In temples, why is worship offered to cars instead of God?
Answer: When people bring their newly purchased cars to temples, worship is offered not to the cars, but to God through the cars. To understand this, we need to see through a proper philosophical window.
In our modern materialistic times, most of us have lost awareness of God’s presence and grace in our lives. No wonder then that we can’t see beyond the physical reality of the car as a trendy status symbol. That’s why we need the saints to reveal the all-pervading divine behind the ubiquitous mundane. Unfortunately, superficial people summarily judge the saints to be pantheists, those who worship everything as God. But the Vedas never teach naïve pantheism; their teaching is a most sophisticated form of panentheism. God has his transcendent self-existence as the supremely lovable and loving person, Bhagavan Sri Krishna. And he also mercifully extends himself as the immanent Paramatma (Supersoul) to pervade, sustain, animate and oversee all of material existence – including our own material bodies. It is this Paramatma who sustains our very lives, as scripturally-guided reflection reveals. The Bhagavad-gita (15.12) points out that our very existence would be impossible without the Paramatma’s infinite wisdom that maintains the physiological harmony within and the cosmological harmony without. Further, the Gita (15.15) underscores that our hard work leads to success – be it material or spiritual – only when it is guided by the inspiration and the intelligence from the indwelling Paramatma.
Although God’s grace maintains our entire worldly existence, the Vedic saints understood that most of us can easily recognize Gods’ grace through the best or the most important of our worldly possessions. Therefore they arranged that in traditionalIndia, the farmers would worship their cows and bulls – not due to mistaking them to be divine, but due to discerning that they represented the divine grace which begot sustenance and prosperity. Similarly, the warriors would worship their chariots; the workers, their tools and the scholars, their books. The same principle applies today to cars.
Let’s now look at car worship through this philosophical window:
- Without all the background arrangement of the Paramatma, we wouldn’t be alive to ride in a car.
- Without the Paramatma giving intelligence to the scientist to discover the principles of mechanics and to the engineer to apply those principles for vehicular design, there would be no car for us to ride in.
- Without the Paramatma giving us the intelligence to utilize our talents to earn the necessary wealth, we wouldn’t be able to purchase the car.
Thus, the apparently pantheistic ritual of car worship is meant to devotionally acknowledge the human indebtedness to the divine.