Whenever this term is encountered majority of the people act very offensively by shunning away this process of devotional service by considering it blind faith or may even accept it by considering it any other idol worship and hence deprive themselves of God’s causeless mercy.
However, the deity and the idols aren’t the same concept after all. Idol worship refers to worshiping an imaginary form by giving it a form using earthly elements. Whereas, the deity is a living form of God, the worship of which is performed as enjoined in the Vedic scriptures including the form as well.
The logic involved behind deity worship is very interesting. It is a fact that none of us can actually see the real identity of our relatives or anyone. All we see is a material peeling, embodying the real identity of spirit soul. None of us not only fail to see our real identity but aren’t either aware of it. In the same way, none of us possess the transcendental eyes to see God face to face, due to our senses being smeared by lusty desires, seated within the heart in the form of seeds or matured fruits. The qualification to see God however is the opposite, spiritual love, not to be found in material dealings (The closest (and yet far), being a mother’s love for her beloved child).
Because the conditioned living entity cannot perceive anything beyond matter, Krishna reveals His Absolute details in the scriptures including His transcendental form. The idols of leaders worshipped or of forefathers are material in nature. However, as understood before, Krishna is sac-cid-ananda vigraha, eternal by nature and due to His Absoluteness there stands no difference between His form and Himself. This is an opportunity for the fallen souls to directly worship Krishna as if face to face and offer their love to Krishna, in order to liberate themselves of all six types of dirt within the heart until they reach the stage of personally associating with Krishna, in person, this very lifetime, incomparable to any other association or pleasure. Such worship and establishment of a deity however should take place under a bonafide spiritual master.
The personal form of Krishna is confirmed in Vedas and this also is confirmed in brief by His pure devotee Brahma:
veṇuṁ kvaṇantam aravinda-dalāyatākṣam-
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept in playing on His flute, with blooming eyes like lotus petals with head decked with peacock’s feather, with the figure of beauty tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and His unique loveliness charming millions of Cupids.” (BS 5.1)
Many religions claim that deity or idol worship is offensive according to their scriptures, Christianity being one, on the basis of following statements:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven [carved] image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the sky above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.… Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.…” (Exodus 20:4–5)
From the above it is clearly concluded that God here is restricting people from worshipping any concepts ‘other than Him’. The reason also is clearly due to the incident of worshiping the idol of the golden calf. But nowhere does He say ‘Do not make My image and worship it’. A true lover of God, zealous of offering His love to Him would immediately take advantage of such statements to inquire of The Absolute unlike the lazy and sinful class of men. In fact Krishna confirms in The Bhagavad Gita:
ye ’py anya-devatā-bhaktā
te ’pi mām eva kaunteya
“Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kuntī, but they do so in a wrong way.” (BG 9.23)
This also confirms that God is one without second (Supreme) as discussed in God and demigods.
The words “under His feet” (Exodus 24:10); “inscribed with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18); “the hand of the Lord” (Exodus 9:3); “the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 38:7); “the ears of the Lord” (Numbers 11:1) from the bible also clearly indicate the personality of God clearly.
It is already concluded from previous articles that the universe emanates not from a baseless theory but God Himself, as confirmed in all scriptures. And we also see His creation assuming a form. How then can creator Himself be formless? In other words how can The Complete be incomplete? This is illogical. God undoubtedly is unlimited and cannot be limited by the formless aspect. Unfortunately, so-called philosophers or scholarly men, out of personal motives declare God as impersonal through jugglery of words and therefore we see a confused and a frustrated atheistic civilization mislead by such unqualified men.
Based on the few abovementioned logic and authority, the intelligent class of men worship The Divine Transcendental and beautiful forms of The Lordships Radha and Krishna, for Their pleasure. From the earlier discussed processes of bhakti yoga, if one fails to follow any, then one is recommended to benefit themselves spiritually by at least glancing and paying obeisance to the deities of The Supreme Lord and offering prayers unto Him for selfless devotional service, by visiting Their temples such as ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).