Idol:- An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

God:- The creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

My question was, What is difference between Worshiping God and Idol?

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    A good analogy would be a telephone; you are not talking to the telephone, you are talking through the telephone to another person. Similarly you are not praying to a statue, you are praying through the statue to a god. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:10
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan G1
    – user1195
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:18
  • 3
    We are not worshipping idol but we are worshipping Lord inside idol (through idol).
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:18
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    What are the methods of worshiping God u know of other than worshiping him through an idol or image?
    – Rickross
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:18
  • If you are worshipping the idol as God, then that is wrong. You want to worship God through the idol... Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


My question is, What is difference between Worshiping God and Idol?

There is no difference at all. Worshiping God in an idol is one of the many methods of worshiping him.

There are many methods of worshiping God, with worshiping in idols just being one among them

Agnou Tishtathi ViprAnam Hrudi Devo ManishinAm | PratimAswapravuddhAnAm Sarvatra ViditAtmanAm ||


For the Brahmins God resides in fire, for the manishi (or mahatma) God resides in his heart, for the unintelligent (apravuddha) he resides in idols but for the self-realized he resides everywhere.

KulArnava Tantram 9-44.

Now, by saying "for Brahmins God resides in fire" Lord Shiva is referring to the fire rituals or the yajnas, where God is invoked in the fire. And, which is one of the ways of worshiping God. Similarly, for the "not so adept" ones, worshiping in idols is recommended.

If God is present everywhere why worship him in some specific objects?

For most us, imagining things that are formless , shapeless are hard things to do.

So, for the benefit of us , the method of invoking and worshiping Gods in images and idols (which have forms that we can easily relate to) is prescribed in scriptures.

ChinmayasyAprameyasya NirgunasyAsaririnaha| SAdhakAnAm HitArthAya Brahmano Rupakalpana ||


For the benefit of the sadhaka the pure consciousness called Brahman , which is unfathomable (aprameya), without attributes (nirguna) and without any physical form (asariri) is imagined to have a form (rupakalpana).

Kularnava Tantram 6-73.

For that very reason we assign form (rupa) to the formless (arupa).

arupAm Rupinim KritvA KarmakandaratA NarAh |


The Brahamayi Shakti which is without form (arupa) is given a form and then worshiped at various places.

KulArnava Tantram 6-75.


GavAm sarvAngajam Kshiram Sravet StanamukhAt YathA | TathA Sarvagato Devah PratimAdishu RAjate ||


Just as though milk is formed from the constituents all over the body of the cow, it flows out only through the teats of its udder, similarly the Divine who is all pervading shines specially resplendent in Images and the like.

KUlArnava Tantram 6-76.

We worship Gods in idols and not just lifeless objects.

The process of invoking the presence of Gods in idols is called the Pranapratishtha ceremony. It involves the use of mantras.

And, unless prana pratishtha is done on the idol (or image), worship does not bear any fruits as the following verse says:

Sakalikritya TathprAnAn SamuddipyendriyAni Cha | PratishthApyArchayeddevi ChAnyathA Nishphalam Bhavet ||


After Sakalikaran (a ritual which uses mantras), and after installing life-force (prana) and senses (indriya) of the Gods, worship should be commenced. Otherwise the act is fruitless.

KulArnava Tantram 6-80.

Mantra is not different from the respective Deity

For some people it might appear as strange how mantras (which will appear to the naive) as just combinations of some varnas (alphabets) have the power to invoke life force in the lifeless. Then for them, we have the following verse which says that a mantra is not different from the God. The Mantra itself is God.

Yantram Mantramayam Proktam Devata Mantrarupini...


A Yantra is full of (or endowed with) Mantras and God is of the form of Mantras.

KulArnava Tantram 6-85.

So in a nutshell, worshiping Gods, after invoking his presence in an object, through the use of mantras, is the first step in worshiping God.

And, as we progress more and more in our sadhana, we can do away with it completely and resort to mere internal modes of worship (antar yajna) in which nothing external is required.

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