A swami in India recently conducted a weeklong workshop, shibir, on meditation and soul, atma. He talked about how we could make our atma pure, become purer human beings, and live a meaningful life. He could be the conduit, he said, but we need to connect our atma and the parmatma, the Supreme Being.
The last day of the workshop was held on May 25, 2013 to coincide with Lord Buddha’s birthday (also known as Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima day). One estimate is that he turned 2556 years old. Buddha practiced meditation under a Bodhi tree, which is located in Bodhgaya town in the state of Bihar. It is here his soul became enlightened during intense meditation.
Referring to Buddha and his statue at the location, the spiritual leader told the listeners that Buddha did not want his image to be carved following his death. “But, look, Buddha is all over,” the leader reminded us.
The guru wants his own figure carved. The swami argues that if his murti is made from a material he blesses, and if it is sculptured by a spiritually pure sculptor and consecrated by him and maintained by a pure priest, then his murti will continue to help people long after he, the swami, is dead. Furthermore, the swami himself will install a soul, pran, in the mold.
The master told the audience that his murtis were being made and going to be placed in the centers, being built by his followers, in Asia, Australia, Europe, and America.
The question is: How can you put a soul in a non-living thing? On the subject of soul or atma, The Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture, in chapter (Adhyaya) 2 verses 23 through 25 says:
The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it…It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. (Translated by Eknath Easwaran)
Is the sadhu (ascetic) asking his followers to practice idolatry? Can a person find an inner peace or get a problem resolved by standing before the swami’s murti?