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Volume 3, No. 6 - November 2003

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On Idol Worshipping
Vinod Kumar

According to reports, on Diwali day two young white men intruded into a Ram temple in Ealing Road, London, and shook the idol of Ram, breaking an arm and the bow when a number of women had congregated there for satsangh.  (The Hindustan Times,  October 26, 2003)

One of the men snatched the mike and allegedly shouted there was only one God, the Jesus Christ, and they (the gathering) were stupid to worship a stone.

Such insults to those who choose to worship God in their own way in the shape of idols are common since idol worshipping was castigated by the Semitic religions as worshiping "false gods".

How is idol worship in any way inferior or to be looked down upon? What right does anyone have to pass judgement on idol worship or any kind of worship?

In this article we cannot discuss all the abstract theological issues of idol worshipping versus non-idol worshipping but will make some basic observations.

One of the charges usually laid at idol worshipping is that idols cannot protect themselves from abuse by others, how will they protect their worshippers?

True. Idols cannot protect themselves from vandalism, or ANY abuse for that matter. History is living testament to it. Over the centuries, thousands of idol temples have been vandalized and plundered, and idols broken without any defense being put up by the idols. I accept this.

Now the question arises, can the Gods of non-idol-worshippers protect Themselves or Their non-idol- worshippers? Haven't churches, synagogues and mosques met the same fate at the hands of vandals? What did those Gods do to protect shrines built to worship them? And what did those "True God/s" do to protect Their  flocks from murderous frenzy of other non-idol-worshipping followers of allegedly "True God/s"? In what way are/were these Gods any more powerful than the "mere" idols or "false" gods as destroyers of idols like to call them?

I have often wondered how many "One and only One "True" God/s are there?

How have the prayers to "True" Gods of non-idol-worshippers been more effective than those of "false" gods of  idol-worshippers?

A non-verifiable event (effect) being a result of one's prayers to God is purely subjective. It has no proof that it was the result of one's prayers. Idol worshippers also claim such answering of their prayers. This really proves nothing.

Let us take one example. Castigating the idols, The Koran says:

"The idols to which the pagans pray give them no answer. They are like a man who stretches out his hand to the water and bids it to rise to his mouth: it cannot reach it. Vain are the prayers of the unbelievers. (13:14)

True, the idols give no answer. Does God?

True, praying to idols cannot make water rise to the mouth? Can praying to "One and Only one "True God" make water rise to the mouth?

God, any God and the mode of worshipping are a matter of the mind and individual choice.

There is no proof that one's God is better or more powerful than the God of any other or any God is better than any idol. The truth is that any God cannot do what an idol cannot do. There is no proof either that one way of worship produces better results than any other way of worship.

It is naivete and ignorance to claim one's God to be superior to others' or one's way of worship to be better than others'.

I do not want to be argumentative but if scrutinized closely, one would find that almost all religions -- including those who abhor idol worship -- do worship idols in one form or the other, specially if idols are regarded as symbols.  Christian churches are adorned with the statues and pictures of Jesus and Virgin Mary. Reverence to the Stone at Kaaba is an integral part of annual Haj pilgrimage of Islam. Praying facing Mecca is also a kind of Idol worship. God is everywhere, then why face Mecca?

The problems and conflicts among different religions do not accrue because they worship God by different names and in different manner. The problems arise when one religion calls religion and Gods of other religions false and urges its followers to kill those who do not believe in their version or concept of God.

It is the blatant hatred that some religions preach against others.

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