On ‘Idol Worship’ – A Curious Charge

Every so often, twitter throws up something rather curious as applies what we might euphemistically term ‘interfaith dialogue’.

In this case, what I am told is an Indian Christian … having a bit of a go about “Idolatry”. And, as you can tell by the list of ‘carve-out’ exemptions which then ensue … kinda missing the point as applies how we (Hindus, and for that matter other Indo-European religious adherents) actually make use of what she appears to be derisively terming ‘idols’.

There are two ways we might interpret a term like ‘idol worship’.

The ‘strawman’ one would be quite straightforward – actually worshipping an Idol. Few people do this. What would be the point?

The more involved one is, ironically enough, the one she appears to have specifically declared she doesn’t have a problem with … because it comes perhaps rather uncomfortably close to what she wants to have as ‘acceptable use’ for religious imagery, in a Christian context.

Now, in a Hindu context (and we have some evidence to support similar comparative understandings elsewhere in the IE sphere) – there is a distinction made between, say, some inert object … and a Murti, that has been properly ‘invested’ with Divine Essence.

Where this has transpired, then the carved image is not simply what it appears to be – it is not simply a statue … it is a ‘conduit’ to the Divine. What this person would, perhaps, observe to be contained within their ‘iconography’ heading.

In terms of analogies – an associate (Ugraśravas, whose commentary had drawn my attention to the thread in question) put it rather incisively:

“The truth of maths doesn’t lie in the notations used; the truth of math may be formless and notation agnostic; but anyone who claims to know mathematical truth without using notation is clearly lying”

My own, brief observation had been that, and I quote:

“I have tended to say that we are saluting the flag not because we are very keen on respect to textiles and fabrics, but because we know that it is the nation that we are saluting, represented by said flag.

We might also observe that on a video-call, i am not talking to my screen, some dead image of artificiality to be found thereupon (even though there it is) – but that it assist with talking to the other person through the electronic connection between us to have such cues.

Interesting question, on a completely human level, whether we think we are talking to ‘faces’, or to ‘ears’ of another person .. or if we are seeking to speak with their mind, soul, spirit. Housed within physical form, certainly. And reachable most effectively via same.

In short, whole thing is a strawman. I do not know anybody who literally engages in “Idol-worship”, in the sense of worshipping stone or a statue.

Now worship through that medium, facilitated via such … or with a ‘spark’ of divine essence within physical – that is different”

As Ugraśravas noted in reply (whilst quote-tweeting the second one in, viz. cherishing the photograph of a Grandmother):

“Funny thing is, they understand the concept very well and also its necessity; But their book forbids exactly this (worshipping other “false Gods” through Idols/Forms). So they cope by creating this false idolatry/iconography distinction”


We should also like to add that this is a further useful perspective. Also found on Twitter as the result of the same thread. Who said social media couldn’t foster useful and positive communication !

One thought on “On ‘Idol Worship’ – A Curious Charge

  1. “Idol worship” or Deity worship as its better described as is the ultimate Divine Sacrament wherein the Real presence of the Divinity is allowed to manifest in our dark world to give us the chance to ascend to the Divine worlds. Its the ultimate act of Divine mercy and the central, indispensable limb of Theurgy.


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