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In defense of idol worship

A source of controversy and a massive source of division between the major religions that believe in form/idol worship (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) and those for whom it is anathema (Christianity, Islam). I found Ramana Maharshi’s response to a Muslim questioner interesting enough to share. The following extract from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi  Pages 109-110 [D = Devotee, M = Master]

D: Has God a form?

M: Who says so?

D: Well, if God has no form is it proper to worship idols?

M: Leave God alone because He is unknown. What about you? Have you a form?

D: Yes. I am this and so and so.

M: So then, you are a man with limbs, about three and half cubits high, with beard, etc. Is it so?

D: Certainly.

M: Then do you find yourself so in deep sleep?

D: After waking I perceive that I was asleep. Therefore by inference I remained thus i deep sleep also.

M: If you are the body why do they bury the corpse after death? The body must refuse to be buried.

D: No, I am the subtle jiva within the gross body.

M: So you see that you are really formless; but you are at present identifying yourself with the body. So long as you are formful why should you not worship the formless God as being formful?

The questioner was baffled and perplexed.

As I searched for a suitable image to add to this post, I found this forceful defense of form worship by Amrit Hallan.

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