We find that in many religions of the world there is great aversion to this idea of worshiping of deity in the temple; they call it idol worship. Idol worship is one of two things – when one simply concocts one’s own superstitious imaginary reasons for some form and concocts a method of worship, with no scientific scriptural guidelines; or, when one worships simply for material ambitions to be fulfilled. This is idol worship.
In the western countries, 40 years ago, the general population was ignorant of Vedic principles and there was no conception of the beautiful scientific method of prana pratistha, of calling the Lord to accept our love and service in His holy form of the vigraha, the deity. Therefore the imaginary, speculative, superstitious process of idol worship was projected on the scientific process of deity worship. But that principle of focusing the mind on a form of God is always there and even the practitioners of religions which condemn so-called idol worship, are doing it themselves; they have to have a focus.
For the Sikhs, their whole focus is their work; it is their worshipable deity – a form they can experience God in. The Muslims, where ever they are in the world, bow down towards Mecca; that is their deity, that is where they are reaching out for the essence of God. It is a physical place, a form. And the Christians, in every church, they stand before the crucifix, the cross, and they kiss it, they kneel down before it, they pray to it, they beg mercy from it. The Jews have their Torah which they keep on the altar and on certain days they decorate it with crowns and jewellery, and they kiss it, bow down before it and worship it. In this way every religion sees the great need to gather together around a form which they perceive as the essence of God. We find that every religion is doing it, every religion is performing deity worship. But in the Vedic religion it is a very scientific process which has been given by God Himself and which has been followed and amplified by all of great previous saints.
Does God not have the omnipotence to do whatever He likes including to manifest through matter? The notion that God cannot manifest as matter not only limits God, but also limits our access to God.
His Holiness Radhanath Swami