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Idols and Objects - Forms of the Universe

In early Indian shrines before Mauryas, the focus was on meditation. Forms of the Universe were presented on railings and gateways as well as on the exteriors of rock-cut caves.
In the heart of the shrine, there were no forms, for one to meditate upon formless and beyond the world of forms, beyond desire and pain.

In the mountain regions, stupas are often made by placing a few pebbles one on top of another. The followers of the Buddha enshrined his mortal remains in a number of stupas. Thus began a tradition that spread to many countries. Later stupas housed the remains of other great teachers

The Linga is the "mark" of the formless eternal taking on the forms of the world. For example, the great Aakasha Lingam of the Chidambaram temple. There is a curtain in front of it representing the veils of our illusions. When we move this aside, there is nothing to be seen beyond: that is the greatest Siva Linga. Siva worship prefers a bright symbol of Divinity widely known as "Siva-Lingam". All communities worships a Divine symbol of whatever shape it may be.

Need for Idols and Objects

People like to have objects or models to understand. We need model of sun or globe, to explain geography and astronomy.
Some believe idols made out of certain materials have some powers.
Beliefs in charms, mascots, amulets and the like have been around since ancient times to ward off evil or to bring good luck. Some gets tremendous courage and confidence to carry on through difficult times or to embark upon an adventure. Ramdas Swami, Chatrapati Shivaji’s guru, made an immense contribution to strengthen the minds of the scarred soldiers – a simple black thread. A black thread on their arms (Hanumanji’s thread) make them feel, God was with them and nothing could hurt them.

The God who pervades the universe is in fact without a physical form. But it is difficult for us to imagine anything without a physical form!
The worship of God in various forms emerged to make it easy for us to think about and meditate on God!
A form so beautiful, so pleasing and so charming that it gives the onlooker perfect peace of mind.

Idol worship - limitations

For God there is no pratima, no image, no picture, and no statue. [Shvetashvatara Upanishad]
Those are entering in darkness who worships the natural things like fire, water, air etc.) & created things like statue [Yajur Veda]
“விண்டவர் கண்டிலர் கண்டவர் விண்டிலர்” – திருமூலர்
நட்ட கல்லை தெய்வம் என்று நாலு புஷ்பம் சாத்தியே
சுற்றி வந்து முனுமுனென்று சொல்லும் மந்த்ரம் ஏதடா
நட்ட கல்லும் பேசுமோ நாதனுள்ளிருக்கையில்
சுட்ட சட்டி சட்டுவம் கறிச்சுவை அறியுமோ ?
- சிவவாக்கியர்

சாத்திரங்கள் ஓதுகின்ற சட்ட நாதப் பட்டரே
வேப்பிரைப்பு வந்த போதில் சாத்திரம் வந்துதவுமோ
மாத்திரை யெப்போதுமுள்ளே அறிந்து கொள்ள தெக்கிறீல்
சாத்திரப் பை நோய்களேது சத்தி மூர்த்தி சித்தியே..
- சிவவாக்கியர்
Scriptures can help to locate moon like pointing finger.
With out help also one can locate and see the moon.
Sometimes, we miss the moon, but look at finger.
Same way, instead of understanding brahman, they understand the statue.

நன்றாய் ஞானம் கடந்துபோய்
நல்லிந்திரிய மெல்லா மீர்த்து
ஒன்றாய்க் கிடந்தவரும் பாழ்
உலப்பிலதனை உணர்ந் துணர்ந்து,
சென்றாங்கின்ப துன்பங்கள்
செற்றும் களைந்து பசையற்றால்
அன்றே அப்போதே வீடு
அதுவே வீடு வீடாமே. (திருவாய்மொழி 8-8-6.)

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