Epics for Children: Who Should Worship God

Epics for Children: Who Should Worship God

Buddhism holds that all beings have the potential to become Buddhas.

Most religions say something to the effect that God resides inside us. Advaita Vedanta says that Atman is not distinct from Brahman, so shorn of appearances, man is the same as God. Buddhism holds that all beings have the potential to become Buddhas. Jainism, Taoism and Sufism also stress the unity of man and God. Mystics like Kabir have said it very eloquently:

Moko Kahan Dhundhere Bande Main To Tere Paas Mein|

Na Teerath Mein, Na Moorat Mein Na Ekant Niwas Mein||

Na Main Jap Mein, Na Main Tap Mein Na Main Barat Upaas Mein|

Na Main Kiriya Karm Mein Rehta Nahin Jog Sanyas Mein||

Where do you search for me? I am with you|

Not in pilgrimage, nor in idols, Neither in solitudes||

Not in prayers, nor in meditation, Neither in fasting|

Not in yogic exercises, Neither in renunciation||

Now, a question that logically arises is: if we are the same as God, do we need to worship? If we worship God, it is essentially God worshipping himself, which does not make much sense. If one believes Brahman is the ultimate reality, one need not worship idols or chant any mantras. One needs to look inside oneself to understand oneself better. By understanding oneself, one will understand God. This is the Gyana Marga (Path of Wisdom), which has been elaborated in Bhagavad Gita as one of the three paths that lead to God. Worship is not mandatory for one following Gyana Marga.

Gyana Marga is not an easy path to follow. For most, it is not easy, and for some not even possible, to meditate on a Brahman that has no form or attributes. A person who lacks the required knowledge or inclination also needs a path to God. Bhakti Marga (Path of Devotion) has been recommended as the path for such beings. Instead of Brahman, they can meditate on its worldly manifestation, Ishvara. It can be any personal God like Rama, Krishna, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Surya etc. A Bhakta or devotee concentrates his or her mind, emotions, and senses on that personal God. Ishvara is the form in which the Bhakta imagines God. Bhaktas often like to make beautiful idols of Ishvara and establish them in magnificent temples. There are many forms of worship in Bhakti like archana, vandana, smarana, shravana etc. with kirtana or singing devotional songs, being the most popular. Worship is optional in Gyana Marga but essential in Bhakti Marga to direct one’s emotions and desires towards the divine. So, it really is up to the seeker. They may choose to look inwards and meditate on the abstract ultimate reality and forgo worship, or they may opt to worship a physical form of the ultimate reality.

The New Indian Express