My post on Modi's absurd statement regarding Ganesha attracted the following comment:
You would do well to abstain yourself from commenting on spiritual thoughts and beliefs of which most of us know little about. It's too silly to compare imaginations about Shree Ganesha to those of James Bond! The scientific thoughts that you are speaking about are based on a lot of assumptions and are largely untrue and mutable. This has been observed and accepted by the greatest of the world's scientists when they dwelt deeper in to atomic physics and helplessly came up with quantum theory (w/o explaining values used for mass of an electron!), field theory (w/o explaining magnitude of electron's charge), theory of relativity (arbitrarily assuming speed of light), uncertainty, probabilities, cosmic intelligentsia, cosmic dance & dynamism of cosmos, unity of all things, bootstrap theory and the likes, which cannot be explained by any of scientific logic and reasoning that we often boast about. They even accepted that Eastern Mystics might be more nearer to the TRUTh than all their scientific efforts! Hinduism (Vedas), Buddhism (Gandavyuha), Zen, Taoism, Yin & Yang etc. may be the new hope for future scientists!
So, when Modi speaks about plastic surgery of Lord Ganesha, an idea which can be easily understood/ comprehended by the Aam Admi, it may be absurd to outright defy it! After all Modi has had a brief stint in the wilderness of the Himalayas and might be more knowledgeable than most of us on spiritual aspects. I fully reject your views. You might never reach even half way to your planned goals without beginning with Lord Ganesha's blessings is what I believe firmly, whether you like it or not that Indianness with your concocted scientific logic and reasoning that says there's no Ganesha! That doesn't in any way mean that I want to thrust my beliefs on others, though, I can only pity them for IGNORANCE. You utterly fail to recognize the symbolism attached with the spiritual thoughts and I think you need more education on this aspect! I highly appreciate your thought processes on economic and governance matters. May the Omnipresent God bestow his blessings upon you to guide you to the heaven of Truth, Knowledge, Peace and Freedom. Regards,
Now, while I am no religious man, I do know a fair bit about Hinduism. Osmosis, plus some study – particularly of Advaitic philosophy.
I have no intention of believing in this or that God without proof. But this I know that if there is a God, He/She is ONE, not divided into religions. I much prefer the semi-pantheistic philosophy which links God with energy – but I don't wish to discuss this issue here: I've commented on it extensively in the past.
This I do know, however: that idol workshop is a relatively recent phenomenon in Hinduism.
I attribute to the Jains an influence that changed India's widely prevalent (and conclusively proven) beef eating habits. Dayanand Saraswati attributes to the Jains the onset of idol worship in Hinduism.
When they gained in power and had ceased to be afraid of any body, they began to favor and honor their followers – both the householders and the mendicants – and to dishonor and punish the followers of the Veda unjustly. They began to live in ease and luxury, and being puffed up with pride became over-bearing in their manners. They also made huge images of their religious teachers, calle Tirthankaras – from Rishabhdeva toMahaavria – and began to worship them. Thus the practice of worshipping idols originated with the Jains (in this country). The belief in God decline and the people took to idolatry instead. Thus, Jainism reigned supreme for about 300 years in India. The people during that time had become quite destitute of the knowledge of the Veda. This must have happened nearly 2,500 years ago. [Source: Satyarth Prakash]
Further, from his book:
Q. – With whom did idol worship originate? A. ~It originated with the Jainees.
Q. – Why did the Jainees start idol worship? A. ~They did it out of their ignorance.
Dayanand Saraswati also makes clear:
Q. – God being Formless cannot be contemplated. Idols are, therefore, absolutely needed. Where is the harm if we stand before an idol with folded palms, think of God and recite His name?
A. ~ God being Formless and Omnipresent cannot have an image. If the sight of an idol puts God in one's mind why cannot this wonderful creation, which comprehends the earth, water, fire, air, vegetation and a hundred and one other things? Cannot one think of God when he looks at the earth and the mountains which are wonderfully constructed, and out of which human beings fashion idols? It is altogether wrong to say that the sight of an idol makes on think of God. This would mean that when the idol is out of sight, the devotee would not think of God and, consequently when all alone, may succumb to the temptation of committing theft, adultery and the like sins. Believing as he does that there is no one to witness his actions, he would not scruple to commit the most degrading sins.
These are some of the evils that result from the worship of idols.
Q. - Is no form of idol worship permissible? What is then meant by the expression worship of the five gods which has been in common use since times immemorial. Does it not imply the worship of the five gods called Shiva, Vishnu, Ambika, Ganesha and Surya.
A. ~ No form of idol worship is permissible.
There are TENS of eminent Hindu leaders/ philosophers who have made clear that idols and mythologies are ILLUSTRATIVE of the concepts enunciated in the ancient texts (such as Vedas), and should NEVER be taken literally.
These people (e.g. Vivekananda) note that there are varying "levels" of people, some apparently need idol worship. But fundamentally, there is NO relationship between a man-made idol/ painting and the real "thing".
I'm not questioning anyone's choices to worship an idol. But even the idol-worshipper knows that without "conversion" into a sacred object through prayer, an idol is pure mud. Once sanctified, the essential property in the idol is FORMLESS. All Hindus know that. Or should know that. That is the foundational Vedic and Advaitic tradition that underpins Hinduism.
Further, there are many Hindus who firmly oppose the stories underpinning these idols. The point re:Ganesha that I was making was made MUCH MORE FORCEFULLY BY DAYANAND.
Instead of focusing on my FIRM assertion that Ganesha (the concept) is man-made, let's focus on the absurdity of Modi's claims – that he thinks Ganesha is a real entity operated upon by humans in ancient India. Why would God come down to a human to get surgically operated? Modi should teach the SCIENTIFIC approach – which was the real hallmark of ancient Indian thought: not his RSS-based claptrap.
Now, here is where Dayanand Saraswati strongly condemns the Puranas and the mythologies found in them (including of Ganesha):
Q. – Is everything that is said in the Puranas false? Is there nothing true in them?
A. ~ They are mostly false but there may be a thing here an there that is true, but that is taken from the Vedas and the Shastras, while that which is false is the invention of the popes. In the Shiva Purana, Shiva is described as the Lord of all, while Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Ganesha, and Svrya are spoken of as his servants, whilst in the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu has been held as the Supreme Spirit and Shiva an other gods, as his servants. Again, in Devi Purana, Devi is described as the Supreme Deity and Shiva, Vishnu, and the like as her servants. In Ganesha Khand, Ganesh is called the Lord of all, while the other gods as the servants. Why! If this is not the invention of the sectarian priests, whose else could it be?
Such self-contradictions are not possible even in the writings of an ordinary man, to hold the first statement as true, the second naturally must be false, and if the second statement be held to be right, the third must be wrong, and if the third be considered a correct, all the rest must be incorrect.
Again, the Shiv Purana describes Shiva; the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu the Devi Purana, Devi; the Ganesh Khand, Ganesha; the Surya Puran, Surya; Vay Puran, Vayu, as the author of the creation and dissolution of the Universe and then each of them considers them as created beings. If the Pauranics (Hindus) were asked how the author of the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the Universe could be created being and how a created being could be the First cause of the Universe, they would never be able to answer this objection.
Besides, the bodies of these beings must have been formed out of the matter composing the universe. When they form part of the created world and are localized, how can anyone of them be the author of the universe? Moreover, Cosmogony is described differently in the different Puranas and in a manner which is altogether impossible.
For instance, its written in the Shiva Purana – "Shiva wiled 'Let me create the world.' "Thereupon he create an expanse of water called Narayana from its navel sprand up a lotus plant, out of which issued forth Brahma who say that it was all water. He took a handful of water, looked at it and threw it back (into the ocean) which caused a bubble to rise from its surface. Out f this bubble came a man who addressed Brahma thus, "O My Son! Create the world." Brahma replied. " I a am not your son, rather you are my son."
Thereupon they began to quarrel over it and continued fighting with each other on the surface of the water for one thousand years of the gods. Then Mahadeva began to think that as those whom he has sent forth to crate the world were fighting with each other, he must adopt some method of settling this dispute. For this reason he created out of them a bright linga, which immediately spread heavenward. Both were puzzled at its sight. They agreed that its beginning and end should be found out and he that returned first, after having discovered its limits, should be considered as the father, while the other who returned later or without having discovered its two ends as the son. Thereupon Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise and went down, whilst Brahma embodied himself as a swan and flew upwards along the linga. Both traveled for on thousand years (of the gods) at the same speed as the human mind and yet they could not fathom it.
Therefore, Brahma above and Vishnu below began to think that if the other came back sooner after having found its end he would have to become the son. Whilst Brahma, was thinking in this strain, a cow and a tree, called Strychnos Potatorum descended down from above. Brahma asked them, "Whence have you come?" They replied that they has been travelling along that linga for one thousand years. Brahma enquired "Has this linga any limits?" they replied in the negative. The Brahma said to them, "Both of you accompany me and let the cow give evidence to the effect that she has been pouring milk over the head of the linga and let the tree say that it showered flowers over it, if yu do this I shall take you to a resting-place."
They refused to give false evidence. This enraged Brahma and he cried, "If you refuse to give the desired evidence, I will reduce you to ashes (i.e., annihilate you) at once." This frightened them both and consequently the promised to give the desired evidence. The all of them began to descend and continued in their downward course till they got back to the place whence Brahma had started. Vishnu had already got back there. Brahma asked him fi he had found the limits of the linga. Vishnu replied, "I have not been able to fathom it." Brahma, then, said, "But I have succeeded." Vishnu wanted him to produce his evidence.
Thereupon the cow and the StrychnosPotatorum tree gave evidence to the effect that they were both above the head of the linga. Upon this a voice came out of the linga and cursed the tree saying, "Since thou hast told a lie, thy flowers shall never be offered to me or any other god in the whole world, and whosoever offers them shall be destroyed." It then cursed the cow saying, "Since thou hast uttered a lie with thy mouth thou shalt eat excrement with it and no one shall ever worship it. But in its stead thy tail shall be worshipped." It also curse Brahma saying, "Since thou hast told a falsehood, thou shall not worshipped anywhere in the world." It blessed Vishnu saying, "since thou hast spoken the truth, thou shalt be worshipped all over the world." After this both (Brahma an Vishnu) glorified the linga. This highly pleased it and out came a man from the inside of the linga with tresses of hair twisted on the top of his head who said " I sent you both to create the world, why have you been quarrelling with each other." They replied, "How could we create the world without some material?" Thereupon Mahadeva took a ball of ashes out of his matted hair an gave it to them saying "Go forth and create the world out of this ball."
The authors of the Puranas should be asked where the bodies of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahadeva, the expanse of water, the lotus, the lingas, the cow and the Strychnos Potatorum tree and the ball of ashes came from when even the primordial matter – atoms and the five subtle principles (Mahabhuts)* did not exist?" they could never answer this objection satisfactorily.
The story of Creation in the Bhagvat Purana.
The story of Creation is given thus in the Bhagvat: -
A lotus came out of the navel of Visnu, And Brahma out of the lotus, Swayambhava out of the right big toe of Brahma's right foot and the queen Satyrupa out of his left great toe. Out of his forehead were born ten sons such as Rudra and Marichi who begot tem Prajapatis, whose thirteen daughters were married to Kashyapa. Out of these thirteen wives of Kashyapa, Diti gave birth to fiends, Danu to demons, Aditi to the sun, Vinata to birds, Kadru to snakes, Sharma to dogs, and jackals, etc., and others to elephants, horses, donkeys, buffaloes, grass, straw and trees such as acacia with thorns and all. Fie on you! O you senseless, idiotic author of the Bhagvat Puranana. What a shameless creature you were! You did not feel a bit of shame or hesitation in writing such falsehood! You became so utterly blind.
Human beings are, no doubt, the result of the union of the male and female reproductive elements of human parents but never animals, birds, snakes, etc. Such a thing being against the laws of nature as ordained by God is quite impossible; besides, how can there be any room for elephants, camels, lions, dogs, donkeys and trees in the womb of a woman? Moreover, why did not the lions and the like animals, after their birth, eat up their own parents? How can it be possible for animals, birds and trees to be born out of a human body?
It is a great pity that these people should have practiced such impostures as hve kept the world in darkness and doubt even up to this day. These blind popes and their blind dupes hear and believe in such utterly false things. One wonders if they are even men! Oh! Why did not the writers of Bhagvat and other Puranas die in their mothers' wombs or as soon as they were born? Had the people (of India) been saved from the hands of these popes, they would have been spared the pain and suffering that they are afflicted with.