I am very much confused. I read somewhere while browsing, that the concept of temples and thus idol worship has come only recently and the oldest temple is only some 2000 years back. But the period of vedas dates back to some 10 years back. Further it was stated that the temples were built as only a palace for Kings initially and only to counter the emergence of budhdhism and christianity festivals were created to congregate the hindu people. Before that Hindus are living only worshipping nature. After reading this I could not go to temples and worship the idols there, even though I believe in god very much. If the gods like Krishna and Rama existed at their material time, who were the gods then?. I personally feel that on going through various manthras like rudram etc.,(said to be vedic scriptures) (though I know very little) no where I saw the names like krishna, rama, whereas siva has been mentioned, but I feel that shive is not the shiva as we saw in temples. Hence I think that hindu worshipped originally the natural things like agni, vayu,varuna etc.. The gods which we worship in temples are the ones actually lived in earlier years with some extra powers which the common man cannot recognise.
Forgive me if I am wrong and please enlighten me.
Respected Balasubramanian Sir,
I can understand your confusion. People have always accused Hinduism of idolatory and that's why other religions (so called monotheists like Islam, Christianity) have been against us from ages.
1: Origin of polytheism
However, I believe that all religions were essentially monotheism only. Due to selfish agenda, people add false GODs there. [For example, Christianity started with monotheism but ended on assuming Jesus as GOD which arose from misunderstanding of Gospels.] Something similar happened with Sanaatan dharma too.
I will tell you what really happened. Vedas have always ascertained of 1 GOD. Yajur Veda 32:3 says so
"Na Tasya Pratima Asti, Yasya Nam Mahadyash
Hiranyagarbh Ityesha Ma Ma Hinsidityesha Yasmanna Jat Ityesha:"
The supreme god who is named like Mahadyasha, Hiranyagarbh, Yasmanna Jat, Ma Ma Hinsit, he/she does not have any specific pattern - (But patter depends on your meditation.)
These are names of that 1 GOD
Mahadyasha - Having high fame
Hiranyagarbha - Putting all gems in his stomach (Metaphor)
Sun, Moon etc. are compared with gems and hence Ishvara is Universal here. All these, along with infinite Universes are in GOD.
Ma Ma Hinsit - the non violent.
Yasmanna Jat - The unborn. (Yasmaat Na Jaat - because it cannot get birth)
Further Atharva Veda 13:4:19 and 13:4:20 states so,
"Na dvitityo Na triyaschthurtho naapyuchyate|
Na panchamo Na shshtah sapthmo naapyuchyate|
Nashtamo Na navamo dashamo naapyuchyate|
Yagna yetham devamekavritham veda||
Sa sarvassai vi pashyathi yachha praanathi yachhana|
Tamidam nigatam sah sa yesha yeka yekavrideka yeva|
Ya yetham devamekavritham veda||"
There is no second God, nor a third, nor is even a fourth spoken of. There is no fifth God or a sixth nor is even a seventh mentioned. There is no eighth God, nor a ninth. Nothing is spoken about a tenth even. This unique power is in itself. That Lord is only one, the only omnipresent. It is one and the only one.
So, Vedas mentioned 1 GOD. As time passed, people got affected by following 6 enemies.
Kaama - Lust / Desire
Krodha - Anger / Fury
Lobha - Greed / Avarice
Moha - Delusion / Selfishness
Mada - Ego / Arrogance
Matsaram - Envy / Jealousy
So, they created their own books giving rise to polytheism. Many priests established temples and edited Puranas with sole intention to make Hindu world bow before them. This was also called origin of birth based caste system. The original caste system is Varna (which means occupation / character). They altered Sanskrit dictionary to mean Varna as creed and color. To know real meaning of Varna / caste system; please refer 18th Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.
I would suggest you to read Parapuja by Jagadguru Adi Shankara to know that true worship is not what we do these days. You might find that translated on scribd website.
Now, you mentioned that oldest temple is 2000 years back. Sorry, but I don't know exactly when did all that misunderstanding happened. May be oldest temple is 2000 years old and may not be.
2: Origin of VEDAS
I would like to correct you. Vedas did not originate 10 years back as you mentioned but exact origin is perhaps as old as origin of this world. I am bound with character limit and hence I will give some links to clear the concept.
Vedic misconceptions cleared here.
Go through these to know more on Vedas. (A personal suggestion: you can bookmark hitxp and agniveer websites to know more on Sanaatan Dharma.) If you have time, go through them. If you have some doubts on Vedas, please feel free to ask.
3: Worshipping nature
We survive not because of some idol OR some imaginary being whom we call GOD but because of nature who supports us. I dont know whether Hindus became idolators to manage Christians OR Buddhists OR was there another reason. But I believe that worshiping nature (Pantheism) was integral part of hinduism to promote support towards mother Nature.
4: Concept of GOD
First, Rudram is not a Vedic text but a text of equal importance. Unfortunately, we need to be master of Yoga to understand it. Mere literal translation is disaster. Texts by Jagadguru Adi Shankara are very high level literature.
According to Vedas, GOD is one but has different names. Vishnu is another name of Shiv as per Vedas and Brahm too is same. (I would suggest not to go with Ralph Griffith and Max Muller because they did not know Sanskrit. You must check Devi Chand's OR Arya Samaj translation.)
Ram, Krishna etc. were intellectuals who understood truth. They meditated on GOD and unified with it. The term Bhagavaan means those who understood Ishvara and unified with it.
Yes, true GOD remained formless creator and nature was its obvious manifestation. Remember, Krishna ordered to praise Govardhana rather than some imaginary Indra. So, concept was to praise GOD who is among all.
No Hindu says - I worship nature. Rather, they say - I worship GOD within natural elements. GOD can be everywhere as per Yajur Veda 32:4. That's what was rationale of introducing nature worship in monotheistic Sanaatan Dharma. Hope this helps.
If doubts still persists, you can ask freely.