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A Symbol of God:
Unveiling the Divinity in the Idol Regular worship and other modes of demonstrating our inner feeling of recognition of divinity in the idol unveil the Divinity latent in it. This is truly a wonder and a miracle.
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The picture comes to life. The idol speaks. It will answer your questions and solve your problems. The God in you has the power to awaken the latent Divinity in the idol. It is like a powerful lens that focuses the sun’s rays onto a bundle of cotton.
The lens is not fire and the cotton is not fire either, nor can the sun’s rays by themselves burn the cotton. However, when all three are brought together in a particular manner, fire is generated and the cotton is burnt. Similar is the case with the idol, the aspirant, and the all-pervading Divinity. The idol is the lens which brings into focus the all-pervading rays of Divinity and lights up the aspirant with divine illumination. God is enshrined in the idol. From here, He will protect you in a special manner. The idol will perform miracles. The place where it is installed is at once transformed into a temple, nay, a Vaikunta or Kailas in reality. Those who live in such a place are freed from miseries, from diseases, from failures and from worldliness itself. The awakened Divinity in the idol acts as a guardian angel blessing all, conferring the highest good on those who bow to it.
The Image—A Mass of Consciousness: The idol is only a symbol of the Divine. A devotee does not behold therein a block of stone or a mass of metal. It is an emblem of God for him. He visualises the indwelling Presence in the idol. All the sixty-three Nayanar saints of South India attained God-realisation through worship of the Shiva Linga, the image of Lord Shiva. For a devotee, the image is a mass of consciousness. He draws inspiration from it. It guides him. It talks to him. It assumes the human form to help him in a variety of ways. The image of Lord Shiva in the temple at Madura in South India helped the fuel-cutter and the old woman. The image in the temple at Tirupati assumed a human form and gave witness in the court to help His devotees. These are marvels and mysteries. Only the devotees understand them. When Idols Become Alive, When Appayya Dikshita went to the Tirupati temple in South India, the Vaishnavas refused to grant him admission. The next morning they found that the idol of Lord Vishnu in the temple had changed to the idol of Lord Shiva. The priest was greatly astonished and startled. He asked pardon and prayed to Appayya Dikshita to change the idol again to that of Lord Vishnu. Kanaka Das was a great devotee of Lord Krishna in Udipi, in the district of South Kanara, in South India. He was not allowed to enter the temple on account of his low birth. Kanaka Das went round the temple and saw a small window at the back of the temple. He seated himself in front of the window. He was soon lost in singing songs in praise of Lord Krishna. Many people gathered round him.
.They were very powerfully attracted by the sweet melody of his music and the depth of his devotion. Lord Krishna turned round to enable Kanaka Das to get His Darshan. The priests were struck with wonder. Even today, pilgrims are shown the window and the place where Kanaka Das sat and sang.
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The idol is the same as the Lord, for it is the vehicle of the expression of the Mantra-consciousness which is the Deity. The devotee should regard the idol in the temple with the same attitude of respect and reverence that he would evince should the Lord Himself appear before him in person and speak to him in articulate sound. Vedanta and Idol Worship A pseudo-Vedantin feels ashamed to bow before an idol in the temple. He feels that his Advaita (attitude of oneness) will evaporate if he prostrates himself. Study the lives of the reputed Tamil saints—Appar, Sundarar, Sambandhar, and others. They all had the highest Advaitic realisation. They saw Lord Shiva everywhere. Yet, they visited all temples of Shiva, prostrated before the idol and sang hymns which are on record till today. The sixty-three Nayanar saints solely practised the worship of the idols of Shiva and attained God-consciousness thereby. They swept the floor of the temple, collected flowers, made garlands for the Lord and put lights in the temple. They were illiterate, but attained the highest realisation. They were practical Yogis and their hearts were saturated with pure devotion. They were embodiments of Karma Yoga. All practised the Yoga of synthesis
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The idol was all consciousness to them, not a mere block of stone. Madhusudana Swami, who had Advaitic realisation, who beheld oneness of the Self and who had the feeling of oneness with all creation, was intensely attached to the form of Lord Krishna with flute in His hands.
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