Deity Worship

  • Philosophy

    Deities play an important part in most temples of Krishna. But what is the significance of Deities and Deity worship? One thing to understand is that all the images or Deities in the Vedic pantheon, as found in the temples, are made according to explicit details and instructions found in the Vedic texts. Then they are installed in the temple in an elaborate ceremony wherein the Divine personalities are called to appear in the form of the Deity.

  • Worship

    Five aratis and bhoga (food) offerings are made every day at the Temple, in accordance with strict Vedic standards of Deity worship.

    Prahlada Maharaja said: “Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words).These nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”

    ~(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23-24)

One of the most wonderful features of ISKCON is how our natural tendencies, talents, and qualities can be engaged in the service of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. We may excel at cooking or cleaning, planning or plumbing, and when done in a mood of loving service to the Supreme Lord, we move further on the path of devotion.

Deity worship is an essential part of spiritual life, and in the Caitanya-caritamrita, (Madhya 15.108) Srila Prabhupada quotes extensively from Srila Jiva Goswami’s Bhakti-sandarbha about its importance. There Srila Prabhupada mentions that while there are many references in the Srimad-Bhagavatam about the strength we gain from chanting the holy name, those engaged in Deity worship will find their Krishna consciousness quickly awakening and their identification with the material world vanquished. This help is especially significant in Kali-yuga, when “the material conditioning of most candidates for devotional service requires that they engage in [Deity worship][/Deity].” Srila Prabhupada has encouraged us that the pujaris are the most fortunate persons in the universe because they are able to touch the Lord’s form. 

To various degrees we have had the good fortune of realizing that the Supreme Lord is fully present in His Deity form, as much as in His teachings, His holy name, and His pastimes. We understand that until we are completely free from all impurities we will not fully realize the Lord’s presence. By the mercy of the Deity we can feel ourselves making genuine spiritual advancement. Knowledge about ourselves, about the world, and about the purpose of life seems to awaken. Detachment from less important material affairs and attachment for the reality of committed spiritual life seem to grow simultaneously.