Hindu worship, teerthasthanam, court perceptions
“Saguna Upasana and Nirguna Upasana. Upasana is of two kinds, viz., Pratika Upasana and Ahamgraha Upasana. ‘Pratika’ means a symbol. Pratika Upasana is Saguna Upasana. Ahamgraha Upasana is Nirguna Upasana or meditation on the formless and attributeless Akshara or transcendental Brahman. Meditation on idols, Saligram, pictures of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Siva, Gayatri Devi is Pratika Upasana. The blue expansive sky, all-pervading ether, all-pervading light of the sun etc., are also ‘Pratikas’ for abstract meditation. Saguna Upasana is concrete meditation. Nirguna Upasana is abstract meditation… An object is used in the outer Puja such as an image (Pratima), a picture or an emblem such as Saligram in the case of Vishnu worship or Linga in the case of worship of Siva… Pratima (idol) is a substitute or symbol. The image in a temple, though it is made of stone, wood or metal, is precious for a devotee as it bears the mark of his Lord, as it stands for something which he holds holy and eternal… When you worship an image, you do not say, “This image has come from Jaipur. It was brought by Prabhu Singh. Its weight is 50 lbs. It is made of white marble. It has cost me Rs, 500/-.”You superimpose all the attributes of the Lord on the image and pray, “O Antaryamin (Inner Ruler)!You are all-pervading; you are omnipotent, omniscient, all-merciful. You are the source for everything. You are self-existent. You are Sat-Chit-Ananda. You are eternal, unchanging. You are the Life of my life, Soul of my soul! Give me light and knowledge! Let me dwell in Thee for ever.” When your devotion and meditation become intense and deep, you do not see the stone image. You behold the Lord only, who is chaitanya. Image worship is very necessary for beginners.” The philosophy and significance of Idol worship by Swamy Sivananda (1960, pp. 2-3, 6).(Copy of the book is attached).
IDOL’S PROPERTIES:- The properties of an Hindu temple or an idol or debutter estate vests in idol itself, while it’s possession and management vests in the shabait as manager of the debutter estate. Deoki Nandan v Muralidhar AIR 1955 SC 133.
IDOL IS JURISTIC PERSON:- When the property is given absolutely by a pious Hindu for the worship of an idol, the property vests in the idol itself as a juristic person. Kalamaka Devi v M.R.T.Nagji AIR 1970 SC 439, 441.
In Hindu law, a Hindu temple has legal personality in Tamil Nadu. Rama Setu is a Hindu temple. Rama Setu is part of Ramanathaswamy temple complex in Setubandha Rameshwaram.
“In Hindu law, a family idol has legal personality
(Pramatha Nath Mullick v Pradyumna Kumar Mullick (1925) LR 52 Ind App 245; see P W Duff, ‘The personality of an idol’(1927) 3 CLJ 42).In Bumper Development Corporation v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  1 WLR 1362, expert evidence was accepted that a Hindu temple has legal personality in Tamil Nadu. For a proposal that natural environmental features should be given legal personality so that they can bring proceedings to prevent, or obtain compensation for, damage, see C D Stone, ‘Should trees have standing?—Toward legal rights for natural objects’ introduction (1972) 45S Cal L Rev 450 and ‘“Should trees have standing?”revisited:how far will law and morals
reach? A pluralist perspective’(1985) 59S Cal L Rev 1.”
Bumper Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  1 WLR 1362,  4 All ER 638 (CA), 245
The second ‘contrary case’ was a 1925 decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England. This particular case originated in India and involved the legal status of an endowed Hindu idol. The idol in question had been endowed by a subsequently deceased man for family worship in a particular place. A guardian or custodian had been designated and this individual had decided to move the idol to another place of worship. An objection was made to this plan. The Privy Council decided that the case had not been properly argued in the High Court of Calcutta because the special interests of the idol and its female worshippers had not been independently represented. The judges ordered that the case be reheard. In their opinion, the idol was a distinct "juristic" or legal entity which had the power to sue and to be sued. The idol was not a mere moveable chattel; in decisions with respect to the idol, the will of the idol was to be respected. In the view of the Privy Council, it was "open to the idol acting through its guardian to conduct its worship in its own way, at its own place." The judges were not referring to the idol as having a human or supernatural personality, but to a legal personality whereby the "will" of the idol "seems to be that for legal purposes is whatever the law regards as such." The judges referred to "long-established authority founded upon the religious customs of the Hindus and the recognition thereof by Law" that an idol was a juristic entity. (Note also Bumper Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis,  4 All E.R. 638 in which the English Court of Appeal accepted that an "Indian Hindu temple [was] recognized as a legal person in Indian law, [and was] entitled to sue, through its representative, in an English court for the recovery of stolen property.” )
Prana Pratishtha Ceremony: its meaning
A Hindu Temple is a sacred place, endowed with divine energies and powers. At the heart of each temple lie the deities, to whom we bow and pray in worship. Why is it, though, that these statues, these "idols" are worshipped as God? How did they come to be infused with divine characteristics? The answer is the Prana Pratishtha ceremony.
People say that Hindus are idol worshippers. We are not. We are ideal worshippers. It is not the plaster and marble and stone we revere; rather it is the presence of God which has been transmitted into these otherwise lifeless statues. The rites and rituals of Prana Pratishtha are followed strictly according to the Agamic texts. Prior to installation, priests who have been well trained in vedic rituals, perform specific mantras and pujas which have been shown to endow an inanimate object with divine life and energy.
These mantras and rites begin with the simple man who sculpts the stone. He is not an ordinary artist. Rather, he is one who has been blessed with the ability to create a physical manifestation of God. He performs puja and prayer prior to and during the sculpting. He maintains, in his mind, the vision of the deity he is sculpting. He prays for this God to come to life in his statue. His work area looks more like a temple than an art studio. So, from the very first moment, the stone is treated with reverence and piety, preparing it to carry the force of God.
Then, when the murtis are finished and taken to the temple, the special Prana Pratishtha ceremony typically lasts for five days. During this time, numerous special rites and rituals are performed and mantras are chanted. It is after this complex set of sacred rituals that the murtis become infused with divine power and truly embody the God in whose manifest form they are created. At this point, they are no longer murtis. They are deities. After this, we no longer refer to the stone or other materials of which they are constructed. For, they have become sanctified and are now only a physical manifestation of aspects of the Supreme Godhead. They are no longer marble. They are now divine. "Whatever form of Me any devotee worships with faith, I come alive in that form." (Bhagavad Gita).
Some people may ask why we need deities, if God exists everywhere. It is very difficult for most people to envision the un-manifest, ever-present, all-pervading Supreme Being. It is easier for us to focus our attention and our love on an image of Him. It is easier to display love, affection and devotion to a physical deity than to a transcendent, omni-present existence. Additionally, through the Prana Pratishtha ceremony and through our own faith and piety, this image of Him truly comes alive and become Him. So, by worshipping His image with faith and love, we arrive at His holy feet.
In the Srimad Bhagavatum, Lord Krishna says, "Whenever one develops faith in Me – in My manifest form as the Deity or in any other of my manifestations – one should worship Me in that form. I exist within all created beings as well as separately in both My un-manifest and manifest forms. I am the Supreme Soul of all." (Canto ll, Chapter 27, Verse 48).