Philosophy of Idol Worship – By Swami Shivananda
THE IDOL is a support for the neophyte. It is a prop in his spiritual childhood. A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. It is an external symbol of God for worship. It is a reminder of God. The material image calls up the mental idea. Steadiness of mind is obtained by image worship. The worshipper will have to associate the ideas of infinity, omnipotence, omniscience, purity, perfection, freedom, holiness, truth and omnipresence with the form of worship he chooses.
It is not possible for all to fix the mind on the Absolute. A concrete form is necessary for the vast majority for practicing concentration. To behold God everywhere and to practice the presence of God is not possible for the ordinary man. Idol worship is the easiest form of worship for the modern man.
A symbol is absolutely indispensable for fixing the mind. The mind wants a prop to lean upon. It cannot hold a conception of the Absolute in the initial stages. Without the help of some external aid the mind cannot be centralized. In the beginning, therefore, concentration or meditation is not possible without a symbol.