The reason Deity worship was implemented by great Acaryas millions years ago

November 13, 2015 in Articles, Damaghosa Dasa by Laksman dasa

Article by: Damagosha Dasa


SB 7.14.39


My dear King, when great sages and saintly persons saw mutually disrespectful dealings at the beginning of Tretāyuga, Deity worship in the temple was introduced with all paraphernalia.


As it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.3.52):

“Whatever result one obtained in Satyayuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretāyuga by performing sacrifices and in Dvāparayuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet one can also obtain in Kaliyuga simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra.” In Satyayuga, every person was spiritually advanced, and there was no envy between great personalities. Gradually, however, because of material contamination with the advance of the ages, disrespectful dealings appeared even among brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas. Actually, an advanced Vaiṣṇava is to be respected more than Viṣṇu. As stated in the Padma Purāṇa, ārādhanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ viṣṇor ārādhanaṁ param: of all kinds of worship, worship of Lord Viṣṇu is the best. Tasmāt parataraṁ devi tadīyānāṁ samarcanam: and recommended more than worship of Viṣṇu is worship of the Vaiṣṇava.

Formerly, all activities were performed in connection with Viṣṇu, but after Satyayuga there were symptoms of disrespectful dealings among Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has said that a Vaiṣṇava is he who has helped others become Vaiṣṇavas. An example of one who has converted many others into Vaiṣṇavas is Nārada Muni. A powerful Vaiṣṇava who has converted others into Vaiṣṇavas is to be worshiped, but because of material contamination, sometimes such an exalted Vaiṣṇava is disrespected by other, minor Vaiṣṇavas. When great saintly persons saw this contamination, they introduced worship of the Deity in the temple. This began in Tretāyuga and was especially prominent in Dvāparayuga (dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ). But in Kaliyuga, worship of the Deity is being neglected. Therefore chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is more powerful than Deity worship. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu set a practical example in that He did not establish any temples or Deities, but He profusely introduced the saṅkīrtana movement. Therefore Kṛṣṇa consciousness preachers should give more stress to the saṅkīrtana movement, especially by distributing transcendental literature more and more. This helps the saṅkīrtana movement. Whenever there is a possibility to worship the Deity, we may establish many centers, but generally we should give more stress to the distribution of transcendental literature, for this will be more effective in converting people to Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.47):

“A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a prākṛtabhakta, or kaniṣṭhaadhikārī.” A prākṛta devotee, or neophyte devotee, is still on the material platform. He certainly engages in worshiping the Deity, but he cannot appreciate the activities of a pure devotee. It has actually been seen that even an authorized devotee who is engaged in the service of the Lord by preaching the mission of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is sometimes criticized by neophyte devotees. Such neophytes are described by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura: sarvaprāṇi-sammānanāsamarthānām avajñā spardhādimatāṁ tu bhagavat-pratimaiva pātram ity āha. For those who cannot properly appreciate the activities of authorized devotees, Deity worship is the only way for spiritual advancement. In the Caitanyacaritāmṛta (Antya 7.11) it is clearly said, kṛṣṇaśakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana: without being authorized by Kṛṣṇa, one cannot preach the holy name of the Lord throughout the entire world. Nevertheless, a devotee who does so is criticized by neophyte devotees, kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs, who are on the lower stages of devotional service. For them, Deity worship is strongly recommended.


NoD 35 Neutral Love of God 175614/530501
Without worshiping the arca-vigraha, the form or Deity of the Lord,
      one cannot understand such literature as Bhagavad-gita and
751030SB.NAI Lectures 223477/530501
So the temple worship is essential. So those who are against temple
      worship, Deity worship, they are not very intelligent class of men,
      foolish, mudha.  NoD 35 Neutral Love of God 175614/530501


SB 4.28.34 The word madireksana is also significant in this verse. Srila Jiva
Gosvami has explained in his Sandarbha that the word madira means
“intoxicating.” If one’s eyes become intoxicated upon seeing the
Deity, he may be called madireksana. Queen Vaidarbhi’s eyes were very
enchanting, just as one’s eyes are madireksana when engaged in seeing
the temple Deity. Unless one is an advanced devotee, he cannot fix his
eyes on the Deity in the temple.
So in my childhood, when I was five or six years old, I requested my father that “Father, give me this Deity. I shall worship.” So father purchased for me little Krishna, Radha, and he gave me, and I was imitating. Whatever foodstuff I was getting, I was offering to Krishna and eating. In this way I got my life developed. And there was a temple in our neighbourhood.So I was seeing the Krishna deity. Oh, I was thinking…..I still remember. I was standing for hours together.
Lecture NY sept 18 1966

Some Conclusions–From the above text and purport it is clear that disrespectful dealings amongst brahmanas and Vaisnavas goes back a long way-all the way to Treta Yuga. Therefore the Acaryas and saints along the way have introduced Deity worship to help purify us from these weaknesses of the heart. Caitanya Mahaprabhu stressed that chanting the Holy Names is the most powerful method of purification for this age, and Srila Prabhupada further states that besides chanting Hare Krsna maha mantra, we should also engage ourselves in daily deity worship to purify us of restlessness of mind and  the tendency to fault find-especially those more advanced than ourselves.

Hare Krsna
damaghosa das