Humans have the natural urge to know things and this urge extends to know who is God and how He looks like, just like its natural for a child who has never seen his father to want to know what his father looks like. By this example we understand we have a strong relation with God as a father, although some may strongly feel the relationship while others may not. As children are very good in imagining, “may be my father looks like this” or “may be like that,” we too use our imagination and speculation to know God’s form. Sometimes this speculation has gone too far to make us imagine and think that since God being the oldest person He must also look very old. Such speculation is far from the reality and therefore God Himself has given a warning not to engrave an imaginary conception in wood or stone and offer our homage to the illusory form.
But the hankering to see the beautiful form of the Lord is in the soul, and due to his inability to see that form, he is likely to turn towards the beautiful but temporary things in the material world. The other extreme step he can take is to come to a conclusion that there is no such thing as God or even if He exists, He has no form at all. The good news is that by seeing the form of God in the temple or at a festival, the soul can be rescued from the dangers of materialism and the despair that comes from thinking that God is void or dead.
Supreme source that is personal
A child seeing a satellite floating in space may think that it is travelling on its own, but the knowledgeable father knows that a team of scientists have applied their intelligence and energy to guide the satellite in its orbit. Similarly, a thoughtful man must know that there must be a supreme intelligence of a supreme person behind the stars and planets. The cosmic manifestation with so many wonderful things could not have just popped out of some void or impersonal energy.
Such an idea is absurd. “Energy” implies that a person must possess the energy and apply the energy. The fact that we may not know who that person is, does not deny His existence.
Now that we have come to a reasonable conclusion that such a person does exist, then why should we deny His personal qualities like name and form? We may admit honestly that we don’t know what they are but to deny them is narrow-minded. If an ordinary person has name and form, God being the Supreme Person, the Supreme Father must have all the qualities of a person. Without He having those qualities, how can we his children have those qualities? Further, the tiny parts cannot have more than the whole; so, God must be having a form(s), name(s) and qualities that are much superior to all of us. From this we can safely conclude that God must also have a name, form and senses.
If God has a personal form, what is it? With our limited, imperfect mind and senses we cannot ascertain it correctly. In fact God is beyond the entire universe, if not how He can be its creator? Therefore to know about the personal qualities of God, we must receive the information from God Himself, through the revealed scriptures. Another option is to learn from a self-realised spiritual teacher or Guru. The qualification of such a Guru is that he always speaks on the basis of scriptures and refers to the scriptures to support his own words. He never invents anything new.
If one wants to know detailed information about God, he must take that information from Vedic scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, which were first compiled in writing in India some 5,000 years ago. Spreading the teachings of these scriptures is one of the prime activities of the Krsna consciousness movement (ISKCON). If one wants to understand God in his full glory as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then one must turn to these scriptures, for nowhere else will one find the details of His spiritual name, form, qualities, pastimes and abode.
Srila Prabhupada in his purport to Bhagavad Gita 8.2 explains about Krsna’s form, qualities and abode
“The supreme abode of the Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is described in the Brahma-saàhitä as cintämaëi-dhäma, a place where all desires are fulfilled. The supreme abode of Lord Kåñëa, known as Goloka Våndävana, is full of palaces made of touchstone. There are also trees, called “desire trees,” that supply any type of eatable upon demand, and there are cows, known as surabhi cows, which supply a limitless supply of milk. In this abode, the Lord is served by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune (Lakñmés), and He is called Govinda, the primal Lord and the cause of all causes. The Lord is accustomed to blow His flute (veëuà kvaëantam). His transcendental form is the most attractive in all the worlds—His eyes are like lotus petals, and the color of His body is like the color of clouds. He is so attractive that His beauty excels that of thousands of Cupids. He wears saffron cloth, a garland around His neck and a peacock feather in His hair. In the Bhagavad-gétä Lord Kåñëa gives only a small hint of His personal abode, Goloka Våndävana, which is the super most planet in the spiritual kingdom. A vivid description is given in the Brahma-saàhitä. Vedic literatures (Kaöha Upaniñad 1.3.11) state that there is nothing superior to the abode of the Supreme Godhead, and that that abode is the ultimate destination (puruñän na paraà kiïcit sä käñöhä paramä gatiù).”
Not an ‘imaginary’ form
One important fact to be stressed here is that these are not imaginary conceptions like those of a poet or an artist. These are unambiguous descriptions of the revealed Vedic scriptures. The Vedic scriptures exactly tell us God’s name – ‘Krishna’ – and they describe His qualities in minute details.
The first step in understanding Deity worship is that we must understand from the scriptures that God or Krishna as a real person. Because the false notions of thinking God to be impersonal or void, comes from lack of proper knowledge, one must overcome such notions on the authority of scriptural descriptions of God’s spiritual form. Most importantly, such vivid descriptions resolve the doubts about Deity worship, giving precise information about His form.
The forms of Krsna that we see in His temples are not imaginary creations. They are made exactly according to the descriptions of the Vedic literature. The Deity is not an icon made out of whimsical imagination. When we see Krsna’s Deity form we are actually seeing the personal form of God.