What is the purpose of any religion? Religion has many facets to release and free the soul from ceaseless cycle of birth and death to attain salvation. Mode of worship varies among persons of different faiths. It is an assimilation of the individual soul with the infinite. For its attainment diverse views and theories have been propounded and one of them is idol worship.
The fundamental desire of man to make peace with His inner-self and bring to bear an experience of transmutation of the current personality into a vibrant, center of energy of deep fulfilment and happiness. I have been exploring this quest for a long time now and with the knowledge I have perceived through different sources and philosophies, I would like to put forth the answers based on Hinduism.
Hindu creed believes that the Supreme Being manifests Himself with three aspects as Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver and Shiv, the Destroyer and Renovator.
“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy- by one, or more, or all of these- and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details. Religion is based upon faith and belief, and, in most cases, consists only of different sets of theories, and that is the reason why there is difference in form.”
Shri Aurobindo, one of the illustrious revolutionary patriots and philosophers of Bharat, in his “The Human Cycle, the Ideal of Human Unity Way and Self-Determination” had on Chapter XVII “Religion as the Law of Life” elucidated its real content and purpose thus:
“The absolute and transcendent, the universal, the One is the secret summit of existence and to reach the spiritual consciousness and the Divine the ultimate goal and aim of our being and therefore of the whole development of the individual and the collectively in all its activities, reason cannot be the last and highest guide; culture as it is understood ordinarily, cannot be the directing light or find out the regulating and harmonizing principle of all our life and action. For religion is that instinct, idea, activity, discipline in man which aims directly at the Divine, while all the rest seem to aim at it only indirectly and reach it with difficulty after much wandering and stumbling in the pursuit of the outward and imperfect appearances of things. The whole root of the historic insufficiency of religion as a guide and control of human society lies in confusion of religion with liberty, creed, sect, cult, religious society are such.”
Very often one can discern and sense political and economic motives for maintaining status quo in relation to religious forms masquerading it as religious faith and rituals bereft of substantial religious experience. As sure, philosophers do not regard this as religion at all. They do not regard this as religion at all. They do not hesitate to say that this is politics or economic masquerading as a religion. A very careful distinction, therefore, is required to be drawn between real and unreal religion at any stage in the development and preservation of religion.
The purpose of religious experience, as stated earlier, is to integrate human life, socially, materially and morally. It must, therefore, produce a share of material goods and bear a pinnacle for human experience. The dualism of Spirit and Matter, should be kept clear. John Macmurray has stated in this behalf thus:
“Worship is certainly specifically religious, and it is an attitude of mind which is not compatible with science. Science does not worship, It enquires, and analyses, classifies and does sums. On the other hand, religion is not merely worship; and worship may be merely superstitious. If superstitious worship is religion, then astrology and palmistry are sciences. Religion cannot simply sit down and worship anything and everything; it must claim reality for what it worships; and it must made some statement about this reality and assert not merely that it is true but that it is supreme truth. A religious temper which is indifferent to any truth, scientific or otherwise, it ipso facto, superstitious. Religion is not merely the worship of God, but the knowledge of God, for if it does not known its God then God is a figment of the imagination and it worships it knows not what. All honest religion necessarily involves a strenuous effort to know the supreme reality, and the knowledge of God must involve all knowledge in its scope.” John Macmurray: Reason & Emotion, Faber & Faber.
There can be no doubt that religious experience is an internal experience. The nature of a religious experience can be shadow graphed by peace, tranquillity and joy `that passeth understanding’.