The superimposition may then change the meaning of the ritual. What after all is “pure” worship? As Smart remarks, the utterance of a group of ritual words complete with the relevant bodily postures made during the worship service. This can also be seen in readings of the Holy Quran where the opening verse is read out loud some thirty times per day. Much of this can be seen as pure worship with no ritual imposition. This practice literally is pure prayer and has no other interpretation, but given our definition of prayer as a ritual object is included, if nothing more for the fact that the quotation is from a literal book, that is, the Holy Quran (ibid., 74-75).

It is in the above way that Smart points out that the ritual is integrated into and becomes a part of a persons ritual life. In this way, worship is not divorced from the life of the worshiper. In this way, the worshiper matches up these rituals with the real world where the rituals are carried out in. In such circumstances, imposition becomes irresistable and possibly impossible to resist. The moral, ritual activity then becomes a moral activity as a sort of self-sacrifice. In this context, we think of such terms as picking up and carrying ones cross, or takes up a yoga sutra or in Buddhism becomes a form of following the Bodhisattva. According to Smart, the ritual does not necessarily become intergrated into a persons life due to the polytheistic nature of a belief or some factor that precludes a literal integration into a persons life. In such instances, the practices resist a literal imposition (ibid., 75).

In the above instance, for instance, Smart quotes the notion in Ramanuja

that the cosmos is Gods body that gives the worshiper a sense of Gods presence.

The problems with deism or such other ritual objects is that they may make God a distant commodity and more of a theoretical and philosophical exercise (ibid.).

For this reason, it is possible therefore for this researcher to understand why it would be so difficult for an outside worshiper to accept the Jewish or even Muslim concept of God as having no corporeality. The Christian concept of a trinity and religious icons would be easier for literal human worshipers to deal with. In other words, religious icons or even a Shiva stone would provide “God in the handy take home size, so to speak. For them, they need something physical to touch or see, whether it be an icon, idol, fetish, or some kind of other ritual object that transports the worshiper into a more religious and holy existence of the sacred and away form the secular world.


In this short essay, we have specified how, when, and why a prayer (in individual and group setting) constitutes a religious object. We saw how ritual imposition can change a practice from a pure, literal ritual and an analog type of interpretation that may represent a change in the interpretation and conduct of that ritual later on (such as the Mass being symbolic of previous Jewish sacrifice. Such ritualsmay require a literal fetish, totem, idol or icon to transport the worshiper into the precinct of the sacred and to prevent it from simply being a case of God tripping. In this way, the worshiper can better relate to the ritual and integrate the sacred into his or her secular life.


Ninian smarts seven dimensions or religions. (2010). Retrieved from www.maccray.k12.mn.us/css/../NinianSmart7demensions.pdf.

Smart, N. (1996). Dimensions of the sacred: An anatomy of the worlds beliefs. Berkeley, CA: Harper


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