Even though practitioners of Hinduism are seen worshipping the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, the actual Supreme Being of Indian Religion or Hinduism is called Para-Brahman, or simply Brahman. He is eternal, formless, timeless, neither male nor female, and is manifest in every nook and corner of this creation. Many a times, the word “it” is used to refer to Brahman-it is formless, shapeless, and timeless primordial matter.
As per Hindu religious thought, the absolute God Brahman is too profound a concept to be visible to naked eye or to be comprehended by human senses. So, Brahman is normally not directly worshipped – it is normally the manifestations of Brahman that are worshipped. Therefore, both formless and idol worship are allowed in Hinduism. Those who can, can directly concentrate and invoke the formless Brahman, the ultimate reality. This is called nirgunic form of worship. Nir means without, Gun means attributes, so nirgun means without attributes. However, most people find it quite difficult to concentrate on formless God, so they worship God in visual form, in the form of idols or lingas. This is called sagunic form of worship. Sa means with, so sagunic means with attributes. Sagunic form of worship is the preferred form of worship in Hinduism.Â
Since God is too recondite to be ever comprehended by naked eye or human senses – invoking such an incomprehensible form would never be productive. Vedic Religion believes that such an attempt to attain the infinite form of God can only result in the attainment of misery, pain, and even fear, but never results in the attainment of God. Indian Religion says that the only way we can ever hope to attain Supreme Being is to visualize God in a way that can be comprehended by human senses. So Vedic Religion advocates worshipping God in artistic representations that make the devotee feel the closeness with God. So representation of almighty is done in terms of idols and lingas – these representations make devotee feel closer to God, as if the God were his father, mother, guru or friend.
Prithviraj is a researcher into the origins of religions and comparative studies of religions. Visit his site to know more about Hinduism, Hinduism Timeline, Introduction to Hinduism, and other concepts of Indian Religion.
Find More Religion Articles