Deity Worship

Srila Prabhupada with Radha Krishna

Deity Worship is so important to our preaching mission and the development of our Krsna consciousness, and there are so many letters written by Srila Prabhupada to his disciples explaining its importance. I have only posted just a very few letters here.

…Proper Deity worship, with all attention to cleanliness, is of the utmost importance. If you can please the Deity by your sincere service, then your temple will flourish. To be able to personally serve the Deity is a great privilege and such a person is very fortunate indeed. So you continue in this way and Krishna will surely bless you. (Letter to Hladini, Dec. 29, 1970)

I am very glad to learn that Harivilasa has given you a Pair of Radha Krishna Murtis, so it appears that Radha Krishna is very kind on you, because you went to Vrindaban, to live there but circumstantially, you could not live there, and you left. Krishna has given you New Vrindaban, as well as He has, out of His good will, He has come to you. It is very surprising. So please welcome the Deity and install Him in a nice throne. I think Vamanadeva will be able to prepare a nice throne, and you have seen the New York Deities’ dress and process of worship, so you can do in that way. There is nothing to be added new. The same principle should be followed, and the Deities should always be well-dressed in clothing and some ornaments and flowers and incense. The Deities should always be attractive. And the more we are engaged in decorating the Deities, washing the room, the more we are engaged in Deity worship, the more we become purified. That is practical. Brahmananda is also taking care of my Deity in New York, and he is practically experiencing and doing it. So if necessary you can take some information from him also. (Letter to Kirtananda, Sept 22, 1968)

…Actually, although Radha-Krishna is worshiped in Vrindaban which is like a simple village, but we worship Laksmi-Narayana, and the worship is accepted by the Radha-Krishna Deity. Actually, in our present status, we can not worship Radha-Krishna. But as all the Visnu Murtis are situated in Krishna, therefore, our Radha-Krishna worship is transferred to Visnu, Lord Narayana. Visnu worship is the regulative devotional principles, and Radha-Krishna worship is spontaneous service of eternal feelings. Therefore, as Laksmi-Narayana is the Deity of great opulences, similarly our Radha-Krishna Murtis also should be worshiped with great pomp and dignity. Krishna will give you the proper intelligence to do this very nicely. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Feb. 12, 1969)

… Our Deity worship is not heathenism. If we keep Forms of the Lord without worshiping the Deity under regulative principles, it will gradually turn into idol worship, which is an offense. The Deity of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical. Krishna can act through the Deity perfectly. As I have given several times the example, the mailbox can act perfectly as the post office because it is authorized. Similarly, when the Deity is installed under authorized regulative principles, the Deity is as good as Krishna Himself. (Letter to Syamasundara, July 15, 1969)

Full Letters

Letter to: Hladini

Surat
29 December, 1970
70-12-29
Chicago

My Dear Hladini devi,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your very nice letter dated 28th November. I am glad to learn that the Deities are being cared for there in Chicago so nicely by your good self. I personally gave instruction to Silavati how to care for the Deities properly when I was in Los Angeles and you were trained up by her. So I am confident that everything is going on nicely.

Proper Deity worship, with all attention to cleanliness, is of the utmost importance. If you can please the Deity by your sincere service, then your temple will flourish. To be able to personally serve the Deity is a great privilege and such a person is very fortunate indeed. So you continue in this way and Krishna will surely bless you.

Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
ACBS/adb

Letter to: Kirtanananda

Seattle
22 September, 1968
68-09-22

My Dear Kirtanananda,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated New Vrindaban, 16th Sept. 1968. I am very glad to learn that all the members there are doing very nicely, and living happily. I hope that New Vrindaban will give shelter to so many unhappy men of this country and they will be happy by working there, and living there in good association of devotees. Pradyumna and Vamanadeva are very good boys; keep them very nicely, and they will be very much helpful. I have come here to Seattle, last evening, and things are hopeful here also. Yesterday, before coming here I was talking with one hippy boy. He came to see me in my apartment in San Francisco, and was talking that hippies are in search after such peaceful place, like you have got in New Vrindaban. And they do not like to live in the cities anymore. So if some of us go and make some canvassing work among the hippies, that the thing which they are searching after is here in Krishna Consciousness, and as soon as they come they will understand, so somebody may be engaged in such propaganda work. Regarding Randy, I understand that he is addicted to heroin intoxication, and he is taking some medicine to give it up, but I am sure that the best medicine is chanting the HARE KRISHNA mantra. For the time being, let him take the substitute medicine as he is taking, and at the same time let him seriously chant HARE KRISHNA. And I hope he will be able to give up that substitute medicine also. I have got experience—one of my God-brothers, he related about his past life, that he was addicted to all kinds of intoxication, and he was distilling wine in his village without any license—he was such a great intoxicant. But later on, we found him completely free from all intoxication—even he was not even smoking and was quite fit to work for Krishna Consciousness. So everything is possible provided one is serious. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that if somebody is not too much addicted, neither he is completely powerful to give up some bad habits, this via media stage is favorable. Immediately if he cannot give up the medicine as he is taking, that doesn’t matter. Let him chant HARE KRISHNA very seriously and he will gradually be able to give up everything.

I am very glad to learn that Harivilasa has given you a Pair of Radha Krishna Murtis, so it appears that Radha Krishna is very kind on you, because you went to Vrindaban, to live there but circumstantially, you could not live there, and you left. Krishna has given you New Vrindaban, as well as He has, out of His good will, He has come to you. It is very surprising. So please welcome the Deity and install Him in a nice throne. I think Vamanadeva will be able to prepare a nice throne, and you have seen the New York Deities’ dress and process of worship, so you can do in that way. There is nothing to be added new. The same principle should be followed, and the Deities should always be well-dressed in clothing and some ornaments and flowers and incense. The Deities should always be attractive. And the more we are engaged in decorating the Deities, washing the room, the more we are engaged in Deity worship, the more we become purified. That is practical. Brahmananda is also taking care of my Deity in New York, and he is practically experiencing and doing it. So if necessary you can take some information from him also.

This Seattle city is understood to be very big in area, and appears to be very peaceful also, because the population is less, and they are little responsive also. I think gradually this center will also grow very nicely.

I have sent Gaurasundara to Hawaii to open a branch there, and I have received letters from London that the 6 devotees there are prosecuting their regular duties, namely kirtana in the morning, and on the weekdays as we do generally, and they are having love feast also, although not in our own place, but in different places. And they are searching after a suitable place for our temple. Similarly, in Berlin also, we are hopeful for starting a new branch there. And Krishna das, and Uttama Sloka (Uttama Sloka is a German boy) they are going there. And I have also advised Acyutananda to return back to Germany. So I think 4 or 5 of them will do very nice in Berlin, and the 6 devotees in London, they will also do very nice there. And I think as soon as they are prepared to take me there, I shall go immediately, in Europe.

Hope you are well,

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Letter to: Satsvarupa

Los Angeles
12 February, 1969
69-02-12
My Dear Satsvarupa,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated February 7, 1969, and I have noted the contents. Regarding Jadurani’s diet, let her take fruits, vegetables, milk, capatis, and also when she is hungry she may take a little rice and some thin mung dahl. Please keep me informed of her progress.
Regarding your idea of having an installation ceremony for the Deities, it is very good suggestion, and you may also have the sacrificial fire. The Deities should be bathed with milk, and while bathing, They must have covering of thin cotton cloth, and the whole Body and the clothing should be wet by pouring the milk. You can see the picture of this in the new Back To Godhead, and perhaps you saw the ceremony when it was held in New York. The Deities should be decorated with sufficient flowers and nice gorgeous dresses and ornaments. Beforehand, you should polish the Bodies with a mixture of tamorind pulp and fullers earth. Apply the pulp on the Bodies, then rub it and then polish nicely with tissue paper. This will gave a very good shine. Then bath the Deities with milk, and dress very nicely with ornaments, and place Them on the throne with flowers, candles, etc. The throne, if possible, should be coated with silver sheets, and the canopy should be red velvet with gold embroidered work. Before the Deities, on the staircase, there may be some silver polished cups, pitchers, etc. I think the Deities have already helmets and peacock feathers and hair to be dressed with. If not, make arrangements for this also. I do not know how big is the throne, but if it is very big, then within the throne there may be a raised seat to accommodate the Deities. On the whole, everything should be very gorgeous; then it will be successful.

Actually, although Radha-Krishna is worshiped in Vrindaban which is like a simple village, but we worship Laksmi-Narayana, and the worship is accepted by the Radha-Krishna Deity. Actually, in our present status, we can not worship Radha-Krishna. But as all the Visnu Murtis are situated in Krishna, therefore, our Radha-Krishna worship is transferred to Visnu, Lord Narayana. Visnu worship is the regulative devotional principles, and Radha-Krishna worship is spontaneous service of eternal feelings. Therefore, as Laksmi-Narayana is the Deity of great opulences, similarly our Radha-Krishna Murtis also should be worshiped with great pomp and dignity. Krishna will give you the proper intelligence to do this very nicely. So far as prayers, you may sing Hare Krishna, Govinda Jaya Jaya, and Govindam Ādi purusam.
[TEXT MISSING]

Letter to: Syamasundara

Los Angeles
15 July, 1969
69-07-15

My Dear Syamasundara.,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 6, 1969, and it is very encouraging. The best thing is that you have now a first-class building for a temple at 7 Bury Place. It doesn’t matter if things are going a little slow; but make everything slow but sure. That is a good principle. To do things hastily and incorrectly is not good. There is a proverb in Bengali sabure mawaphale. This means that all valuable nuts like almonds, macadamias, walnuts, coconuts, etc. all take a long time to fructify. Anything valuable takes a little time to come into existence. Therefore there is no harm in waiting for the best thing. But everything is well that ends well: That should be the principle.

I am glad that your friendship with Mr. George Harrison is gradually working, so much so that he is now prepared to spend $3,000 for an altar slab and a block of bluish marble for carving Krishna or Lord Caitanya. For Lord Caitanya yellowish marble or white marble should be used. If yellowish golden colored marble is available, that is very nice. Another thing is that these Forms should be worshiped. Our Deity worship is not heathenism. If we keep Forms of the Lord without worshiping the Deity under regulative principles, it will gradually turn into idol worship, which is an offense. The Deity of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical. Krishna can act through the Deity perfectly. As I have given several times the example, the mailbox can act perfectly as the post office because it is authorized. Similarly, when the Deity is installed under authorized regulative principles, the Deity is as good as Krishna Himself. So you may advise your friend on this principle. But I am so much pleased that he is coming forward to offer his hard-earned money for Krishna’s purpose. I am also glad to learn that George has purchased one nice house for his family, and there he will be building a very rich altar which will be bedecked with jewels and gold work. I have already given you one design for the throne. If such throne is made with golden or silver pillars, platform, ceiling, and canopy bedecked with jewels, and if the Deity is kept within such throne, it will be a super-excellent manifestation. So when you do such work you can consult me, and I shall give you some right directions. I am also glad to learn that you are going to press some records of the Hare Krishna Mantra with the help of the Beatles and Co., cooperated with some of the celebrated artists like Donovan and the Rolling Stones. It is a very good opportunity that you are making friendship with these famous men, and if you can turn them as they are already a little inclined towards Krishna Consciousness, then our Sankirtana Movement through all these famous artists and gentlemen will take a shape which will be appreciated all over the world.

I am also glad to know that Rathayatra arrangements are going nicely, and so also in your country, especially in San Francisco, Boston, Buffalo, as well as New York. There also they are arranging nicely. Most probably in Boston it will be as good as in San Francisco. In San Francisco they are making good advertisement, and they are expecting a very good crowd. I am going there on the 26th of July. I hope you will send me the pictures of your world famous parade in London. Send all detailed pictures to Brahmananda for publication in BTG. If possible, invite some Indian press representatives to report to the Indian papers how the Vedic culture is being accepted by Americans and Europeans.
I have prepared a nice book, Krishna, and I want to print it in a deluxe edition. If some of your friends finance this publication, it will be a unique presentation to the world. This will contain Krishna’s life from the beginning of His Appearance to His Disappearance from this mortal world. It will contain all of His activities throughout. It is full of philosophy, instructions, transcendental pastimes and artistic pictures.

Please convey my blessings to your good wife, Malati, and your daughter, Sarasvati. I hope this will meet you all in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Text Pasted from Prabhupada Books

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