Temples and idol worship are essential in any seeker’s spiritual path. Param Pujya Dadashri said, “Temples are India’s greatest science. Temples facilitate the highest form of paroksha bhakti (indirect worship), provided one understands the spiritual science behind idol worship.”
Param Pujya Dadashri proclaimed, “When you see the Trimandir’s idols, you will be in awe of their grandeur. All the idols are highly beneficial; all the idols are exceptional.”
He alleged, “Just go and do darshan (devotional viewing) in this Temple! I will instill chetan (energy of the Self) in each and every idol by performing pratishtha (instillation of life) in such a way that each murti will talk to you.”
What is the Benefit of Idol Worship?
Param Pujya Dadashri described the benefit of worshipping an idol by saying, “If you worship a murti, you will realize great material comfort.”
He elaborated further that, according to spiritual science, an object of worship (i.e. a murti) eventually bestows its attributes upon the worshipper. He said:
“A murti bestows the essence of murta (that which has form) so, if you continue worshipping it, eventually you will ‘meet’ the murti (i.e. that which is represented by the idol). So, sing songs of devotion and praise the Gods!”
How should one perform Idol Worship?
Param Pujya Dadashri described, “If you know how to worship, you will attain both spiritual and worldly prosperity. One must know how to worship.”
He instructed the seekers to approach murti worship with a prayerful intent, such as:
"Dear Lord, You reside within me, but because I have not yet become acquainted with You, I am doing Your darshan here. Gnani Purush Dada Bhagwan has taught me this method, and I am doing Your darshan according to His instructions. Please bestow Your grace upon me so that I may realize my true Self."
Worship this way in whichever Temple you visit. Each day (your idol worship) must feel new, and your enthusiasm and joy for going there must be fresh!”
Why Haven’t We Realized the Benefit of Spiritual Science?
Param Pujya Dadashri was once asked why some devotees don’t experience the beneficial results from worshipping an idol. On this, He replied that results aren’t realized because, during darshan or prayers, their chit (visualizing power of the intellect) isn’t truly present. He said:
“Their mind is on business, or on their shoes outside the Temple. They might even be thinking about someone stealing their shoes!”
A Focused Chit
“Why do we have bells in Temples? Why is aangi (silver-plating of an idol) performed? Why are the Gods decorated? Why is there aromatic incense and candles?”
Param Pujya Dadashri explained that the bells, decorative effects, incense, and candles are tools intended to focus the chit during idol worship. He said:
“The purpose of Temple-bells is to steady one’s chit. The murti has no need for a bell. Bells are used to focus the chit of worshippers. When the bells ring, they drown out outside noises and distractions. All these tools are utilized to help people focus (during worship).”
How Long Will We Worship an Idol?
Param Pujya Dadashri said, “Idol worship is a step to still the chit, until one attains the religion of the Self - do not let go of it. As long as there is the presence of artadhyan and raudradhyan (adverse meditations directed internally and externally), you must continue to do darshan of an idol. Until these end, you will not be able to see the Amurta (formless Self or Soul within). Take support of the murta and continue doing darshan of a murti unless the Self is known. Do not let go of the murti until you attain the Amurta.”
Does Idol Worship Lead to Self Realization?
Param Pujya Dadashri said, “A murti cannot bestow the Amurta … it can only express and bestow its own attributes.”
He continued, “However, until Self Realization is attained, worshipping an idol is beneficial because it leads you towards the Self. Do not shun idol worship … one mustn’t let go of the rope that keeps one afloat. Continue to worship a murti until you attain darshan of the Amurta.”
An Idol of Faith
Param Pujya Dadashri said, “A Gnani Purush (embodiment of Self-knowledge) is such that, the moment you set eyes on Him, faith arises within you. Scriptures call such a person Shraddha ni Murti (an idol of faith).”
He explained, “Darshan of a Gnani Purush causes one’s inner intentions to immediately transform such that the worshipper will start having faith - regardless of one’s current inner state. For this reason, “He, the Gnani Purush, is considered Shraddheya (One in whom faith is established naturally) for the entire world, and incarnates to serve the world’s salvation. Such an idol of faith is born very rarely.”
A Form of the Formless
Param Pujya Dadashri described that, “A Gnani Purush is Murta-Amurta (a form of the Formless) … so when you meet a Gnani Purush, you will attain the darshan of the Amurta, which will liberate you.”
He clarified further, “A Murta-Amurta idol has to be living, meaning the Gnani Purush has to be alive - only then can one do darshan of the Amurta. After the Self is attained through this darshan, then one’s work of liberation is done.”
Lord Simandhar Swami’s Idol
Param Pujya Dadashri explained the significance of Lord Simandhar Swami’s idol by saying:
“Lord Simandhar Swami is a living Tirthankara (omniscient and fully-Enlightened Being who exists exclusively to liberate others). He is currently present (in Mahavideh Kshetra), and will remain present for another 125,000 years.”
Param Pujya Dadashri elaborated that, due to roonanubandha (a binding-intent from the previous birth), Lord Simandhar Swami has a karmic obligation to perpetuate the moksha marg (path of liberation from the cycle of birth and death) for the living beings on Earth.
He said, “A murti of Lord Simandhar Swami is a representative (of His living presence) due to which it is not even called an idol! Because He is alive (the living Omniscient Being), doing darshan of His murti, which is much more than an idol, facilitates one’s ultimate liberation.”
Param Pujya Dadashri affirmed, “His idol, or even His picture, can accomplish all. If you remain close to Lord Simandhar Swami, even if you sit by His idol, it will yield wonderful results. This is the benefit of doing darshan of the One who is the embodiment of moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) - the One who has a physical body, but whose essence is moksha.”
Param Pujya Dadashri concluded, “Lord Simandhar Swami’s murti in the Trimandir will remain a representative (of His grace) for a very long time, and many people will attain liberation through this murti.”
Lord Ganpati is the chief deity of all the deities representing wisdom and intellect. He possesses the sole right to write scriptures. This is because there is not a single place where his intellect does not shine and there is no weakness in his intellect. This is the reason why he is placed first and foremost among all deities. Even in rituals of prayer worship, Lord Ganpati is placed first.
The intellect becomes humble and free from illusion by worshipping him. If a person encounters a few difficulties in a month but constantly lives in fear every day, it is the result of wrong intellect. Worship of Lord Ganpati transforms wrong intellect into the right intellect. That is why Lord Ganpati is always placed first in any worship, but because people perform rituals without correct understanding; their worship does not prove fruitful. If worship is performed with correct understanding, it will bring good results.
Lord Ganpati has successfully passed through all the intricacies and perplexities of the intellect. By worshipping him with an understanding, the illusion of intellect disappears and the right intellect is attained.