Conceptual thinking is hard to many. To contemplate upon the formless and, therefore, the transcendental essence is given but to a few. The majority needs some grosser expression of the Pure and the Infinite, for their mind to conceive It and their intellect to contemplate upon It. These 'symbols' of the eternal ground, the supreme Truth, are called idols.
Thus, an idol represents an ideal. When we do not know the ideal which a given idol represents, it is something like seeing a portrait in a studio! If it were my beloved's portrait I would have seen in it more than what the black and white picture represents. I would experience the warm pulsating menace of my love, the mother of my beloved children.
In the same way the religious symbols and idols have a deeper depth for us to discover, over and above their mere external shape, the general forms of the symbol, and in each, even the exact arrangements of its various aspects.
To bring out eloquently the voiceless beauty and joy of the Infinite, through unsaid significances of Its finite expressions and symbols, is called mysticism. All religious idols are mystic symbols. To learn the art of interpreting them is to experience a harmony in our devoted contemplations heard without ears, seen without eyes!!
I had been indicating some of these depth significances during my discourses, and a few of them I had written out for publication in our souvenirs and in our monthly journal Tapovan Prasad. Some I had dictated and my disciples had written them down, and often they have been published under their own names! All these have been compiled here and after complete editing, we are publishing them in one interesting and instructive volume mainly for the edification of our foreign devotees, who have no intimate touch with our deep and sacred culture.
To the foreigners these have to be alien thoughts having some strange mysticism about them and a quivering charm in them. These expositions can rocket even a modern Indian youth into worlds of fresh discoveries and enchanting poetic visions of the Life Divine.
We congratulate Sri R. S. Nathan (Chinmaya Mission, Calcutta - now Kolkata) for bringing his enthusiastic and dedicated interest in compiling, editing these pages, and thus preparing the material for this volume. This is not exhaustive, it can never be - Hinduism is too rich in its mystic contents.
For each student of contemplation, the mystical depths in our Pauranika literature, open up a rich and unending field to explore and to discover. I hope each reader will learn independently the art of contemplating upon these very same symbols, and come to discover for himself the hidden significances in all other religious symbols.
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