Hinduism and Idolatry
As a universal tradition,
Hinduism contains within itself a place for all forms of worship
from the most basic ritual to the highest meditation. This includes
worship with and without form - whatever may be valid for different
human temperaments and stages of development. Therefore Hinduism
employs abundant forms of all types, as well as every sort of
formless meditational approach. Most Hindus use images in their
religious worship and most Hindu temples contain many of them.
This abundance of forms has
been criticized by aniconic (anti-idolatry) traditions not as a
universal approach, but as the idol worship of primitive people.
They associate Hindu images with the idolatry and perversion that
was charged against the Pagans by the Christians, Jews and Muslims.
The idea is that whoever uses images in religious worship is somehow
immoral, perhaps a worshipper of the devil, and does not know there
is only One God.
Image worshippers may be
lumped together with criminals, perverts, or whoever at the moment
is regarded as representing deviant behavior in society, as if the
use of images led to moral depravity. Such
ideas are prejudice, if not bigotry, and are akin to racism and its
negative stereotypes. People who hold them never take the time to
communicate with so-called idolaters and find out what they are
really doing (and discover that they are also human beings, often
with more love and tolerance than the religious zealots who attack