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The Worship of Shri Murti
By Seventh Goswami Shrila Sacchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura
There are some who startle at the theory of worshiping Shrimurti
“Oh”, they say, “it is idolatry to worship Shrimurti! Shrimurti is an idol
framed by an artist and introduced by no other than Beelzebub himself.
Worshiping such an object would rouse the jealousy of God and limit His
omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence!”
We would tell them, “Brethren, candidly understand the question and do not allow yourself to be misled by sectarian dogmas. God is not jealous, as he is without a second. Beelzebub or Satan is no other than an object of imagination or the subject of an allegory. An allegorical or imaginary being should not be allowed to act as an obstacle to Bhakti. Those who believe God to
be impersonal, simply identify Him with some power or attribute in Nature, though in fact He is above Nature, her laws and rules. His holy wish is law and it will be sacrilege to confine His unlimited excellence by identifying Him with such attributes as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience - attributes which may exist in created objects such as time and space, etc. His excellence consists in having in Him mutually contradicting powers and attributes ruled by His supernatural Self. He is identical with His all-beautiful person having such powers as omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. His holy and perfect person exists eternally in the spiritual world and is at the same time existing in every created object and place in all its fullness. This idea excels all other ideas of the Deity.
Mahaprabhu rejects idolatry as well, but considers Shrimurti worship to be the only unexceptional means of spiritual culture. It has been shown that God is personal and all-beautiful. Sages like Vyasa and others have seen that beauty in their soul’s eye. They have left us descriptions. Of course word carries grossness of matter. But Truth still is perceivable in those descriptions. According to those descriptions one delineates a Shrimurti and sees the great God of our heart there with intense pleasure! Brethren, is that wrong or sinful ? Those who say that God has no form either material or spiritual and again imagine a false form of worship are certainly idolatrous. But those who, seeing the spiritual form of the Deity in their soul’s eyes, carry that impression as far as possible to the mind and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye all meant for continual study of the higher feeling, are by no means idolatrous. While seeing a Shrimurti do not even see the image itself but see the spiritual model of the image and you are a pure theist. Idolatry and Shrimurti worship are two different things, but my brethren, you simply confound one with the other out of hastiness. To tell you the truth, Shrimurti worship is the only true form of worship of the Deity, without which you cannot sufficiently cultivate your religious feelings. The world attracts you through your senses and as long as you do not see God in the objects of your senses, you live in an awkward position which scarcely helps you in securing your spiritual elevation. Place a Shrimurti in your house.
Think that God almighty is the guardian of the house, the food that you take is His prasad, and the flowers and scents
are also His prasad. The eye, the ear, the nose, the touch and the tongue all have a spiritual culture. You do it with a holy heart and God will know it and judge you by your sincerity. Satan and Beelzebub will have nothing to do with you in that matter! All sorts of worship are based on the principle of Shrimurti. Look into the history of religion and you will come to this noble truth. The Semitic idea of a patriarchal God both in the pre-Christian period of Judaism and the post-Christian period of Mohamedanism is nothing but a limited idea of Shrimurti. The monarchic idea of a Jove amongst the Greeks and of an lndra amongst the Aryan karmakandis is also a distinct view of the same principle. The idea of a force and Jyotirmaya brahma of the meditators and a formless energy of the shaktas is also a very faint view of the Shrimurti. In fact the principle of Shrimurti is the Truth itself differently exhibited in different people according to their different phases of thought. Even Jaimini and Comte who are not prepared to accept a creating God, have prescribed certain phases of the Shrimurti, simply because they have been impelled by some inward action from the soul! Then again we meet with people who have adopted the cross, the shaligram shila, the lingam and such like emblems as indicators of the inward ideas of Shrimurti. Furthermore, if the Divine compassion, love and justice could be portrayed by the pencil and expressed by the chisel, why should not the personal beauty of the Deity embracing all other attributes be portrayed in poetry or in picture expressed by the chisel for the benefit of man? If words could impress thoughts, the watch could indicate time and sign could tell us a history, why should not the picture or figure bring associations of higher thoughts and feelings with regard to the transcendental beauty of the divine Personage?