Swami Dayanand was first scholar in modern times to proclaim that idolatry or worship of God in forms of idols is not sanctioned in the Holy Vedas. Although many reformers in past like Adi Shankracharya, Guru Basava, Guru Nanak, Sant Kabir, Dadu, raja Ram Mohan Roy etc have openly disagreed with the Idol worship but swami Dayanand view of idolatry is based not merely on observations of demerits of idolatry as his predecessors but also on proofs and evidences mentioned in different Vedic texts. In same age of swami Dayanand a class of scholars in west also tried to explore The Vedas and other texts with special interest and different motives. Many of them were influenced by Christian upbringings and political pressure of their Christian state while some of them were real truth seekers too. Overall their views are acceptable up to that extent until they are with the truth and nothing else.
In this article we will read different quotations by European scholars on idolatry and our main motive is to give message to the readers for their spiritual elevation by giving them lesson of worship of one supreme formless God.
Maxmuller- It has sometimes been asserted that the Vedic religion is extinct in India, that the modern Brahmanic religion as founded on the puranas and tantras consists in a belief in Vishnu, Shiva and Brahama and manifests itself in the worship of the most hideous idols – Origin and Growth of religions page 154
Monier Williams says - It is very doubtful whether idolatry existed in the time of Manus compilation of the smriti- Indian wisdom page 226
H.H.Wilson says- There is (in the Vedas), no mention of any temple, nor any reference to public place of worship and it is clear that the worship was entirely domestic – Wilson’s Rigveda- Introduction, volume 1, page xv
H.H.Wilson says–And yet Manu notices no Avatara, no Rama and no Krishna and is consequently admitted to belong anterior to the growth of their worship as set forth in the Ramayana and Mahabharata- Wilson’s Rigveda- introduction, volume 1, page xi, xii
H.H.Wilson says – But the worship of defied heroes is no part of that system, nor are the incarnations of deities suggested in any other portion of the text, which I have yet seen, though such are sometimes hinted at by the commentators.
It is also true that the worship of the vedas is for the most part, domestic worship, consisting of prayers and oblations offered in their own houses, not in temples by individuals, for individuals good and addressed to unreal presences, not to visible types.
In a word, the religion of the vedas is not idolatry
H.H.Wilson- Vishnu purana preface page 111
J.I.Wheeler says- They appear to have had no temples but either performed their sacrifices in the open air or else in a sacrificial chamber set apart in each dwelling- Wheeler’s History of India introduction page 11
Mr Mill says- Idolatry is an altogether after growth springing from the mind incapable of entertaining the elevated abstract notions of the permitive creed- Mills History of British India, quoted in the Vedic magazine may 1918 page 117
Mr Mill says but they (Brahmanas) never, like the priests of other pagan nations, or those of the Jews, conducted public worship, worship for individuals indiscriminately, worship in temples or make offerings to idols is held as degraded and unfit to be invited to religious feasts- (Manu II 152,180) Mills History of British India vol II page 192 F.N.
M. Elphinstone- There seems to have been no images and no visible types of the objects of worship.-History of India page 40
M. Elphinstone-At the same time, they erected no temple and addressed no worship to the true god-History of India page 93, 94
M. Elphinstone-Mr. Colebrooke avowedly confines himself to the five sacraments which existed in Manu’s time; but there is a new sort of worship never alluded to in the institutes, which now forms one of the principle duties of every Hindu. This is the worship of images before which many prostration and other acts of adoration must daily be performed.-History of India page 40
There are many more quotes from different scholars to prove that the Idol worship is not sanctioned in The Vedas. We must accept truth and follow the message of the vedas as ultimately
“Truth only will be Victorious”
By Dr. Vivek Arya