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9. The Avatara of the Deity and the Holy Name
The transcendental vibration hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare / hare rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare is the avatara of the Lord in the form of the holy name (kali-kale nama-rupe krishna-avatara, from Chaitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 17.22). Anyone can prove to his own satisfaction that the Lord and His name are not different simply by chanting this spiritual sound constantly. The proof is the transcendental bliss (kevala-ananda) that envelops the soul the more the holy name is chanted. This higher taste renders insignificant the taste for degraded material pleasures like illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. Anarthopasamam saksad bhakti-yogam adhoksaje: the eternal religion, or the yoga of pure devotion (bhakti) to Krishna, is evinced by the disappearance of sinful habits (anarthas.)
As Krishna appears in the sound of His holy name, so also He appears within the arca-avatara, His incarnation as the Deity worshiped in the temple. The central focus of every Vaishnava Krishna temple around the world is the worship of Krishna's Deity form as represented in stone, metal, wood or as painted pictures. Through ceremonial services (puja) conducted according to Vedic tradition, the devotees fulfill the Lord's injunction in Bhagavad-gita 9.27: "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform -- do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me." This puja purifies the minds and senses of the devotees and connects them to Krishna in an attitude of love.
Mayavadis decry service to the Deity as idol worship. They argue that God is not present within the Deity, because He is everywhere. But if He is everywhere, then why is He not within the Deity as well? Moisture is also everywhere, even within the air. But when one needs a drink of water, he cannot get it from the air. He must drink the water from where water tangibly avails itself to be drunk: from a faucet, a well, or a clear stream. Similarly, although God is everywhere, it is in His Deity form that He makes Himself tangibly available for worship.