Why do we need deities?

Excerpt of a Satsang Given in Latvia
11 September 2019

Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda visited Latvia to inaugurate the new carved granite deities of Sri Ram Darbar at the Satchitananda Vigraha Ramachandra Ashram. After the celebrations, He explained to everyone gathered why deities are so important for us all. 

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Jai Gurudev,

You know, often people say, ‘Why do we need deities?’ The deity is an expression of the devotee’s love. If you say to somebody, ‘Express yourself to the void’, can you do that? You can, but people will think you a bit mad. But when there is a form, it becomes easy to express oneself. Take any relationship. When we talk about relationship, automatically there is a somebody, there is not an emptiness. You can’t have a relationship with air, saying, ‘I want to hug air.’

God is Almighty, He is everything, but due to the devotion of the people He chooses to limit Himself. How much love for us does He have that He can limit Himself even to a stone? How much did He want to come to you? How much did He want to remind you? But that stone that He chose to manifest in is not just a normal stone because not every stone becomes a deity. A stone must be a very blessed stone itself, no? The same way, it is not in everybody’s heart that the bhav of loving Him awakens. You say, ‘Yes, we love God’, but that emotion to really love truly doesn’t awaken in every heart. Only seldom. Very few hearts really know what it is really to love Him.

For this stone also: very few stones have that Grace to be carved into a divine form. That form, through the devotion, through the prayer, through the mantra, we ask Purushottama Rama, that Supreme Being, to manifest into that to remind us of His presence, and to remind us of His Love. It’s not just a statue that you see outside. No. After the prayer, through your devotion, He Himself is present inside. Together with Him, His wife Sita, and Lakshman, Hanuman, and Garuda.

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Once there was a king of Rajastan who was very anti-deities. A saint visited him and the king said to the saint, ‘How are people so stupid that they are just worshipping stone and metal and so on?’ The saint was quiet.

After some time the saint called the minister of the king and he said to the minister, ‘There is a portrait on the wall of the king there. Can you remove it?’

When they took down the portrait of the king, the saint said to the minister, ‘Spit on that picture!’ The minister was shocked. And the king was angry.

Then the saint became stern and said, ‘I tell you to spit on that picture!’ So, he kept repeating himself and repeating himself. Of course, the minister was annoyed, and the king was getting even more angry. Then the saint said, ‘But you just said earlier that the deity is just a stone and you don’t believe in it. So I’m asking you to spit on this picture! It’s just paint, it’s just paper, it’s lifeless, there is nothing inside. Why you are not spitting on it?’

The minister said, ‘No, this is the portrait of our beloved king! How can we spit on him?’

And then the king understood what the saint was saying, and the king fell down at his feet and asked the saint for forgiveness.

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So, even if it is just what you see on the outside, when you look at His beautiful face, you don’t see the statue looking at you. You see a pair of eyes that are looking at you. And that pair of eyes is not just looking at you physically. It is piercing through your soul itself and it is looking at who and what belongs to Him. This is the beauty when one opens up the heart and longs for Him. Then you see He is looking at you. He is caring for you.

Jai Gurudev