What is Anthropomorphism?
Anthropomorphism means assigning human traits or characteristics to a non-human object, phenomenon, concept or living beings. The term Anthropomorphism is derived from Greek, anthropos meaning human being and morphe means form. Anthropomorphism can be commonly found in fables and mythologies wherein animals or non-living things like wind or sun is attributed to human traits.
Although we do not see such things in today’s world, there have been several symbols, depictions, and illustrations created by pre-historic beings that show existence of Anthropomorphism. One of the famous examples is the Lion man of the Hohlenstien Stadel in Germany. It is a being with human body and lion’s head.
It is quite difficult to interpret what our ancestors meant through these drawings. Whether it was a reality or simply a depiction of an idea is now a very complex problem to unscramble. However, in any case, it is Anthropomorphism. A more recent example of this is The Sorcerer, which was found in Trois-Frères Cave, Ariège in France. It might have been a real creature or simply some representation.
However, there has been a lot of criticism as well. Xenophanes, a famous Greek philosopher, who believes that when Anthropomorphism is used to represent the greatest God, it simply cannot be true, as God is much superior in form and power than humans. Similarly, Anthropomorphism of God is not accepted by many other religions like Islam and Judaism, who both believe that God is much beyond the understanding of the humans.
Hindus might are not against such Anthropomorphism of God. But certainly points out in Bhagavad Gita that it becomes quite difficult for every follower to mentally visualize God without form than the one with form. Hence, such icons.