Master( to Prankrishna) : My Divine Mother is not only formless, She has forms as well. One can see Her forms. One can behold Her incomparable beauty through feeling and love. The Mother reveals Herself to Her devotees in different forms.
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna Vol I Page 175
We are good friends from our school days. But we differ in almost everything about life. The other day we were on our usual evening stroll, we had reached the , I paid my salutations to Sri Ganapathy standing outside the Temple.
My friend was watching this. Even though he is a believer, he doesn’t accept God as images and doesn’t accept that God can have form. As usual he confronted me with his idea of God.
He: How can it be that God the almighty be in an unmoving stone? Are you so naive to accept all
The argument of today has started I thought and started to answer him.
Me: Why can’t God be a stone Image?
He : No..no God cannot be in form he is formless only. Even the Gita and Bhagavatham talks about Brahman, the all-pervading and cannot be seen…
Me: Do you agree that God is all powerful, omnipresent and nothing can be apart from Him?
Me: And there is nothing called existence for Him as existence will bring in duality to Him?
He: Yes.. absolutely right
Me: Then how could you say that He cannot be in a stone or a stone image? Is stone or image created from a part of Him be without Him?
He: Yes you have a point. But that means God is present in all and in everything that is moving, unmoving, animate, inanimate, seen, unseen, felt, unfelt etc…
He: Then why can’t He be in dirt and filth and why don’t you worship that also?
Me: I agree with you. He can be in dirt and filth also. He is in bad and good also. As Krishna says in Bhagavath Gita “ I am the one who kills and killed”.
He: Very good..
Me: But,..we all have one thing called mind. I mean the human beings. This mind always wants that which is very beautiful to the eyes, fragrant to the nose, pleasurable to the touch, sweet to the tongue, Compassionate and empathetic to our thoughts, and also all powerful to our perception. But dirt and filth doesn’t fit into this. May be it can fit into the Gods of the pigs.
So only the Gods of our temples are very auspicious, bright, beautiful, fragrant and sweet.
He: I can partially agree to your views. But do these images look the same for all? A lay man who may not have the same intelligence as you have will be lead to falsehood, waiting for the God to come out of the stone image? Is it not a sin to propagate falsehood?
Me: In a way you are correct. But is it the same for formless God concept or worship?
Knowledge precedes image worship. A person should understand why he is taking God as so..
He: That holds good for formless worship also.
Me: I have a firm reason that God cannot be bracketed into form or formless. He can be formless, formful and beyond that.
He: What reason?
Me: Why beyond that? Because we are ruled by this Pragrithi, the Mother Nature. And we are all bound by it. Our physical and mental architecture are structured to support our existence in it.
Our logical reason, however we try, cannot go beyond the limits placed by the nature.
He: Quite right…
Me: So, accepting God as formless cannot suite us as we are in a relative world. Creation is nothing but differentiation. Differentiation only brings in forms and names. A seed of a banyan tree has all the differentiation like root, leaves, flowers, trunk, branches and fruits in it. It is in an undifferentiated form. Can you see a banyan tree in it? It can be seen only on its growth- the process of differentiation. Can you perceive its undifferentiated form i.e., formlessness better or the differentiated form i.e., full grown tree?
He: Of course the full grown tree…
Me: Names and forms are very important to this world of relativity. If I just talk to you about a snake, your mind will automatically call all the attributes of the snake, like its dreadful poison, its hood etc. Similarly image representing god in a stone, canvass or letters will automatically bring in the thought of God. These are the auspicious attributes of Him. So it is easy to perceive God with help of an image. The image can be anything that suites you mental frame work. So only in Sanathana dharma we have different images like Ganapathy, Higreeva, Narasimha,Muruga etc., who are nothing but representing the one and the only one.
He: But you also accept formless aspect of god. Then why not, It be made popular.
Will it not solve many of today’s religious conflicts?
Me: Accepting God as formless is not easy for majority of the populace. What happened to Buddhism? It was a spiritual path that didn’t accept anything called God and declared that anybody can become a Bodhisattva- a high god like realised soul. It did not accept ceremonies and image worship and laid great emphasis on logic and spiritual discipline. It was dry and common folk did not enjoy it. Then came the Mahayana Buddhism with its Jataka tales, Devas and masters. It was popular.
He: But most of the Abrahamic religions of the west are for formless God.
Me: I think you mean Islam and Protestant Christianity. Yes they say so, but they are also image worshippers. For Protestants God is in the form of a sacred book-the Bible. For Muslims, they worship of direction. Muslims of the west face East and those in the east worship facing west. This is because the Al Kaaba Al Musharrafah, meaning cubical in Arabic, in Mecca is in those directions. During Hajj they circumambulate seven times in anti clockwise this Kaaba. The Kaaba is considered as house of God by some.
He: Is it so !!
Me: Your concept of formless God is there in our Dharma. It is called Adviata. The image worship is Duvaita meaning two. Advaita means one and in short it says that God is all pervasive and is in each one of us and we have to realise Him-the impersonal God, after removing the veils of Maya. Duvaitha means God and humans are separate and one can reach God’s feet by adhering to Him in Bakthi. There is also another called Vishishtadvaita . This is more nearer to me, which says, as far as we are in this relative world we are two with respect to God and we should have a personal God, to whom we should have a relationship to realise Him and finally merge with Him. This marg also emphasises on Bakthi.
He: What is Bakthi?
Me: Oh yhea it is already our time to bid bye.. let us talk on it in our next walk.