The Form of God

By "Siva"

While instructing Western students, Paramhansa Yogananda has often said that since God is in creation, as well as beyond it, He can be worshipped as the Divine Father, Mother, Friend, or through reverence for His consciousness as it shines through some great avatar, such as Jesus, Krishna or Buddha. This article shows that Eastern students are receiving from their teachers the same message of unity and tolerance.

True Reality and the Paramatma are one. Though unqualified, He is yet qualified; though Formless, He yet possesses a Form. Similarly though qualified, He is yet unqualified; and though possessing a Form He is yet Formless. Nothing can be said about Him and yet all that is said refers to Him. Of course, whatever is said does not describe Him fully. That which is perfect can in no way be described. Yet the Paramatma is not imperfect in any state; therefore, even an incomplete description of Him becomes a description of the perfect, inasmuch as even His Parts are perfect or equal to the whole. Seers, saints and devotees worshipped this very Paramatma through various sentiments.

The Supreme God, the embodiment of Sat (Truth), Chit (Knowledge) and Ananda (Bliss) is the Supreme Reality. Though beyond the scriptures, He is yet full of the scriptures; though beyond the universe, He yet permeates the universe. He pervades all, and all is pervaded by Him, viz., the whole of this creation, moving as well as motionless, rests on Him. The same Supreme Lord, who is consolidated knowledge and bliss, manifests Himself variously as Brahma, Mahadeva, Mahavishnu (Preservation), Makasakti (Power), the Lord of Saketa (Sri Rama), the abode of infinite bliss, and as the Lord of Goloka--Sri Krishna, the ocean of ambrosial Beauty. All these various forms are true and eternal. Although appearing as many they are essentially one for all time.

The Devotee's Choice

The aspirant or devotee adopts for his worship, as something essential, one of these--or any other Form of the Lord according to his taste or sentiment; and it is quite fitting that he does so. It is not possible to worship God through many Forms at one and the same time. To compose and concentrate the restless mind, it is necessary to worship only one Form, Through worship of many Forms the fickleness and changeability of the mind are liable to increase.

That is why a wise guru who possesses Divine vision, takes note of the disciple's aptitude, attainments, qualifications and the results likely to be achieved by him, instructs the latter in one particular form of worship, and gives him a suitable mantra (sacred formula) through which he may worship the object of his devotion.

At the same time he tells the disciple that the God into whose worship he has been initiated is the only God, and that it is the same God who is worshipped through various Names and Forms by different people in different climes and different ages.

Circumscribing God

None of these Forms is different in essence from the God you are worshipping, and when there is no difference, the question of superiority and inferiority in relation to them …cannot arise. Go on worshipping the Form you have adopted but do not hate the Forms which are worshipped by others nor regard them as inferior in any way. If you do so, you will be hating your own God and lowering Him in your estimation, inasmuch as it is the same God …the object of your worship--who is being worshipped by others through other Forms.

Should you take it into your head that the Forms worshipped by others, are different from your God, you will be circumscribing and thereby belittling your own Form and reducing Him to the position of one among many Gods. He will no longer remain the Supreme One but will be reduced to the position of an inferior God, like the regional gods. Through such a "small" and "finite" God, you cannot hope to reach the Infinite. Thus, through your own fault you will be deprived of the vision of the Supreme Creator.

Therefore, cultivate exclusive devotion to the object of your worship, but at the same time honor other Forms as well, regarding them to be so many manifestations of your own God. True exclusiveness of devotion lies in regarding the other Forms as so many different manifestations of the God you worship. To do otherwise is to admit another God which is nothing short of infidelity on the Part of a devotee. The Shastras proclaim that all the different Names belong to the same God. It has been regarded as a spiritual crime to make any distinction between the Names of Siva and Vishnu. "Vishnu is the very heart of Siva and Siva the heart of Vishnu", is a famous declaration of the Shastras. When it is a crime to make any distinction between even Siva and Vishnu, the so-called devotees of Vishnu cannot perpetrate a greater crime against God than to recognize essential differences among the conceptions of Vishnu, Hari, Rama, Krishna, and Narayana and thus create a sense of distinction in the minds of aspirants among the eternally true and pure Forms and Names of the same God.

In all humility, and with great emphasis, "Siva" requests all to shake off such a belief and not to repose faith in the words of a preacher who may try to beguile them and create doubt in their minds. Go on chanting with utmost faith and reverence the Names of God regarding them all to be Names of the same God. Your spiritual welfare will thus be assured.

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