In the lesser known village of Vishnupur, lived an even lesser known idol maker, Rama. He had spent most part of his life making idols for the temples of his own and the neighbouring villages. Sometimes city dwellers also came by to buy his idols. He was very passionate about the art of making idols. He put his heart and soul into making the idol look like a ‘God’ and they really did come alive as one. The onlookers could have possibly no choice but to bow to such a creation and worship it. Such was the magic of Rama’s handwork. He did not mind skipping a meal or a nap in order to give his fullest into the idol. In fact most times it would happen like that. Rama used to get completely absorbed into the art-work that he was hardly aware of what time of the day it was or whether there was anything like hunger, heat or flies to distract him from his work. His total absorption and devotion to his work outweighed all the seeming distractions, which never seemed to exist for him.
One day his friend, farmer Bhola came to visit him. Rama kept working on his new idol, while Bhola sat near him. Rama’s wife got some tea for the two friends. Bhola was a devoted farmer. He used to visit the temple daily, perform the pooja rituals and then only ate something and went to work. He believed that if he missed out on the rituals, it would displease the gods, and the result of their displeasure would be a failed harvest or infected crop.
Bhola had seen Rama always at work, and was curious, as to how his work went on smoothly without any losses as he seemed to perform no rituals at all. Out of utter curiosity he asked Rama, “You are always busy making your idols, but when do you worship them?”
At this Rama replied, “Do I need to do that separately? Am I not worshipping them while creating them? Please don’t mind, I have no doubts about your devotion, but people go for an hour or even less to the temple to worship my idols, but I put my life force into them day and night. If you define worship by a ritual, then their creation is my ritual.”
Both were silent now. Bhola had understood Rama’s point and said no more and Bhola left for work after hugging Rama.
After Bhola had left, Rama saw the village school teacher, ‘Master ji’ coming his way. Rama asked his wife to get some water, flowers, kum-kum and incense sticks. He now performed the ritual rites of worshipping the idols. While he was performing the ritual, Master ji came by and greeted Rama, “Namaste Rama, how are you?”
“Namaste Masterji, I am fine by God’s grace. Why don’t you come inside?”
Master ji who did not believe in idol worship or rituals, but admired Rama’s idols and his sincerity in making them, was compelled by the sight of Rama performing the rituals to comment on it “Hey, Rama why do you need to do a ritual. You are making the idols so why do you need to worship something that is made by you?”
Rama as if knew that Masterji would ask this, was ready with the answer, “Masterji, you are wise enough to say so, but if I do not worship the idols I make, how can I expect people to worship them. The whole purpose of making an idol is put before a question-mark if the one who makes them doesn’t worship them.”
Masterji understood Rama’s point, as he was precise and clear.
After Masterji left, Rama’s wife asked him, “Why did you give two exactly opposite answers to Bhola and Masterji?”
At this Rama laughed heartily then explained, “Dear, I have made a picture and see it completely, while Bhola and Masterji saw it with some parts missing. I just made them see the complete picture by giving them the missing parts of the picture from my eyes to theirs.”
Rama’s wife had one more thing to ask, “Dear then what is the truth? Why do you make the idols? Is it for worshipping them, or for making money?”
Rama replied in a clear voice, “All creation is the progeny of bliss. I create the idols as it is blissful to make them. Neither do I intend to worship them, nor to make money from them. Respect for them and the money for our family is only a blessing of that bliss.”
Author: Jyoti Prateek