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The Murti

 

Worship of the murti, the sacred image, is central to Hinduism. Many of the nineteenth century reform movements rejected the practice as outdated and superstitious. Nonetheless, sacred-image worship remains central today in helping many Hindus develop and express their relationship with God.

Useful Analogy 1

The post box

The murti is compared to a post box that is authorised to accept mail on behalf of the central post office.

Useful Analogy 2

The expert electrician

Personal Reflection

Common Misunderstandings

The images are merely meditational aids, and represent the different aspects of God who is invisible; Hindus don't actually worship their murtis

Many branches of Hinduism do not agree. Both practically and theologically, the murti may be considered to be God or the specific deity it represents. Some Hindu groups consider the murti a form of avatar.

Sensitive Issues – Idolatry

The question of idolatry naturally arises for many non-Hindus encountering image-worship. It is especially relevant in schools where teachers and pupils are predominantly Christian or of other religions that have reservations about idol-worship, or practices that resemble it. The more developed strands of Hinduism have sophisticated theologies which differentiate between (what they consider) genuine deity worship and that which is unacceptable (or on a lower level of understanding). Naturally, they reject apparently similar practices focussing on demonic forces and which are influenced by the quality of ignorance (tamas). Deity worship should be performed in goodness, and there are strict rules regarding its scientific execution and the character and conduct of those performing it.