Are Hindus Idol-worshippers ?

Ms Maria Wirth

Recently on twitter, Hath Yogi (@hathyogi31) wrote a thread on major myths about Hinduism that needed to be debunked. The first point was “Hindus are Idol-worshippers”. I wrote the following comments :

Several Hindus reacted, “We ARE Idol-worshippers. Why should we care what others think ? We have the right to worship Idols”.

They are right. The problem is not with the worship of a representation of the Divine, called ‘Idol’ in English, but with the extremely negative connotation which Christianity and Islam have given to the term ‘Idol’ and of which most Hindus are not aware.

Hindus think that Idol is just a translation of Pratima or Murti, but this is not the case. A lot of hostile association comes automatically to Muslims and Christians when they hear this term, thanks to indoctrination in childhood.

I can speak only for Christians, but in all likelihood, for Muslim children it is the same or even more. This association is not only loaded on the English term Idol-worshipper, but also for example on the German term ‘Goetzenanbeter’. It is a very bad label. And I heard it already in my primary school in connection with Hindus.

1. For Muslims and Christians worshipping Idols is the grea

 

test sin

Hindus don’t realise this. ‘You must not have any Gods beside me’ is the first commandment in Christianity, and in Islam ‘shirk’, which means the same thing, is the worst evil a human can commit and it will be severely punished with eternal hellfire.

It means that Hindus are for pious Muslims or Christians the greatest sinners, and therefore, despicable. Hinduism is considered as going against the Will of God, and so becomes demonic if not Satanic. Christians and Muslims believe that the Creator of this Universe Himself has declared that only HE must be worshipped. While most Christians (apart from missionaries) by now accept other ways of worship, most Muslims are still rigid, because the Islamic texts are full of harsh condemnation of those who commit shirk.

2. Dehumanization of Hindus

So when Hindus say, “What does it matter ? Let them believe what they want”

 

, it means they don’t realise the danger. It DOES matter what they believe. The consequence of this belief was, that at least 80 million Hindus were killed for being Hindus. And it still goes on, as the brutal beheading of Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kolhe recently proved. This could and can only happen, because Hindus were dehumanized and STILL ARE.

Jews could be herded into the gas chambers, because they were not seen as human. They were openly called ‘Untermenschen’ – subhumans. At that time, the propaganda ministry of Nazi Germany indoctrinated the population to look down on Jews and Gypsies.

In our times, the clergy, in tune with their religious texts, indoctrinate Muslim and Christian children to look down on Hindus as a ‘beastly people with a beastly religion’ as Winston Churchill famously said. And certain powers in our modern world eagerly support such inhuman views.

Not only the clergy but often media, too, give the impression that Hindus worship demons. In a video which I saw recently, the presenter equated Shiva with Satan.

 

Hindus must take serious note of this unacceptable and highly dangerous vilification of Hindus. Hindus are NOT planning genocide of others. It’s the other way round : the others prepare the world opinion for a genocide of Hindus. And they try to make sure that this genocide would be seen as ‘well-deserved’.

Do I see too black ? I hope I do.

But a friend who knows the evangelical scene in the USA well, had told me years ago, that the hatred for Hindus and especially Brahmans among them is so great, that if a genocide happened, most members of these groups would see it as a just retaliation.

Now Christians are considered rather benign. If even they think like this, what would be the level of hatred that radical Muslims have for Hindus ?

3. Some basics about Hinduism

 

It really startles me that Hindus do not try to set the record straight and make them understand that Hindus are NOT Idol-worshippers, in the sense that they don’t worship different Gods as separate entities, but they all are aspects of the same ONE Brahman.

The Vedas (The most sacred amongst the Hindu Scriptures) claimed many thousand years before the Bible and the Quran that ONE great Power and Intelligence is the invisible Source of everything. They call this invisible source Brahman (from big) and declare Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahman (Truth, Knowledge, Infinity = Brahman)

But now it gets a bit subtle and difficult to understand because Christianity and Islam do not have this ‘absolute’ level in their doctrine.
In Sanatan Dharma, Brahman is avyakta (Unmanifest), is not a person, is infinite, Anantam, is beyond imagination and there cannot be a picture of That. Thoughts and words cannot reach there, the Vedas claim.

This unmanifest, eternal Potential stirs due to its Shakti (known as the Devi) or Divine Energy at the time of the Creation of the Universe (our present Universe is not the first one and won’t be the last) and it becomes manifest and ‘imaginable’ and ‘picturable’ first as the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma (not to be confused with the absolute Brahman) is tasked with further Creation and creates out of Himself many different beings on several higher and lower Lokas (Levels or regions) and also the human beings to whom He gives the earth to live.

 

It means, the Gods whom Hindus venerate in the form of Murtis, are not separate from the ONE Brahman. In fact, they ARE Brahman. And not only the three major Gods, everything in this Universe has as its basis the one Brahman. Maybe you have heard this saying – ‘Christians and Muslims believe there is only one God. Hindus believe there is only God’.

It is helpful knowing and reflecting about this claim, of the One Brahman being the essence of all, and then trying to live it in one’s life. It means trying to get in touch with that inner core which is the witness of even our thoughts and feelings. And then slowly become more and more familiar with that pure blissful awareness. Then not only knowledge or Jnana but also love or Bhakti, will develop.

 

This inner core in us (Atma) is one with Brahman, the Upanishads declare. That is the truth, and to discover it, is the goal of life.
Now, dear Muslim and Christian friends, do you feel that Hindus are despicable or rather loveable ? Also please reflect if the ‘one true God’ can possibly hate them for their faith and let them burn under great agony for all eternity in hellfire ?

 

However, the denigration and ‘othering’ of Hindus continues in the mainstream, often in a subtle way.

Recently, the highly popular Canadian psychologist Jordan B Peterson brought out a short video where he exhorts Muslims to reach across the sectarian divide, to Shias, Sunnis, then to Christians and then even to Jews.

He advocated unity of the ‘people of the book’ who ‘have much in common’. And declared, “The best place to find Satan is within … the subtle temptation of the ancient demonic spirit”. The video had in 17 hours already 1 million views and every comment I read was praising him.

Was only I feeling the danger ? I wrote a comment :

I don’t know if my comment was visible. It was made older than it was : after 30 minutes it showed wrongly that it was posted 3 hours ago. And it was probably the only comment which didn’t get any likes or replies.

– Maria Wirth (Introduction : Ms Maria Wirth is from Germany and has been in India for the past 38 years. She is the Author of the book ‘Thank you India – a German woman’s journey to the wisdom of Yoga’)

Hostile association comes to Muslims and Christians when they hear ‘Idol’, thanks to indoctrination in childhood !

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