Rupa, Svarupa, Arupa

Another boy who claims himself a staunch Shiv bhakta asked one question about ‘rupa, svarupa and arupa’. Rupa means that which has form; svarupa is like having a physical human form; arupa is without form. For example ‘linga’ is rupa; but ardhanareeshwara or Somaskantha, etc. with arms, leg, head etc is known as svarupa and Shiva as a column of fire (at Thiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu) is known as ‘arupa’.

In response I said: For a typical Hindu the moment you give a ‘name’ and ‘form’ to God then it is also becomes ‘svarupa’ or ‘rupa’ and never remains ‘arupa’. When Muslims criticise us about idol worship, I used to say, I respect your view on this subject. But according to my understanding, turning towards a particular direction to pray or going to pilgrimage and stoning the so called ‘Satan’ or kissing a ‘stone’ is also considered by us to be idol worship. As a Hindu I respect your view about these religious symbols that you keep and never consider them as idols. But as you have your view about our symbols, you should also respect our view about others’ religious symbols. But we never condemn or condescend other’s views about their faith. Similarly we are the least bothered about others lack of understanding about our religious traditions, symbols and faith.

I can explain this by giving another example. Some people after tasting some food complain that it is tasteless or tastes like mud, but my response is that there is nothing called ‘tasteless’. The food tasted differently and you weren’t familiar with it or didn’t like it. Even mud has its own taste which you don’t like. So there is no concept called ‘tastelessness’ as ‘tastelessness’ is also a taste. For example, rain water is considered pure and without taste. But it has a taste that is different. But we can never claim that rain water is tasteless because it is pure. Suppose if you enter in a room which has no painting or picture on the wall; we cannot say that it is empty. Not having a painting and picture on the wall also a kind of decoration.

So those who call an idol as ‘rupa’ or ‘svarupa’ and other forms which has not name or form as ‘arupa’ is a wrong conception about the very concept of name and form. They are just a play on words and nothing else or some method to condescend others.