Why is an idol or picture used for worship of God, who is formless?

Q.1. Why is an idol or picture used for worship of God, who is formless? Are there more then one Gayatri?

Ans. It is an oft-repeated question. It should be understood that basic purpose of worship is meditation and contemplation; and name and form are essential for meditation. Everywhere people coordinate feelings and symbols in order to refine their sentiments. Every nation has its own national flag. Its citizens pay reverence to the national flag and get infuriated when it is insulted. Even communists, who consider themselves atheists offer salutation to the red flag and when they go to Russia they pay a visit to Leningrad to have a glimpse of the place where Lenin’s embalmed body has been kept. Muslims who do not believe in idol worship offer their prayers facing Kaba. They kiss the symbolic stone ‘Sang Asavad’ of Syah Moosa in Mecca. Arya Samajists express divine faith in the letter ‘Om’ and in performing Agnihotra. The obvious reason is that it is convenient to concentrate the mind with the help of symbols. The work of teaching the alphabet to children becomes easy when it is done through pictorial symbols as Ka- Kabutar, Kha-Khargosh, Ga- Gamla, Gha- Ghadi, and so on in Hindi. The same principle applies to installation of idols of god s and god desses. The Gayatri mahamantra does not have any other form or variant. Its authentic classical form comprises a syntax of just twenty-four letters encompassing three verses of eight letters each, three Vyahritis and one Onkar (o-o-o-m).

It is this ancient Mantra which is used during the traditional Sandhyavandan and for Guru diksha during Yagyopaveet ceremony. It is also known as the Guru Mantra. It appears that the other variants of Gayatri had been fabricated during the dark Middle Ages by founders of various sects to propagate their own pre-eminence