Lots of questions!
Yes..in hinduism, the supreme god, the only god is explianed by "aum" and the sign of aum. It has such a perculiar design because nothing on earth is of that design hence that indirectly says that god is completely undefinable to us as we do not have the right eyes and words to describe him.
Om has no gender. It is just best described by a cosmic energy.
Then to simplify stuff... we divide the om in female and male. As tehy are the two ways in life. This means that we are all same. male, female are both manifestaions of same god.
The male part is described by the trinity. The brahma, vishnu, mahesh. This is not trinity per say. If I were to explain, brahma is the creater, mahesh(shiva) the destroyer, vishnu is the one said to take care of the earth(simplifying).
And the female part by parvati(shakti-power), saraswati(godess of education) and lakshmi(godess of wealth)
The shiva is incomplete without parvati. That is to say that without the females life is immpossible.male is incomplete. Parvati is shakti(power) and what is possible without power?
Female dieties are also incarnations of god..why can't they be? God does not have a gender.. there are many instances in which shiva incarnated into a female. For example, in one such story, shiva incarnated into a female and then with the mating of his with an incarnation of vishnu, shiva gave birth to ayappa, a god worshipped in south india. It makes no difference which gender you are. Bodies do not mean anything. Soul matters. And the soul in all of us is same. we are all connected. All of us are nothing but om. All of us. This worls is all a mirage, maya- some people(like buddha and many Indians) realised this and this awakened them.
There is also an instance of ardha-nareshvara, here this image is signified by bonding of shiva and parvati. one side is depicted by shiva and another by parvati. In one body.
You are wondering how can that be? But gods do not have a gender.. gods do not hav sex. So why not? :)
These are all meant to simply things. to teach us truth in simle matters. Our gender does not matter, that is what this says.
These are just images, maifestations of the actual aum or om(it has many names). For example, shiva is said to have three eyes.. this means that he can see things that we as humans can't see. it is his inner eye..he can see through stuff. similarly, everything else in gods has a meaning. The number of hands has a meaning too.
Now these mainfestations of god,(even shiva) have many incarnations..for example, shree krishna is an incarnation of vishnu, but vishnu is a manifestation of om..so shree krishna is om too. But, he came to earth and guided us through the holy bhagvat geeta.
Yes, we worship idols and do many rites and stuff. For example, during yagnas,(sort of pujas) we pray to panchtatvas- fire, sky, earth,water, air. We also wordhip god in many forms and stuff. For example, I am a devotee of Lord Krishna. I know Om is all that matters...but I am still devoted to krishna. Similatly, some people are devoted to Hanuman,some to ram, some pray to Durga, some to Kali..it goes on.
All these gods(used to calling them god.lol) have different fables. For example, krishna was a very naughty child. He used to help everybody, yes but he used to always steal(yes,steal) butter and milk products from his mother. She would store them high so he won't be able to reach it, but he wud still get to it and finish the stuff.lol
Like that, Hanuman is said to be the sun of Sun god. He knew how to fly...he was very powerful but he above all was a devotee of Shri ram(incarnation of vishnu) who has other fables..
So, yes we worship idols. Not per say. the philosophy doesn't say so. But we do. And I see nothing wrong with it. What is wrong with idol worshipping? I do not understand why ppl make such an issue out of it. I love krishnaji.. I know about om, When i pray to a idol of saraswati, or durga or shiva or anybody, I am praying to om only. I am praying to the supreme god only. so what does it matter? I do not see how idol worshipping matters. This is not like the greek gods..those were silly.Or maybe the book I read about them made them seem silly as it was written by an orthodox cristian. But they seemed to be having sex! (Zius specially) God doesn't have sex. how can god have sex? these are meant to teach us stuff. teach us how to live life. U chose a person and u try to be like them. u try to devote urself to him/her. Easier to do than to pray to glob of enregy u can't describe. Easier to meditate. and meditation is a big part of hinduism!
Oops..too long. But I hope I got the stuff cleared. any other prob,i can help! :) I am not a guru..but I try to help.
jai shree krishna!
Hinduism basically teaches u to be a gud person. It does not talk about a particular man being prophet or god or son of god or somethings- it is basically a collected idea. Lots of peopl reched the same conclusion. We know krishna gave us the geeta. somebody else the vedas..ramayana was written by valmiki and so on..they were all directed by god but presented to us thruogh different means. True, there is a suff about all religions leading to same thing-like ppl wanting to go to a montain top-there are different ways of reaching the top. But ppl do not understand one thing-not everybody wishes to reach the same mountain's top. They all have different ideas. I do not believe in any abrahemic religion. For simple reason- they promote hatred.t hey all say tha non-cristians, non-muslims will rot in hell. that proves them wrong for me. Morover, there idea of god is also very childish. i don't know, but I do not understand why they think god is so egoistic as to actually kill atheists. God doesn't ened us to pray.But ppl forget all this. I am not against them, but I just believe I am lucky I do not belong to those religions-buddhism, jainism, all Indian religions are good and human and nice. Had I belonged to Islam or cristianiny, perhaps I wudn't have beleived in gpd at all..
I am saying this cause a lot of ppl think like mystic. they ebleive in all religions being equal and then they covnert to other religions when they marry non-hindus cause they are asked and then these religions say only that religion is true and do sillys tuff basically. And I hate that. Makes me angry that ppl don't realise a simple fact like that.
Mystic is deluded. Many ppl beleive tht hinduism is that.It is in a way. it teaches u to respect other religion..but only the good things of other religions..It is written in Vedas that u shud follow ur parent but if ur parent is silly, following him/her is wrong! U shud know better! Got that? take the best of all worlds, but that is possible only in hinduism. other religions tend to talk like their religions are writtenonstone. They frighten me.