Our knowledge is sense perception. Sense perception, akṣaja jñānam. That will not act there. Acintya. Therefore we have to accept in that way. Idaṁ śarīram, but He has His body. He has His body, and because we cannot conceive, He, out of His causeless mercy, He presents Himself in a form which we can see. That is arcā-vigraha, arcā-mūrti. A vigraha. Arcā means the form which we can worship. If God is impersonal Avyaktāsakta-cetasām. Kleśo adhikataras teṣām. If we accept God as impersonal He is not impersonal. He says idaṁ śarīram. He is personal. But our present senses cannot perceive. That is the difficulty. Therefore out of His causeless mercy He has appeared in a form which you can see, you can touch, you can dress, you can offer garland, you can offer food—to accept your service. That is God's mercy. Don't think that "Because God mercifully has come before Me in a form which we can perceive, which we can see, with which we can serve," not that "He is not God." That is rascaldom. God is there. Otherwise Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as soon as He entered the Jagannātha's temple, immediately He fainted. Does it mean He made a fun? No. He saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead present there.
So our, this sound representation of the Supreme Lord constantly will make us... Just like our association with the fire, the, I mean to say, iron rod's association with the fire makes the rod equally qualified, exactly—not equally qualified, but almost the quality of burning it gets—similarly, by our constant association with Lord... Lord is not only incarnation in a sound form. He is incarnated in many other forms, in many other forms. Just like arcā. Arcā means the form of the Lord situated, I mean to say, established in some temple and worshiped. That is also incarnation of God. That is not idol worship. People do not know that this is an authorized process of realizing God, or they have never tasted or practiced it. They cannot understand. They say it is idol worship. No. It is not idol worship. It is not idol worship. I'll give you one example. Just like in the front of your door there is a box—"U.S. Mail," it is written. And you put your letters within that box, and after few days you get reply from your friend that "I have received your letter, and this is such and such, such and such." Now, if somebody puts another box like that, exactly imitation: "Then why shall I spend postage to putting letters in this box, U.S. Mail? I require postage. But then why shall I not put up a box like that? Let me prepare a box like that so that it can go without postage. I want to save postage." Now, he is going on, putting letters in that without postage. And after some time he sees all the letters are lying there; it has not been dispatched—because it is imitation. And the box which is supplied by the post office, that is authorized. In the matter, in material, you will find this box and that imitation box is the same thing. So this is a science. You see. Although we find that "This form of the Lord... The Hindus, they have established one statue in the temple, and they are worshiping as the Lord? How is that? Is it Lord is a stone? It is wood?" But he does not know that because it is authorized, because it is authorizedly worshiped, therefore even it is stone or wood, it can act. It can act. Just like the authorized post office, although seemingly it is a box which I can prepare, but it is acting because it is authorized, similarly, the authorized, authorized symbol or representation of God is also God. He's not different from God. Then why God is like that? It is His mercy. Because I cannot see God with my these eyes—I can see stone and wood and material things—therefore God is kind enough (to appear) in a form suitable to my seeing and accept my service. It is His kindness. And besides that, if everything is God, because everything has link with the God, with the Supreme Truth, then God, being omnipotent, why He cannot represent Himself in everything? If everything is God, everything is emanation of God, then God has got the power to manifest Himself in everything. That is His omnipotency. So these are consideration.
Suppose Kṛṣṇa is here... Just like we offer so respectful obeisances to the Deity. Similarly, as the Deity is arcā-vigraha, incarnation... This Deity which you are worshiping as the arcā-vigraha, arcā means worshipable incarnation. Because we cannot see Kṛṣṇa with our present eyes, material eyes; therefore it is Kṛṣṇa's mercy that He has appeared before us in a form which we can see. That is Kṛṣṇa's mercy. It is not that Kṛṣṇa is different from this Deity. That is mistake. Those who cannot understand what is Kṛṣṇa's potency, they think that this is idol, and therefore they say "Idol worship." It is not idol worship. The same example, as I have given many times, that the postbox, or mailbox on the street, it is post office. If somebody thinks, "It is a box..." It is a box, but it is a post office at the same time. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa is everything. The bhūmir āpo analo vāyuḥ kham... (BG 7.4). Kṛṣṇa says, "My energy." As you cannot separate energy and the energetic, Kṛṣṇa is everything. So Kṛṣṇa can accept your service through everything. Don't consider that "This is metal." The metal is also Kṛṣṇa. Therefore we should know bhūmi..., bhūmi... Metal, what is metal? Metal means earth. Kṛṣṇa says, first of all says, bhūmir āpo analo vāyuḥ: "They are My all energies." So from argument's point of view, Kṛṣṇa is everything. Therefore Kṛṣṇa can accept service through everything. So this Deity, vigraha, either made of wood, made of stone or earth or metal or painting, they are not different from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa has got the potency to accept your service through this medium. So they are not pictures or they are not ordinary idols. You should never... Similarly, a sound vibration. Kṛṣṇa is present through sound vibration because the five elements, ākāśa, the sky... Sky, within sky, there is sound. So from argumentative point of view also, nobody can deny that this chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is not identical. It is identical. Because identical... Everything is identical.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1973 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: The Deity worship program is meant for us to keep us safe. If we neglect Deity worship, we shall also fall. But that is not the all duty finished. Arcāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate. Arcā means Deity. If anyone is worshiping the Deity very nicely, but na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu, but he does not know anything more, who is devotee, who is nondevotee, what is the duty to the world, sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ, he is material devotee. He is material devotee. So we have to take the responsibility to understand who is actually a pure devotee and what is our duty to the people in general, and then you make advancement. Then you become madhyama-adhikārī. Madhyama-adhikārī, advanced devotee. Just like these people, either in India or here, they remain simply churchianity, going to the church without any understanding. Therefore it is failing. It is now... Churches are being closed. Similarly, if you do not keep yourself fit to preach, then your temples will be all closed in due course of time. Without preaching, you'll not feel enthused to continue the temple worship. And without temple worship, you cannot keep yourself pure and clean. The two things must go on, parallel. Then there is success. In modern time, either Hindus, Muslim or Christian, because in these places there is no teaching of philosophy, therefore they are closing, either mosque or temple or church. They will close.