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From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (jbb0_at_nreca.org)
Date: Fri Dec 05 1997 - 09:49:21 PST
------------------------------------------------------------------------ Idol worship, an easy way to reach God Date: 05-12-1997 :: Pg: 24 :: Col: c Cl: Religion CHENNAI, Dec. 5. God has provided devotees with several methods to reach Him. Though scriptures are the principal means of knowing the Supreme, one of the easy ways is through worship of idols installed in temples. These idols have been duly sanctified and the incantations chanted during the time of consecrating them, give them life and hence, they are believed to ``breathe.'' Temples are centres for spiritual practices and with the sword of devotion, the thorn of evil effects emanating from past actions can be overcome. Puranas narrate about the way in which society's calamities, which were destined to occur, have been averted or their impact mitigated, by pleasing the deities in temples. During the visits, a devotee should not tell God about his problems but thank Him for what all benefits He had granted him. The Lord need not be told about one's sufferings. Though India abounds in temples of different types, yet God has Himself ``sculpted'' images in eight major pilgrim centres. The dates of their origin cannot be fixed because they have ``sprung'' of their own accord and by divine grace. Srirangam is prominent among these holy places. There are many legends surrounding its development over centuries. Lord Rama is said to have worshipped Ranganatha's idol. Religious history tells us how many of the temples have come under attack by marauders. One such incident occurred at the Srirangam temple during the early 18th century. According to Sri N. Vadirajachar in his lecture, a sorcerer who had acquired certain occult powers was camping in Srirangam. He had learnt a ``Vanishing trick''. By smearing a cream around his eyes, he will vanish from public gaze and he used to hide himself in the sanctum sanctorum. Evil-minded as he was, the magician then proceeded to bring down the lustre in the deity's (Ranganatha) face and limbs by reciting some mantras. Devotees started feeling the lack of spiritual power in the idol, in a gradual manner. One of the Madhwa saints, Sri Sumatheendra Thirtha (1692-1725), who once camped at Srirangam, came to know about this strange phenomenon and could guess who was behind this act. He noticed that the hiding magician remained within the shrine, eating the food left on a podium. The saint then asked the temple cooks to mix large quantities of pepper with the rice. Tasting the offering which was so hot, the culprit started shedding copious tears and wiping them, resulting in the cream he had applied, to melt away, thereby exposing him to the public. To prevent such further occurrences, Sri Sumatheendra Thirtha installed an Anjaneya idol in the temple complex.