On Murti Pujaa
(It is not idolatry or stone worship. –Skanda987)
Two articles below.
From: danu kumar email@example.com
1) The philosophical schools like Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtha Advaita Vedanta , Dvaita Vedanta are started by great acharyas (prophets* sent by God and they were NOT limited as scholar) and they have written commentaries for Vedas and Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, etc. They have not opposed idol worship. Then why it is opposed in the religions like Islam, Sikh, Arya Samaj, etc? There is a reason for this which you can find in point 3.
2) Fire is also a natural object (one of the pancha-mahabutas) like a murthi (prithvi tatva) and Yagna is supported in Vedas. So called murthi is a medium through worship of God is done just like in Yagna, the God is invited through fire. One of my friend had quoted from Brahma Sutra 1st adhyaya 1st paada about murthi pooja which Acharya Madhwa, one of the prophets of God has written a commentary as following:
For those who do yagnas God is realized in fire. For a yogi, God is realized in heart. For aprabudda (who is not very intelligent) God is realized in so called images or idols but for true intelligent person God is found everywhere.
So the so called murthi pooja is Vedic but it was perhaps followed for getting the blessing in a more easy way (or for those who cannot do Tapasya like Yogi).
3) The Puranas that recommend so called idol worship also condemns the type of idol worship in which does not worship the omnipresence aspect of God. Here is the verse from Bhagavatha which clarifies how idol worship should NOT to be:
“Man performs the farce, that is worshipping idols etc., abandoning me, who is eternally existent in all beings. One, who is deserting the all pervading me and is worshipping the idols, is pouring fat to the ash. I am not pleased in him, who disrespects his fellow beings, though he worships me in my idol form, with an assortment of materials. Until one feels me, the omniscient, residing in one’s heart, one has to worship me in idols, observing one’s Dharma.
[Sreemadbhagavathamritha – Third Skanda P. 124]
Here is the verse which clarifies what idol worship to be:
Atmanam tanmayan dhyayan Moorthim sampoojyayet harehe.
“The idol of Hari should be worshiped by divinely contemplating on the spirit (since The Lord is the controller of all energies, and the living entities are parts and parcels of one of the energies.). “[11:3:54]
Here is another:
“Some people religiously perform Pooja on the idol. If they hurt others even when they pray, such prayers do not yield result.” [Ibid. seventh Skanda P. 340]
It is evident from the verses quoted above that the concept of idol worship was nothing like we think. To understand the scope of idol worship check http://answering-zakir-naik.orgfree.com/2012/01/when-idol-worship-of-hinduism-is-shirk/
4) The manuals of so called idol worship are called as Agamas. This is not considered as non-Vedic by any prophets or gurus perhaps till Daya-nanda Saraswathi. Of course, there is reason for this since more and more people were thinking that God is limited to idol and were believing in the omni-presence aspect of God. According to Agama scripture, God manifests Himself in five-fold forms: Para, Vyūha, Vibhava, Antaryamin, and Archa. The so called idols that Hindus worship is rightly called as Vigraha. Vigraha means one which influences (raham means same thing) in a special way (vi- stands for vishesha). There are many instances in which God has reacted with his devotees with the vigraha as the interface. Refer for more information about the science behind so called Vigraha-aradhane (loosely idol worship):
5) The Agamas state three essential requirements for a place of pilgrimage – Sthala, Teertham and Murthy. Sthala refers to the temple, Teertham, to the temple tank and Murthy to the deity(ies) worshipped. There are many instances or testimony in which the diseases or problems of the devotees are cured after visiting the temples or after doing pooja of certain deity or after bathing in a Teertha. This cannot be co-incidence or by chance since such miracles happening in such a large number means a possible one. Some of the well known miracles happening due to so called idol worship can be checked at http://answering-zakir-naik.orgfree.com/2012/02/miracles-of-vigraha-aradane-so-called-as-idol-worship/
5) There is Naga-natheshwara Linga near Begur, Bangalore which is known to have miraculous power. If anybody stands near the idol concentrating on God, you feel a force pulling you away. This has been tested by even Atheist and they have accepted this truth. There is similar kind of powerful Linga in Kanthavara (Udupi). A scientist who conducted research using a device in that temple found that there is huge amount of positive energy around this world which is due to none other than Linga. So the scholars know God only through books but devotees experience the power of God who knows about God much better than a scholar. They are blessed by God.
6) Read the following 2 verses from Shruthi:
” avidyanatho vidyathaha” = God is not someone who is knowable (fully by anyone), Apart from this, none has understood him. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3 – 7 – 23 )
” Eko Avarno ” = It is difficult to describe God. ( Svetasvatara-Upanisad 4 – 1 )
This means God is not just limited to the description given in Shruthis like He has no form. God is beyond form. This means God can take any spiritual form He likes. Devotees know God better than a scholar.
* I would not use the word ‘prophet’ for them. They were self-realized or vibhuutis empowered by God. Prophet word is used in the three Semitic religions. – skanda987
From danu kumar: Thanks brother (skanda987) for posting the article. Whatever I have written is not my own words. I have taken it from different websites.
Murti Pujaa Stated in Scriptures
From: Raj Pandit
In Satyarth Prakash (samulla 11) it is stated that murtipuja is un-Vedic and started with the advent of Jainism; this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the worship of mUrtIs is well documented and mentioned in Veda Samhita such as:
अर्चत प्रार्चत प्रियमेधासो अर्चत।
arcata prArcata priyamedhAso arcata | Rig VIII.69.7
“Oh enlightened ones, perform pooja (arca) to the pratima; worship it properly.” The word “arca” in veda only means adoration to a deity in the form of a murti. Had it meant agnihotra/havan then “yaj” would have been used; similarly if it had inferred simply ‘to praise’ then upAsanA is the correct word as in the mantra “ya AtmadA baladA yasya vishva upAsate..”.
Veda itself tells us that Brahman has two forms, the subtle and the manifest which is concrete (mUrtI):
द्वे वाव ब्राह्मणो रूपे मूर्तम् च अमूर्तम् च।
dve vAva brAhmaNo rUpe mUrtam ca amUrtam ca | bRhadAranyaka 2.3
Our itishAs such as Ramayan and Mahabharat describe the presence of the pradhAna kalasham and other kalashas in all yajnas which are the focal point and embodiment of the devata for whom the yajna is consecrated. The kalashas are first established and worshipped (through puja) prior to conducting Havan.
The kalasha is the embodiment (mUrti) of all the devatAs and it is described as such by shruti:
कलशस्य मुखे विष्णु कंठे रूद्राः समाश्रीताः
मूले तत्र स्थितो ब्रह्मा मध्ये मातृगणाः स्मृताः।
कुक्षौदु सागराः सर्वे सप्त द्वीपाव वसुन्धराः
ऋग्वेदोत यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोभ्य अथर्वणः॥
अंगैश्च सहिताः सर्वे कलशाम्बु समाश्रिताः॥
kalashasya mukhe vishNu, kanThe rUdrAH samAshrItAH mUle tatra sthito brahmA madhye mAtRgaNAH smRtAH kukshaudu sAgarAH sarve sapta dvIpAva vasundarAH Rgvedota yajurvedaH sAmavedObhya atharvaNaH angaishcha sahitAH sarve kalashhAmbu saMAshhritAH
Vishnu resides in the mouth and the Rudras in the neck of the vessel. At the nethermost is Brahma and in the middle are the (water) devis Kukshaudu. seas All seven islands on this earth Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharvana vedas with all vedAngas are present in the water in the vessel.
We invariably observe in Havans performed by Arya Samaj ritvik four metal glasses containing water are placed around the Havan kund representing varuNa devatA (water deity). The presence of the pAnca-tatva (five elements) is an essential element of any yajna.
Archaeological evidence unearthed from the ancient settlement of Harappa dated to before 3300BCE clearly demonstrates that the Shiva linga was worshipped by the civilisation of this era usually in the form of a short cylindrical pillar with a rounded top. It had no functional use other than an object of veneration. This further demonstrates that murtipuja existed well before the Jain period as wrongly stated in Satyarth Prakash.
It is suggested for further proof of early murtipuja that one should refer to the records of ancient visitors to India such as Cyrus of Persia or for example in the Chronicles of Megasthenes, Arrian (Greeks) or Demetrius of Bactria which describe in depth the existence of temples with murtis and the worship of these in the aforementioned method (i.e. Puja/Archana). Even our own iconic scholars such as Vishnugupta (Chanakya) have recorded the worship of murtis through puja existing many thousands of years prior to the advent of Mahavir and Jainism.
The recent discovery of the ancient city of dvArakA off the west coast of India in the Bay of Cambay dates back to the dvApar-yuga and has been dated to before the last ice-age which clearly pre-dates the advent of jains.
The references to archana or puja of Shiva linga and other murtis through the pouring of libations and application of sandalwood etc. in Ramayan, Bhagvat and Mahabharata are legion and some examples are quoted here: Once again kindly note that the verb “arca” is a specific reference to this kind of worship (i.e. puja) as opposed to “yajna”.
In this citation Bhagavan Shri Ram is showing Mata Sita Devi the Tirtham (place of pilgrimage) where he had worshipped Bhagavan Shiva:
अत्र पूर्वम् महादेवः प्रसादम्-अकरोत् विभुः।
एतत् दृष्यते तीर्थम् सागरस्य महात्मनः॥
सेतुबन्ध इति ख्यातम् त्रैलोक्येन च पूजितम्॥
Atra pUrvam MahAdevah prasAdam-akarot vibhuh/
Etat dRshyate tIrtham SAgarasya mahAtmanah//
Setubandh iti khyAtam Trailokyena ch pUjitam / Ramayan 6:123:20-21
Satyarth Prakash wrongly states that Rameshvaram was not a place of worship for Shiva (Mahadeva) prior to Shri Ram’s arrival and that a King of the South named Rama had erected the mandir later. The use of the word “tIrtham” by Shri Rama Chandra ji to describe this spot in Ramayan proves that it was already a well established place of pilgrimage (i.e. tIrtham).
In these quotes from Ramayan, Ravana’s puja through murtis is clearly related:
यत्र यत्र च याति स्म रावणो राक्षसेवरः।
जाम्बूनद् मयम् लिंगम् तत्र तत्र स्म नीयते॥
Yatra yatra ch yAti sma rAvaNo rAkshasevarah/
jAmbUnadmayam lingam tatra tatra sma nIyate// 7:31:12
क्रुत्-उदक शुचिर्-भूत्वा काले हुत्-हुताश्णः।
देवागारम् जगामाशु पुन्यम्-इक्ष्वाकु-सेवितम् ।
तत्र देवा पित्रुन् विप्रान् अर्चयित्वा यथा-विधिः॥
Krut-udaka, shuchir-bhUtvA, kAle hut-hutAshnah,
devAgAram jagAmAshu punyam-ikshvAku-sevitam/
Tatra devA, pitrun, viprAn archayitvA yathA-vidhih// 7:37:13-14
Bhagvatam relates in 10.22 that the puja of Mata Durga Murti in Temples (Katyayani Devi) and fasting was prevalent among Shri Krishna’s kula of Vraj :
हेमन्ते प्रथमे मासि नंद-व्रज-कमारिकाः।
चेरुर् हविष्यं भुंजानाः कात्यायन्य-अर्चन-व्रतम्॥१॥
आप् लुत्यांभसि कालिन्द्या जलान्ते चोदिते रुणे।
कृत्वा प्रतिकृतिम् देवीम् आनर्चुर् नृप सैकतीम्॥२॥
गंधैर् माल्यैः सुरभिभिर् बलिभिर् धूप-दीपकैः।
उच्चावचैश् चोपहारैः प्रवाल-फल-तण्डुलैः॥३॥
hemante prathame mAsi nanda-vraja-kamArikAH |
cherur haviShyaM bhunjAnAH kAtyAyany-archana-vratam ||1||
AplutyAMbhasi kAlindyA jalAnte chodite ‘ruNe |
kRtvA pratikRtiM devīm Anarchur nRpa saikatIm ||2||
gandhair mAlyaiH surabhibhir balibhir dhUpa-dīpakaiH |
ucchAvacaish chopahAraiH pravAla-phala-taNDulaiH ||3||
Further evidence in Bhagvat of murti puja is found after Shri Krishna Maharaj destroys Narakasur and saves the 16,000 damsels, Narada Muni visits Shri Krishna Bhagavan in Dvaraka (vide 10.69) and relates Shri Krishna’s multiple leela and describes charming devalaya/ mandirs/ temples (ruchiram suralayaih) and Bhagvan participating in many pujas with his patnis:
In Mahabharata there are many episodes describing murtipuja (archana):
शरण्यम् शरणम् गत्वा भगवंतम् पिनाकिनम् ।
म्रुण्-मयम् स्थंदिलम् कृत्वा माल्येन-अपूजयद् भवम् ॥
अर्चितानि च सर्वानि देवता-आयतनानिन् च ।
देवता-आयतनानो च पूजाः सुविविधास्-तथा ॥
Sharanyam sharanam gatvA bhagavantam PinAkinam/
Mrun-mayam sthandilam krutvA mAlyena-apUjayad bhavam// Vana Parva 19:65
ArchitAni ch sarvAni devatA-AyatanAnin ch/ Vana 75:8
DevatA-AyatanAno ch pUjAh suvividhAs-tathA / Ashva. 70:16
The ancient Shiva temple of Katasraj (KatAka-sheela) near Saain da Choh district Chakwal, Pakistan where the infamous encounter of the Pandava with the Yaksha ensued related in the Mahabharata and the lake along with the Shiva temple have been there prior to the visit of the Pandavas.
We would point out that murtipuja was prevalent in the early part of Creation, that is, in Satya Yuga and this is ratified through the ancient epics of Bhakta Dhruva and Bhakta Prahlad. After all did not Prahlad refuse to worship his father Hiranyakashipu as God and clung to his murti of Shri Vishnu Narayan? Even Shri Krishna Maharaj mentions in Bhagavad Gita that “prahalAdash-chAsmi daityAnAm” (10.30) that among the Daityas he is Bhakta Prahlad. One can still see the ruins of the famous mandir in Prahaladpura in the southern subrbs of modern day Multan now in Pakistan.
More than this- let us not forget our great Kings such as Ambarish of the Ikshvaku dynasty who were ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu and built many temples in his honour. Maharaja Ambarish engaged daily in the puja of Shri Bhagvan’s murti, in the cleaning of his temples etc. He relished visiting temples of Shri Hari and taking darshan of his divine murtis. Maharaj Ambarish kept the fast of Ekadashi,Dvadashi for one year with his Queen and the fast (vrat) of Kartik Maas.
Here are the scriptural evidences from Bhagvatam 9.4 :
करौ हरेर् मंदिरम् आर्जनादिषु ।१८।
मुकुन्द लिंगालय दर्शने ।१९।
अरि राधयिषुः कृष्णम् महिष्या तुल्य शीलया।
युक्तः सांवत्सरं वीरो दधार द्वादशि व्रतम् ॥२९॥
karau harermandiramArjanAdiShu… |18|
ArirAdhayiShuH kRShNaM mahiShyA tulyashīlayA |
yuktaH sAMvatsaraM veero dadhAra dvAdashivratam ||29||
We see here that Maharaj Ambarish undertook the mahabhishekam (bathing with milk, honey, curd etc.) of the pratima of Shri Vishnu, dressed the murti, offered flowers and other puja materials:
महाभिषेक विधिना सर्वोपस् कर सम्पदा।
अभिषिच्याम् बराकल्पैर् गन्धमाल्यार् हणादिभिः॥ ३१॥
तद् गतन्तर भावेन पूजयामास केशवम् ।
ब्राह्मणांश्च महाभागान् सिद्धार्थान् अपि भक्तितः॥३२॥
mahAbhiShekavidhinA sarvopaskarasampadA |
abhiShichyAmbarAkalpairgandhamAlyArhaNAdibhiH || 31||
tadgatntarabhAvena pUjayAmAsa keshavam
brAhmaNAMshcha mahAbhAgAn siddhArthAn api bhaktitaH ||32||
It is most disenchanting that purported Hindus in this very forum would happily allow these remaining evidences to be destroyed like the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan so that they can further their argument that mUrti-puja never existed before the Jains.
In conclusion, to assert that murti puja is only two-three thousand years old and was not prevalent in Vedic times is the height of ignorance and the greatest of untruths. In light of these glaring evidences any discerning and intelligent Hindu would reject this canard being repeatedly spread by some within this august forum. We know that murti puja has been part and parcel of our Dharma since time immemorial and it is not un-Vedic.
Dr Raj Pandit Sharma
Hindu Priest Association (UK)
National Council of Hindu Temples UK
Tel: 078 5032 0050