“One may protest and ask, ‘Why should God be worshiped in images and not in His original spiritual form?’ The answer is that we cannot see God immediately in His spiritual form. With our material eyes we can only see stone, earth, wood – something tangible. Therefore Krishna comes as archa-vigraha, a form conveniently presented by the Supreme Lord in order for us to see Him. The result is that if we concentrate upon the image and make offerings with love and devotion, Krishna will respond through the image.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Raja-Vidya: The King of Knowledge, Ch 3)
1. Professional athlete
“It is so nice to meet you. I feel as if we are friends dating back a long time. I have seen practically all of your matches since you hit the big stage. I follow the yearly tour. If the matches start early in the morning in my time zone, I actually wake up early to watch.
“I have planned major events in my life around the schedule of the tournaments. Weddings, vacations, parties – I tried to avoid interference as best as possible. You name a specific year and opponent, and I can tell you the score. Just from watching on television I feel as if you are this awesome person, an inspiration to many.”
2. Movie star
“Hello. I can’t believe I am finally meeting you in person. I have seen every single one of your movies. I watch them multiple times. I think you uplift the entire presentation. When the screenplay is lacking, when the other cast members are not of appropriate caliber, when the production is amateurish, you still rise to the occasion.
“You should be so proud of yourself. No one can act as well as you. Such range. Such depth. You transition between extreme emotions with such ease. I have never seen anything like it before. Thank you so much for being a part of my life.”
3. Departed relative
“I knew them only briefly, when I was a young child. I heard that they were quite fond of me. I remember the aura they carried, how everyone respected them. I feel as if I know them intimately, though. I see their picture every day, which is hanging in my bedroom.
“I want to make them proud. I can see the love they have for other people. It is as if their spirit lives on, though they have left this world. I am living proof of the impact they made. Our entire family would not be standing where it is if not for this person. We owe so much to them.”
4. The Supreme Lord
Though He is anything and everything, though not a blade of grass moves without His sanction, though His features can never be limited to a single depiction, the Supreme Lord is still kind enough to appear in what is known as the archa-vigraha.
This is the authorized deity form, not borne of imagination but rather based on the factual descriptions passed on through the ages in the pages of shastra. Many of the verses are still preserved in the original language of composition, Sanskrit.
The notable distinction with this interaction is that the object of worship can actually interact. He can respond through prayers and offerings made to the deity. There is ample evidence recorded in the lives of the saints. Many of the famous deities around the world were unearthed, discovered after a hint. God came to a specific person in a dream and revealed His location. He also detailed how the future worship was to be conducted.
Because of His kindness I always take advantage of the facility. Though He is much more than the statue worshiped in our house, through this medium I can get to know Him. By knowing Him, I won’t have to learn anything else. That other kind of knowledge gets left behind, anyway. The consciousness of God, however, carries forward into successive lifetimes.
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
Shri Krishna responds through the image based on the level of devotion of the worshiper. A less intelligent person only sees the material elements used in creating the statue or image. They do not yet have the eyes to notice the special appeal.
The spiritual master provides the training program whereby even a less intelligent person gains the wisdom and perception to notice God on the altar. The more they worship [upasana], the more they connect [yoga], the more they see that Shri Krishna resides outside of the altar, as well. The same beautiful, two-handed youth is guiding the workings of the entire universe and more. He is inside me and will always be my best, well-wishing friend.
Already a way to know,
A person distant so.
Since images of them through,
Upon meeting someone I knew.
Deity similar but with difference one,
In that reciprocation to come.
Since Absolute is He,
Mercifully standing before me.
Categories: the four