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Bankim Chandra Chatterji Explains On Idol Worship In Hindu Religion

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838 – 1894) explains the importance of idol (murti) worship in Hindu religion. He was the composer of Vande Mataram personifying India as Mother Goddess and inspiring freedom fighters during the Indian Independence Movement.

The true explanation consists of the ever true relations of the subjective Ideal and to its objective Reality. Man is by instinct a poet and an artist. The passionate yearnings of heart for the Ideal in beauty, in power, and in purity, must find an expression in the world of the Real. Hence proceed all poetry and all art.

Exactly in the same way the ideal of the Divine in man receives a form from him, and the form is an image. The existence of Idols is as justifiable as that of the tragedy of Hamlet or of that of Prometheus. The religious worship of idols is a justifiable as the intellectual worship of Hamlet or Prometheus.

The homage we owe to the ideal of the human realized in art is admiration.

The homage we owe to the ideal of the Divine realized in idolatry is worship.

A simple explanation of the above statements:

Imagine you have a favorite character from a story or a movie, like a superhero. When you think about that superhero, you might picture them in your mind, right? That mental picture is like an "image" of that superhero.

Now, imagine someone believes in a divine power, like a god or goddess, and they have a special feeling inside them that connects them to that divine power. They might imagine what that divine power looks like or how it behaves, just like how you might imagine your superhero.

So, when someone makes an idol, like a statue or a picture, to represent their divine power, it's kind of like making a picture of your superhero. It helps them feel closer to that divine power, like how thinking about your superhero makes you feel excited or strong.

Just like how some people really enjoy watching and learning from stories like "Hamlet" or "Prometheus," some people feel a deep connection to their divine power through these images or idols. So, for them, it's as okay to worship idols as it is for others to admire and learn from those famous stories.