How does Hinduism justify idol worship when Christianity and Islam forbid it? || Acharya Prashant

How does Hinduism justify idol worship when Christianity and Islam forbid it

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Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

~ John 13:16

Question: The Abrahamic religions, all of them, are against idol worship. Not only Christianity, but also Islam, Judaism. But in Hinduism , there is a lot of idol worship. How to reconcile them, and whether or not, they can be reconciled?

Acharya Prashant Ji: What is the sutra(verse)for tonight? What does it read? Read it aloud please.

Questioner: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” ~John 13:16.

Acharya Ji: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

This establishes one relationship between the center, and the expression of the center. What is that relationship? That the One that you are seeing, is the servant of the One, who has sent him. That this world, is not really separate from the lord. It is related in the same way as, a servant is related to the world.

Are you getting it?

That it has not just come, from somewhere.

Jesus is saying that this has been sent, by Truth itself. What Jesus is saying here, is so very in tune, with the opening lines of the the Kena Upanishad. The Kena Upnishad begins by asking: “By whom is the mind sent? What is behind the ears? What is behind the eyes?”

Jesus is answering it. He is saying: “The world is a servant, sent by the Lord, the Master, the Truth.” Now, if you really are surrendered to the Lord, then an expression of the surrender is, that you worship even the servant of the Lord.

India has worshiped, the creation, as very intimate, to the creator.

So intimate, that they cannot even be differentiated.

All that Jesus is saying is: “Do not worship anybody, except the Lord. Do not worship anybody, except the Truth.”

Hinduism has said: “All of this comes from the Truth. So where do I go to worship the Truth? And having realised that all of this is sent by the Truth, I will worship all of it, without distinction. I will worship the tree, the animal, the stone, the leaf, the dung, the mountain, the air, the water, the hurricane, the man, the woman, the child, the old one.

Without exception, India has worshiped everything, because everything is coming from ‘there’ – the Truth.

Just as you keep to your heart, a letter that has been sent by the beloved, don’t you? What do you do with a letter, that has been kissed, and sent to you by the beloved? What do you do to it? You keep it here, close to the heart. You don’t throw it away.

Hinduism sees this world, the entire world, with all it’s diversity, as a letter from the Beloved.

Now, the Beloved can’t be kissed. So, the Hindu kisses the stone.

The Beloved can’t be kissed, so the Hindu kisses the river.

That does not mean that Hinduism believes in many gods. Of course, the Truth is not even one, let alone many. The Truth is a great void. But it manifests itself variously. And all aspects of the manifestation are divine. They have been worshiped.

(The questioner had especially flown from Europe, to seek answers related to God, Truth, Peace.

His curiosity coincidentally connected him to Acharya Prashant Ji. He was firstly, connected to Acharya Ji, through the YouTube videos, and then he finally got a chance to attend his Satsang, during the Myth demolition Tour, organised in Rishikesh, in the year 2016).   

Questioner: But the Bible says that do not worship a particular statue, do not worship idols.

Acharya Ji: Now pay attention. If you make, ‘a particular’ statue, then it is idol worship. But what if you say that all statues are statues of God, would you still call it as ‘idol worship’?

When the Bible says, “Do not worship idols,” it is assuming that you will make one particular statue. But what if you say, that all forms – a statue is a form – what if, you say, that all forms are the forms of the formless?

If you worship one particular form, of course, you are taking just one idol, and sticking to it. And that is false. But what if, all forms, the form itself, the universe itself, reminds you of That?

What would be the quality of that mind, that looks at the river and is reminded of the the great void?

What would be the quality of that mind, which looks at a child, which looks at a nude woman, and is reminded of nothing, but the Truth?

All forms, and any form.

That is what the Hinduism talks about.

Listener 1: So, when Shri Ramchandra ji, when he was going to Lanka, for getting his wife, Sita ji, back. I have read, that he did make a statue of Shiva, and prayed for his blessings. What my friend here said about Bible being against idol worship, may be true, because I think the God of Bible is a jealous God. He does not want anyone else being worshiped.

Acharya Ji: If your wife gets attracted to one man, then you can be jealous. But, would you be jealous, if your wife is attracted to the entire male population of the world?

(laughter)

Listener 1: There is nothing wrong now.

Acharya Ji: It is not about anything being wrong now. Now the happening is divine. When you worship one idol, that is called ‘idolatry’. Those who had condemned idol worship, had  not realised a situation where everything would be idolized. Had they known this situation, they would have said, “Idol worship is divine.”

To take one body as divine, is ‘idol worship’. That is why, thinking of Jesus as a body, as a son of God, is ‘idol worship’. Now you are taking one body as divine. But when all bodies are divine, that is not ‘idol worship’. Now it is something else. It is beyond the realm of mind, because you are not even putting any conditions. Now you cannot condemn it.

Your wife is in a loving relationship with the entire population of the world. How will you condemn it? Her love is universal – no limits, no boundaries. All is lovable. Now, you cannot condemn. Now you will not call it ‘idolatry’, or ‘adultery’.

No more.

Getting attached to certain forms, is indeed condemnable.

But seeing the divine, in every form, is another matter.

When idol worship is condemned, it is rightly condemned, because ‘idol worship’ means, giving one form, the position of God. ‘Idol worship’ means – this woman is so important. She is the idol. ‘Idol worship’ means – a man, a woman, a thought, a concept, something has become very important to me. So important, that I am worshiping it.

Now, this is heresy. Instead of worshiping the one God, you are worshiping something limited. Instead of worshiping the limitless, you are worshiping the limited, which would cause suffering to you. So, rightly idol worship is condemned.

But when, everything is worth worshiping, then you can no more call it ‘idol worship’.

Listener 2: This makes beautiful sense, Acharya Ji.

Listener 3: What happens when we start worshiping ourselves, the ego? What happens when we place the ego, the limited, as God?

Acharya Ji: What does it mean to worship everything, given that what is outside, is the inside. Right? We have repeatedly said that – the external is the internal. An now we are saying, everything carries the imprint of the divine, so Hindus have worshiped everything. So, does that mean that Hindus have worshiped ego?

Please understand.

When you are talking of every thing, what does it mean to see the presence of the divine, in every thing? Remember that the external, is the internal. It means – even when you are looking at multiple things, yet you are centered in ‘nothing’.

You might be looking at diversity, yet there is no diversity in the mind. Diversity means parts. You might be looking at many things, yet there are not many things ‘here'(the mind). There is nothing here – no parts, no presence. Pure emptiness.

When there is pure emptiness ‘here’ (the mind), then whatever is visible outside, is also empty. That is what is meant by – seeing the divine in everything. When there is Shiva ‘here'(the heart), then there is Shiva in that pole as well. But when there is ego ‘here’, then there is ego even in a pole.

To see God everywhere, there must be, first of all, God in the heart.

When God is in the heart, then your eyes open only to see God everywhere.

And when God is not in the heart, remember, you cannot see God anywhere.

Then, you will not see God, even in the Prophet of God, even in the Son of God, the Messenger of God.

So, if someone says, “No, no, I do not see godliness anywhere, but that fellow, that special one, is the messenger of God,” then he is lying. If you cannot see godliness anywhere, how did you see it in one particular form? Those who will see godliness, will see godliness, unconditionally. And those who will not see it, will not see it anywhere. Even if the very son of God is standing in front of them, they will not see godliness.

When you are not seeing godliness in the bird, in the puppy, in the stone, in the air, in water, how will you see godliness in the face of Christ?

Because you are the seer.

When the center is godly, then everything around you is godly.

And when the center is not godly, then you can only crucify Christ.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session:  Acharya Prashant: How does Hinduism justify idol worship when Christianity and Islam forbid it?


Editor’s Note: To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here


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What is love? || Acharya Prashant on Jiddu Krishnamurti (2018)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

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Question: Dear master, Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “When you love, you are neither giving, nor receiving.” Acharya ji, does love have an object? Could you explain how can we love in daily life, without giving or receiving? What is love, if it has no object?

Acharya Prashant Ji: All objects are small, Shirin.

The object of love is so gigantic, that you cannot call it an ‘object’. Further, all objects leave ample space for you to remain. All objects leave space for the dualistic subject to remain, and prosper.

The object of love is so big, so total, so filling, so occupying, so unrelenting, so very compelling, that it leaves no space for the subject to hide and survive.

Obviously, if the subject is gone, who can call the object, an object. So, the object of love is a non-object. Those who have come before us, have called that object as – Truth, God, Beloved, Amma-Baba, Father, Maa.

Next you are asking, “How can one be in love without giving or receiving?” Giving and receiving, both imply your presence, and your activity. You have to be there to give, you have to be there to receive. And in both, your presence, your being, gets stamped, certified, further ascertained. In giving, you remain as the giver. In receiving, you strike roots as the receiver.

So, in love, there is neither giving nor receiving. Simply put, no doing of the doer. No-doing of the doer, is also the highest doing of the little doer. The highest of the little doer.

I give an example to you. I have heard of this little soldier, he was actually a civilian, in one of the wars in the last century. He was so small, he was not even trained as a soldier. His village had been invaded, the villagers had been captured, taken away for forced labour. They were being used to construct a bridge. That’s what the invading army was using the locals for, take them away and use their labour to build a bridge.

Now that the enemy has taken them away, they are with the enemy. And this little one could see a big ammunition depot. A big ammunition depot. You are already guessing it, right? There was not much, he could have done, all by himself. The enemy numbered in hundreds, hundreds of well-built, grown-up, trained soldiers, with firearms. What could the boy have done? But there was one thing that the boy could do, with a little bit of ingenuous engineering. He rammed himself into the depot, and blew the entire depot off. Obviously, nothing of him remained. But, it took down the entire non-sense with him.

So, Shirin, that’s love- attempting the impossible. The task is so damn big, that it can’t be done, if you protect yourself. If you protect yourself, it won’t happen. That’s love.

Excuse me for giving a violent analogy. But he, who has a lot of bloodshed, he is indeed involved in love. Love does involve a lot of demolition. And there are fireworks. And things come down. Great structures collapse. Formidable enemies have to be defeated. All that is love.

You want something beyond your size, you want something beyond your measure.

And it will require all of you to get that.

If you care for your safety, if you care for your survival, it just can’t happen.

That’s love.

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Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: What is love? || Acharya Prashant on Jiddu Krishnamurti (2018)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

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Acharya Prashant on ‘International Women’s Day’

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THE REVOLUTION MUST ARISE FROM THE WOMAN!

(To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here)

As long as the woman keeps thinking that her body is an asset, there is no freedom for her.

As long as the woman keeps thinking that the freedom is about flaunting her body, there is no freedom for her.  

The woman is the more oppressed of the two genders and therefore, the revolution must arise from the woman. Read more

Acharya Prashant on Veganism: Vedas and Milk

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Question: Acharya Ji, there are people who quote the Vedas and say “A Hindu is a good Hindu only if he drinks milk from the mother cow.” What is your take on that?

Acharya Prashant: See if you have named the Vedas, what is the central teaching of all the Vedic literature?

If you want to really know what the Vedic teaching is, you will have to go to the Upanishads. The Upanishads are called the “Vedanta”, which means the summit or the climax of Veda. And they go into the reality of man. What is the reality of man? The Upanishads are very forthright and unequivocal about it. They say, “Man is the Truth itself (Aham Brahmasmi).” Nothing else except the Truth. You are the ultimate finality. You are the total.

Now, if this is the position that the Vedic literature takes, then one cannot operate from a point of incompleteness, hollowness or desirousness. A lot of what we do, please see we do just in order to gain fulfillment. We say that the purpose of human Life is progress, don’t we? And we asses a human being according to how much he has been able to progress and contribute to progress.

And what is progress for us?
Knowing more; collecting more.

I’m not trying to unnecessarily be simplistic. Please go into it.

When you know more, when you collect more, is it something that happens only on the outside or does it also affects your self-worth? When you know more, your self-worth rises; when you collect more, again your self-worth rises. The Upanishads say, that your self-worth, that which you are, is any way infinite, you are anyway total. Now, go out and play. You are anyway perfect and complete. Now, do whatever you want to do. But do it from a point of perfection. Do it from a point of completion.

Do not do in order to gain something. Do not do in order to rise.

Act as if you are already there as if you are already complete.

That is what Vedas are all about.

Now, around this center, a lot has been said. Just a whole lot.

Read more

To call everything as one is not spirituality, but insanity

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There was a holy man who lived in a state of ecstasy, but was regarded by everyone as insane. One day, having begged for food in the village, he sat by the roadside and began to eat when dog came up and looked at him hungrily. The holy man then began to feed the dog; he himself would take a morsel, and then give a morsel to the dog as though he and the dog were old friends. Soon crowd gathered around the two of them to watch this extraordinary site.

One of the men in the crowd jeered at the holy man. He said to the others, “what can you expect from someone so crazy that he is not able to distinguish between a human being and a dog?”

The holy man replied, “Why do you laugh? Do you see Vishnu seated with Vishnu? Vishnu is being fed and Vishnu is doing the feeding. So why do you laugh, oh Vishnu?”

Question: Why can’t we see Vishnu?

Acharya Prashant: Because he is not to be seen. The story says, “Vishnu is feeding Vishnu, and Vishnu is watching. This is a gross representation. This is just very overt symbolism. Vishnu here stands for the essence. Vishnu here stands for the centre. You could call it—the Atma, the soul, the source, anything.

With Vishnu at the centre you are free to look at the world as it is. With Vishnu at the centre you get the fearlessness, the courage, the directness to not to load your prejudices, biases, and fears upon what you see with your eyes, and what you sense with your entire mental apparatus. What does this mean? This means that you do not need to label anything as Vishnu. Forget about labelling everything as Vishnu; you do not need to label anything as Vishnu. The wall is a wall, not Vishnu. The chair is a chair, not Vishnu; a boy is a boy; a woman is a woman; the earth is the earth; the sky is the sky; and there is no need to call them Vishnu.

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Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara

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Question: Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara. ’ Can you explain this?

Acharya Prashant: Guru stands for that which calls, the force that which pulls you inwards from darkness into light.  Now you worship ‘Brahama’, ‘Vishnu’ and ‘Mahesh’ and the various deities; this verse says that the Guru is the essence of all that which you have ever worshipped. And again just like Jesus, the Guru is not a physical entity. Read more

Spirituality is the intimacy of the immediate, not the blaze of the beyond

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Acharya Prashant: So, here we are, sitting in a spiritual city. Everything here, the whole context is spiritual. Some of us are not from India, and they have come here for spiritual reasons.

So, what is Spirituality? Read more

Intentions don’t matter; Awareness does || Acharya Prashant (2013)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.


Question: What we get from outside especially in the childhood, is the love, affection, care of our parents, family. How can that contribute to our ego?

Speaker: There is a saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” People’s intentions are good, but they end up doing a lot of harm. People’s intentions are good but they end up doing a lot of harm because they are not aware. Even their love can only cause harm to the loved ones.

Intentions don’t matter, awareness matters.

I may have all the intentions of helping my son, my friend, somebody. But how can I help if my notion of help itself is misplaced.

Read more

You, I and the mind

Question: What is the difference between ‘You’, ‘I’ and ‘the mind’?

Speaker: Good. What is the difference between ‘You’, ‘I’ and ‘the mind’? Simple.

Whatever is personal is mind.

We all exist as persons. Right? Right now if I have to speak to you, I cannot look somewhere else and speak. You will feel awkward if I do that. You exist as a person. You are looking at me. Even though you do not look at me you would still be able to hear me, but it’s our common practice. The entire world does this. We exist as persons having a definite form, a definite name, a definite shape, and some characteristics that appear as permanent. Whatever this person is characterized by, is the mind. Whatever is personal, is mind. So the person is the mind and the person refers to himself as ‘I’. Wherever there is an ‘I’ there would be a reciprocal…?
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Any and every image you make of yourself is an ugly image

Question: How do I find a balance between my personal goals and dreams in life with my family’s expectations from me? How can one fulfil both without compromising on either?

Speaker: How can I find a balance between my personal goals and dreams in life with my family’s expectations from me? How can I fulfil both without compromising on either?

There is a slave, and there are two men who are fighting over the rights to own that slave. The slave is greatly interested in the fight, the slave wants to know who will win. The slave sometimes even wants to support one party over the other. There are these two men who are quarrelling, who are fighting, it’s like a tug-of-war, and the slave thinks that he is asking a very meaningful question. ‘Who should be my master? To whom should I be enslaved?’ What would you recommend to that slave? Read more

Why does man go wrong?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

– (Bible, Romans 14:17)

Question: Christ says, ‘The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink’, but on every special day, all I see is meat and drink. That is how people celebrate. So where did it all go wrong?

Speaker: If Christ is saying that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, then why do we only see meat and drink? And his words are both figuratively and literally true. Millions of animals would have been slaughtered just for the New Year eve celebration. And you know, statistics are that forty percent of that meat, chicken, ham, beef, bacon, all that goes to go waste. Because in festivals people tend to buy more than they need, then they throw it away. Of the millions of slaughtered animals, millions have been killed, just to be dumped in a waste basket.
Read more

Only a Godless mind will be petty

यदि देहं पृथक् कृत्य चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि।

अधुनैव सुखी शान्तो बन्धमुक्तो भविष्यसि॥

– अष्टावक्र गीता (१.४)

Translation: If you detach yourself from the body and rest in consciousness, you will become content, peaceful and free from bondage immediately.

Question: How to detach oneself from the body? Read more

What is Prayer?

Hari ke jan satigur, satpurkha binau karau gur paasi.

– Shri Guru Granth Sahib, 10

{O humble servant of the Lord, O true Guru, O true primal being, I offer my humble prayer to you, O Guru!}

Question: What is prayer? Is there a need for another thing or another body separate from you for praying?

Acharya Prashant: The word ‘praying’ is beautifully understood when you also take its counterpart in Sanskrit Praarthna.

Arth means desire. Whenever you usually pray – and we all keep praying – our prayers are to the world, our prayers are to people, to situations. Whenever we normally pray, there is a desire behind it: arth. The desire is obviously a product of conditioning; it is obviously material, as all desires are bound to be. It is about a thing, a person, or an idea. Read more

Happiness cannot be the purpose of life

Question: Sir, what is the purpose of life?  Is it earning money, or happiness?

Speaker: The lady is asking, ‘What is the ultimate purpose of life?’ She has already presented us two options:

  1. Earning money or,
  1. Happiness.

But you already know. You have already discounted everything else and zeroed in on to two options. What are they? That the purpose could be either to earn money, or to be happy.

Alright. So let’s first look at these two. What does one earn money for?

Listener 1: For livelihood.

Speaker: And, why does one want a livelihood?

Listener 2: For comfort.

Speaker: What does comfort give you?

Listener 3: Satisfaction and happiness. Read more

Place of ego- either at the Master’s feet or in the Master’s embrace

Question: What should I do if something is clear, but I do not act according to that understanding?

Speaker: We had talked about the limitation of clarity. Clarity alone is not sufficient. You can be very clear that you are diseased, but unless you are also sure that you can be disease-free, that clarity will only give you pain.
Read more

You have forgotten the key to yourself

Question: Sir, good afternoon. While I speak before you, I will try to choose my words very gracefully. Sir, I have many things in my life that keep me happy but it is life and we are not supposed to have everything. I have lacked something in my life that I can say as self motivation. How do I get self motivated?

Speaker: What you are really asking for is not motivation. So first of all let us make a little bit of semantic correction. Read more

What is Neti Neti?

Listener 1: What do we understand by ‘Neti-Neti’?

Speaker: ‘Neti’ is a Sanskrit word. It is a very simple word. All it means is ‘Not this’. ‘Neti’ means I will not take something to be what it is not. ‘Neti’ means I will not assume something to be what it is not. We all say that we want to know the truth, we want to know the realty. But before you can know the reality of anything, anybody, any person and any situation, you first must know that your beliefs or assumptions regarding that thing is misplaced. ‘Neti’ means ‘Oh! It is not what I thought it to be. I was thinking about it in a particular way.’ All thought comes with an assurance that I am alright. That thought is the truth. Thought comes with this assurance, this promise. It gives you this belief. ‘Neti-Neti’ is to challenge that belief. ‘Neti-Neti’ is to say, ‘I came close to it, I paid attention to it and in coming close and in paying attention, what do I see? It is not what I thought it to be. It is not that, it is not that at all.’ That is Neti-Neti.
Read more

Will the Ego let go of the Ego?

Speaker: Have you tried seeing whether the different activities are in agreement with each other? Have you tried seeing whether the video that you watch are in the agreement with the activities? Is everything gelling together or are things contradictory to each other? You must find contradictions because there are contradictions.
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Idealess action, Zeroness, Fullness

Question: Please tell something more about Idealess action and Zeroness.

Speaker: Idealess action simply means that I have so much clarity that I don’t have to think anymore. An idea is a thought. “I am so damn clear that thinking is no more required”, that is Idealess action. “I have understood so deeply that I do not need to ideate anymore”. Such action is creative action, fresh action because in any case all thoughts, all ideas, can come only from the stuff that is only stored in the mind. Right? We know that. So any action coming from an idea will be an action being repeated from the past. Because every thought is coming up from where? Its roots are in the past.
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There is no problem outside of yourself

Question: Sir, mystery is unknown, and our mind is running behind them to solve them. Why?

Speaker: The mind, rather the ego, does not acknowledge anything as mystery. Mystery by definition is something that can never be…?

Listener 1: Known.

Speaker: Known, solved. But the ego is arrogant. It says, ‘Everything is a problem, and every problem has a solution. So, I can solve everything.’ So it is busy trying to solve everything, trying to solve everything. In fact, the more it solves, the more it gets inflated.
Read more