Idols in the Hindu Way of Life – Why Are They Worshipped?

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Shiva as NatarajIdols in the Hindu Way of Life – Why Are They Worshipped?.

Please do click the link below the picture to read what Sadhguru writes about the Murti or idols.  Many misunderstand the murti as pagan, anti-God and Tower of Babel practices.  Sadhguru explains that when folks create a deity they are not disillusioned they are clear they as humans are making a vehicle to transform and uplift the human energetic experience as pure respect for Divinity.  Humans cannot make a God, or gods, but can learn, use and practice methods to elevate our experiences to become aligned and reach our divine birthright.  When we say we are All One, we are a part of the One the Divine.  There are many forces at play in our existence that when we are unconscious or not aware of how to keep our energies charged and aligned we become separate and apart from our own divinity.  Practicing hatha yoga, meditative kriyas, chanting, doing Japa, are a few examples of methods that help keep our systems aligned properly.  Also, allowing ourselves to be in charged sacred spaces for contemplation and use as actual Charging Stations are powerful aids.  As well, murti or idols that are significant to a person are vehicles that help lift and organize the energies, especially when rituals are practiced.  The ritual is a way to re-orient the practitioner’s mental, emotional, Auric, and physical energies.  Take the Devi as Saraswati ( who embodies woman as teacher, teacher of the arts: writing, music, scholarly studies) when one acknowledges Saraswati they align these aspects within themselves as worthwhile, powerful and a blueprint guide to elevate their own capacities.  There is a direct connection to those who allow themselves time to observe these practices and realizing successes in their own sphere, we are what we think, we become what we meditate upon.  These are some of the distinctions between Judeo-Christian worship and Indic practices, as Judeo-Christian keeps the follower separate and below in status to their notion of God.  In the Indic faiths the practitioner knows they are a part of the Divine in this life as a divine dance.  When one believes they are one with divinity the ability to aspire to success with equanimity is achievable.  Feel free to leave your ideas here in the comments section and do share this post with others.  Thank you Sadhguru and The Isha Foundation for explaining the tenets of Classical Yoga with us.  Namaste to All!

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44 responses »

  1. I love this logic: the term “Hindu… is a geographical and cultural identity. Anyone born in the land of Indus is a Hindu.” Perfectly put. I also like this: “The temple was not created as a place of God or a place of prayer. It was created as a place of energy where everyone could go and make use of it.”

  2. A common misconception of idols is that they are a false representation of God. Many people view these statues to be somewhat sacrilegious. Sadhguru discusses the true meaning behind the statues. They are used a focus point and representation of energy. Through meditation practices, the body is able to access its’ own energy, realizing we are more than a physical beings who strive for self-preseveration. We can meditate towards an energy outside of ourselves, in different type of dimensions.
    One of the most fascinating aspects of the article was how Hinduism isn’t a religious identity- it is a cultural identity. As opposed to Christinaity, where man praises God, Hinduism allows for a man or woman to worship anything- a male God, a woman God, a tree, a cow, etc. Temples in Hinduism are not places of religious worship, another common misconception. Instead it is a place of energy, where you enter to sit and absorb the energy. I found the article to be very informative and I learned a lot about the Hindu religion that I didn’t know until today.

    Kathryn McCurdy. Junior

  3. I like the article tells you that Hindu isn’t a religious system, its just by the culture you were raised in. I admit that I thought it was a religious identity in India, but I guess I was wrong. It was fascinating how popular it really is and people think hindu is a religious figure but its just by important figure to the people and culture.

  4. “In Indian tradition, no one told you that if you go to a temple, you must worship and give money and ask for something. ” From a Western point of view, I believe thats how much of our nation views religion. Which I believe in turn creates a dislike for it.

    I think the use of the word energy is very key when understanding this article, especially the lower half. Energy is something to be found, harvested, released back, to create a environment, especially in temples, that people can harvest.

    I watched a documentary a while ago about the building process of these temples. It was absolutely phenomenal. How the placements of windows, and paintings correlated to parts of the sky, or where the moon would shine down. Definitely more of a science than merely putting up a structure.

    Wendy Faiola

  5. What an eye-opening article. I admire the way Sadhguru understands and explains energy. The idea that Hindu temples were never meant as a place to worship God, nor did they ever actually have anything to do with God in ancient times, is new to me. It makes a lot of sense now that these idols were literally powerful physical embodiments of energetic streams, and that these temples were a place to recharge and find peace each day. It seems that the stretches of Capitalism have expanded so far as to be present even in these once truly healing and uplifting temples. Sadhguru is unique in that even while demystifying these ancient truths and bringing to light the rather upsetting practices in place today, he maintains that we can still find peace and liberation through yoga and meditation. Each of these articles truly strengthen my desire to pursue this will my all.

    -Sabrina Petrov

  6. I was never aware that Hindu was a cultural identity rather than a religious identity. I guess I always just assumed it was some sort of religious practice but now I understand the idea of what being a Hindu is really about and it seems so beautiful. It’s almost as if you have the freedom to believe in whatever you want, or whoever you want as a God and no one will judge you. The important thing is the energy, the divine entity that one wants to become. Also, the idea that if someone becomes a divine entity, they will let other worship their body, not as if they are believing that person is a God, but because that person has reorganized and arranged their energy in their own body to become a divine entity. I think that idea is so beautiful; that because one was able to rearrange their energy, they will not be selfish, but will allow other to worship them because of the accomplishment and beauty of their energy. The way that the temples seem to function is also very important. It’s not about going to praise some certain god at a certain time, it’s about something deeper, something with creating a good energy within yourself and in the community. I would love to experience this for a day.

  7. In this article Sadhguru took a very positive view of Hinduism. I agree that Idols in the Hindu tradition were first conceived as a representation of energy. Not as something to be worshiped, but something to observe and relate to. As human society descended into belief systems, subservience, and Identification, these idols were taken more literally as false gods (something above oneself). But I think compared to western religions, Hinduism in general speaks more truth of the oneness and divinity in each and everyone of us. I do believe the Hindu Idols are tools though for genuine self realization if one is on that path. The ancient Siddhas and Yogis knew what they were doing all those years ago, and incorporated spiritual knowledge into earthly understanding. These idols are just a part of that. The Hindu tradition is just one path that brought in idols. The Tibetans, Daoists and Indigenous cultures used idols as well, but they all had the same purpose. Temples in India were built originally as a powerful center of spiritual energy to facilitate on the spiritual path. This is a big contrast to western temples as they are more for religion and external worship. I hope one day to go to India and experience many of these sacred Hindu sights.

  8. I always seemed to get confused as to whether Hindu was a religious identity or not, but i like how this article clears that up for me. Instead, it says that Hindu is a cultural identity. I found that others were also a bit confused about that, so i guess it is common for people of our age to be unsure. I think that it is great that idols in the Hindu tradition were first conceived as a representation of energy.

    Tara Stiansen

  9. It is very interesting to me that there is a lack of icon worship in hinduism and there was not any sort of iconoclasm. There is a clear distinction between the physical man-made idol and the gods. There is no confusion that the dolls/statues are made by humans and are in no way to be worshipped as the gods.

    I find the relation to the moon beautiful. The moon is always the same moon but it is different each night. It is in a different phase, creates a different light. This is something we so often take for granted as our electric light makes the moon seem the same each night. If we were void of this man-made light, we would more often recognize the difference between the moon and our perception of it.

    I never knew that hindu was a cultural identity. I have always been taught that it is a religious identity. It is very interesting to learn this new information about hindu life. The importance of creating a space that captures a specific energy and maintaining that is a beautiful concept to me. I am also intrigued by the concept of sharing the positive energy and just being in a sacred space and sharing and accepting that energy. I want to implement these ideas into our lives.

  10. I’ve always found hinduism and buddhism to be more ways of life than ways of worship. I didn’t realize that Mutki was the overall goal of Hinduism. I like the idea of worshipping a cow and still being a Hindu. I think if there would be anything to truly idolize and worship it would be a part of nature. If I were to worship something, it would be something that can be seen, like the sun maybe.

    I grew up with a Buddhist father and I have been exposed to some practices in Buddhism similar to those in Hinduism. I used to visit Zen Buddhist temples often. While they sometimes frightened me as a child I now have a far better understanding of why people would gather in these temples. There is something about the energy that is truly therapeutic. The all-inclusive and patient nature of these two ways of life are what make them truly great. Being “required to sit” is also important. Many people are incredulous to meditation, and I think it’s because they have never truly tried it. I am very interested in learning more about energies and chakras.

    – Lucia Murphy

  11. Mary Dennis

    The cleaning up of what make to believe of what Hindu is a religion when it is not.this. Missed understand of A culture.The use of Energy can bring the body to divine state which is the goal. The Example of the moon helped me to understand more about making a system that change but is still the same object but changes in many ways.I understand why people confused idols with yoga because of System is meant to your body reach the divine state., Within the state other people can see the person as a idols but not noting the person has left their body behind.

    I do not know temples was ues for to consume energy and not used for religious reasons.

    I found that the information in this poles were very knowledgeable and I enjoyed taking it in, and having this knowledge fixes my perspective on the topics that was discussed.

  12. I don’t necessarily dispute the ability for Hindu spiritual practices to help people lead more peaceful, fulfilling lives. I think that there is a lot of potential for these kinds of thoughts and practices to help people reassess themselves and lead better more fulfilling lives. I think that talking about matching mutra and mantra to create powerful energy systems as “deep science” is inappropriate for a secular collegiate setting. I understand that maybe these practices can be helpful for some people who want to achieve the reflection of the divine within themselves. Personally, I only hope to achieve less back pain, stress, and anxiety.

    • Thank you for your honest comments….do know that authentic Indian hatha yoga is a science for life force management. One may choose any particular aspect to follow. Do know there is an exact methodology for the practice. No one has to believe any part but as sanctioned for over 15 years by the Dean and Department Chairs to receive two college credits the course explores the full components of the practice. You may achieve a healthier back and lower levels of stress. I hope you will not be bored in this class the syllabus was clear about the approach. You may choose to stay or withdraw perhaps with your advisor guidance, Namaste

  13. I like the whole idea of being respectful of other’s religions. I especially like how Hinduism is not forced upon people and that it preaches healthy practices for the mind and body. It’s not about committing yourself to some higher being and devoting yourself, but instead for self-improvement of the mind, body, and soul. The whole sense of modesty that self-enrichment is appealing to me. With all of these practices, I feel as though you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from it.

  14. I really like the idea that the idol is not the physical being but the idea of what the idol stands for. I think too many people get caught up in seeing the idol as a fake “god” rather than focusing on the idol as a form of energy. The idol is a piece of something larger, something bigger than the being itself. The idols also encapsulate the energies of many different things depending on which idol is there, so it is easier to align energies with a specific idol rather than trying to capture all the energy at one time. I like what Sadhguru says about worshipping in a temple. It is not about just being present there it is about really feeling the space and what the space has to offer you. Everybody is different in the ways that the react to certain spaces and energies but it takes time for your body to feel something changing within. Idols and temples need to be appreciated more as spaces and holdings for specific hearings and practices and not seen as something to bypass.

  15. I really appreciate the idea of a temple being a place of energy and not a place of God and prayer. It is certainly a refreshing concept in a place in which most religions suggest a proving of oneself for a higher power. In my opinion it leaves people to focused on the future rather than contemplation of the unspoken language all living things speak and the absorption of energy as well as deterring from contemplation of the internal. I also like the idea of having the freedom to worship anything and being able to align oneself with Divinity through the rearrangement of the systems. Sometimes, through meditation, I imagine my self dispersing outward and being everywhere in a sense, then coming back together when I have finished. I also found it enlightening when he discusses the Hindu perspective of idols. In the history of western idols, they typically reflect a being that is higher than the person, something to strive towards, but is ultimately untouchable. I like the idea of Hindi idols being a reflection of energy, something to relate to and assist in self-actualization, and not a reminder of subservience, or something to give one’s self away to.
    -Nicholas Novine

  16. I may not have a lot of knowledge on Hinduism, however the stuff that I got out of this reading is that there was a misunderstanding that some people worship idols as a god, but the true meaning behind the statues are used as a focus point and representation of energy. What also intrigued me was where it said something about the moon, “between the full moon day and the new moon day, each of the fourteen nights are so different. Today, we live with so much electric light, so you don’t know the difference”. Whenever we do see the moon, to us it always looks the same but during different nights, it can be different in shape and different in light.

    I never really thought of Hindu as a cultural identity, I just took it for granted and never gave it much thought. However learning about the energy in your body, you can be arrange. If you give it sufficient attention and practice, you will see that this body is no longer just craving for self-preservation and procreation, it has become something else altogether. I never really took that into consideration, but learning new things is what can help people make good and better decisions. Jimmy Harrington

  17. Idols in the Hindu Way of Life-

    This is an interesting post by Sadhguru, it helped me understand realize that the Hindu is not a religion, as I’ve always thought of, it is a cultural identity. We do not appreciate many things in nature nowadays due to the impact of technology, and its increase as time goes by. Before electricity, people were able to enjoy the different shapes and rearrangements of the moon, appreciate its beautiful lighting each night, and notice the different forms. Sadhguru explains that this concept also applies to the body, although it is physical, the body can be oriented to operate in a different way, as a divine entity that others can worship. This concept is focused on the energies of our body and the universe, and on existing things, unlike many religions, which are based on beliefs.
    Sadhguru introduces the chakras again, which are very important in the practice of yoga. With the chakras, idols are “made” by rearranging the different energies in a way that we would improve the way of living. It has caught my attention that temples were designed as place of energy rather than prayers, in my tradition, we go to churches or temples in order to praise God and other Saints but not for this energy exchange. Practicing yoga and the Isha Kriya, and going through this posts has helped me enhance my life spiritually, and look into things in a positive and passive way.

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