Are Hindus Idol-worshippers?

Recently on twitter, Hath Yogi (@hathyogi31) wrote a thread on major myths about Hinduism that needed to be debunked. The first point was “Hindus are idol-worshippers”. I wrote the following comment:

Several Hindus reacted, “We ARE idol-worshippers. Why should we care what others think? We have the right to worship idols”.

They are right. The problem is not with the worship of a representation of the Divine, called idol in English, but with the extremely negative connotation which Christianity and Islam have given to the term “idol” and of which most Hindus are not aware.  Hindus think that idol is just a translation of Pratima or Murti, but this is not the case. A lot of hostile association comes automatically to Muslims and Christians when they hear this term, thanks to indoctrination in childhood. I can speak only for Christians, but in all likelihood, for Muslim children it is the same or even more. This association is not only loaded on the English term idol-worshipper, but also for example on the German term ‘Goetzenanbeter’. It is a very bad label. And I heard it already in primary school in connection with Hindus.

For Muslims and Christians worshipping idols is the greatest sin.

Hindus don’t realise that. ‘You must not have any gods beside me’ is the first commandment in Christianity, and in Islam ‘shirk’, which means the same thing, is the worst evil a human can commit and it will be severely punished with eternal hellfire.

It means that Hindus are for pious Muslims or Christians the greatest sinners and therefore despicable. Hinduism is considered as going against the Will of God and so becomes demonic if not Satanic. Christians and Muslims believe that the Creator of this universe Himself has declared that only HE must be worshipped. While most Christians (apart from missionaries) by now accept other ways of worship, most Muslims are still rigid, because the Islamic texts are full of harsh condemnation of those who commit shirk.

Dehumanisation of Hindus

So when Hindus say, “What does it matter? Let them believe what they want”, it means they don’t realise the danger.  It DOES matter what they believe. The consequence of this belief was, that at least 80 million Hindus were killed for being Hindus. And it still goes on, as the brutal beheading of KanhaiyaLal and Umesh Kolbe recently proved. This could and can only happen, because Hindus were dehumanized and STILL ARE.

Jews could be herded into the gas chambers, because they were not seen as human. They were openly called ‘Untermenschen’ – subhumans. At that time, the propaganda ministry of Nazi Germany indoctrinated the population to look down on Jews and Gypsies.

In our times, clergy, in tune with their religious texts, indoctrinate Muslim and Christian children to look down on Hindus as a “beastly people with a beastly religion” as Winston Churchill famously said. And certain powers in our modern world eagerly support such inhuman views. Not only the clergy but often media, too, give the impression that Hindus worship demons. In a video, which I saw recently, the presenter equated Shiva with Satan.

Hindus must take a serious note of this unacceptable and highly dangerous vilification of Hindus. Hindus are NOT planning genocide of others. It’s the other way round: the others prepare the world opinion for a genocide of Hindus. And they try to make sure that this genocide would be seen as ‘well deserved’.

Do I see too black? I hope I do.

But a friend who knows the evangelical scene in USA well, told me already years ago, that the hatred for Hindus and especially Brahmins among them is so great, that if a genocide happened, most members of these groups would see it as a just retaliation.

Now Christians are considered rather benign. If even they think like this, what is the level of hatred which radical Muslims have for Hindus?

Some Basics about Hinduism

It really startles me that Hindus do not try to set the record straight and make them understand that Hindus are NOT idol-worshippers, in the sense that they don’t worship the different gods as separate entities, but they all are aspects of the same ONE Brahman. The   Vedas claimed many thousand years before the Bible and the Quran that ONE great Power and Intelligence is the invisible Source of everything. They call this invisible source Brahman (from big) and declare Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahman (Truth, Knowledge, Infinity = Brahman)

But now it gets a bit subtle and difficult to understand because Christianity and Islam do not have this ‘absolute’ level in their doctrine. In Sanatana Dharma, Brahman is avyakt, is not a person, is infinite, Anantam, is beyond imagination and there cannot be a picture of That.. Thoughts and words cannot reach there, the Vedas claim.

This unmanifest, eternal Potential stirs due to its Shakti (Devi) or energy at the time of the creation of the universe (our present universe is not the first one and won’t be the last) and becomes manifest and ‘imaginable’ and ‘picturable’ first as the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma (not to be confused with the absolute Brahman) is tasked with further creation and creates out of himself many different beings on several higher and lower lokas (levels) and also the human beings to whom he gives the earth to live.

It means, the Gods whom Hindus venerate in the form of Murtis, are not separate from the ONE Brahman. In fact, they ARE Brahman. And not only the three major Gods, everything in this universe has as basis the one Brahman. Maybe you have heard this saying, “Christians and Muslims believe there is only one God. Hindus believe there is only God.”

It is helpful knowing and reflecting about this claim of the One Brahman being the essence of all, and then trying to live it in one’s life. It means trying to get in touch with that inner core which is the witness of even our thoughts and feelings. And then slowly become more and more familiar with that pure blissful awareness. Then not only knowledge or Jnana but also love or bhakti, will develop.

This inner core in us (Atma) is one with Brahman, the Upanishads declare. That is the truth, and to discover it, is the goal of life.

Now, dear Muslim and Christian friends, do you feel that Hindus are despicable or rather loveable? Also please reflect if the “one true God’ can possibly hate them for their faith and let them burn under great agony for all eternity in hellfire?

However, the denigration and ‘othering’ of Hindus continues in the mainstream, often in a subtle way.

Yesterday the highly popular Canadian psychologist Jordan B Peterson brought out a short video where he exhorts Muslims to reach across the sectarian divide, to Shias, Sunnis, then to Christians and then even to Jews. He advocated a unity of the ‘people of the book’ who ‘have much in common’. And declared, “The best place to find Satan is within… the subtle temptation of the ancient demonic spirit”. The video had in 17 hours already 1 million views and every comment I read was praising him.

Was only I feeling the danger? I wrote a comment:

I don’t know if my comment was visible. It was made older than it was: after 30 minutes it showed wrongly that it was posted 3 hours ago. And it was probably the only comment which didn’t get any likes or replies…

By Maria Wirth

12 comments

  1. True, but is it possible to convince a billion Hindus Not to indentify themselves with the “Idol Worship”?
    For thousands of years we are following the tradition of Idol Worshipping to reach the Brahman. In fact that’s the precise way of our civilization.
    Now even if Hindus start detaching themselves from the “Idol Worshipping” do you think Ms and Cs would convince and Stop genoside of Hindus?
    You are well aware of the complete religious conversion of the Arabs, who were the First Targets of Cs, Jews and then Ms.
    I think that this will only stop when either Correction Or Rejection of islamic thoughts would start from within! And that will happen as long as Thinkers and Margdarshaks like you are there.🙏🏼🕉️

    1. You missed the point. I don’t advocate giving up murti puja but make clear what it’s about

    2. “For thousands of years, we are following the tradition of Idol Worshipping to reach the Brahman. In fact, that’s the precise way of our civilization…” This is not correct. The Upanishads and Vedas exhort man to approach a realized Guru for the realization of Brahman. The Katha Upanishad mentions that ‘Taught by a teacher who knows the Self and Brahman, a man leaves vain theory behind and attains to Truth.” (K.U. 1.2.8). It further says, “Words cannot reveal him. Mind is unable to reach him. The eyes do not see him. How then can he be comprehended save when taught by those seers who indeed have known him?” (K.U.2.4.12). “Arise! Awake! Approach the feet of the Master and know ‘That’. (K.U.1.3.14) Sanatana Dharma was Ashram and Guru-centric. The Ashram was the cornerstone of Indian civilization. That degenerated into the worship of deities through tantric rituals. Brahma Gyan was lost and in its place a culture of favor seeking and wish fulfillment took place taking Indian civilization backward in its spiritual evolution.

  2. . The Trimurti concept is a creation of the authors of Puranas. The real basis of creation in Sanatana Dharma is Manu. Please read this article. https://mukundanpr.substack.com/p/the-mathematical-basis-of-creation?utm_source=facebook&sd=pf

    1. Aren’t the 3 Gods an expression of the 3 gunas, which come before Manu?

      1. Categorization of gods under Trigunas is a fabrication of the authors of Puranas. How can Shaivite accept that Shiva is a Tamasic God? That is an insult to Shiva. For Shaivites, Shiva is the source of pure bliss. First of all, please do not study Hinduism through the lens of Puranas. I think you have not gone through the article seriously. You have based your understanding of Manu on the anthropological perspective. Manu is not the first man as mentioned in the Puranas. Man originated here after long ages of evolution. (Please read the Dashavatara story at the end of the article). You have based your views on Puranas. Manu is the Creator, the Cosmic Purusha himself, not an earthly being. That is why every episode of creation (Manvantara) is known after Manu, not after Brahma, or any other gods. All materials for the creation of the material universe such as space, panchendriyas, panchbhutas, etc. originated from the Purusha alias Manu. The splitting of the Cosmic person into a man and woman is also related to Manu. Manu Dharma or Manu Parampara is presided over by Kalanthara Gurus or aeonic Gurus, who appear in every yuga at appropriate intervals for the spiritual evolution of mankind. That is the structure of Sanatana Dharma. This structure was abandoned by the Vedic ritualists to promote deity worship, through the temple-centric worship system (presided over and controlled by them) through the concept of Trimurti which has no sanction in the Vedas and Upanishads. Brahman is known only through a Brahma Gyani Guru, not through the worship at temples. The Guru-centric Ashram system was abandoned and in its place the priest-centric temple system was promoted arresting the spiritual evolution as willed by Manu, the father of this solar system. This was the reason for the spiritual debacle of India and the decline of Indian civilization.

      2. Do you accept the absolute, avyakt level beyond Purusha?

      3. Yes, Ayaktha is the infinite indefinable basis of everything. One who meditate on the Avyakta, attains the status of Avyakta. It is a state similar to Zero. Even God did not want to remain in this state, so says the Vedas and Upanishads. so he began the process of creation, as he felt lonely, there was none to speak to, or none to understand him. Even Sri Krishna did not advise Avyakta. He said it is difficult to achieve. One should realise the Avyakta through the Vyakta, you can seek Advaita, the nondual truth only through Dvaita, the dual aspect. Purusha is the manifest form of the unmanifest. He is God in creation mode. There cannot be creation in the unmanifest, in nonduality. Only when the nondual truth becomes kinetic through the Purusha it becomes known, it becomes capable of creation. So, the claim of Islam that God has no form is false.
        I have explained this situation in the post ‘The Mathematical Basis of Creation in Hinduism.’ https://mukundanpr.substack.com/p/the-mathematical-basis-of-creation?utm_source=facebook&sd=pf

  3. did i understand your write up correctly that you want to forgo the absolute Truth (avyakt Brahman) for a monotheistic type of Manu God to gel better with the monotheistic faiths? In that case, Hindu Dharma also would not have a solid philosophical basis.

    1. The truth of Absolute Brahman (Nirguna Brahman) is not denied. You should not consider yourself the Absolute Brahman without undergoing evolution through certain spiritual stages. To say ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am God) without such evolution and realization is wrong. The concept of Advaita Vedanta develops an unhealthy ego among people. We are not Brahman, we are only a part of it. That should be the humility of man. The need of the hour is to develop a monotheistic culture among Hindus, otherwise, they will get disintegrated further as it happened during the last 5000 years. The call was given first by Sri Krishna, then by Buddha and Mahavira, and then by the Sikh Gurus. They all called for a reform in Hinduism. It did not work. Then came Islam and Christianity. It brought about the ruin of Hindus further. I think it is high time Hindus think and discuss what is the true basis of Hinduism. Is it the Trimurti system worn out by time or Manu Dharma, which is ever progressive? If it is the Trimurti system, then you can continue to remain divided by a thousand sects and castes. It is just suicidal and degenerative. Only Manu Dharma promises a future for Hindus as it promotes a monotheistic view of God under the umbrella of a Kalanthara Guru. That is the true basis of Sanatana Dharma, which the Abrahamic religions copied successfully. The Trimurti system worked well in Dwapara and Treta Yuga. Kali Yuga is Jnana oriented, so one has to approach a Guru for Jnana. Sanatana Dharma is the vision and spiritual culture of such Kalanthara Gurus who appear from time to time in the Yuga intervals. I wish everyone like you who works tirelessly for the Hindu cause earnestly understand this perspective in a positive way. What I am trying to convey is not my personal view. It is based on the revelations from the Radiance of Brahman, received by a great sage in Kerala in the 70s. That’s all to add.

      1. i feel it is a question of relative and absolute truth. in absolute we are indeed always THAT, but as long as we identify with body and mind, we are NOT THAT, even though we are it always… Logic doesn’t go there…

  4. Garima · · Reply

    Respected Mariya Ji,
    We are “IDOL worshippers”, if we were not “idol worshippers”, still, they(christians and particularly muslims) will find another excuse to kill hindus, because they are taught to kill every person other then their belief system. Talking about muslims, they don’t spare their own brethren. Everyday we hear the news of shiya sunni killings, so it is nothing to do with idol worship.
    They want to lebel hindus as devils or devil worshippers, no matter what we do, we will remain devil for them.
    It is not our mistake, Mistake is there in those persons mindset and ideologies.
    So the need of the day is to pressurize them, to amend their ideologies.
    Nothing will change by changing the labels.

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