IDOL PUJA – PHILOSOPHY AND SIGNIFICANCEAnish Sinha
A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. An idol is an external symbol of God for worship. Steadiness of mind is obtained by idol-won ship. God is infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. It is not possible for all to fix the min on these attribute, of God. A concrete form is necessary for the vast majority for practising concentration. To be hold God everywhere and to practise His presence is not possible for the ordinary man. Idol-worship is the easiest form of worship for man.
Idols are not the idle fancies of sculptors, but the shining channels through which the heart of the devotee is attracted to and flows towards God. An object I used in the outer Puja such as an image (Pratima), a picture or an emblem such as Saligrama in the case Vishnu worship, of Linga in the case of worship of Siva.
The Puranas and Agamas give elaborate description of idol-worship. Everyone is an idol-worshiper. Pictures, drawings, etc. are only forms of Pratima or Murti. A gross mind needs a concrete symbol. Idol-won ship is not peculiar only to Hindus. Christians worship the Cross. They have the image of the Cross in the mind. The Mohammedans keep the image of Kaaba stone when they kneel and do prayers. The people of the whole world, save a few Yogis and Vedantins, are all worshipers of idols.
Puja is the effort on the part of the devotee i.e upasaka (who does upasana or worship) to reach the proximity or presence of God or the Supreme Self. Puja literally means “sitting near’ God. Puja is about approaching the chosen ideal or object of worship by meditating on it in accordance with teachings of the Sastras and the Guru and dwelling steadily in the current of that one thought, like a thread of oil poured from one vessel to another (Tailadharavat). It consists of all those observances and practices—physical and mental—by which the aspirant makes a steady progress in the realm of spirituality and eventually realises in himself, in his own heart, the presence of Godhead.
Benefits of worship – Puja helps the devotee to sit near the Lord or to commune with Him. It purifies the heart and steadies the mind. It fills the mind with Suddha Bhava and Prema or pure love for the Lord. It gradually transmutes man into a divine being.
Puja changes the mental substance, destroys Rajas and Tamas and fills the mind with Sattya or purity. Puja destroys Vasanas, Trishnas, egoism, lust, hatred, anger etc.