Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Am I the only one...

who feels idol-worship and Hinduism are contradictory?

15 Value-adds:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not me:)

Idhukku dhaan summa irukkaravana Tiruchendur kootutu poga koodhadhu:-)

I dont think they are contradictory. Idol worship is not necessary for someone to be a Hindu.

-Prabhu

December 06, 2005 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anupadmaja said...

Could you explain why you think they are contradictory? I can understand that the latter is not a requirement for the former, like Prabhu said. But i would like to know why you think they are contradictory. I am sure you have a good reason, as always :)

December 08, 2005 1:01 PM  
Blogger Vish-vishy-visher said...

Well ... that would require you to kind of define what Hinduism is, right? And I would assume your philosophical pondering is dependent on the way you define your Hinduism to be.

December 14, 2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger eV said...

A couple of ideas that I believe define Hinduism:
1. "It is not a religion. It is a way of life"
2. Disintermediation. I am a part of God. God is a part of me.

December 19, 2005 12:10 AM  
Blogger Vish-vishy-visher said...

Then you probably need to see:

a. Whether you believe in a God outside of the one that is you/or is a part of you?

b. If you do, then do you think this external god is worth worshipping?

If yes, then arent idols just ways of visualising this "external" God?

December 20, 2005 12:30 PM  
Blogger eV said...

Vishy, I'm fine with the funda of using idols to visualise the otherwise abstract concept of God.

Idol worship is quite different. By bestowing so much importance to the act of visiting and respecting the idol, it pretty much nullifies the linkage between the real (idol) and the abstract (God).

In other words, an idol is a dumbed-down version of God. So blind worship of the idol is a dumb thing to do. And by blind worship, I'm talking about the priest reciting a set of slokas, about the number of times you walk around an idol, about the concept of abhishekam - and about a lot more.

December 21, 2005 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ev,

Without knowing the exact reason why the mentioned rituals are done, it is tough to categorize it as "dumb".

If you have 1 glass of milk and if you have a poor person begging for that and if you prefer to do an abhishekam instead with that, then its debatable.

But because few people do that, it doesnt make the whole ritual bad.

I am not sure if we can reach a conclusion with the little knowledge we have about hinduism.

-Prabhu

December 21, 2005 9:23 AM  
Blogger eV said...

Prabhu,
'Dumb' was probably too strong a word for me to have used in this context. But turning your argument on its head: would you agree that doing these rituals without ever knowing the reason behind them is dumb? My point is this: If these rituals are done without knowing the rationale, the linkage between the real and abstract would necessarily terminate.

December 21, 2005 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm I agree and disagree. The problem is only a certain part of Hinduism can be logically explained.
The other half cannot be explained because
- There arent a lot of people who have understood hinduism to an extent of deriving a logical inference.
- There werent enough book keepers in the past to keep a record of why a particular ritual is/was done and if it is/was done the correct way. Even if there were, most of the writings were destroyed by the mughals initially, the british after that followed by the periyar followers.
- Knowing the above, a lot of people came up with their own definition of hinduism that defies all logic. (Like shiva shankara baba).

My point being, we dont know enough about hinduism, a lot of what we know is our own inference, so why come to a conclusion with the very little knowledge we have?

-Prabhu

December 22, 2005 12:14 AM  
Blogger Vish-vishy-visher said...

eV,

A ritual, apart from whatever is the stated purpose, is also a way of codifying a set of values and beliefs.

And from the point of view of spreading a religion, rituals are what help make a religion "practiceable" and "propagatable".

While it is all well to talk about applying "free thought" and "objective thinking" before adopting a ritual, these are not traits that are all that common you see.

Also, at a psychological level, rituals help us assign a cause-effect relationship to God. Saying "You do this, god will do this for you", is such a convenient psychological crutch.

Well, anyways .. I dont fully appreciate the context of your statement, but prima facie, I wouldnt be able to conclude that Hinduism and Idol worship dont go together.

December 22, 2005 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anupadmaja said...

On that "same exact" note, dont stop writing :)

December 23, 2005 12:14 AM  
Blogger yhac said...

my $0.02

I think of hinduism as being a hierarchy of ideas. At one level is the concept of idol worship, of a separate god. A lot of people are comfortable in believing that there is a supernatural entity whom they pray to, resulting in idol worship. However at another level is the idea that god is only an abstract concept and contained in all creatures. All beings are therefore "god-like".

These two would seem to correspond to the ideas of dvaita and advaita respectively.

My feeling is that dvaita ->advaita is a gentle progression of ideas. Start from a state where each person thinks he is different from everyone else. Idol worship hopes to atleast make you realize that all people/beings can be placed at the same footing, an idea made more palatable by comparing your power to an omnipotent god. Advaita is then but a step away when you realize that an omnipotent god causes a lot of logical issues and therefore cannot be different from you.

I haven't read the book comletely yet but atleast the first few chapters of "God's debris" seems to be exactly this argument. All his arguments rely on a notion of "god" being a separate omnipotent identity.

And yes, finish that kitkat quickly. Theres some serious writing to be done here ;)

p.s.
why aren't comments enabled for the kitkat post?

p.p.s
agree with the ritual thingie. some are probably just dumb. some probably have a reasonable logical basis and some others are wonderful symbolisms.

December 24, 2005 12:17 AM  
Blogger eV said...

Prabhu,
"why come to a conclusion with the very little knowledge we have?"
Why not? :P
Like I'd said before, "would you agree that doing these rituals without ever knowing the reason behind them is dumb? My point is this: If these rituals are done without knowing the rationale, the linkage between the real and abstract would necessarily terminate."

December 26, 2005 1:08 AM  
Blogger eV said...

Vishy, I guess you are arguing from the point of view of how best to sell a religion - making it practical, simple etc.

You also say,
While it is all well to talk about applying "free thought" and "objective thinking" before adopting a ritual, these are not traits that are all that common you see.
I dont quite see the point you're trying to make. I'm definitely not telling idol worship should not be a popular way of worshipping. Your arguments provide the reasoning for why such a system of idol worship would've evolved.
All I'm saying is this: The practice of idol worship has gotten to the state where it isnt necessarily the means to worshipping God, but an end in itself.

December 26, 2005 1:14 AM  
Blogger eV said...

Hetu, I confess my rather complete ignorance of Dvaita and Advaita. The wikipedia entries arent quite user-friendly. Could you probably explain the two concepts in simple words? (Heh, howz that for a research topic to get you started? :P)
As for God's Debris, when I was reading the first few chapters I got the feeling Scott Adams had stolen those ideas from me. Gotta sue him. :)
I didnt like the way the book ended though.

December 26, 2005 1:23 AM  

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