“At that time, Nityananda Prabhu had heard the story of Sakshi-gopala from the townspeople. He now recited this again, and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard the narration with great pleasure.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 5.9)
साक्षि-गोपालेर कथा शुनि, लोक-मुखे
सेइ कथा कहेन, प्रभु शुने महा-सुखे
sākṣi-gopālera kathā śuni, loka-mukhe
sei kathā kahena, prabhu śune mahā-sukhe
Friend1: I know that you think if the deity were to be open to discussion with every patron, the situation would turn into something like a carnival exhibit.
Friend2: Look at the word you just used.
Friend1: Which one? Carnival?
Friend2: Well, that is what you wanted me to focus on, but before that you mentioned “patron.”
Friend1: I did. Just thinking of what to call people who would visit the established place of worship.
Friend2: Think about it for a second. You are turning God into a vending machine.
Friend1: I never thought about it that way.
Friend2: Take the analogy to the fullest extent. Dropping exact change into the machine. Hoping for the proper output to be dispensed.
Friend1: Which would be on display, with a corresponding keycode or number.
Friend2: If there are issues with the transaction, a person might get so upset that they start kicking the machine, turning it on its side, and so forth.
Friend1: Oh, and that is sort of like people cursing God for failing to come through for them.
Friend2: The deity is anything of the sort. It is supposed to be treated with the utmost respect. It is not meant to be a carnival exhibit, as you described.
Friend1: Okay, but you do have the occasions of the deity talking and interacting, such as with Sakshi-Gopala. Shri Krishna became a lead witness in the informal trial. He helped the defense to exonerate themselves against a false accusation.
Friend2: Proving the prosecution to be lying, at the same time.
Friend1: Right, and so people might want the same for themselves. Basically, why can’t Krishna do special things like that for me?
Friend2: You extend that out to making the deity available for similar interaction with every person that approaches.
Friend1: It would be the fair thing to do. This way people don’t feel left out. They are just as eligible for God’s mercy as the guy next to them.
Friend2: Let me ask you this. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead somehow did agree to this proposal, what do you think the people approaching would ask for?
Friend1: I don’t know. The typical stuff, I would presume.
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Money, obviously. If I was having trouble at work, maybe ask that such obstacles be removed. If a loved one is sick, pray for their speedy recovery.
Friend2: If it is too cold, work some magic so that the weather clears up. If I am unhappy with where I live, God should help me find a better situation.
Friend1: There you go. I like your creativity. Basically, whatever the mind can conceive, a person should not feel ashamed to ask.
Friend2: Do you not see the issue here?
Friend1: That everything is material in nature, that the people are not necessarily asking for something important?
Friend2: Well, that is at the foundation, but something even more obvious.
Friend1: I don’t see it.
Friend2: You can already satisfy those desires. You don’t need God as the vending machine to help you.
Friend1: Really? I am not so sure about it.
Friend2: I beg to differ. Do people not become wealthy? Do the sick not get healed? Do people not move across the country, to different countries, even?
Friend1: They do.
Friend2: Then? What do you need God for?
Friend1: Right, but it is not a one hundred percent success rate. Moreover, it might take significant time and effort before the transformation materializes.
Friend2: I see, and you expect God as the vending machine to make things happen immediately.
Friend1: Sure. The expectation is of a reasonable time frame of remediation.
Friend2: If you took the entire timeline of creation as your basis for analysis, the changes in the ordinary course of events would have to be considered quick.
Friend1: I guess, if you put it that way, I see what you are saying.
Friend2: I am just saying that you don’t need to approach God directly for these temporary solutions. The deity is for something much more. It is a way to understand the Divine, at the outset. It is a way to make offerings in an authorized manner. It is a way to remember who is beyond the limits of time and space. It is the constant companion, birth after birth.
Friend1: Basically, this is the most important person in the world.
Friend2: And so we shouldn’t treat Him with disrespect. We shouldn’t lower His standing for personal exploitation. The material world already features duality, and so people can shift from high to low and low to high whenever they want. Bhagavan is for experiencing a higher taste, and the documented interactions with the deity always have a meaningful purpose in mind.
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
With meaningful purpose in mind,
In documented history to find.
Of deity to worshipers talking,
Like Gopala as witness walking.
But not every day to occur,
Since to nature can defer.
Within temple with gravity so,
For higher taste to know.