By Swami Harshananda
An idol is an external symbol that enlivens the living presence of the deity it represents. It is exactly same as the photograph of a person that represents him. The idol of a deity is prepared as per the directions given in the dhyānaśloka of the deity, revealed to sages during their depths of mystical meditation.
When an idol is consecrated by the process of prāṇapratiṣṭhā, it becomes ‘alive’ by the subtle presence of that deity and can then be worshiped. It is like connecting an electric bulb with the source of electricity and putting the switch on. The scriptures are the final authority in these matters.
- Dhyānaśloka means hymn of meditation.
- Prāṇapratiṣṭhā means infilling with life.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore