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idol worship,hinduism and other religions

Reader comment on item: [The Issue of Compulsion in Religion:] Islam is What Its Followers Make of It
in response to reader comment: Islam V Hinduism

Submitted by sandeep koul (India), Mar 31, 2008 at 03:14

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world. There is a misconception about idol worship and Hinduism. Hinduism has primarily two ways of approaching god. One is dwait(duality) and the other is advaith(non-duality).Idol worship is a part of dvaith system of Hindu philosophy.It is considered that there are 330 million gods and goddesses in dwaith philosophy which includes trees,animals,snakes...etc.The behind this is to perceive god in everything. This system also follows bhakti or devotion.It is argued that you can not love anybody without actually feeling the person with the five senses or at least one sense (sense of touch, hear, smell, taste, eyes).Idol worship helps the devotee to concentrate better. Each deity is considered to have some attributes like goddesses saraswati is considered to bestow us with knowledge, godesses lakshmi with wealth, Lord Yam raja is the god of death. You won't have any feeling for someone whom you have never met. What kind of feelings you have for your great-2-2-2 -2 grandfather who died centuries ago. Probably the answer will be "don't know"!

In advaith philosophy there is a concept of god and that god is you! You are god......My indidual form is god.....I offer salutation to god through the media which is again god......Everything is god and nothing is god.

Spiritual works mostly begin with salutations to God. Generally speaking, these salutations are offered in the first person e.g., "I offer salutations to God, and pray that all obstacles may be removed so that I may attain my real nature." In advaith,the manner of salutation is not only different but also unique in that here the one who offers homage to Shiva(god) is none other than Shiva, nor are the obstacles (for the removal of which the prayer is offered) other than Shiva; and, even the media, through which homage is offered, is one with Shiva. Thus, the prayer would be (as given above): The purpose of this salutation (as given above) is, namely, to unite the individual being with the Universal Being.

All the religions have segregated the function of god. Everything is a will of God and he has given responsibilities to different angels to execute his will. There are angels of death in all religions. There is also an idea of Satan in almost all religions. It does mean that god is above the idea of birth and death, heaven and hell and everything else which can be conceived by human mind.

In Hinduism God is segregated the most. There are 330million gods and goddesses who have different powers and responsibilities.Godess saraswati bestows us with knowledge, Goddess laksmi gives us wealth and prosperity. Lord Brahma is the creator, lord Vishnu is sustainer and lord Shiva is destroyer...

It is also said by some Hindu philosophers that all 330 million gods and goddess reside in us in our human body and human mind. Therefore our body and mind is the temple of god.

In Hinduism This whole world, the process of life and death is seen as Maya or illusion. In Buddhism and Hinduism there is a concept of wheel of life and death and law of karma or action. In Buddhism there is a concept of Dukha.It is seen as sorrow, hatred, jealousy, sufferings, diseases and craving for things that can't be obtained. End of craving or desires is seen as nirvana in Buddhism.

Maya is seen as an illusion and at the same time Mahamaya is seen as a goddess.

There is also concept of brahm.Brahm means god, it also means universe and at the same time it also means illusion. Whole world and universe is seen as Maya. Life and death is Maya. It is said that without Maya there can not be life and death. Maya rides the chariot of five horses and these five horses represent five senses.

Meditation is a very essential part of Hinduism. Meditation is basically a technique of quieting the mind. Mind is the most judgmental element of human psyche and body and it is the habit of mind to judge. By meditation one not only quiets mind but at the same time one becomes more aware about the inner self.

All religious scriptures give us knowledge and intelligence of some sort. There are Hindu philosophers who argue that our knowledge, Intelligence and contemplation helps us reach a certain level in spirituality and after a certain level one has to drop everything learnt so far. It is argued that people who are very religious seldom get nirvana(become more judgmental) as this sect of people use their acquired knowledge more often and this knowledge acts as an obstacle (Maya) for them and holds them back to Maya.

It is believed that present age is 27th kalyug.One yug consists of four ages or era's namely satyug,Treta yug,Dvapara yug and kalyug.Four yugas constitute one day and one night of lord Brahma. All major religions have one more thing in common…call it Armageddon or qayamat or pralaya i.e. destruction by nature's fury.

From Markandeya Purana: "At the end of the night, when the inundating Pralay receded and the Lord awakened from His prolonged sleep, He began the work of creation again. It was even more amazing for Markandeya to see the inundating water recede and new creation taking place. He began to pray the Lord with folded hands. Pleased by his prayers, the Lord said that He always protected His devotees even during the most severe crises. Markandeya then asked about the appearance of the true devotees of the Lord. He also expressed his curiosity to know the reasons of their birth."

In all the religions whether Christianity or Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism. The perception of god and God's deeds are almost same. There is a pre-conceived notion about God. We say God is merciful, creator, lord, king and so on and so forth and at the same time we human beings are servants of God. If God is the creator, then who is the destroyer?

If God brings Happiness, then who brings sorrow and grief? If god gives life then who gives us death? In Hinduism Lord Yumraja is the god of death. In Christianity it is the angel azrael.Muslims call that angel iz'rail.

Prayers are also somewhat similar, in all the great religions of world, some important elements which are common in prayers are peace, love, good health, General well being of near and dear ones and grace of Almighty. Only difference may be language in which one prays.

Well the idea behind the above writing is to perceive god in totality,i.e in good and bad.

It is often said that Satan is responsible for man's evil deed. By the way" who created Satan?"

There are number of similarities in all the major religions. The difference I feel is the terminology and language. Sanskrit for Hinduism

and budhism,Arabic for Muslims and English and Hebrew for Christians and Jews. Languages are a part and parcel of cultures. It is not the teachings of religions which create disharmony but the medium in which the scriptures are written as people clinch to their cultures with as much sincerity as they follow their religions and are seldom ready for change. Different languages many times creates confusion and communication gap which further leads to misunderstanding. It is very important to have respect for every religion for a peaceful society and peaceful world .whatever may be the differences in religions and religious terminology, the basic teachings of all the religions remains same and one should make more efforts in order to create bridges among all the religions for a better world for all.

There may not be uniformity in religions as every religion claims to be best, but there is uniformity in laws of god, or Allah or Paramatma…..or whatever name you call.


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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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