Why denounce the Hindu as ignorant Idolator.*
[* The reader is referred to the English translation of Sivagnanabotham by Mr. J. M. Nallaswami Pillai B.A., B.L., where he has discussed the pros and cons of this question in his notes to the sixth sutra. The reader will also learn much by a perusal of the excellent Tamil book brought out by the late Sri La Sri Somasundara Nayagar of Madras entitled 'Archadipam' in which this question is also more fully treated. – The Editor.]
People talk glibly every now and then of the average Hindu as an out and out idolator, and many of our friends who indulge in undisguised contempt and sneer of popular Hinduism forget for the nonce that they themselves do not exactly boast of having attained a higher spiritual level than their less fortunate brethren.
Idolatry or Imagery is in our opinion the warp and woof of all infant religions. You could never get rid of anthropomorphic ideas of God so long as you are a man. In other words you are so constituted that you cannot help thinking of God as man minus his imperfections. The history of the evolution of all religions bears ample testimony to this. One may talk as much as he likes of God as pure spirit; but all the time he is thinking of his spirit as only a finer counterpart of the human body itself.
The Hindu is honest enough to tell you that it is a physical impossibility with him to worship God except through a Symbol or physical representation of the creator.
He also wishes to be distinctly understood that it is by no means the image that he bows down his head to a God Supreme, but that he regards the idol as a peg to hang his spiritual ideas on. The child for the first time wishes to stand on its legs and you give it a support. When he can do without it you don't need to give any extraneous help. This I think the rationale in brief of Hindu Idolatry.
And we wish to know if our critics have realized God in spiritual communion already and if so whether they can teach us in earnest such realization. There is a war of feelings and passions raging in the breast of man always and his mind is incessantly at work in newer and newer inventions which are supposed to add to his happiness on Earth. And in the midst of this terrible struggle for life and survival of the fittest as they say, where is room we ask for the display of Love, Divine, Love, and self-sacrifice for the benefit of the weak and ignorant ocean of men and women. Is it likely that we can serve both mammon and God at once and attain in such vain endeavor the Peace that passeth all understanding.
Christ no doubt taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us: but we dare say he did not mean that we should worship the creation of our own Imagination.
There is some stability with the physical idol but is there any about the creation of our own erring mind. How can we know God, as all knowledge implies helpless limitation and how can we speak in Baby language of the Infinite-all. So then theist, monotheist or polytheist: - no matter: it is all the same. Humanity could barely make an attempt and how feeble it generally turns out to be – to comprehend the incomprehensible – and as a matter of course it is not till Perfect Peace is attained and you are one with the almighty Father of all that you can hope to attain true wisdom on Earth.
The Hindus have preserved all the various steps of the ladder of religion and of them even those who have attained their goal have not chosen to kick it away as they realized full well how useful it would prove for those who will have to scale up the heights of Go-head hereafter.
V. M. S.