--> Skip to main content

Pratikopasana – Concept Of The Worship Of Symbol

Pratikopasana is the concept of the worship of a pratika or symbol. It is quite in practice among the Hindus. Material objects are occasionally mentioned in the later literature as symbols representing certain deities. Each object is regarded as a separate deity. To a Vedic mind, even rivers, mountains, plants, and trees, sacrificial implements and vessels – all these represent in one way or the other some form of divinity. Even agricultural implements, such as suman and sira, are invoked as deities (Rig veda 4.57.5-8), and a cake is offered to them. (Satapatha Brahmana

Vedic religion by and large is aniconic, but in the latest stratum of Vedic literature, especially in Grihyasutras, we find some trace of murti worship. We get many instances of fetishism in Vedic tests. A white horse represents sun, the black one, the setting son (Taittiriya Samhita The horse also represents Agni in the kindling ceremony. Linga worship is quite prevalent in India; in fact this stands for the symbol of Shiva – who is formless.

The Vedic soma plant symbolizes life, fertility and regeneration. The tree Ashvattha is worshipped as Vishnu, Nyagrodha as Shiva and Palasha as Brahma (Mahabharata 12.135.101); Padma Purana 6.117.2). The goat is used in many rites as fetish of puasan, the lord of ways; similarly cow is also used as a fetish. Living animals and bird are treated as the efficacious representatives of certain deities in Vedic mythology. Plants are personified as divine mothers (Rig Veda 10.97.4; Atharva Veda 6.136.1). In fact, even water symbolize the whole of potentiality and are regarded as the foundation of the whole world (Satapatha Brahmana 6.8.22). In the epics we find many references to murtis and images of clay, wood, metal, etc. We find mnay traces of pratikopasana in Vedic and post-Vedic literature.