Swami Vivekananda on Idol Worship | Real Truth | Is it prohibited in Hinduism?

Nowadays, a question is quite trending that, should we stop idol worship. Is it wrong? Swami Vivekananda is one of our most excellent gurus, have the answer. 

Here I am sharing a great story from his life. If you are an Atheist, this will change your belief, and if you are not, this will strengthen your devotion towards God.

We will try to understand this by a story. Here Vivekananda clears all our doubts about idol Worship.

Now let’s start the story:

The meeting between Swami Vivekananda and Mangal Singh and the conversation between them has historical significance and has been discussed and analyzed by various scholars and biographers.

At the beginning of 1891, Swami Vivekananda, while on his all-India trip, once reached Alwar in the North, currently a district in Rajasthan.

The Prime Minister (Diwan) was impressed by his lecture and took him to the palace to meet the Maharaja Mangal Singh Bahadur.

Mangal Singh Bahadur, the king of Alwar, was westernized in his outlooks and had no respect for Indian and Hindu culture and traditions, and felt proud for his attitude.

He used to spend all his time in the company of Westerners in hunting and other luxuries. Also, he had the ego of being the king.

When he saw Swami Vivekananda, he felt, “After all he is just a young ascetic! How much experience will he have although he gives discourse in English? Let me pull his leg”.

With this thought, the king said, “Swami Ji, I believe that idol worship is really a sign of being backward. I really pity anyone who offers turmeric, vermilion and flowers to an idol and also for paying obeisance to God”.

“The idols you worship are nothing but piece of clay, stones or metals. I find these idol- worship meaningless. What is your opinion about this?”

It was a direct attack on Hindu belief, and Vivekananda had to give a solid reply to it. He started explaining to the king that Hindus worship God alone, using the idol as a symbol. But his answer failed to convince the king.

Thereupon, Swami Vivekananda saw a portrait hanging on the wall of the court. Vivekananda approached the painting, looked at it, and asked the Diwan (Prime Minister) of the court to take it down from the wall.

It was a painting of Singh’s deceased father. When the Diwan took the picture down from the wall, Vivekananda asked him to spit on it.

Diwanji just glanced sneakily from the corner of his eyes at the king, whose face had become red with anger, and said, “Swami Ji what are you saying? This is the picture of the late father of the king!”

Vivekananda said, “Diwanji, this is just a thick paper coloured with black ink.” 

All were taken aback. The diwan was horrified. He trembled when he heard this.

The king was furious and asked, “How dare you to ask him to split on my father? He cried, in a tone of demanding an explanation”.

Vivekananda saw, the kind was gripped. He smiled and quietly replied, “Your father, where is he? It is just a painting- a piece of paper, not your father.

“In this picture, there are no bones, flesh, or soul of your father, and it is incorrect to think that it is just a thick paper with a picture of black ink. Similarly, it is erroneous to believe that worship of the idol of God is incorrect.”

Vivekananda’s reply followed the logic of the king’s previous comment on Hindu idols. So he was perplexed and speechless and did not know what to say.

Vivekananda once again started explaining to him, “Look, maharaja, this is a painting of your father, but when you look at it, it reminds of him.

Here the painting is a symbol. Similarly, when a Hindu worshipper worships an idol, the idol reminds him about his beloved deity, and he feels the presence of the Creator in the idol. Here too, it is a symbol.

Maharaja is all about Anubhuti (feelings and realization). The devotees who worship the idol are aware that the idol is not God, but it is difficult to meditate upon the Nigun (Unmanifest) formless God for a commoner.

Also readWhat is devotion or Bhakti to God?

It is the first step to begin devotion to God. The king became introverted and thoughtful after listening to this. Now Mangal Singh quickly realized the real meaning of idol worship.

He apologized to Vivekananda for his frivolity and rudeness and thanked him for giving him the lesson. He also requested to Vivekananda to stay at his palace for few days”.

Moral– So, my dear friends, God is everywhere, worship in any form or worship the formless; we all are his child. Let’s become his servitor and take his shelter and serve at our best.

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