Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 08 Feb 2005


What is the necessity of worshiping statues in temples?

The statue or picture is an inert object. The form carved in a stone or painted on a paper is also an imaginary form and not even a direct photograph. The statues and pictures are only models representing the concept, which is knowledge. The form of statues and pictures is mainly the human form, which represents the concept that the Lord always comes to this world in human form as said in the Gita (Manusheem Tanu Mashritam…). Please remember that the Gita did not say that the Lord would come in any other form. The forms of fish, tortoise etc., were only temporary to kill the demons and nobody worshipped such forms during their time. But Rama, Krishna etc. were human forms which were worshipped by several devotees like Hanuman and Gopikas. The Lord will come in every human generation, otherwise He becomes partial to a particular generation. If necessary the Lord can come whenever there is necessity as said in the Gita (Yadaa yadaahi…). Once this concept is realized, there is no need of a temple or statue for you.

You should go from the school to the college and then to the university. This does not mean that when you leave the school, the school should be destroyed. The school must exist for the future batches. Therefore for you, the statue and the picture are not necessary and this does not mean that the statues, pictures and temples should be broken. They should be protected and must be respected as models of divine knowledge for the future ignorant devotees. Some devotees cannot accept the human form of the Lord, which is before their eyes as said in the Veda (Pratyaksha dvishah). For such devotees statues and pictures are necessary for meditation since they are at the school level. The statues and pictures are useful to such limited minds for meditation as said in the Shastra (Pratima svalpa buddhinam).

The Veda says that the Lord does not exist in the inert objects (Natasya pratima, Nedamtat), but says that the inert objects can stand as models representing the Lord (Adityam brahmeti). Therefore seeing and meditating upon statues and pictures are correct in the case of the ignorant devotees. But the other rituals like offering food, burning camphor, fume sticks, oil lamps and breaking coconuts, offering flowers etc. are not mentioned in the Vedas. They are unnecessary and cause air pollution harming humanity. All these unnecessary rituals should be avoided. Offering food should be done only to the human form of the Lord and not to inert statues. Ijya or Yajna means cooking and offering food. The Gita says that such Ijya should not be done to inert objects. In the name of the statues, people steal the food and money. The statue or the picture does not take the food or Guru Dakshina. The people behind the statue take those things and most of them either cheat or waste money due to ignorance. Whatever Guru Dakshina is given by devotees, should go only to the priest and not the managing committee of devotees. The business of the merchants who sell such materials in temples should be stopped, because such materials are not even heard of in the Veda.

Of course, the priest should be a Sadguru and should preach the divine knowledge to the devotees. The devotees should give Guru Dakshina to such a Sadguru alone. Thus, the temple should become a center of learning selfless devotion and divine knowledge and the priest must do only ‘Jnana Yajna’ [sacrifice of knowledge; teaching and learning of knowledge] in the temple and not ‘Dravya Yajna’ [sacrifice of materials in the sacred fire altar] as said in the Gita (Sreyaan dravyamayat). The Gita condemned such Ijya before inert objects because it is only cheating and business. A devotee, who does Ijya before inert objects, will be born as an inert object (Bhutejya yanti…). This business that goes on in temples is connected to the removal of the fruits of sins of the devotees and getting the fruits of good deeds, which are not done. All this is false, because the Law of Karma says that one has to suffer for all his bad deeds and can never get the result of any good deed without doing it (Avashyam anubhoktavyam…kalpakoti shatairapi).

The correct spiritual path should be preached in the temple, which must be ‘Nishkama Karma Yoga’ i.e., sacrifice of work and sacrifice of the fruit (money) of work to the Lord without aspiring for any fruit in return. Remember, that only Ijya is condemned and not the temples or statues, which are the models of the divine knowledge.