No material object can support one’s attainment of the transcendental goal. The only thing that facilitates this is the awakening of the inclination towards Iswara (God). This inclination is inherent within the Jivatma (living entity), and is gradually strengthened and converted into Bhakti when one utters the name of God, recites His pastimes, and receives inspiration from beholding the Deity (Sri Vigraha).

The Lord’s spiritual form can be experienced only by pure Bhakti (devotion), not by Jnana and Karma (wisdom and pious activities).

Mullah: Matter is distinct from God. I think that it is better not to worship material objects, because it is said that Satan introduced the worship of matter to keep the living entities bound in the material world.

Goracandra: Iswara is one without a second, and He has no rival. Everything in this world is created by Him and is under His control. Therefore, He can be satisfied with any object when it is used in His worship. There is no object in this world one can worship that can arouse His malice, for He is all-auspicious.

Even if a person such as Satan exists, he is no more than a special Jiva under the control of God, and has no power to do anything that is opposed to God’s will. However, in my opinion, it is not possible for such a monstrous living entity to exist. No activity can take place that is contrary to the will of Iswara, nor is any living entity independent of the Lord.

You may ask, “What is the origin of sin?” My answer is as follows. Vidya (knowledge) is the understanding that the Jivas (individual soul) are servants of Bhagavān (God), and Avidya (ignorance) is forgetfulness of this.

All Jivas who, for whatever reason, take shelter of Avidya sow the seed of all sins in their hearts. In the hearts of those Jivas who are eternal associates of Bhagavan, there is no seed of sin.

One should understand this truth of Avidya carefully, instead of imagining an extraordinary myth about Satan. It means that it is not an offense to worship the Lord in material elements. Worship of the Deity is most essential for those of low spiritual eligibility, and it is particularly auspicious for people of high spiritual eligibility. In our opinion it is mere dogma to think that the worship of the Deity is not good. There is no logic or evidence from Shastra* to support this position.

*Shastra is a Sanskrit word that means “precept, rules, manual, compendium, book or treatise” in a general sense. The word is generally used as a suffix in the Indian literature context, for technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area of practice.

Mullah: The inclination toward God cannot be stimulated by worship of the Deity, because the mind of one who performs such worship always remains confined to the properties of matter.

Goracandra: We can understand the defect in your theory by studying the ancient historical accounts of those who became great devotees. Many people began to worship the Deity while they were neophytes, but as their devotional mood developed through the association of pure devotees, their realization of the transcendental and conscious nature of the Deity also increased, and eventually they became immersed in the ocean of Prema (divine love).

The irrevocable conclusion is that Sat-Sanga (association with people of high spiritual eligibility) is the root of all spiritual advancement. When one associates with Bhaktas of Bhagavan who are fully situated in divine consciousness, one awakens transcendental affection toward Bhagavan.

The more this transcendental affection increases, the more the material idea of the Deity vanishes and through great good fortune this divine consciousness gradually unfolds. In contrast, the advocates of non-Aryan (non-vedic) religions generally oppose Deity worship, but just consider – how many of them have attained spiritual realization (Chinmaya-Bhava)? They waste their time in useless arguments and malice. When have they experienced true devotion to Bhagavan?

Expects from the book ‘Jaiva Dharma’ Chapter 11, NITYA-DHARMA & IDOLATRY, by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, ভক্তিবিনোদ ঠাকুর Bengali philosopher 1838 – 1914

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