”For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pritha, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.6-7)
ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि
मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्-पराः
मां ध्यायन्त उपासते
तेषाम् अहं समुद्धर्ता
भवामि न चिरात् पार्थ
ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi
mayi sannyasya mat-parāḥ
māṁ dhyāyanta upāsate
teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha
1. The virata-rupa
This is the recommendation for the impersonalists. Based on their progression in understanding, this is the extent to which they know God. He is more of a concept than a person. At least that is their point of view.
Whether a person sees the sun shining bright in the sky or only knows the symptoms, such as the sunshine and warm temperatures, the sun is not affected. It remains in its place. External observation does not influence existence.
In the same way, God is God. He is always the supreme person, Purushottama. He is always the most fortunate, Bhagavan. He is always the source of men, Narayana. He is always the giver of pleasure to the senses and the cows, Govinda.
If a person fails to reach the complete understanding, they are not shut out from spiritual life. Based on prior conditioning, it may be difficult to conceive of supreme personalism. The relative personalism of this world is bewildering.
You and I are different, but also the same. Based on the experiences you share with me, I can guess what you are feeling. This is because I experienced the same myself at a previous time. For me to apply those lessons to your situation must mean that there are striking similarities between us.
At the same time, we are different. This is the meaning to individual. You are not me and I am not you. How does this square with the concept of a Supreme Being? Can I understand what He goes through? Does His identity change based on the circumstances?
Lacking a proper understanding, a person can at least appreciate the entire collection. As we know that the surrounding community exists, we can extend the vision out further. There is the broader image available from up in the sky, such as when looking out the window of a flying plane.
Take the largest scope possible, and that is the complete everything. The Sanskrit term is virata-rupa. This is the form of the entire cosmic manifestation. Though we cannot see it, we know that it exists.
2. The deity in the temple
Devotees worship God in this way. They are sufficiently purified to understand the potency to the process. Though this method involves a localized area, the same virata-rupa is included. That is to say the deity in the temple is the universal form and more.
For example, it was possible for Krishna to display the virata-rupa to Arjuna only if that complete whole was non-different from Him. It is not like Krishna gathered external materials and used a projection-like system. God is the complete everything and also within the atom.
इहैकस्थं जगत्कृत्स्नं पश्याद्य सचराचरम् ।
मम देहे गुडाकेश यच्चान्यद्द्रष्टुमिच्छसि ॥
ihaika-sthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ
mama dehe guḍākeśa
yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi
“Whatever you wish to see can be seen all at once in this body. This universal form can show you all that you now desire, as well as whatever you may desire in the future. Everything is here completely.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.7)
The benefit of this kind of interaction is the additional oversight. The virata-rupa is not really an intelligent being. It is more of a concept, and so appreciation in that matter does not have additional benefits.
When worshiping the deity, there is the potential for reciprocation, both subtle and explicit. There are many instances in the documented history of Vaishnava saints of the deity going above and beyond. Sakshi-gopala was an expert witness in a case of brahmanas disputing the details of a prior meeting. Many of the world’s most famous temples, still standing today, came to be through a saint receiving a vision in a dream. The deity spoke to them and revealed the location, underneath the earth, and gave advice on how to worship moving forward.
Worship of the deity is worship of the personal form. Shri Krishna swiftly delivers the devotees. They are otherwise powerless. We think we have control in our hands, but the external factors are too great in magnitude to absolutely manipulate.
Without proper purification, a person sees only the statue, consisting of various material elements. They cannot understand the mercy behind the appearance, how God has been kind enough to reveal His greatness in a way that can be understood to some degree.
Due to modern technology, we can watch television programs on a device small enough to fit in our pocket. Just because the screen is small does not mean that the production is limited. We might be able to watch an event featuring thousands of people gathered in a large space. The video image allows us to understand the event, to a certain extent.
God is greater than the greatest. He is more than the virata-rupa. He has full potency whether sitting in the lap of mother Yashoda, guiding Arjuna’s chariot, holding court on the throne in Dvaraka, or playing under the brightest moon of Sharada Purnima in the Vrindavana forest.
Krishna as greatest is known,
By Him virata-rupa shown.
Which less intelligent knowing,
Extent of their interaction going.
But one step further still,
For human mission to fulfill.
Directed to where deity standing,
Who full potency commanding.
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