Significance of idol worship (Vigraharadhana)

A detailed account of the purpose which an idol, installed with due consecration, serves, the material with which it is made and the mode of performing worship and all other factors which go to revere this replica of the Lord as he resides in Heaven, have been presented by great spiritual leader in one of his masterly works.
Among the 37 mighty contributions by Sri Madhavacharya, the “Tantra Saara Sangraha” will fetch benefits to a devotee and will shower on him, Bills, here and hereafter.

Sri Sathyapramoda Thirtha of Uttaradhi math in a discourse pointed out that Madhwacharya’s philosophy is not idolatrous. At the time of consecration, the powers of the deity to be worshipped have to be invoked and infused into the idol, through the chanting of the mantras.

A devotee is not expected to worship an idol made of gold or any other metal, bought from a shop. Consecration is necessary to ensure sanctity. The Tantra Saara Sangraha gives a devotee, as many as 72 mantras, each one assigned to a deity. Uttered with devotion, every one of them will give secular and spiritual beneficiations.

A valid scripture, the Tantra Saara Sangraha projects the glory of the Lord. The fruit of upholding the directives given there in is Salvation. A question may be asked whether a work of this nature written by a saint (in flesh and blood) can serve as an authority. This work is but shortened text of vyasa’s bigger one. The author has a complete comprehension of the subject he presents, and desires that the contents be of use to devotees. The Acharya is the beloved of God. He is anxious to impart knowledge to his disciples.

Any form of God fit for worship, Puja

Man being God’s creation, he will need His protection at every stage of his existence. He cannot function independently and one way by which he seeks God’s grace is to offer worship in temples and in his own house.

The temple is a place of sanctity and its structure is akin to that of man’s body. Like God being seated in his heart, God is enshrined in the temple’s sanctum sanctorum. While offering his worship to consecrated images, man submits himself to the almighty and appeals for His compassion. He enjoys the vision of God because for him, God lives and breathes in the idols. For some of the devotees, God presents Himself in “Salagramam”, a special stone formation obtained from the high attitudes of Nepal.

A notable feature of Hinduism is the liberty given to every individual to pray before any form of God. The choice in his as numerous forms has been made available. There is no conflict between one form and another as the devotee reaches the same destination. The courses followed by rivers may be different but they join the ocean ultimately.

There are short and easy religious paths to avoid circuitous routes, which will naturally delay his arrival at the final point. The path of Surrender, entrusting himself to God has been advocated by some, as the easiest. Under this, he surrenders at the feet of God through the intervention of a spiritual guide who is qualified to lead him to His presence.

The idols have been carved out on the basis of information and description of God in His incarnations, particularly as Rama and Krishna contained in the scriptures. The people of ancient India saw God even in the elements of Nature such as the earth, the ether, the sea, the mountains and rivers. They were awestruck by the vastness of the ocean and the grandeur of the latter and drew inspiration from the flow of the brooks.

Those who stand on the shore of the sea pick up shells and conches, while a few who swim to a little distance obtain pearls. Those who go to the mid-portion are gifted with more precious things Likewise, each according to his prayer, experiences God and receives God’s grace.

In a discourse, Swami Ranga Priya mentioned about the different poses in which God’s images have been chiseled.  He is seen as reclining or standing or walking as man conducts himself and according to the wishes of His devotees. He is worshipped as “Varaha” with the Divine consort, in one of the holy places near Madras. This manifestation was taken to retrieve the universe that was kept hidden by demon, under the sea. This form of the Lord reminds men that He is ready to make His appearance before them at the time of their departure from the world. While all faculties will fail to function at that time, for those to whom He has granted His approval to take them to His abode, He will reveal Himself.