Explaining Deity Worship To Christians

Guest (4): You’ve been hitting on some of the Ten Commandments tonight like “Thou shall not kill.” Now, if you believe the Ten Commandments like that, it also says in there that you shouldn’t worship idols, bow down to idols.
Prabhupada: Yes, we don’t worship idol. We worship God.
Guest (2): Well, we just have a…. We don’t need to discuss.
Prabhupada: Just like here is the picture of God. As you say, this picture is not important, but we say it is important because it is picture of God. Because it is important, therefore you have given the picture.
Guest (3): Well, we say that that picture is important because it’s in commemoration or something of…
Prabhupada: Anyway, you offer some honor. Otherwise why do you give this picture?
Guest (2): Honor, not worship.
Guru-krpa: They put this on the top of their temples.
Guest (2): On one, two of them.
Guru-krpa: I have seen in Salt Lake City.
Guest (2): Salt Lake City and…
Prabhupada: No, no, anywhere, top of…. Here you are giving a particular picture. That means…
Guru-krpa: Gold and silver.
Guest (2): That’s right.
Prabhupada: Stop. That means you have got respect.
Guest (2): We have respect. We do not worship.
Prabhupada: That means that respect is partial. Our process is whomever we respect, we worship him. That is more perfect.

Guest (2): Well, all right. That’s fine.
Prabhupada: That is perfection. If you respect somebody you must worship him. Just like…. Nowadays it has become a fashion. I don’t…. That is European fashion, that you respect some gentleman, political or social, who has done good service to your country, but you keep him in a public park and the crows are passing stool on his head.
Hari-sauri: Make a statue.
Prabhupada: Statue.
Hari-sauri: If you want to glorify some great personality.
Prabhupada: But we, if we keep that statue in a temple, is it not more respectful?
Guest (3): Yes.
Prabhupada: If I expose the statue on the open field and the crows and birds are passing stool on his head and it is going down his mouth, is it respectful? Do you think it is respectful?
Guest (2): Probably not.
Prabhupada: So if that statue is kept in a temple and you dress, you garland, you offer food, is it not more respectful?
Guest (2): Offer food to an idol?
Hari-sauri: It’s not an idol. This is a point Prabhupada is making.
Prabhupada: The point is how to offer respect, that if you respect a person, so if you expose this form of the person on the public park, giving the crows chance to pass stool on his head, that is more respectful? Or if you keep that statue in a temple and daily dress him and garland him and offer him food, that is more respectful? Which is more respectful? You are doing the same thing, but you are exposing to the stool of birds and crows.
Guest (2): No, see, you have a misunderstanding of the representation…
Prabhupada: No misunderstanding. It is a common sense that if you have got respect for a person, instead of installing his form — either it is statue or stone, it doesn’t matter — keeping it outside and giving chance the bird to pass stool on his head, if you keep that statue in a nice place, which is more respectful? That is my question. It is a common sense. If you have got respect for a person…. You have installed the statue. Don’t call Deity. Statue. So which is more respectful, to keep him exposed on the open field or to keep him in a temple?
Guest (2): Well, I think if I was looking at it in your point of view, it would be more respectful to put him inside.
Prabhupada: That’s the…. That is the point.
Guest (4): That’s your point of view, not ours.
Prabhupada: Then? That is your…. I do not know what is your point of view, that you expose this to the open air and the birds pass stool on it and you still…
Guest (2): It is simply a workmanship of man to make the building maybe more…
Prabhupada: I am just talking on the practical point of view. Which is more respectful? Apart from other points, if we actually offer somebody respect, then you must give him proper respect.
Guest (2): But, see, we do not see Moronai in that…. Moronai does not reside…
Prabhupada: You do not see that the crows passing stool? You do not see it?
Guest (2): He might. He might do something on it. But he’s not doing it on Moronai.
Prabhupada: Suppose your father’s statue is there, and crow passing on the nose stool. You don’t feel that “My father’s statue is…”
Guest (2): Well, I don’t think that it was done on Moronai because Moronai is not in that statue.
Prabhupada: No, no, Moronai, anyone. I am not…. But there are so many statues, so many statues in the open field, and they are exposed to the birds for passing stool. Do you think it is more respectful than one keeping the same statue in a nice sacred temple and worshiping?
Guest (2): Yes, it’s nice. They should.
Prabhupada: So you criticize the person who is keeping the statue within a temple, “the heathen worship, idol worship,” and you keep your father’s statue exposed for passing stool on his head.
Guest (4): You know, if you’re going to liken it unto that, I can also liken it unto your statues down here in your temple…
Prabhupada: No, take it as statue, but where is good sense, to keep a statue within a temple or to keep it open field for passing stool by the birds?
Guest (4): Okay, here is some of my good sense. You’ve got your statues in your temple, and I notice there were a lot of flies in there the other night crawling all over it and doing their, whatever they do.
Prabhupada: So do you mean a fly coming and crow passing stool is the same thing? Very good sense.
Guest (3): Well, flies leave mess.
Pusta Krsna: Actually, it was painful to see the flies.
Devotee (4): That’s why they have the whisk you see. We try to whisk the flies away.
Pusta Krsna: You can try as much as possible…
Prabhupada: It is very good reason that, “Because the flies cannot be checked, and the crows should be allowed to pass stool?” At least you stop the crows. If you cannot stop the flies, but you can stop the crows. We have done that. We don’t allow the crows to come.

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation — April 23, 1976, Melbourne

Srila Prabhupada or by a full title His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krsna consciousness and the pioneer in introducing devotional service in the Western countries. He is a pure devotee of Lord Krsna coming in the Gaudiya Vaisnava disciplic succession of realized spiritual masters. His numerous translations of ancient Vedic texts are recognized by scholars from Harvard, Cambridge, Princeton, Oxford, La Sorbonne and other major universities. He initiates all sincere souls into the knowledge of bhakti-yoga through his teachings.

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