Dhanurdhara Swami October 3rd, 2002
Vasant Falls, New York
Worshiping the Deities
I think there is a common misconception about Deity worship in reference to Srila Prabhupada’s statement that beginners can have the Deity of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai in their home because Their Lordships do not accept our offenses. The term aparadha, offense, literally means “actions that distance us from God.” Did Srila Prabhupada mean that we can be neglectful and careless in our worship of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and it won’t affect our spiritual life? I don’t think so.
When Karl and Kelly asked His Holiness Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja if they should get simple home deities, he replied that they should consider the matter very soberly as Krishna is there in the form of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and all His Deity manifestations. The Deity should never be neglected, just as we cannot forget to feed our own children or greet our best friend. Maharaja’s advice suits my New York City sense of logic. I think I’ve told many of you the story of when I took a wrong turn while driving–I think it was in Queens–and wound up at the entrance to the Queens Midtown Tunnel. There, the toll collector responded in disgust to my polite inquiry (“Sir, I think I am lost!”) with the declarative statement, “You are either lost or you’re not lost!”
So Krishna is either there or He is not there in His Deity form, and if He is there, He cannot be neglected without risk to our development in devotion.
Of course, Gaura-Nitai is unlimitedly merciful and you will not get the severity of reaction as when you neglect the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, but still, if after inviting the Lord to your home you neglect Him, it will certainly hinder your progress in realizing His presence–whether it is His Deity, His dhama or His holy name.
Message: Gaura-Nitai is unlimitedly merciful and the minimum standard for His worship is very simple, but it must still be done with regularity, care, and devotion.