Is Deity Worship For The Less Intelligent

[Shri Krishna]“The Blessed Lord said: He whose mind is fixed on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be most perfect.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.2)

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मय्यावेश्य मनो ये मां नित्ययुक्ता उपासते ।
श्रद्धया परयोपेतास्ते मे युक्ततमा मता: ॥

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
mayy āveśya mano ye māṁ
nitya-yuktā upāsate
śraddhayā parayopetās
te me yukta-tamā matāḥ

“People familiar with the Vedic tradition understand the importance of deity worship. If you read a book like Shri Bhaktamala, which is amazing, you find story after story about interaction with the deity. The amazing saints of recent times described in that book relied heavily on the process.

“Many of them found deities underneath the ground. They learned of the location through a dream. Many of the temples they subsequently established are still around today. It is interesting to hear these stories, of the origin of a particular place when visiting for the purpose of worship.

[Shri Bhaktamala]“People approach the deity with awe and reverence. They may ask for things. They may offer everything they have to the temple, thus turning it into a kind of storehouse of wealth. These temples create entire cities, in some cases.

“At the same time, I have heard that deity worship is for the less intelligent. Advanced transcendentalists do not need to rely on the process. How does this make sense? Are we not insulting those who have attachment to the deity?

“You have the example of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was the wisest scholar, even though He claimed that His guru thought Him to be fool number one. I understand this was stated in a self-deprecating way, but see the example. Mahaprabhu spent the last portion of His time in this world interacting with the Jagannatha deity in Puri.”

The “less intelligent” designation is in terms of level of understanding. The least intelligent person is like the animal. They know only sense gratification. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. These four interests dominate the day.

Enhancement is the purpose to every action, to every plan, to every consideration, both long-term and short-term. Even something like starting a family, raising children, saving for their education, and the like, is based on sense gratification.

Name, distinction, honor, reputation, and so forth – these are tied to personal interest. It is a harsh assessment, but the acharyas tell us that this kind of life is no different than the animal. Human existence truly begins with some sort of connection to that which is beyond birth and death.

The humans are to live a life of sense gratification within limits. This is known as regulation, which comes from religion. Religion is nothing more than a set of laws, and for there to be laws someone has to implement them in the first place.

This is one way to understand the concept of God. There is a superior entity presiding over this entire universe, which is constantly changing. He must be steady in His position, while the host of beings comes and goes.

भूत-ग्रामः स एवायं
भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते
रात्र्य्-आगमे ऽवशः पार्थ
प्रभवत्य् अहर्-आगमे

bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ
bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame ‘vaśaḥ pārtha
prabhavaty ahar-āgame

“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)

Deity worship is for understanding God in terms of a person, place, and time. It is above the lowest level of ignorance, where there is no understanding of God, nor any interest to understand. At least with deity worship, there is acknowledgment. The understanding is along the following lines:

“Let me visit the Supreme Lord today. He will know what to do. Everything is in His hands. If anyone can deliver for me, in this difficult situation, it is Him. I will bring some offering with me. I hope to get His darshana, to have a vision of His beautiful form to brighten up my spirits.”

The deity is known as the saguna form, in that it facilitates an understanding of a specific person with accompanying features. Otherwise, if there is a God, where is He? What does He look like? Where do I find Him?

The deity and the temple of residence answer these questions, to an extent. The understanding is still not complete. The more elevated person realizes that God is not limited to the temple. He is not fixed in size and stature.

God is actually nirguna, simultaneously. His gunas, or qualities, are impossible to understand. They are without limits. He is both within the temple and without. If the demoniac leaders of the local area prevent others from leaving their home, from joining together to worship in a temple, God is not affected.

Neither is He far away from me. He is available everywhere and always, sarvatra and sarvada. The deity helps to explain the personal form, but it should not be mistaken to be the only representation of the personal form. I can worship the same deity in the temple through the conduit of the mind. This is why His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates bhakti-yoga as “Krishna consciousness.”

[Shri Krishna]The perfection of life is to be conscious of God the person. This can be done anywhere, and through any of the senses. I can achieve perfection through hearing, through eating, or even through repeating a mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

God as resident to know,
For worship to temple to go.

Beautiful that vision seeing,
Understanding Divine Being.

But also outside to live,
Life itself indication to give.

Such that even through sound connected,
In sacred food Shri Krishna detected.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❤️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❤️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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