Krishna’s form is spiritual; it is not made of matter. In our present condition, with our material eyes, we cannot see Krishna. So He descends in an apparently material form as the deity in the temple to allow us to see Him and serve Him directly.
For God there is no difference between material and spiritual energies, since they both come from Him and are under His control. He can use them as He sees fit. By Krishna’s will, the apparently material form of the deity is actually spiritual.
In the Vedas, Krishna reveals how the deity is to be made and worshiped. When Krishna’s form is created in this authorized way, He is personally present to accept service from His devotees.
Krishna states in Bhagavad-gita (9.26), “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.”
The complete conception of God includes God and His energies, which exist simultaneously with Him and are in a sense identical to Him. The sum of Krishna’s energies is Radha, His eternal consort. Like the sun and sunshine, Krishna and Radha are one.
Radha embodies the totality of love for Krishna. Thus She is known as the personification of Bhakti, or loving devotion to God.
Loving God is our natural state, now dormant. By Her pure example, Radha is the beacon calling everyone to re-awaken full love for Krishna. She also dispenses mercy to help us achieve that goal.
Radha-Krishna are the male and female aspects of God. Known as the Divine Couple, together they are the full manifestation of God.
“Radharani is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Radharani is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Krishna, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association.” —Srila Prabhupada, Bhagavatam 2.3.23
Worship of the Krishna Deity
People who doubt there’s life after death sometimes say, “No one has ever come back to tell us about it.”
But what if someone claimed to have come back? Would we believe him? What kind of proof would we want?
Trying to prove that Krishna is God presents a similar challenge. Someone might ask, “If Krishna is God, why doesn’t He come and prove it?”
Well, there’s evidence that He does come. For example, when He came five thousand years ago, millions of eyewitnesses saw Him, He did things only God can do, and Vyasadeva, a reporter with impeccable credentials, kept track of it all.
Vyasadeva recorded not only Krishna’s matchless deeds but also the testimonials of the greatest spiritual authorities of the time, a time when large numbers of people pursued spiritual realization with every ounce of their being. The consensus of these saints and sages—masters of spiritual learning and discipline—was that Krishna is God.
People today tend to doubt the credibility of Vyasadeva’s writings, thanks in large part to a smear campaign started by the British during their takeover of India. Yet despite their efforts, the light of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and other books from Vyasadeva’s prolific pen keeps shining. Great Western thinkers who received the Vedas without prejudice were astounded. Vyasadeva’s writings were superior to anything they had ever come across.
But what about the “stories” Vyasadeva wrote? Was there really a boy named Krishna who lifted mountains and killed monsters? Scholars for whom Vyasadeva’s “mythology” seems incompatible with his erudite philosophical works might propose that Vyasadeva didn’t write both things. But that argument fails if we look at just one example of his work: Srimad-Bhagavatam. There Vyasadeva has written both profound philosophy and—as the climax, no less—charming stories about Krishna.
The great leaders of India’s spiritual lineages since Krishna’s time have concluded that a great philosopher like Vyasadeva wouldn’t frivolously insert fanciful stories into his treatise on the Absolute Truth. Vyasadeva’s gravity alone is solid evidence that his stories of Krishna’s exploits tell of actual events.
Like many nineteenth-century scholars, anyone who reads the Vedic literature with an open mind is sure to be awed. But readers need help, too. Traditionally, a student of the Vedas gets guidance from a self-realized person coming in a line of authorized teachers. Four main lines have directed India’s spiritual culture for hundreds of years, and each of them asserts that Krishna, or His expansion Vishnu, is God.
I find it disturbing to read media coverage of Krishna conscious events that refers to devotees as worshipers of “the god Krishna.” For the average person in the West, the writer might as well be saying we worship “the god Zeus.” Why would anyone take seriously a group of people who have arbitrarily chosen to worship one god out of a whole stable of contenders?
But our choice is far from arbitrary. It’s founded in the Vedic scriptures, the credibility of saints of respected spiritual lines, and the realized conviction, persuasive writings, and pure character of Krishna’s emissary His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
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