Are all eco-friendly Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols) spiritually beneficial ?

Short summary : While there is an emerging trend or demand for eco-friendly Ganesh Murtis (Idols), there is little to no thought put into whether they emit spiritually positive vibrations.

Are all eco-friendly Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols) spiritually beneficial ?

This article is based on research conducted by the Sculpture Department of the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa, India.

1. Emerging trend of demand for eco-friendly Deity Ganesha Murtis (Idols)

Another year has gone by and the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is upon us. Deity Ganapati is widely worshipped all over India. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the period when the waves of the Deity Ganapati Principle are 1000 times more active on Earth. While the actual festival date falls on 22 Aug 2020 this year, the ritualistic practices of the immersion of the Shri Ganesh Murti into the sea, lakes and rivers will continue for over 10 days. After the ritualistic worship of Shri Ganesh Murti, it is immersed in flowing water. This immersion is done to spread positive vibrations into the environment.

In recent times, a large proportion of the Idols that are meant for immersion are being made from plaster of Paris and toxic, non-biodegradable chemical colours. As a result, the immersion ends up causing considerable harm to the environment and marine life with such Idols taking months if not years to fully decompose.

Actually, this damage would never happen if people were to follow the scriptures. This is because traditionally the Shri Ganapati Idol is supposed to be made from Shadu mati (a type of clay) which should dissolve immediately in the water, thus spreading spiritual positivity from the Idol into the water and the environment. Shadu mati is a soft whitish clay generally obtained from a riverbed.

In the past few years, there has been an increasing push to move away from materials such as plaster of Paris and to use more eco-friendly materials to make Shri Ganesh Murtis. The chart below is a screenshot from Google trends showing how people at the time of Ganesh Chaturthi (in August or September) are increasingly searching for eco-friendly Ganesh Idols in greater numbers, and this is also reflecting the increased demand for such Idols.

Leading newspapers and environmentalists have applauded this eco-friendly trend, welcoming the innovative use of materials apart from clay such as cow dung, chocolate, sugarcane, alum, coconut husks, etc., which have been used in the making of the Idols. It is reported that some Idols are made with clay but stuffed with fish-friendly food such as corn, spinach, wheat and vegetable powder.

Of the various organic materials, cow dung is being promoted as a more spiritually pure substance that is in line with Hindu traditions. “After all,” the Idol makers say, “the Indian cow has a special place in Hindu culture”. The Idol makers for the Shri Ganesh Murti have advocated the following benefits by using cow dung :

  1. They can be immersed in water tubs as well instead of large surface water bodies and then can be used as fertilisers.
  2. When immersed in the sea, the cow dung dissolves and generates bacteria, which helps marine life.
  3. They are cheaper to make than the Idols made from plaster of Paris (POP) or clay.
  4. Cow dung has special importance in Hinduism, and it is considered spiritually pure.
  5. As these Idols are not being painted, they do not have any harmful chemicals.
  6. Obtaining cow dung from gaushalas (cowsheds) helps them from an economic standpoint.

However, the question remains, in an effort to be more innovative and make eco-friendly Shri Ganesh Murtis, are the Idols providing the spiritual benefit to the devotees for which so much effort is being taken ?

2. Experiment to assess the type of subtle vibrations from various Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols)


When an Idol maker sets out to make an Idol, the thing that should be uppermost in his mind is to make the Idol in such a manner so that it attracts and emits the Deity principle (that the Idol represents) to the maximum. This is because the Idol will then spread spiritual positivity in society.

However, this is easier said than done.

To attract and emit the maximum amount of Deity principle, the Idol or Murti needs to closely resemble the Deity’s actual form. Since Deities are most subtle in nature and most Idol makers do not have an advanced sixth sense of vision, they are invariably guessing the actual form. As a result, a large proportion of their craft is based on copying some other Idols that are psychologically pleasing to them or using some artistic license to make the Idol different in design to stand out.

What most people do not know is that even small changes in shape can increase the positive subtle vibrations from the Idol considerably or it can even make the Idol emit negative vibrations.

Methodology used

To illustrate this concept that Idols of the same Deity can emit different vibrations depending on how they are made, we compared different 5 different Shri Ganesh Murtis made from the following materials.

To illustrate this concept that Idols of the same Deity can emit different vibrations depending on how they are made, we compared different 5 different Shri Ganesh Murtis made from the following materials.

5 Ganesh Murtis (Idols) analysed using the Universal Aura Scanner

* Please note : The two POP Shri Ganesh Murtis have been made by the Sculpture department at the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay (also known as the Maharshi University of Spirituality). The original Idol meant for worship and immersion was made of Shadu mati (clay). For educational and research purposes, the Idols made by MAV were later made from plaster of Paris (POP) as it is less susceptible to damage. These Idols are not meant for immersion.

The comparison was made by using an aura and energy scanner known as the Universal Aura Scanner. The Universal Aura Scanner (UAS) is an instrument developed by Dr Mannem Murthy (a former nuclear scientist) and is used to measure the subtle energy (positive and negative) and the aura around any object (living or non-living).

Using this instrument, the 5 Ganesh Murtis (Idols) were measured for 3 criteria, i.e. negative aura, positive aura and measured aura (which is like a combined aura). The instrument measures for two types of negative energy auras, i.e. Infrared (IR, Type 1 Negative aura) and Ultraviolet (UV, Type 2 Negative aura). The spiritual research team has used this instrument extensively and has found it to be fairly accurate. Its results corroborate readings of the same objects taken using the advanced sixth sense of members of the spiritual research team.

Comparison of aura readings obtained from 5 Ganesh Murtis (Idols) using the Universal Aura Scanner (UAS)

Key observations from the Universal Thermo Scanner (UAS) :

  • Even though the above Idols were all made to represent Deity Ganapati, they all emitted different types of auras. Some even emitted negative auras instead of the expected positive aura that an Idol of a Deity should emit.
  • The Shri Ganesh Murti (Idol) made from papier mâché showed the least amount of positivity and also displayed a negative aura of 1 metre in the IR Type 1 Negative aura and 0.98 metres in the UV Type 2 Negative aura. This Idol did not emit any positivity. Depending on how it is made, papier mâché as a material can be eco-friendly.
  • Even though the Idol made from cow dung is made from a sattvik (spiritually pure) material, it emitted some negativity. This is because in the IR and UV criteria, the UAS opened up to 120 degrees and 150 degrees respectively. It would have needed to open up to 180 degrees for the operator to measure negative auras. However, the fact that the instrument’s arms made a wide angle in these two criteria denotes that there were some negative subtle vibrations associated with the Idol. This Idol also emitted positive vibrations and had a positive aura of 2.20 metres.
  • Apart from the papier mâché Idol and the Idol made from cow dung, none of the other Idols in the experiment emitted negativity. The Idol made from Shadu mati (clay) did not have a positive aura but showed signs of positivity as the arms of the UAS instrument opened out to 130 degrees in the positive aura criterion. Even though the Ganesh Murtis (Idols) from MAV were made of POP (plaster of Paris), which is not as sattvik as Shadu mati (clay), they had the highest amount of positivity.
  • The white Idol of Deity Ganapati from MAV recorded a higher amount of positivity than the coloured one from MAV (even though they had exactly the same dimensions).
  • One important observation is that based on the experience of the spiritual research team with the UAS, very rarely do people (even the ones practising Spirituality) display a positive aura of over 2 metres and a total measured aura of over 3 metres. Therefore, such auras being observed in an inanimate object is quite remarkable.

3. Why should one not use cow dung to make eco-friendly Ganesh Murtis (Idols) ?

Cow dung, urine, and milk from the Indian cow breed emit positive vibrations and are considered spiritually pure (sattvik). This is because the Indian cow itself is a spiritually pure or sattvik animal, and it emits high levels of positive vibrations. This is not the case for other cow breeds such as the Jersey Cow, Holstein Friesian, etc.

Since cow dung is sattvik, there has been a move to make Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols) out of it. However, as the experiment shows, Idols made from cow dung of an Indian cow can emit negativity as well. When a devotee worships such an Idol, he does not get any spiritual benefit from the Idol.

The reason for the negativity from the Idol made from cow dung is due to a combination of an incorrect shape and the material used. Ideally, Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols) meant for immersion should be made from Shadu mati (clay) or mud that has been obtained from a spiritually purer area. In the table below, it will become clear as to why Shadu mati should be used instead of cow dung of an Indian cow.

Aspect of the material Cow dung (from an Indian cow) Shadu mati (clay) or pure clean mud
Is it spiritually pure by itself ? Yes Yes (depending on where it is obtained from). Ideally, it should be sourced from a spiritually pure place.
In the form of a Shri Ganesh Murti (Idol), is it able to attract and emit Deity Ganapati’s vibrations ? No Yes
Is it appropriate as per the scriptures to make Idols of such material for immersion ?1 No Yes
  1. Reference : Purushartha Chintamani, Pg. 117 – Original reference is Skanda Puran (As quoted by this Holy text) – A gold, silver or clay Idol of Deity Ganesh should be made for ritualistic worship during Ganesh Chaturthi in Bhadrapada. (Bhadrapada is a month in the Hindu calendar that falls in months August/September as per the Gregorian calendar.)

Above all, the shape of the Shri Ganesh Idol should also be closest to the actual form of the Deity. Many years of research have gone into perfecting the shape of the Shri Ganesh Murti (Idol) by the seekers in the Sculpture department at the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay in Goa, India. The main reasons they have been able to perform this sculptural milestone is due to the guidance of Paratpar Guru (Dr) Jayant Athavale, the founder of the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay.

4. Factors affecting the ability to create a sattvik Idol

The table below lists the various factors that affect the ability of an artist to create a sattvik Idol of a Deity. The relative importance of each factor has also been provided.

Component Importance (%)
1. Resolve of the Guru of the Idol maker 50
2. Deity’s blessing 30
3. Spiritual practice of the artist 10
4. Spiritually pure lifestyle followed by artist 5
5. Time factor 4
6. Other 1
Total 100

Source : Spiritual Research conducted by the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay

This means that 95% of the factors that help in creating a sattvik Idol of a Deity are spiritual in nature.

5. Some learnings from the process of making the Shri Ganesh Murti (Idol)

  1. The form of the Idol is more important than the colour in determining its vibrations.
  2. The features in a Deity’s Idol can change as per the time and purpose.
  3. In the current Era of Kaliyug, the subtle colour of Deity Ganapati is smoky-white and hence, the white Idol of Deity Ganapati has more positive vibrations as it more closely matches the actual colour of Deity Ganapati. Amongst the 2 Idols of MAV, using the coloured Idol for ritualistic worship is more beneficial as the coloured Idol emits sagun (manifest) positive vibrations while the white Idol emits a high level of nirgun (unmanifest) positive vibrations. As an average person will not be able to bear high level of positive energy, it is better to use the coloured Idol for ritualistic worship.
  4. Experiment with a bluish tinge : When a bluish tinge was added to the white Idol, it increased vibrations of spiritual emotion (bhav) from the Idol, but it reduced the overall percentage of the Deity Ganapati Principle. Hence, the white colour was maintained.
  5. The appropriate material to be used for the Idol can change as per the Deity and the reason one is making the Idol. However, if made accurately, especially with the correct shape, the effect of various traditionally used materials (like clay, stone or metal) has less importance in determining the sattvikta (spiritual purity) of the Idol.
  6. When immersion is to be carried out, clay is the best eco-friendly material, because apart from being spiritually better, it dissolves easily in water. Materials like cow dung and papier mâché are not to be used. Use of organic materials such as chocolate to make a Shri Ganesh Murti is tantamount to denigration.
  7. For the purpose of long-term worship, a more durable material like stone, silver or gold is recommended. The type of stone will depend on the Deity whose Idol is to be made.

6. Conclusion

The movement across India to use eco-friendly Shri Ganesh Murtis (Idols) is indeed commendable and it will help to reduce environmental pollution and also the denigration of Deity Ganapati. However, experimenting with organic materials is not the answer. Idol makers and devotees should consider both the shape and the material along with the colours used when making / worshiping an Idol. They can take direction to learn from the shape of the Shri Ganesh Murti made at the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay. We invite all Idol makers to contact us to learn how to gain the maximum spiritual benefit from their craft and how to spread positivity in society.