Worship of God in any form is equally efficacious!
Message of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa!
All names are His, all forms are His!
Many of us visit churches and temples at a regular basis. We reach the sanctum and pray silently to the deity installed therein be it Jesus or Mary or other gods found in Hindu temples. Of course, we don’t get any reaction or acceptance or sigh from the idols. Still we never cease to pray there. What is the reason for our persistent prayers? Inwardly, we are sure that God listens to our sincere prayers. We may not get any confirmation that god heard our prayers. But we are sure and satisfied that our prayers are heard by god. There is a great philosophy behind idol worship. We need something or somebody to listen to us when we pour our woes. That is why idols were consecrated and placed in the sanctums of the temples worldwide. If there is no idol worship in certain religions, at least there is a place where people congregate and offer their worship. In Sikh religion, “Granth Saheb” (the holy text containing the teachings of Guru Nanak is placed in altar and is read and worshipped sincerely. Likewise, in Islamic worship, their holy Quran is read reverentially and Moslems all over the world offer Namaz five times a day perform Haj pilgrimage and fast during the holy month of Ramzan.
God is considered as formless and attribute less in many scriptures of the world. But, for the sake of worship, it is easier to have a particular form of God, either as a photo or sculpture or even as a holy icon. If you teach a KG student, extremely complex subjects, it is utter foolish. Children learn through alphabets connected with forms of fruits or animals or man. Then only they can co-relate the alphabets with the pictures seen. When the teacher says, “A” for Apple, the child easily learns and it recognizes the apple fruit along with the letter “A”. Likewise for the sake of common man who is attached to the world, it is easier to start with idol worship. Then he learns to offer the prayers and even talk to the idols. These kinds of prayers lead us slowly to the principle of formless god in course of time. It is a common fact that we take to the name of god even while we travel or otherwise not engaged. When we offer such prayers anywhere at any time, we recognize the Omnipresence of God. Hence for the beginners, the idol worship is easy and most natural way to start. Spiritual advancement is a very slow process and one cannot expect quick results like other easy tasks.
We address god in several ways and take to chanting with many names. Yes, all names are his and all forms are his. This is the conclusive philosophy of ancient Hindu thoughts. He permeates the creation and transcends it too. In one of the epic Mahabaratha, when the war between Kauravas and Pandavas are nearing end, the grandsir of both “Bheeshma” was lying on an arrow bed. He was waiting the dawn of Uttarayana since it is the most holy period to shed one’s mortal coil. Though he was thus lying countin his final days, he imparted to the eldest of Pandava Dharmaraja, the sacred “Vishnu Sahasranama which contains the thousand names of Lord Mahavishnu. Hence we can chant any of the names of god and stick to it during our meditation. All the names of Lord is equally potent and in fact there is not even an iota of difference between various names of god. Hence Christians chant the name of Jesus and Muslims chant “Allah” and Hindus chant any of the multitudes of the names of god.
Faith and Love are the basic requirement of worship of Divine. One may choose any form which is pleasing to him and chant the name. We ourselves posit differences between us and god. But in reality we are not different from god. We are part of god, one with god and there is no separation at all. It is the mind which posits such differences and mind is the culprit which prevents the idea of our oneness with god. Hence, it is vital that we subdue the mind by focusing our thoughts on god alone. It is said in the scriptures that we have to hold god with the right hand and hold the world with left hand. In course of time, our hold on the world will loosen and our hold on god will be tightened. Our own experience will teach us that the experiences and pleasures of the world are transitory and fleeting. Nothing lasts except our awareness of the Divine within all of us. Even the worst criminal has a spark of Divinity within him but he could not recognize it since his entire attention is on evils, the mind construes. The small spark can be developed into large fire by adopting certain disciplines. Service to mankind is service to god. There are many poor destitute on the streets who needs food and clothing. Our needs are really little. If we could spare money and resources by cutting our unwanted spending, each one can help another by appeasing their hunger by providing food, protecting them by the vagaries of weather by offering cover and clothing; extend health care facilities through some medical practitioner etc.
If one is not able to spare anything, at least a loving word or greeting will go a long way. Help the disabled brothers to cross busy roads. Remote stone or nails on the path. This constitutes a small service which will enlarge our love to a great extent. “The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray”!