How Can You Worship Someone Who Is No Longer Around

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)

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Friend1: Let’s start with the acceptance of the historical accounts in Vedic literature.

Friend2: There is doubt on that front?

Friend1: Well, you know how people are. Something thousands of years old, written in a difficult to understand language, Sanskrit, describing extraordinary people and amazing events – there is bound to be skepticism.

Friend2: That’s what leads to labels like mythology and the like.

Friend1: Exactly. That is what I am getting at. So for this discussion let’s say that I am not one of those people. I don’t think the Mahabharata and Ramayana are mythology. I am accepting everything, as it is.

Friend2: Alright. What is the point to the discussion, then? You must have some argument against.

Friend1: I accept that Shri Krishna is a real person who appeared in this world. The same goes for Shri Rama. I understand how people worshiped them during the respective time periods. Makes sense to me.

[Shri Krishna]Friend2: Seeing someone with amazing powers, who is kindness personified, being attached to them in different moods – that is also basic human interaction.

Friend1: That is where I am going with this. Worship during the time of the personality makes sense. There is already similar honor paid to extraordinary people.

Friend2: Celebrities, musicians, politicians, athletes and so forth.

Friend1: For sure. Throngs of people show up at the funeral. They barely knew the person, but there is a connection through performance or visuals.

Friend2: There is appreciation, at the very least. Something like shanta-rasa.

Friend1: The point of skepticism to raise today is the idea of worshiping someone who isn’t around anymore. Moreover, if Krishna is not manifest at the present moment, does that not indicate fallibility? Whatever you want to call the exit, a disappearance or a death, we know that there was a departure. This is confirmed in the Mahabharata itself.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: By continuing to worship someone, doesn’t that look a little silly? Shouldn’t religion be geared towards someone who is deathless?

Friend2: These are valid questions. That is what we are looking for, is it not? Someone to defy the laws of nature. That is why mystic yogis get so much attention. They can easily trick people into thinking they are the Almighty because they do things like read minds, appear and disappear at will, and change the size of their shape.

Friend1: So you are saying there is no benefit to hanging around for a long time? If Shri Rama were still ruling as prince of Ayodhya today, would that not give so much validation to the idea of religion? Would that not make people confident in the idea of the Vedas and Vedic culture itself?

Friend2: Again, good questions. The answers are simple and straightforward. For starters, who is to say we are deserving of such a meeting? If we did see Him, how would we recognize Him? Like with everything learned after birth, there has to be an acceptance based on faith in the initial phases. We don’t know for sure that George Washington was the first president of the United States. We can’t confirm through vision that England once ruled the area known as the colonies.

Friend1: But others experienced, saw, observed, what have you. They passed on their observations to future generations. That is how we know.

Friend2: Right, but we know that people cheat. They make mistakes. Their sense observations are not perfect. You can watch a game on television and later on incorrectly recall what happened.

Friend1: That is true.

Friend2: The same skepticism you are using to discount worship of the Divine Personality described in the Vedas could be used to question the authenticity of any recorded observation in the entire history of human existence.

Friend1: I think you are getting sidetracked. The contention here is that someone is no longer around, so how can they be God?

Friend2: The response is that the person is indeed still around. He is everywhere. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, the eyes, ears, hands and so forth are everywhere. The avataras give some detail to the abstract concept. It is something like turning the light switch on in a dark room. The objects in the room are there regardless. The presence of light does not make or break existence. In the same way, the appearance and disappearance of Bhagavan has no bearing on who He actually is. I am saying that your entire premise is flawed. We are not worshiping someone who is not around. We are worshiping someone who is the beginning, middle and end.

“Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the Self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.32)

Friend1: Okay, but we can’t confirm that with our eyes.

Friend2: Confirm what?

Friend1: That Bhagavan is always around, including right now.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Who is to say your eyes have the ability to see anyway? The idea is to get purification first. Trust me, the acharyas following in the chain of disciplic succession see God everywhere. They have no doubts. They see Him due to the very fact of existence. They see Him in the changing of seasons, the coming and going of living entities, and the innate intelligence found in the many species. They see Him in the deity in the temple and also outside.

“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)

He is never lost to them, nor are they lost to Him.

In Closing:

Since historical figures from the past,

Why worship through today to last?

Death-prone proving not,

That same vulnerabilities got?

In fact Supreme always around,

By devotional eyes to be found.

Saints in every direction seeing,

Through all the senses believing.

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