Home | Contact Us | Archive | Online Books | Subscribe
Jana Sangh Today | A Monthly Magazine

The Saffron Book

Most faithfuls require a physical object to focus their devotion while worshipping. The crucifix or a statue of Virgin Mary helps the Christian, just as the mehraab helps the Muslim. The Kaaba at Mecca is of stone. Marxists have used embalmed bodics of Lenin and Mao. Hindus use idols.

42. Idolatry

Dea Philip
Yur contempt for idolatry reminded me of a fine young Bihari who had just been to Saudi Arabia on Haj. He sounded thrilled with life. He had obviously received excellent treatment in Saudi Arabia. But above all, he felt elevated because he had kissed the Kaaba. Being less than half my age, I did not quiz him on the subject of religious sentiment. Nevertheless, I wondered how a Muslim was so taken up with the sanctity of a stone.

I argued with myself and came to the conclusion that almost every ordinary mortal needs a focus for his prayer. For persons of the spiritual stature of, say, Sri Aurobindo nothing has to be placed in front of them. In the Hindu tradition, there are souls who are capable of attaining mukti or salvation with the help of gnanyoga or self realisation. But all this can hold true for a very few. For the rest of us, the mind would wander without something tangible to concentrate upon, no matter how much spiritual leaders might condemn idol worship. The Marxists claim to be atheists and consider religion to be the opium of the masses. Yet, they too are unable to do without worship, without prophets and without concrete objects of focus. But more about this later.

Meanwhile, let me go on with what I have observed in the practice of Islam. Every effort appears to be made to make a mosque as pretty and proportionate as possible. I have hardly come across a mosque which has an unattractive architecture. Evidently, the idea is to create deference for Islam and to induce people to come and pray. The insides are also clean and congenial for prayer. But I have not come across a mosque without a mehraab, which not only indicates the direction of Mecca but also helps the worshipper focus his attention. The point I am making is that for an ordinary mortal to pray, a focus for his attention is required. Even in those localities where it is not possible to build a mosque, there are mehraabs under the open sky which proves my point regarding the need for focusing attention. Because it is not as if one cannot offer namaz anywhere. Even near the place of work or in a moving train. Where then is the need for either amosque or a mehraab?

Moving from Islam to Christianity, cathedrals, churches ana chapels are built lovingly and often decoratively. The atmosphere calm and quiet except when either the organ is played or the choir sings or when the priest delivers the sermon. The purpose of must; is evidently to create a mood which is one way of focussing she worshipper's mind. I have yet to see a Christian place of worship without an altar. Even where thatched houses are used as churches in the districts where say Adivasis live, there is a table that represents the altar. The cross is a universal symbol of Christianity. Jesus on the cross is invariably depicted above the altar. The portrait or statue of Virgin Mary is not infrequently present. Yet, the leaders of Christianity as well as Islam have looked down upon Hinduism as idolatrous. I have not understood this prejudice.

Hinduism is not polytheistic. In fact, specifically, it has no concept of God as a personality. The idols of avataars or muktatmas (souls that have attained salvation and have returned to earth to revive good and reduce evil) or other deities including those in animal form are merely to help the worshipper to focus his mind while praying.

The most ridiculous is the communist saga. The comrades consider religion to be the opium of the masses. They swear to being atheists, non-believers in God. Little do they realise that Marxism is also a faith. So that you do not feel that I have deviated from the subject of idolatry and gone off at a tangent to the theme of religion, let me, at the outset of this little chat on the communist saga, talk about idol worship.

I have not so far been to Beijing but gather that the body of Mao Dzedong was neither buried nor cremated but embalmed and preserved in, what amounts to, a temple. No matter if it is called a Museum or a mausoleum. It is open to the public to pay homage to, the tallest prophet of Marxism in China.

I visited Moscow in July 1973. There, in the Red Square in front of the Kremlin wall, in the mausoleum lies the embalmed body of V.I.Lenin, the father of the Russian Revolution. Long queues had formed every morning of my four days in Moscow. A large number patiently waited to have their turn and pay homage to this greatest apostle of communism. Karl Marx was, of course, the Prophet. The queues were orderly but there were exceptions for social equality to be broken. Foreign dignitaries and important persons could ignore the queue. Even commoners were allowed to disturb the queue so long as they were a newly married couple and had arrived straight from the Registrar's office, in their wedding regalia. Imagine the worshipful faith that Lenin must have inspired. The first thing that occurs to a young communist couple after their wedding is to rush to the tomb of Lenin. This means that communist idolatry differs from all the others in that it prefers embalmed bodies to stone samples.

Just in case my stringing together Marxism in the Judaic garland of faiths, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, surprises you, let me say that Karl Marx's message was also an act of faith and not reason. Dialectically, it is most logical, which only means that the argument is sustained. It does not mean that the premise is not a presumption. That way Hindutva is more rational than Marxism. It is certainly more dialectical.

To get back to the message of Marx, its premise is class conflict, its promise is equality. Its Bible is Das Kapital. Its followers, present and potential, are the proletariat and the peasants of the world. Hence its exhortation to the workers of the world to unite. The anthem designed to inspire them is the Internationale. Its doomsday is the day when the state will wither away. Its heretics were men like Leon Trotsky and Milovan Djilas. It is unfortunate that only the communist state withered away some seven decades after it was founded although the institution of the state, per se, continues to flourish.

The Saffron Book
Prafull Goradia
1. Awake and Unite!
2. Why The Saffron Book?

10. Small States
3. Vision
4. Economic Face
5. Abolish Casteism
6. Bride Burning, Divorce
7. Rape, Prostitution
8. Revolutionising Education
9. The Constitution

11. Nationalism
12. Pan-Islamism
13. Communism
14. Subnationalism
15. Casteism

16. Hindutva is Dialectical
17. Origin of Hinduism
18. Medieval Phase
19. Modern Resurgence
20. Not Fundamentalism
21. Not Fascism
22. Tolerance
23. Strengths
24. Weaknesses
25. Opportunities
26. Threats
27. Individual Brilliance

Hindu Paradoxes
42. Idolatry
43. Fatalism
44. Double Standards
45. Masochistic Fringe
46. Fifth Column
47. No Soul before Birth

48. Proselytising Unwelcome
49. Myth of Divide and Rule

© janasangh.com 2017 Designed & Hosted by GreenMindz