aware that both, Christianity and Islam, claim to be the only true religion and their God, respectively Allah alone is true. Both religions further hold that all people on earth have to accept this claim and join their particular religion to be saved and reach heaven or paradise. Both give a serious warning to those who don’t join: they will land up eternally in hell. These claims of exclusiveness are made without any evidence whatsoever, apart from the fact that the claims contradict each other, as both cannot be true. They require blind belief, and as blind, unreasonable belief is not natural for human beings, for many centuries it was enforced with state power and indoctrinated right from childhood with the fear of hell as the boogeyman.

May I ask Your Holiness to ponder how the respectful coexistence of diversity and the fundamental right to religious freedom is possible as long as these claims of exclusiveness are in place? Were these claims originally made to gain political power or were they made in the interest of the spiritual welfare of humanity? And may I also ask whether Your Holiness personally believes in these claims?

I trust that privately, Your Holiness does not believe in them, as media reported your statement that good atheists also will be redeemed. In other words, they won’t go automatically to hell. However, the Vatican took pains to clarify that Your Holiness did not mean it. Even my mother, 95 and a staunch Catholic all her life, expressed dismay that a perfectly sensible statement by the Pope was watered down.

Your Holiness may feel compelled for worldly reasons to stick to the claim of exclusiveness as dropping it would entail wrapping up all conversion attempts and in the process lose power, wealth and influence. Further there may be fear that other Christian denominations will not go along and will gain an advantage over the Catholic Church. Still another worry may be that Islam will not drop the claim of exclusiveness and will push aggressively for conversion.

However, the Catholic Church was the first institution to put up this baseless claim, which has brought unspeakable disaster upon humankind. From this claim the Church derived not only the ‘right’, but the ‘duty’ to storm across the globe and impose forcefully her ‘belief system’ – in Europe, in the Americas and in Africa and now in Asia. It was no doubt an ingenious ploy to claim that God wants everyone to become Christian. . Mark Twain famously said, “Religion was born when the first con-man met the first fool”. I would change it, “Dogmatic religion was born when ….”.

Some centuries later, Islam followed suit, claiming that Allah wants everyone to accept Islam, and we all know the violent conflicts resulting from those unsubstantiated claims. Since the Catholic Church started this disastrous trend, she needs to reverse it. The welfare of humanity as a whole has to be the concern and not the welfare of a religious institution. Hopefully Your Holiness has the courage to make a real, clear change for the better and will not fall for hairsplitting theological arguments, like ‘redemption is possible but not salvation’, etc.

Most Christians especially in Europe don’t believe anymore in unreasonable claims. The sad thing is that together with the dogmas, many reject belief in God altogether. They have not learnt to listen to their conscience and to enquire into truth, as the Church has played the role of the conscience- and truth-keeper for too long. The consequences for our societies are there for everyone to see.

However, many Christians do start pondering and believe in a ‘great power’, but not in the Christian God. For example, when I asked some fifty Christians in Germany whether they believe that Hindus who heard about Jesus Christ, but do not convert, will go to hell, nobody said yes. Even a priest said no. And not a single German I met was in favour of missionary activity in India. Yet Pope John Paul II declared in India the intention of the Church to plant the cross in Asia in the new millennium and considered India as a field for a rich harvest, which goes completely against ‘respectful coexistence’.

I live in India since 33 years and can assert with full confidence that India has no need of Christian missionaries, and yet huge sums of money are being pumped in to lure converts with material benefits and to build churches. I am aware that Your Holiness is responsible only for Catholics and not for the myriad of other Christian denominations that prey on poor Hindus, but if the Catholic Church made a start of truly respecting Hindus, it would have a big impact.

Maybe Your Holiness is under the impression that Hinduism is a depraved religion and Hindus would do well to accept the Christian God instead of their multiple gods. Such an impression would be completely wrong. There is no other religion that is –unjustly – denigrated as badly as Hinduism. Sorry to say that Christian (including Catholic) missionaries are in the forefront of this vilification campaign. Few people in the west know how profound India’s ancient tradition is. A solid philosophical basis for our existence and helpful tenets for a fulfilling, meaningful life had been known in India long before ‘religions’, as we know them today, came into being. The only addition Christianity brought in anew, are unverifiable dogmas that cannot possibly have a bearing on the absolute Truth. Can an event in history impact the absolute Truth? Will Truth make a distinction between people who are baptized and those who are not? “There is no salvation outside the Church” is, and I may be excused for using strong language, ridiculous.

The Indian rishis had discovered ages ago that an all-pervading Presence is at the core of this universe, indescribable, but best described as absolute consciousness. Further, the Hindu law of karma preceded the Christian dictum “as you sow so you reap’. A Council stopped Christians from believing in rebirth which would explain many riddles that trouble them, for example why there is great injustice already at birth? The advantage of having a perfect person as a friend and guide on the spiritual path was known in India, but till some 2000 years ago nobody claimed that ‘only’ Krishna or ‘only’ Ram or ‘only’ Buddha can lead to salvation and that whoever does not believe it, goes to hell. “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names”, the Indian rishis declared and listed different names of gods. That was at a time, when Christianity was nowhere in sight. Surely they would have included ‘God’ as another name and Jesus as an avatar, not expecting to be backstabbed by followers of “God” declaring: “Truth is one and must be called only by one name and is fully revealed only in one book.”

Hinduism incorporates oneness with the divine, says Maria Wirth
Maria Wirth. Twitter

The multiple gods in Hinduism are personified powers that help to access the formless, nameless Presence that is in all of us. Christians in India are told that Hindu gods are devils. At the same time, Christianity tries to revive (possibly inspired by Hinduism) belief in angels, as devotion for the Invisible is easier by focusing on images.

Hinduism is not a belief system. It is a knowledge system. It is a genuine enquiry into what is true about us and the world. Hindus are not required to believe anything that does not make sense and can never be verified. There is complete freedom. Yes, most believe in rebirth, which makes sense. Most believe in an all pervading Brahman (many other names are in use) that is also in humans. Most believe that this divine essence can be experienced in oneself, if the person purifies herself by certain disciplines coupled with devotion. This belief is verifiable. It is not blind. There were many Rishis who realized their oneness with Brahman. In Christianity, too, there were mystics who experienced oneness with the Divine like Meister Eckhart did. Sadly, he was excommunicated by the Church. Why is the Church resisting scientific insight that there is some mystery essence in everything? And why is it difficult to accept that in the long, long history of humanity, there were several, not only one, outstanding personalities who showed the way to the truth?

Holy Father, I request you in all sincerity to be such an outstanding personality who guides his followers on a path of expansion, and does not straight-jacket them into an unbelievable belief system, which among others demands converting Hindus to Christianity. Your Holiness is venerated as the representative of the Highest Power in this universe by over a billion of Catholics. Many of your predecessors were not worthy of this veneration. Utmost truthfulness and integrity are required. Calculations about worldly power must not come in the way. The Catholic Church surely would benefit, not lose out, if it honors Truth and gives up its claim that there is no salvation outside the Church. Truth cannot be cheated; neither can it be contained in a book. Truth is what we basically are. Hindus, whose religion is universal and all-encompassing, respect diverse traditions. They are one of the most cultured, gentle and peace-loving people on earth who live and let live, unless greatly provoked.

Holy Father, if you are serious about respecting other religions, the claim of exclusiveness must be scrapped and Hindus who have given to the world a deep philosophy and a great culture, must be respected. Many of us look forward to hearing truly good news from the Catholic Church under your stewardship. The main issue that plagues the Church is not whether women should be priests or whether divorcees can take Holy Communion .The main issue is the unfounded claim of exclusiveness regarding ‘salvation’. It divides humanity into us who are right and saved, versus them who are wrong and damned. Kindly drop this harmful claim and make your Pontificate truly memorable and beneficial for all humanity.

Yours Sincerely

Maria Wirth

Posted as registered letter to Pope Francis on 10th  December 2013 from Puducherry, India.

The open letter was posted at Maria Wirth’s blog.

Next Story

Ram Setu : Where Science meets Hindu religion, Science affirms but Congress Party denies

Science Channel affirms that Ram Setu was man made not natural, NASA released images

0
0
Ram Setu
Ram Setu between India and Sri Lanka (Pic by NASA)
  • Science channel affirms that Ram Setu was man- made not natural
  • In 2007 Congress Party submitted an affidavit in court saying Ram Setu is a myth

An American science channel on Tuesday affirmed on the existence of Ram Setu, saying that there exist evidence suggesting that the bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka was man-made not natural.

The Discovery Communications-produced show, “Ancient Land Bridge”, quotes American archaeologists to affirm that 30-mile line between India and Sri Lanka is made up of rocks that are 7,000 years old, older than the sandbar supporting them, which is approx 4,000 years old. The video claims that the structure is man made, not natural, citing images from a NASA satellite. Interestingly, the carbon dating of beaches near Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island sync with the date of Ramayana.

Ram Setu in Ramayana
Ram Setu (Satellite image by NASA)

The description of Ram Setu in Ramayana

In ‘Yuddha Kanda’ of the Ramayana, building of Ram Setu has been described. Rama Setu took 5 days to build by under the supervision of architects Neel and Nala. It is believed that Ram Setu is made of a chain of limestone shoals. It is 30 Km Long and 3 Km Wide. It Starts from Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. Sea in these areas is very shallow. In Ramayana it is mentioned that the bridge was built by stones and these stone which floated on water by touch of Nala & Neel.

Ram Setu
Pic credit : Promo released by the US-based Science Channel

Politics on Ram Setu

Ram Setu is the historical and archeological evidence of Ramayana. The new findings by NASA have already sparked a political debate in the country with BJP leaders questioning the Congress’ previous stand where the party had told the Supreme Court that there was no historical proof that Lord Rama had ever existed. Congress party made u-turn and claimed they never questioned existence of Lora Ram. But In 2005, the UPA-1 government had proposed a shipping canal project that would have dredged the area and damaged the formation on sea, referred to as the Ram Setu by Hindus. The project was thus challenged by the BJP in the apex court.

Responding on the new affirmations, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “This is what the BJP has been saying all along.” Firebrand BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “the US scientists said what was already know”. On Tuesday, Smriti Irani posted the trailer of the show on her Twitter account, saying, “Jai Shri Ram.”

Ram Setu is the national heritage of India and it must be preserved.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

Next Story

Exclusive Interview of Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley in an interview with NewsGram talked about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus and a lot more

0
27
  • “Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections operating worldwide, with international funding. India is their prime target. Hindus should not be this naive, they must assert their rights and identity” – Dr. David Frawley

New Delhi – In an exclusive interview with NewsGram’s Sub-Editor Shaurya Ritwik, Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley talked about necessity of Yoga and Ayurveda for a healthy lifestyle, science of self realisation, essence of Hindu Dharma, Ram Mandir Ayodhya, marxist-missionary-jehadi nexus of breaking India forces and a lot more.

Dr. David Frawley, First of all I would like to thank you for all the literary contributions you made for Hinduism, for being so vocal about human rights of Hindus and for inspiring us in many ways.

Thank You very much, Shaurya.

Dr. Frawley, you have written many books on Ayurveda and Yoga. We are witnessing a growing inclination towards Yoga everywhere in world but somehow Ayurveda is still not widely accepted in medical use as compared to pharmaceutical medicines. How can Ayurveda be utilised in mainstream medical treatment and how much effective is it?

Well actually, I have seen the Ayurvedic situation improve over the last 34 years that I have known about it. As you know, the British closed the Ayurvedic schools in India, so it only became a private study. Then after independence the Ayurveda underwent modernisation and development in independent India, and that include developing basically BAMS Ayurveda which include a lot of modern medicine, which is helpful in some ways but also have eliminated traditional Ayurveda. It changed Ayurveda quite a bit, removing things like Yoga, spirituality from it, largely for social and political purposes. But in past few years Ayurveda in India is again bringing in more traditional elements, more pulse diagnosis, more connection with Yoga, that is happening slowly, but it still has a long way to go as BAMS syllabus is very restricted. At the same time we have seen the improvement in selling of Ayurvedic products, for example Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, Dabur, Himalayan etc. These Indian companies are producing better quality of products and broader range of Ayurvedic medicines. But the education system tends to looks down on Ayurveda, and the people who study modern medicine often give negative view of Ayurveda. And then people today often want quick pills to solve their problems whereas Ayurveda emphasises natural healing which requires us to change our behaviour, which means we have to change our diet, our patterns of sleeping, improve our exercise. Our state of well being is the product of our behaviour. Ayurveda is gaining respect in other parts of world. In the west people are more concerned with rejuvenation, improving their health and the positive way of promoting longevity. In terms of treating chronic elements and improving lifestyle Ayurveda has a lot to offer. You must understand that your health is the product of how you live, you can take a pill once in a while but in a long term you should have a healthy lifestyle and Ayurveda teaches that.

Dr. Frawley, in today’s corporate setting life is very fast, people have no time to look beyond materialistic world. In such chaos how can we get connected to our roots and dharma? How to move ahead in spiritual path of self realisation?

This is again a problem all over the world as people don’t have time. People have lots of money but they don’t have time. We have to understand that our time does matter. Unfortunately, there is no solution to healthy and happy life other than quality time to improve your life. There is no pill you can take. Young people are taking pills before they turn 40, they are depressed, they are unhappy, they are disturbed. So we have to change the lifestyle and we have to put pressure on the businesses to give time to people to renew their productivity. when you are young you need to create a foundation of positive habits for the future. So, this is a challenge, there is no easy way out. There are yoga practices, pranayama which you must devote an hour everyday, not just for physical health but also for spiritual well being. You need to empty the mind, do some meditation, do some chanting, because otherwise we carry the stress, over and over from one day to another. This is a suicidal problem.

Interview of Dr. Frawley
Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley aka Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Photo Credit : Shaurya Ritwik)

Dr. Frawley, you have been very vocal about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus in India which no politician can ever say out of vote bank fear or political correctness. We want to know how severely we are affected by this toxic breaking India nexus, and how we should resist to these forces?

This was the problem I recently witnessed in Kerala, it was a major problem there. Infact when I was driving down the roads I saw posters for communist gatherings with pictures of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, perhaps only place on Earth where you see such pics nowadays. In Kerala we also found out that the missionaries are aligned with communists, which they never do in United States or other countries, they are poles apart otherwise. And also this Marxist-Jehadi alliance is strong in South India. So as Hindu forces are getting stronger, the opposition is now forced to unite. Just for example we saw in elections the anti-BJP parties all got together even though they were fighting among each other, have different ideologies. In Kerala this is a big problem, karnataka also has this problem, Tamil Nadu also, to some extent everywhere. The main thing is that Hindu society is to be united, they should be ready to protest and take a stand. You can’t always be nice and say we are all good, we are all the same. Well, the point is hindus accept all religions but the other religions are still trying to convert Hindus. If communal harmony depends upon letting hindus being converted and loose their religion, that’s not communal harmony. Its a continuation of colonialism and religious extremism. So unity in Hindu society is most important. And also voting. If you vote for these guys you can’t complain them being in power. India is a country where Muslims and Christians are encouraged to vote their religion but Hindus are not. In this world today power is with those who are in power so you have to have a political paradigm. It is a long battle because India has been under siege by missionaries, marxist, colonial and Islamist forces for many centuries. After independence the control of british army and administration was gone but the marxist influence continued, the missionaries actually grew more power and the congress party was promoting the christian and muslim vote banks, so even after the independence of India the siege against Hindus at a cultural level has not ended so that need to be challenged.

Dr. Frawley, when we see communists of China and Russia, they are at least nationalist. But in India communists are very much anti-national, anti-hindu. We generally find in India that Hindus are against Hindutva cause in name of secularism. Why is this amnesia among Hindus regarding our past?

Well, Russia is now a Christian country, Russians have thrown out communist history, China is communist in name only, Chinese have confucian schools all across country promoted by government, you don’t have vedic schools by government in India. And you are right, Indian left is anti national, even Congress party is anti national, someone like Kapil Sibal arguing the case against Ram Mandir shows they are anti-hindu too. These people are putting their own privilege above all. India has been run by a dynasty, and they want their power to retain. This needs to be exposed. Now the fact is that thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed  and after independence we got only one back. How can a free India not have a temple for Lord Ram? Ram is your national image. It wasn’t just muslims, but Jawaharlal Nehru who stopped Ram Mandir Ayodhya. And even today, it is these leftist, marxist and Congress who are trying to stop Ram Mandir nirmaan in Ayodhya. Rahul Gandhi is visiting Somnath temple but it is just hypocrisy. You go to Kashi Vishwanath and you will see that the back part of temple is still a mosque, even in Krishna Janambhoomi. But again, Hindus must unite, you can’t just let go. Hindus need to recognise their political and social power.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook: NewsGram.Com

Dr. Frawley, We generally see that Islamists and Christians use religion as a political force, they tend to recognise political power whereas most of the Hindus believe that religion and politics should not be mixed up. Hindus also believe that secularism and inherent inclusiveness of Hinduism makes it special. Some people argue that even after centuries of foreign rule we survived because of this soft nature but they forget that once Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar etc were also Hindu. Do you believe this soft nature of Hindus make them easy target for civilisational jihad? Do you feel somehow Hindus are also responsible if they are letting their poor section of society being converted by missionaries?

Even Mongolia was traditionally buddhist, now its getting christianised. There was big Buddhist and Hindu influences in Central Asia. Hindus are tolerant and they allow muslims and christians to convert them. Hindus say all religions are same, Muslims don’t, Christians don’t so it is clearly a one way street. And Muslims and Christians are giving bad image of Hindus. They are constantly making an attempt to take you over. As you asked, of course Hindus are also responsible. Hindus have to challenge missionaries. And they have to be willing to pay for things, to take care of underprivileged section of their society, to help them overcome poverty. Hindus have to be stronger in their expression, their assertion, their identity. In few decades Christain-Islamic alliance will eliminate you, don’t be naive. Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections, with international funding. India is a main country in world which allow missionaries in, China does not. Islamic countries do not. Yet the missionaries are criticizing India and not China or Islamic countries because they have some levarage here. Like in Gujarat the bishop can ask christians to vote, that does’t occur in other countries. That’s a blatant interference in public affairs. These groups are surviving in India because Hindus are tolerant. Hindu society must introspect and resist such forces.

Dr. David Frawley, In India the education system has been long controlled by leftists, most of the history taught to us was distorted, for last 60 years leftist mindset was imposed in academics. When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister it was expected that some course correction will follow. But we can not see any drastic changes yet. The moment government tries to rectify previously committed blunders in academia, national and international media start screaming the song of intolerance. Government is also concerned about its secular image (pseudo-secular) worldwide and this is taken as a leverage by breaking India forces. Will it ever be possible for government to course correct hundreds of years of distortion?

Yeah, but that takes a little bit of time. And when this govt came in power, the previous Congress government bankrupted all the institutions. There was no money to run the country. There was corruption everywhere. So even keeping the country afloat was difficult. Then they have ruined all the international status, economically and politically. So naturally it takes time, which is going to take good 10 years at least. So its important that Hindus continue to apply pressure but the first thing is you have to stay in power. And secondly you have to workout things bit by bit, and many of these problems have various related complications. Make sure to increase the political power. For example when Yogi Adityanath took charge in Uttar Pradesh that radically changed the situation in U.P. So changes are going on, for example in Madhya Pradesh they are starting Adi Shankara Yatra. Also, Hindus have to educate their own children, you can’t wait for schools to tell your child what Hinduism is. For Christians and for Muslims religion is simplistic, believe in Jesus and Bible and you are a Christian, believe in Mohammad and Quran and you are Muslim, the Hindu tradition is one of Sadhana and practice, its about becoming a better person, so that requires more effort. We must understand that Hindu Dharma has a much broader view of life. Islam is growing by reproduction, not by thoughts. Christianity is declining in Europe and united States, churches have to import priests from India to give sermons.

People say India is the first home of Dr. David Frawley. You have been coming to India for so many years, writing about Hinduism, Ayurveda & Yoga and Indian culture & civilisation. What was your transition point towards Hinduism and how your love for India grew over time?

Well you see there was several transition points, not just one. As I grew up in late 60s, in my later teen, we already had Gurus from India, teachings were available of Paramhansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Aurobindo, Raman Maharishi. I was fortunate enough to coming in contact with those teachings during formative stage of my thoughts. So they were part of my growing up. So the main background was Yoga Vedanta. In studying Shri. Aurobindo’s work I also came in contact with vedas and that gave me an interest in Indian history. While studying Rigveda I found a very advanced civilisation. I realised that ancient history of India has been distorted. And then when I came to India, I was surprised to see the anti Hindu sentiments. I saw Indians were not interested in Aurobindo and Vivekananda but they were interested in Karl Marx. In Rotary club of Mumbai, I criticised Marx and people were up an arms against me. I said Marx had a very small mind, you can put entire brain of Marx in one corner of Aurobindo or Vivekanand thoughts. The vedantic view, Karma, Moksha, self realisation made perfect sense to me. Other things seemed to be very superficial. And over time I gained the greater understanding, the broader feel of Sanatan Dharma.

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley interviewed by Shaurya Ritwik in New Delhi, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik