Under this strange heading I read a newspaper cutting sent by a correspondent to the effect that a temple has been erected where my image is being worshipped. This I consider to be a gross form of idolatry. The person who erected the temple has wasted his resources by misusing them, the villagers who are drawn there are misled, and I am being insulted in that the whole of my life has been caricatured in that temple. The meaning that I have given to worship is distorted.Worship of the charkha lies in plying it for a living or as a sacrifice for ushering in swaraj. The Gita is worshipped not by parrot-like recitation but by following its teaching. Recitation is good and proper only as an aid to action according to its teaching. A man is worsh-ipped only to the extent that he is followed, not in his weaknesses but in his strength. Hinduism is degraded when it is brought down to the level of the worship of the image of a living being. No man can be said to be good before his death. After death too he is good for the person who believes him to have possessed certain qualities attributed to him. As a matter of fact, God alone knows a man’s heart. Hence the safest thing is not to worship any person, living or dead, but to worship perfection which resides only in God known as Truth. The question then certainly arises as to whether possession of photographs is not a form of worship carrying no merit with it. I have said as much before now in my writings. Nevertheless I have tolerated the practice as it has become an innocent though a costly fashion. But this toleration will become ludicrous and harmful, if I were to give directly or indirectly the slightest encouragement to the practice above described. It would be a welcome relief, if the owner of the temple removed the image and converted the building into a spinning centre where the poor will card and spin for wages and the others for sacrifice, and all will be wearers of khaddar. This will be the teaching of the Gita in action and true worship of it and me.
BOMBAY, March 15, 1946
Some Gandhi Temples ::