The Clevedon Shiv Statue: Non-Hindus need to appreciate the reasons behind idol-worship
Thakur Ranjit Singh
The mainstream media in New Zealand still does not reflect the population make up in its newsrooms, hence still remains White. News on Hinduism makes it to media when they sell, hence it has to be in controversy, like this story in papers and TV. If good things are done, they rarely get mentioned.
Mainstream media in NZ hardly has any Indian or Hindus in their newsrooms - and Hinduism is the second largest religion in NZ. Hence Kiwis remain ignorant about their neighbors. They do not have any journalists who can inform about diversity, and on aspects of Hinduism they know so little about.
There are many reasons why a devout Hindu worships idols- it is the best way of communicating with his Gods and seeking their blessings. Religion is a matter of faith. The paths to God are many, and many are the ways one can reach him.
Hinduism not only preaches about peace and harmony among the societies in the world, but also propagates a truth that somehow the whole world has to live together like a family.
The advantage of being a part-time bus driver is that you get to see places free that other common mortals in Auckland rarely get an opportunity to see – and that, for free. Many places in Auckland, like Shakespeare Park, Parakai Pools, Waiwera Pools, Hunua Falls, Woodhill Forest, Ambury Regional Park, Waitakere Ranges, Narrow Neck Beach, Mellons Bay, Spookers, Bethells Beach, Muriwai Beach, Whagaparoa Railways, Goat Island-Omaha Marae, Paradise Ice Skating, Olive Farm-Bombay, to name a few, are places you get to visit and see free. And the advantage of driving Party Bus is that you get to see other extras. That, some other time. But now to a more divine story.
|The nearest residence hidden and covered by vegetation, and the statue does not seem to be out of place on a lifestyle block where owners have acres and acres of land in a rural setting|
Some two weeks ago, when I got a job to go to McNicol Rd, Clevedon, a bell started ringing – almost like a ghanti (bell) in a Shiv temple, as this had something to do with that. This is because, Clevedon, a rural settlement, with life-style blocks (lot of land) on the outskirts of Papakura has been in the news recently where a supposedly offensive large statue has been casting dark shadows on a neighbour’s property, and was causing a bit of stir in this predominantly White rural community.
Lo and behold, when I searched the map, I found out that my school ball pick up point was some 15 minutes out away from Papakura town centre, on Papakura - Clevedon Rd. And ten minutes out of Papakura on the same route was junction of Creightons Road where that statue was. Hence armed with my amateur camera, I headed early for my job to this rural part of Auckland to make a visit to this house with the statue – another free trip.
Just about 200-300 metres from junction of Papakura –Clevedon Road, into Creightons Rd is this statue which has been in news for the wrong reasons- a complaint from a neighbour that it is imposing on them.
According to NZ Herald, a neighbour, Bryce Watts, a Catholic, said the marble statue was "bizarre" and "offensive". However, I found nothing bizarre or offensive, as this was in a rural environment with lifestyle blocks of hectares of vacant sprawling land, with tall trees, farming and storage sheds. If you did not look out for it, you could drive past the property-owner, Ravin Chand’s house on Creightons Road. You could drive past without noticing this, as tall trees adequately hide and camouflage it and it does not feature as anything bizarre. Mr Watts’s boundary may be 10m away from Chand’s property, as reported by NZ Herald, but I did not notice any dwelling nearby that may have been affected by the statue.
I wonder, had Chand had been an Anglo-Saxon (European) instead of a brown Indo-Fijian who lived in Watts’s neighbourhood and erected King George the Sixth’s statue of that size, whether Watts would have STILL seen it as bizarre, or saluted it with respect? Watts has to realise that the demographic landscape of Auckland has changed and he needs to appreciate that he is no longer living in an All- White and All-Christian neighbourhood, hence he needs to embrace diversity. And with this change comes the actual change in landscape that happened in his neighbourhood.
Nobody can question Ravi Chand’s right to erect whatever he wants in his premises, and also the right of people who choose to worship the statue. While people of other faiths may class this as an act of a heathen, people need to appreciate the concept of idol worship, and take their head out of sand, and be informed and enlightened.
Idol worship is a simple way of expressing ones faith, love and devotion to God. Hindus do not worship idol in vain. It is just a symbol, a form with which the mind can be connected and concentrated upon. Idol or statue is a way to acknowledge the omnipresence (sarwa-vyapak-present everywhere), omniscience (sarwa-gyani –antar-yami-all knowledge) and omnipotence (sarwa-shaktimaan-all powerful) of God. If God is omnipresent, then everything in the universe, including the idol/statue one worships is filled with His energy and presence. Everything in the universe becomes equally sacred and worthy of worshipping. (No wonder Hindus in India name their lakes, rivers and mountains as Gods). More than anything, an idol aids in concentration. More than any abstract (mental, theoretical) concept, an image or a symbol (yantra) is the best aid to concentrate and control one’s mind and attention. By keeping the mind concentrated on a particular image, the mind can be stabilised.
|Silhouette of the Statue against a setting sun on a wintry evening of June, 2015|
There are many reasons why a devout Hindu worships idols. These reasons may not satisfy the intellectual curiosity of a well-educated scholar, but for a deeply religious Hindu, it is the best way of communicating with his Gods and seeking their blessings. Religion is a matter of faith. The paths to God are many, and many are the ways one can reach him.
Therefore, a Catholic neighbour of Ravi Chand may view the statue as something bizarre and imposing on him while Chand and other Hindus see it as a symbol of faith. While the neighbour’s religion may look down on Chand’s religion and belief, Hinduism believes in the motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the world is a big family, and all religions are small creeks flowing into a big river which flows into the ocean. If Watts ever decides to erect some Christian religious symbol, he can be assured that his Hindu neighbor will not run down to media to cause a frenzy and a storm in a teacup. This is because our religion not only preaches about peace and harmony among the societies in the world, but also propagates a truth that somehow the whole world has to live together like a family. This is the reason why Hindus think that any power in the world, big or small cannot have its own way, disregarding others. This is because of the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world in one family.
Hope some in rural Clevedon in outskirts of Auckland (some 40km from CBD) can appreciate this.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is blogger at blog sites FIJI PUNDIT and KIWI PUNDIT. He is scholar in Communications studies with honours from AUT. He is also a media commentator, and fills the vacuum in information that the mainstream and side stream media either fail to tell or are incapable of doing so. This article was one in that spirit. Unfortunately, you will never read this in the mainstream media, because NZ hardly has any Indian or Hindus in their newsrooms-and Hinduism is the second largest religion in NZ. Hence Kiwis remain ignorant about their neighbors]