‘SALIGRAMA SHILA’ – THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF THE SUPREME LORD AS PERSONAL DEITY
THE TRADITION OF ‘SALIGRAMA SHILA’ WORSHIP :
The black stone known as ‘SALIGRAMA SHILA'(rocks bearing Ammonite fossils) obtained from the river bed of the Himalayan river ‘KALI-GANDAKI’ is believed to be the physical, personal manifestation of the Supreme Lord and His devotees lovingly worship His idol. This tradition is related to the story of a pious lady by the name of VRINDA and her reincarnation as a plant known as ‘TULASI’. The leaves and the flowers of ‘TULASI’ are used in the worship of the LORD and ‘TULASI’ plant is also worshiped with great devotion and hence ‘TULASI’ adorns several Indian homes.Tulasi,Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum sanctum, Holy Basil is known to Indians for thousands of years and is very often used in the Indian traditional medicine of ‘AYURVEDA’.
In the Indian scripture of ‘BHAGAVAD GITA’, chapter 10, verse 10 which describes the Infinite Glories of the Ultimate Truth, Lord Krishna spoke to the Pandava prince Arjuna :
“tesam satata yuktanam bhajatam priti purvakam
dadami buddhi yogam tam yena mam upayanti te.”
tesam-priti-purvakam-bhajatam: to those devotees who worship Me with love
satata-yuktanam: and who are constantly aspiring for My association
dadami: I bestow
buddhi yogam: the intelligence, understanding, and insight
yena: by which
upayanti: can come
mam: unto Me.
To those devotees who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I bestow the spiritual intelligence, understanding, and insight by which they can come unto Me.
The Ultimate Reality, the Supreme Absolute Truth exists beyond man’s reasoning powers and it is not possible to understand the Supreme by speculating and by argumentation. However, through devotional service rendered with love the Lord could be pleased and as an act of special mercy He reveals Himself to His devotee.
WORSHIPING OTHER GODS :
Indian thinkers have stated that, “Truth is one, though the sages know it as many”. Indians tolerate other religious practices and do not prohibit the worship of other Gods. Ideas that originated outside the Land of India specifically prohibit the worship of other Gods and condemn other religious practices. For example, the Holy Book of Bible, the Old Testament, the Book of EXODUS(chapter 20, verses 3-5), and the Book of DEUTERONOMY(chapter 5, verses7-9) state the folowing :
“you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.”
This Commandment specifically prohibits the Indian tradition of the worship of ‘Saligrama Shila’, the fossil rocks and stones obtained from the bottom of the Kali-Gandaki river that courses through Nepal.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights :
This is a United Nations Treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and India has ratified this treaty. Amongst other things the Article 18, para3 of the treaty states :”Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subjected only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
PROPAGATION- IS THAT A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OR FREEDOM ?
The word propagation means the spreading of ideas from one person or one place to another person or place. Propagation aims at converting people to another opinion. Propagation attempts to alter people to adopt another point of view. Countries like Greece and Malayasia specifically prohibit propagation of religious ideas. Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Association, and Freedom of Speech are not the same as Freedom of Propagation. Propagation involves destroying the ability of people to think for themselves and it aims at converting people to change their ideas and practices. Propagation creates tension, disrupts social harmony, contributes to a breakdown of public order, and is not conducive to maintaining public safety. Propagation is unwanted violation of the Fundamental Rights of others, and propagation is unnecessary interference of the Fundamental Freedom of Religion of others. Propagation results in the destruction of the Right to practice religion and to worship God according to one’s choice. Since, propagation is not a Fundamental Right or Freedom, and because propagation is counter productive, we need an amendment of PART III, Article 25 of the Constitution of India.