31 January 2014

Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On Idol Worship Or Idolatry And Image Worship

Many of us do not believe in any form of idolatry;
but they have no right to object when others do it.
—Swami Vivekananda 
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
In the beginning of 1891 Swami Vivekananda went to Alwar, Rajasthan and there taught Maharaja Mangal Singh the real meaning of idol worship. In this article we'll make a collection Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comment son Idol Worship or Idolatry and Image Worship.
  • All men are born idolaters.[Source]
  • As to the so-called Hindu idolatry — first go and learn the forms they are going through, and where it is that the worshippers are really worshipping, whether in the temple, in the image, or in the temple of their own bodies. First know for certain what they are doing — which more than ninety per cent of the revilers are thoroughly ignorant of — and then it will explain itself in the light of the Vedantic philosophy.[Source]
  • Despite the many iniquities that have found entrance into the practices of image-worship as it is in vogue now, I do not condemn it. Ay, where would I have been if I had not been blessed with the dust of the holy feet of that orthodox, image-worshipping Brahmin![Source]
  • From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists, and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu's religion.[Source]
  • Many of us do not believe in any form of idolatry; but they have no right to object when others do it, because that would break the first principle of our religion.[Source]
  • One thing I must tell you. Idolatry in India does not mean anything horrible. It is not the mother of harlots.[Source]
  • Some may be helped by images, some may not. Some require an image outside, others one inside the brain.[Source]
  • "The fool, dwelling on the bank of the Ganga, digs a well for water!" Such are we! Living in the midst of God -- we must go and make images. We project Him in the form of the image, while all the time He exists in the temple of our body. We are lunatics, and this is the great delusion.[Source]
  • The idol is the expression of religion.[Source]
  • The secret of image - worship is that you are trying to develop your vision of Divinity in one thing.[Source]
  • The test of having ceased to be an idolater is: "When you say 'I', does the body come into your thought or not? If it does, then you are still a worshipper of idols."[Source]
  • The world has not gone one step beyond idolatry yet.[Source]
  • This external worship of images has, however, been described in all our Shastras as the lowest of all the low forms of worship. But that does not mean that it is a wrong thing to do.[Source]
  • Those reformers who preach against image-worship, or what they denounce as idolatry — to them I say "Brothers, if you are fit to worship God-without-form discarding all external help, do so, but why do you condemn others who cannot do the same?[Source]
  • Too much faith in personality has a tendency to produce weakness and idolatry, but intense love for the Guru makes rapid growth possible.[Source]
  • We are all born idolaters, and idolatry is good, because it is in the nature of man. Who can get beyond it? Only the perfect man, the God-man. The rest are all idolaters. So long as we see this universe before us, with its forms and shapes, we are all idolaters. This is a gigantic symbol we are worshipping. He who says he is the body is a born idolater.[Source]
  • We may worship a picture as God, but not God as the picture. God in the picture is right, but the picture as God is wrong. God in the image is perfectly right. There is no danger there. This is the real worship of God. But the image-God is a mere Pratika.[Source]
  • Worship of society and popular opinion is idolatry.[Source]

Why is idolatry condemned? No one knows. . .

From Lectures from Colombo to Almora[Source]
It has become a trite saying that idolatry is wrong, and every man swallows it at the present time without questioning. I once thought so, and to pay the penalty of that I had to learn my lesson sitting at the feet of a man who realised everything through idols; I allude to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. If such Ramakrishna Paramahamsas are produced by idol-worship, what will you have — the reformer's creed or any number of idols? I want an answer. Take a thousand idols more if you can produce Ramakrishna Paramahamsas through idol worship, and may God speed you! Produce such noble natures by any means you can. Yet idolatry is condemned! Why? Nobody knows.

This page was last updated on: 31 January 2014, 2:18 pm IST (UTC+5:30 hours)
Number of revisions in this page: 1


  1. The problem with idolatry is that people think that God is confined to the idols only or only to the temple to which the idols are confined and that is the limit of their morality. They are free to do all heinous acts outside the temple and later on visit the temple and feel good about themselves. The thing is it is easy enough to take a dip in Ganga. It can at best cleanse the body. How will taking a dip in a water body cleanse the mind?

    1. You are not hidden from mercy , love and judgement of God outside any temple , church or mosque , and whatever you may believe or think either you or somebody will need to pay the price based on the judgement


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