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A clay Ganesha murti, worshipped during Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

In Hinduism, a murti (Devanagari: मूर्ति) typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit (murta). Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped.[1] Hindus consider a murti worthy of serving as a focus of divine worship only after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship.[2] The depiction of the divinity must reflect the gestures and proportions outlined in religious tradition.[1]

The murti is regarded by Hindus and also by some Mahayana Buddhists (e.g. Muktinath) during worship as a point of devotional and meditational focus. Puja of murtis is recommended, especially for Dvapara Yuga,[3] and described in Pañcaratra texts.

Contents

Role of murtis in worship

Modern murtis representing Balarama (left) and Krishna at the Krishna-Balarama mandira in Vrindavan, India.

Murtis are sometimes abstract, but are almost always representations of gods in anthropomorphic or zoomorphic forms like Shiva, Ganesha, Rama, Kali, etc. Murtis are made according to the prescriptions of the Śilpa Śāstras.[4] The alloy Panchaloga is sometimes used.[5] They are installed by priests through the Prana pratishta ('establishing the life') ceremony.

Devotional (bhakti) practices centered on cultivating a deep and personal bond of love with a god often include veneration of murtis. Some Hindu denominations like Arya Samaj and Satya Mahima Dharma, however, reject it, equating it with an idol worship.[6][7][8]

According to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, “This is similar to our ability to communicate with others through the telephone. One does not talk to the telephone; rather the telephone is a way to interact with another person. Without the telephone, one could not have a conversation across long distances; and without the sanctified image in the temple, one cannot easily talk with the Deity.” [9]

According to the Agamas, the स्थूलमूर्ति / बिम्बमूर्ति (bimbamurti, corporeal idol) is different from the मन्त्रमूर्ति (mantramurti, the idol with power), which is worshipped in classical temples. The mantramurti in the bimbamurti is worshipped only by the use of the appropriate rituals, gestures, hymns and offerings.

Materials used in Murtis

In Southern India, the material used predominantly for murtis is black granite, while material in North India is white marble.[10]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. 1989 page293-5
  2. ^ Kumar Singh, Nagendra. Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, Volume 7. 1997, page 739-43
  3. ^ Garuḍa Purāṇa 1.223.37, 1.228.18
  4. ^ For Śilpa Śāstras as basis for iconographic standards, see: Hopkins, p. 113.
  5. ^ Lo Bue, Erberto (1991). "Statuary Metals in Tibet and the Himalayas: History, Tradition and Modern Use", Bulletin of Tibetology. [1]
  6. ^ Naidoo, Thillayvel (1982). The Arya Samaj Movement in South Africa. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 158. ISBN 8120807693.  
  7. ^ Lata, Prem (1990). Swami Dayānanda Sarasvatī. Sumit Publications. p. x. ISBN 8170001145.  
  8. ^ Bhagirathi Nepak. Mahima Dharma, Bhima Bhoi and Biswanathbaba
  9. ^ Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, "Ten Questions people ask About Hinduism …and ten terrific answers!" (p. 7) [2]
  10. ^ The Goddess lives in upstate New York, by Corinne Dempsey, pg. 228,

References

  • Hopkins, Thomas J. (1971). The Hindu Religious Tradition. Belmont, California: Dickenson Publishing Company.  

External links

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Simple English

In Hinduism, a murti (also spelled murthi or murthy) usually means an image in which the Divine Spirit is expressed ('murta'). Hindus call the presence of God into the image so that they can communicate with him and receive his blessings.

Contents

Role of murtis in worship

, a devotee looks within and beyond the bronze Siva image to call on God in His spiritual body of light.]]Murtis sometimes are abstract, but almost always stone or metal images of God in a human-like form like Shiva or Ganesha, Rama or Krishna, Saraswati or Kali. Murtis are made according to strict prescriptions and then installed by highly trained priests through a ceremony. The priests can then call on God in the image daily.

Murtis in Hindu temples and shrines are a mystical form of communication with God and devas. This is similar to our ability to communicate with others through the telephone. One does not talk to the telephone; rather the telephone is a way to interact with another person. Without the telephone, one could not have a conversation across long distances; and without the sanctified image in the temple, one cannot easily talk with the Deity.

Going beyond murtis in Hinduism

The image or murti of worship is a focus for prayers, although Hindus can see God is in all things, in stone and water, fire, air and ether, in the enlightened person of a satguru and inside their own soul. Some temples do not have any murti in the sanctum but a symbolic diagram. Some Hindu branches reject the worship of images.

In Hinduism, one of the highest achievements is when one goes beyond the need of all form and symbol. This is the yogi’s goal obtained through meditation. [1] In this way, Hinduism is one of the least image-oriented of all the religions of the world. However, Hinduism is also one of the religions that uses more symbols to represent God in preparation for getting beyond them.

Sacred images in other religions

Image worship appears to be an intelligent, mystical practice shared by all of the world’s great religions. All religions have their symbols of holiness: the Christian cross, or statues of Mother Mary and Saint Theresa, the holy Kaaba in Mecca, the Sikh Adi Granth enshrined in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Arc and Torah of the Jews, the image of a meditating Buddha, the totems of indigenous and Pagan faiths, and the artifacts of the holy men and women of all religions. Any Christian respects the Bible and considers it sacred. His book and the Hindu’s murtis are similar in this way.

Critics of image worship consider this practice "idolatry". People who practice idolatry believe that God is the material object itself. Instead, Hindus worship murtis to call on the presence of the spiritual God and then communicate with him.

References

  1. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, "Ten Questions people ask About Hinduism …and ten terrific answers!" (p. 7) [1]

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