Truly sincere (Aikantika) bhaktas give up external Deity Worship and engage only in the Aikantiki Bhakti of Smarana, Shravana, and Kirtana according to Sri Harinam Chintamani.
Addition of Deities Will Encumber Us
“There is no need of adding further Deities. Once installed it cannot be changed. Do not make it childish, too much addition of Deities will encumber us.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Karandara - 31 March, 1973
I am NOT Recommending More Temples to Install Radha Krishna Deities
“Worship of Radha-Krishna Deities is the ultimate pinnacle of Deity worship, and it must be done with the utmost caution and attention to every detail of giving opulent service.
“I am not recommending more temples to install Radha-Krishna Deities until I have become more convinced that they can properly manage.
“At least five to ten persons must be engaged full time to worship Radha-Krishna properly, and for any small temple especially that is a detrimental factor to maintaining the highest standard in other temple activities besides, because there are not enough men.
“You may worship Lord Jagannatha, or if you like to install Gaura-Gauranga, Gaura-Nitai, or simply Gaura Deity, He is also very liberal and will forgive and tolerate any service offered to Him even by Jagai and Madhai.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Gunagrahi: New York, 3 July, 1972
Deity Worship Standards Given by Srila Prabhupada
Radha-Krsna: at least 10-12 pujaris are required
Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra: at least 6-8 pujaris are required
Gaura-Nitai: at least 3-4 pujaris are required
Only Sankirtana in Temples is Enough, No Need of Deities if There Are Less Pujaris
“If there is scarcity of such qualifies pujaris, each center should be satisfied only by worshipping Panca Tattva of Lord Chaitanya by performance of Sankirtana.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Damodara, Los Angeles, 1 July, 1970
Radha Krishna Deities Will Not Forgive Irregularity
“Irregularity in worshiping Guru and Gauranga can be tolerated, as they are always kind and forgiving, but irregularity in worshiping Lord Jagannatha and Sri Sri Radha Krishna is not good.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Karandhara, Calcutta, 19 September, 1970
Radha Krishna Deities Will Not Accept Offerings If There are 64 Seva Aparadhas
“Similarly, in devotional service there are offenses known as seva-aparadha.
“Those who are engaged in worshiping the Deity, Radha and Krsna, in the temple, should avoid such offenses in service.
“The offenses in service are described in The Nectar of Devotion.
“If we simply make a show of offering services to the Deity but do not care for the seva-aparadha, certainly the Radha-Krsna Deity will not accept offerings from such non-devotees.”
Srimad Bhagavatam 4.13.28 purport of Srila Prabhupada
In Our Present Status, We Cannot Worship Radha Krishna Deities. We Can Only Worship Them as Laksmi Narayana
“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.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Satsvarupa, February 12, 1969
Neophytes Should Not Be Told to Directly Take Up Worship of Radha Krishna Deities
“For an ordinary man, worship of Shri Chaitanya and Nityananda Prabhu or the Panca-tattva is easier than worship of Radha and Krishna. Unless one is very fortunate, he should not be induced to worship Radha-Krishna directly…
“Since everyone within this material world is more or less influenced by sinful activities, in the beginning it is essential that one take to the worship of Guru-Gauranga and ask their favor, for thus despite all his disqualifications one will very soon become qualified to worship the Radha-Krishna vigraha.
“Unless one is very fortunate, he should not be induced to worship Radha Krishna directly.
“A neophyte student who is not sufficiently educated or enlightened should not indulge in the worship of Sri Radha and Krishna or the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.
“Even if he does so, he cannot get the desired result.”
Srila Prabhupada in the classic Chaitanya Charitamrita 8.31 purport
Even Nitai Gaura Deities Can’t Be Worshiped by All Devotees, Then What to Speak of Radha Krishna Deities
“I am glad to hear that you are opening another workshop in Kauai for the manufacturing of the Gaura-Nitai Deities and this is a very great service to our society and devotees.
But one thing. You should always inform me before sending the Deities to the Temples. We cannot send them indiscriminately to anyone who has the whim of worshiping the Deities.
We must be very very careful as to not commit offenses in worshiping the Deities, so therefore there must be sufficient facilities and Brahmins to worship the Deity.”
SP’s Letter to Govinda dasi - 17 February, 1973
Devotees Should Not Install Radha Krishna or Jagannatha Deities in Their Homes
Devotee 8: Shrila Prabhupada, many people who live outside the temple have Jagannatha Deities and..
Srila Prabhupada: “Better Gaura-Nitai Deities.”
Srila Prabhupada on Morning Walk, May 22, 1975, Melbourne
For Farm Communities, If At All One Wants to Install Deities Then Nitai Gaura Deities Are Recommended Not Radha Krishna Deities
“You can also establish the kirtana hall on the farm and install Gaura Nitai Deities. Gaura Nitai can be established anywhere, and it is simple to worship Them simply chant before Their Lordships.
“He doesn’t mind that you have not decorated very nicely, but if you chant and dance He is very pleased.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Madhudvisa, Melbourne, 21 April, 1976
More Stress Should Be To Worship the Sound Incarnation
“Actually we should give more stress in worshiping the incarnation of sound vibration but whenever there is possibility of installing Deities and strictly following the regulations of worship, we shall do this, but the essential part of our activities is to worship the sound incarnation.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Visnujana - Bombay 4 April, 1971
No Need of Installing Deities. Simply Chanting Will Please the Lord
“There is no need of installing Deities immediately. New temples may be opened by placing Pancatattva and Acarya pictures. Unless we have got sufficient experienced devotees we shall not install Radha Krsna or Jagannatha Deities.
“Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very kind and lenient. Simply chanting of Hare Krsna will please Him. But when we have Deities like Radha Krsna or Jagannatha we must strictly follow the regulative principles of Arcana.
“These things are elaborately described in the Nectar of Devotion which is already published.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Hamsadutta, Los Angeles, 22 June, 1970
Radha Krishna Deities Should Not be Installed If There Are Less Pujaris
“If there is scarcity of pujaris, then Deities should not be installed, only pictures of Guru and Gauranga should be worshiped.
Irregularity in worshiping Guru and Gauranga can be tolerated, as they are always kind and forgiving, but irregularity in worshiping Lord Jagannatha and Sri Sri Radha Krishna is not good..”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to: Karandhara - 19 September, 1970
Deities Should Not be Installed If There Is No Big Property
“Regarding the Frankfurt temple and the Deity program, unless we have got our own building, this proposal of installing Deity should be postponed. Do not install, unless we have got our own building, the large Deities.”
Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Hamsaduta - 29 September, 1975
(Thus it is not good to install Radha Krishna Dieties or any Deities for that matter in an apartment where there are other people staying in other apartments above that apartment, toilets and bathrooms all around, and if a special room and multiple sevaks just for the Deities are not available round the clock.)
Don’t Install Deities to Make Money
“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta condemned temple proprietors who made a business of showing the Deity for a living. To be a sweeper in the street was more honorable, he said. He coined a Bengali phrase, salagram-dvara badam bhanga:
“The priests are taking the salagrama Deity as a stone for cracking nuts.” In other words, if a person shows the salagrama form of the Lord (or any form of the Deity) simply with a view to make money, then he is seeing the Deity not as the Lord but as a stone, a means for earning his livelihood.”
Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita Chp 4: “How Shall I Serve you?”
Devotees Lose Taste in Harinam Due to Prematurely Engaging in Deity Worship
Once Srila Prabhupada said that the householder devotees in the Los Angeles temple are losing their taste for Bhakti and Smarana and falling away into Maya because they have prematurely brought Deities to worship in their homes without his permission.
(Sometimes devotees are so eager to install Radha Krishna Deities and worship Them. They already don’t have enough time to do Smarana but they want to add the heavy burden and strict responsibilities of worshiping Radha Krishna or even Nitai Gaura Deities.)
(No wonder they end up losing taste in Bhakti because their Smarana is further compromised in the process.)
(Because their sadhana time remains the same but the 64 seva-aparadhas in Radha Krishna Deity Worship are further added to list of the insurmountable 10 offenses in Harinam they have to avoid.)
The Name is Much More Merciful Than the Deity
kintu janiyachi natha vacaka-swarupa vacyapeksha doyamoya ei aparupa
“But I have clearly understood that Your vachaka form (The Sound and Syllables of the Name) to be more merciful than Your vachya (Deity) form, O Lord. How wonderful is this secret?” - Gitavali, Namashtakam, Song 6, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
(The offenses against the Deity are removed by the Name but the offenses against the Name can’t be removed by Deity Worship.)
This is Srila Bhaktivinoda’s commentary to the same original verse of Srila Rupa Goswami himself in his Sri Namashtaka, verse 6:
vacyam vacakam ity udeti bhavato nama svarupa-dvayam purvasmat param eva hanta karunam tatrapi janimahe yas tasmin vihitaparadha-nivahah prani samantad bhaved asyenedam upasya so ‘pi hi sadanandambudhau majjati
“O Holy Name, You are manifested in two forms: 1. The Deity Form or the Form of the Lord Behind the Name, and 2. the Sound and Syllables of the Holy Name. We know that the second form is much more merciful than the first.
“Even a person who commits many offenses to the first form, may always remain plunged into an infinite ocean of bliss by serving the second by remembering the Name, but the vice versa is not possible.”
Aikantiki Rati in the Name by Aikantika Bhaktas
Harinam Chintamani Chapter 15, Bhajana Pranali:
archana-marga o sravana-kirtanera adhikara-bhede kriya-bheda
“According to one’s qualification, a devotee chooses the one-pointed exclusive path of shravana kirtana or the path of deity worship.”
archana-margete gadhatar ruchi yanra sravana-kirtana-siddhi tahate tanhara. 39
“If one develops a very advanced and extremely deep relish for deity worship, which is very difficult to attain, only then one will get perfection in shravana and kirtana.”
name aikantiki rati haibe yanhara sravana-kirtana-smrti KEVALA tanhara. 40
“On other hand, a more sincere sadhaka who has one one-pointed attachment to the holy names will exclusively focus on the remembrance of the Name by shravana kirtana ONLY.”
(Kevala means Only Smarana Giving Up Deity Worship)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s commentary to Harinam Chintamani 15.39-40:
ekati archana pravrtti, ekati smarana kirtana pravritti. ubhayei samichina haileo smarana kirtana pravritti AIKANTIKA bhaktdigera madhye prabala. kirtanera vishesha labha ei je tahate shravana, smarana, o kirtan ei tina angerai anushilana haite thake.
“One is the path of Deity Worship. Other is the path of EXCLUSIVE smarana, shravana, and kirtana. Both are effective.
“But the second path of smarana, shravana, and kirtana is what one-pointed and serious devotees prefer much more over deity worship.
“The most special benefit of kirtana is that the cultivation of the three most principle practices of svarupa siddhi: hearing, remembering, and singing are attained in one practice.”
So Aikantiki Bhakti for Aikantika Bhaktas means full focus on Only Smarana Giving Up All Kinds of Deity Worship.
Deity Worship May be a Form of Maya To Take Us Away From One-Pointed Remembrance Because Our Daily Sadhana Time is Limited
There is a very instructive pastime which Srila Bhaktisiddhanta used to tell about a devotee staying next to Srila Gaura Kishora dasa babaji who was chanting 1 lakh Names daily, which had made Srila Gaura Kishora very happy and pleased on him.
But when that devotee went and brought Nitai Gaura Deities to worship, Srila Gaura Kishore Babaji called Srila Bhaktisiddhanta personally and told him that Maya has captured this devotee by taking him away from one-pointed Smarana.
Nitai Gaura Themselves Did Not Establish Any Deities or Any Temples Because Smarana, Kirtana, and Shravana are the Only Yuga Dharmas of Kali Yuga. Deity Worship Was For Dvapara Yuga
Very important commentary to Srimad Bhagavatam 7.14.39 by Srila Prabhupada:
“When great saintly persons saw this contamination, they introduced worship of the Deity in the temple. This began in Treta-yuga and was especially prominent in Dvapara-yuga (dvapare paricaryayam).
“But in Kali-yuga, worship of the Deity is being neglected. Therefore chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is more powerful than Deity worship.
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu set a practical example in that He did not establish any temples or Deities, but He profusely introduced the sankirtana movement.
“Therefore Krsna consciousness preachers should give more stress to the sankirtana movement, especially by distributing transcendental literature more and more. This helps the sankirtana movement.”
You Have the Full Right and Are Truly Qualified to Worship even Nitai Gaura Deities Only if You First Chant 100,000 Names or Remember the Lord for at leasst 6-8 Hours Daily
In the Chaitanya Bhagavata 3.9.121-122 Lord Gaura cateogorically declared:
prabhu bale, - jana, ‘laksesvara’ bali kare? prati-dina laksa-nama je grahana kare se janera nama ami bali ‘laksesvara’ tatha bhiksa amara na yai anya ghara
“Do you know who is a laksesvara? He is someone who chants one laksa, or one hundered thousand, holy names everyday. I call such a person a laksesvara. I only take offerings and meals in that person’s house, no one else’s.”
So if Gaura does not accept our offerings when we don’t remember Him for 8 Hours daily first, how can we have the audacity to worship His Deity in our home or even in the temple if the pujaris are not laksesvaras themselves?
And Radha Krishna have even more stricter requirements than Gauranga. So how are we qualified to worship Radha Krishna Deities?
Books Are Even More Potent Forms of the Lord Than the Deities. Bhagavata Marga is Much Higher than Pancharatriki Marga.
… My Guru Maharaja said, “There will be fire in this Gaudiya Matha. Agun jvalbe. …If I can sell these marbles of this temple and convert them into books.
“That was his ambition. He started a very nice press, and his disciple, Tirtha Maharaja sold it. “Better let’s have money for fight in the court.”
(Room conversation with Srila Prabhupada on July 26th, 1976, London)
Deity Worship Needs Very Long Prolonged Practice to Bear Fruit
Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu Sadhana Bhakti - Second Wave Srila Rupa Goswami
15 - vyavahare ‘py akarpanyam yatha padme - alabdhe va vinashte va bhakshy acchadana sadhane | aviklava-matir bhutva harim eva dhiya smaret ||114||
Translation: (15) AVOIDANCE OF WEAK BEHAVIOUR:
In the Padma Purana it is said that when one fails to get the necessaries of life or even with the destruction of one’s necessities or external sadhana practices, one’s proper course is to meditate always inwardly on Lord Hari only with unperturbed mind without intermission.
-114- A distinction is made between Smarana-marga and Arcana-marga.
In the Smarana-marga (constant meditation on and remembrance of the eternal and transcendental Pastimes of Sri Krsna with His own Associates in the aprakrta or supramundane Realm in the stage of Raganuga Bhakti) one is actuated by a spontaneous outflow of the heart towards the immaterial Values relating to the Lord.
While in Arcana-marga or Vaidhi Sadhana-Bhakti, however, one is concerned with the prakrta world through which by long practice he reaches the Smarana-marga or the way of inward realization. -1l4-
Seeing the Lord’s Real Form Within
Deity Worship also may externalize our remembrance of the Form of the Lord. Instead of seeing in the Lord’s name name His original form within our hearts as He actually is in the nitya-lila or the bhauma-lila, we start seeing only His Deity Form in our meditation.
Of course the Deity Form, if invoked by a pure devotee, is also the Lord Himself.. pratima nahi tumi sakshat vrajendra kumar.
But the seva to the Archa Vigraha Form is meant to awaken the the Original Form of the Lord in our hearts in His name, not that we just keep on seeing Him as the Archa Vigraha only, without the true internal vision.
And this awakening is attained much faster by Smarana than by Deity Worship.
Smarana Does Not Need Deity Worship
Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura in his commentary to Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, Second Wave, Sadhana Bhakti, Verse 230:
“This anu-kirtanam of the Name of Lord Hari is independent of any time, clime, space, person or purity of ingredients of worship in the temple.
“Not only is the remembrance of Lord Hari not disturbed by any such considerations, even the association of intolerant atheists, barbarians or unholy persons cannot affect the remembrance of Lord Hari.”
Some devotees say that they need Deity Worship to stay pure from the outside.
yah smaret pundarikaksham, sa bahya-abhyantara shuchih…
But Garuda Purana and Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa 3.37 state that simply by remembering the lotus-eyed Lord one becomes totally pure both within and without.
Hence the Bhagavat Marga of remembering, hearing, singing, chanting, etc. is infinitely more powerful than the Pancharatriki Marga of deity worship and includes all the benefits of Deity Worship and much more.
Do Not Fall Into The Trap of Mathadi Vyaparan - Installing Deities and Opening Temples to Get Money. They Are Not Needed.
Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.13.8:
“Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains the word arambhan as meaning mathadi-vyaparan, which means “attempts to construct temples and monasteries.”
“The first business of the sannyasi is to preach Krsna consciousness, but if, by the grace of Krsna, facilities are available, then he may construct temples and monasteries to give shelter to the serious students of Krsna consciousness.
“Otherwise such temples and monasteries are not needed.”
My Own Conclusion Based on Direct Experience
My strong personal belief stems from my practical experience and close observation in my 12 years of brahmachari temple life and 20 years of sannyasa life, which includes creating and managing 3 Ashrams with Deities.
It is that when neophyte devotees are directly thrust into Deity Worship without full emphasis of adequate Smarana, they quickly fall away from Bhakti, due to the additional burden of the 64 seva aparadhas against the Deities forced upon them, in addition to the 10 nama aparadhas which are already attacking them and making them lose taste very fast in Harinama.
No Decrease in Bhakti by Not Keeping Deities
There is no decrease in Bhakti whatsoever by not keeping Deities.
In fact, there is an increase in our Bhakti Rasa because we are avoiding the 64 seva aparadhas on the top of the 10 nama aparadhas in Harinama.
When householder devotees or devotees living at home don’t have the elaborate responsibilities and strict and punctual duties of Deity Worship, they can in fact gather their kids, family and friends much more regularly and focus more both individually and collectively on direct hearing, singing, remembering, chanting, reading, etc. which are the topmost practices of Svarupa-Siddha Bhakti.
This is why I am not in favor of keeping any kind of Deities, etc.
Too many considerations, complications, and offenses are involved with Deity Worship in this present degraded Kaliyuga.
Visarjana of Khandita Deities, etc. is very hard to do without committing offenses due to the dirty and impure earth and water bodies in Kaliyuga.
We have to consider whom to give Them to without implicating them too in further offenses, which we might keep on getting the reactions for in the future, because it is we who gave the Deities to them in the first place, etc.
Even if we give Them to a temple, there is no guarantee.
When Srila Abhirama Thakura paid obeisances to Deities in Temples which were not worshiped with pure devotion, They would crack.
So Deity Worship is highly dependent on being worshiped with pure devotion.
Our Offerings and Bhakti Sevas Are Accepted More by Nama Smarana
Our offerings of bhoga or any devotional activity are truly accepted by the Lord on an internal plane.
When we do Smarana but may not do Deity Worship, the Lord accepts our bhoga much faster than those who do lots of Deity Worship but less Smarana.
Lord Gaura Himself said this in Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata 9.121-122 as given above.
We also see this in the example of the Manasai Seva of the Pratishthanapura Brahamana in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, how the Lord sent His personal plane to bring his soul to the spiritual world just because of his seva offerings in his mind not externally.
Too Many Deities or Photos on the Altar
Too many Deities and photos on the altar means more offenses because you may not be able to please all of Them.
That is why Lord Advaita Acharya invited only one Personality at a time to His home in Puri to serve Them one-at-a-time to His heart’s full content.
The Altar is not for show to show how big it is or how many Lords it has.
It is solely to please the Lord!
Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu Give the Real Standards of Deity Worship which No One Can Follow in Kaliyuga
Just read these 64 offenses in Deity Worship from the Varaha Purana, etc. delineated in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu. Are you sure that you can avoid each one of them? Then Deity Worship would be for you.
Apart from this, Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa mentions infinite other rules and restrictions to follow during Deity Worship. Are you sure you are following each of them? Then Deity Worship would be for you.
Just one such rule is given below:
VASTRA PRAVRITA DEHAS TU YO NARAH PRANAMET MAM, SAVITRI SA JAYATE MURKHAH SAPTA JANMANI BHAMINI
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 8/390 from VARAHA PURANA)
“Oh dear wife, any person who pays Me long obeisances (dandavats) with his body covered with clothes (clothes means sewn cloth), those foolish persons get white leprosy for the next seven births, what to speak of worshiping My Deity with stitched clothes.”
It is a general standard for men to wear only unsewn cloth on the altar.
Again, even this standard is not strictly kept in many temples in North India, where one often sees pUjArIs wearing kurtas or even T-shirts in cold weather.
To avoid wearing sewn cloth (and to avoid getting sick in cold weather) men pUjArIs may wear more than one chAdar, made of raw silk or fine wool.
In Sri Rangam many orthodox ladies wear only one piece of cloth when going to the temple or for puja.
It is a 9 yard sari (without choli) The sastras state that sewn cloth should not be worn for puja.
This rule is still observed in South India.
At the PadmanAbha temple in Trivandrum men are not allowed to come before the Deity without first taking off their shirts. PUjArIs wear the upper cloth around the waist.
The 64 Service Offenses in Deity Worship
Who in Kaliyuga can avoid the following 64 seva-aparadhas in Deity Worship?
In the supplementary Vedic literature, there is the following list of thirty-two offenses in the matter of serving the Lord (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 8:
(1) One should not enter the temple of the Deity in a car or palanquin or with shoes on the feet.
(2) One should not fail to observe the various festivals for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, such as Janmashtami and Ratha-yatra.
(3) One should not avoid bowing down before the Deity.
(4) One should not enter the temple to worship the Lord without having washed one’s hands and feet after eating.
(5) One should not enter the temple in a contaminated state. (According to Vedic scripture, if someone dies in the family the whole family becomes contaminated for some time, according to its status. For example, if the family is brahmana their contamination period is twelve days, for the kshatriyas and vaishyas it is fifteen days, and for shudras thirty days.)
(6) One should not bow down on one hand.
(7) One should not circumambulate in front of Sri Krishna. (The process of circumambulating the temple is that one should begin circumambulating from the Deity’s right-hand side of the temple and come round. Such circumambulation should be performed outside the temple structure at least three times daily.)
(8) One should not spread his legs before the Deity.
(9) One should not sit before the Deity holding the ankles, elbows or knees with one’s hands.
(10) One should not lie down before the Deity of Krishna.
(11) One should not accept prasada before the Deity.
(12) One should never speak a lie before the Deity.
(13) One should not talk very loudly before the Deity.
(14) One should not talk with others before the Deity.
(15) One should not cry or howl before the Deity.
(16) One should not quarrel or fight before the Deity.
(17) One should not chastise anyone before the Deity.
(18) One should not be charitable to beggars before the Deity.
(19) One should not speak very harshly to others before the Deity.
(20) One should not wear a fur blanket before the Deity.
(21) One should not eulogize or praise anyone else before the Deity.
(22) One should not speak any ill names before the Deity.
(23) One should not pass air before the Deity.
(24) One should not fail to worship the Deity according to one’s means. (In Bhagavad-gita it is stated that the Lord is satisfied if some devotee offers Him even a leaf or a little water. This formula prescribed by the Lord is universally applicable, even for the poorest man. But that does not mean that one who has sufficient means to worship the Lord very nicely should also adopt this method and try to satisfy the Lord simply by offering water and a leaf. If he has sufficient means, he should offer nice decorations, nice flowers and nice foodstuffs and observe all ceremonies. It is not that one should try to satisfy the Supreme Lord with a little water and a leaf, and for himself spend all his money in sense gratification.)
(25) One should not eat anything that is not offered first to Krishna.
(26) One should not fail to offer fresh fruit and grains to Krishna according to the season.
(27) After food has been cooked, no one should be offered any foodstuff unless it is first offered to the Deity.
(28) One should not sit with his back toward the Deity.
(29) One should not offer obeisances silently to the spiritual master, or in other words, one should recite aloud the prayers to the spiritual master while offering obeisances.
(30) One should not fail to offer some praise in the presence of the spiritual master.
(31) One should not praise himself before the spiritual master.
(32) One should not deride the demigods before the Deity.
This is a list of thirty-two offenses. Besides these there are a number of offenses which are mentioned in the Varaha Purana. They are as follows:
(1) One should not touch the Deity in a dark room.
(2) One should not fail to strictly follow the rules and regulations in worshiping the Deity.
(3) One should not enter the temple of the Deity without first making some sound.
(4) One should not offer any foodstuff to the Deity which has been seen by dogs or other lower animals.
(5) One should not break silence while worshiping.
(6) One should not pass urine or evacuate while engaged in worshiping.
(7) One should not offer incense without offering some flower.
(8) Useless flowers without any fragrance should not be offered.
(9) One should not fail to wash his teeth very carefully every day.
(10) One should not enter the temple directly after sexual intercourse.
(11) One should not enter the temple after touching a woman during her menstrual period.
(12) One should not enter the temple after touching a dead body.
(13) One should not enter the temple wearing garments of red or blue color or garments which are unwashed.
(14) One should not enter the temple after seeing a dead body.
(15) One should not pass air within the temple.
(16) One should not be angry within the temple.
(17) One should not enter the temple after visiting a crematorium.
(18) One should not belch before the Deity. So, until one has fully digested his food, he should not enter the temple.
(19) One should not smoke marijuana, or ganja.
(20) One should not take opium or similar intoxicants.
(21) One should not enter the Deity room or touch the body of the Deity after having smeared oil over his body.
(22) One should not show disrespect to a scripture teaching about the supremacy of the Lord.
(23) One should not introduce any opposing scripture.
(24) One should not chew betel before the Deity.
(25) One should not offer a flower that was kept in an unclean pot.
(26) One should not worship the Lord while sitting on the bare floor; one must have a sitting place or carpet.
(27) One should not touch the Deity before one has completed taking bath.
(28) One should not decorate his forehead with the three-lined tilaka.
(29) One should not enter the temple without washing his hands and feet.
Other rules are that one should not offer foodstuff which is cooked by a non-Vaishnava, one should not worship the Deity before a non-devotee, and one should not engage himself in the worship of the Lord while seeing a non-devotee.
One should not worship the Deity without first worshiping the demigod Ganapati, who drives away all impediments in the execution of devotional service.
In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that Ganapati worships the lotus feet of Lord Nrisingha-deva and in that way has become auspicious for the devotees in clearing out all impediments.
Therefore, all devotees should worship Ganapati.
The Deities should not be bathed in water that has been touched by the nails or fingers.
When a devotee is perspiring, he should not engage himself in worshiping the Deity.
Similarly, there are many other prohibitions.
For example, one should not cross or step over the flowers offered to the Deities, nor should one take a vow in the name of God.
These are all different kinds of offenses in the matter of executing devotional service, and one should be careful to avoid them.
Deity Worship Ideally Should Not be Used for Preaching
As mentioned above in the Nectar of Devotion, deity worship and establishing temples even for preaching is ideally not for kaliyuga.
Because ideally deity worship should be done in front of non-devotees or there will be seva-aparadhas.
So ideally no kind of deity worship is recommended for preaching to non-devotees.
The best method recommended to develop faith in non-devotees is given in Sri Harinam Chintamani 10.24:
uccha sankirtane kara shraddhAra prachAra | shraddhA labhi jeeva kare sadguru vichAra ||24||
“Singing or hearing loud sankirtana (divine sound vibration) is the only way to awaken faith in the heart’s of non-devotees. After their faith is awakened, they will automatically seek to find a pure guru on their own to enlighten them even more on how to practice pure Bhakti.”
We are not so qualified like the Goswamis that the Lord wants to be worshiped by us in the form of His Deity.
Plus the Goswamis worshiped Their Deities completely in private and did not worship Them in front of non-devotees for preaching to anyone.
Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami put the Shaligram Shilas back in the Gandaki river in Nepal so many times as he did not want to do Deity Worship but every time They came back into his hand on Their own.
So He finally unwillingly accepted it as the order and desire of the Lord to be worshiped by Him.
Sri Gangamata Goswamini refused to worship Sri Radha Rasikraj who had come from Jaipur Themselves to be worshiped by her even though she knew it Their desire.
She refused and said, “I am doing manasi-seva in meditation in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami. I cannot do all this. I have no time to worship with external paraphernalia.”
Eventually that brahmana from Jaipur had to leave Them in the bushes outside Srila Sarvabhauma’s house in Puri and she had to then unwillingly accept to do Their worship because if was Their ardent desire to be worshiped by her.
This makes is so clear that the always-faultless manasi dhyanamoya seva through smarana, shravana, and kirtana is the way to go instead of external deity worship in kaliyuga.
If we are on such a high platform of devotion that the Lord Himself specifically orders us to worship Him in His external deity form, only then we can truly do Deity Worship without the all-pervading and unavoidable seva-aparadhas and nama-aparadhas in this present kaliyuga.
Fiber Deities are not suitable to be worshiped
This is a fiber deity they have established later at Srila Rupa Goswami’s samadhi.
It is not good to make fiber deities. Fiber is hollow and actually a waste product.
Deities should never be hollow. And it is not good to put Deities over the sacred original samadhi pindas which are more purifying to see than these fiber deities ever can be.
I cried when I saw they put a fiber deity over Srila Jaganantha das babaji’s samadhi in Nabadwip and covered the original samadhi pinda which actually was so purifying to see that he would directly come right out of his samadhi and grant us his darshan just by looking at his original divine samadhi pinda.
Plus the pinda is like a divine antenna with a direct connection to the nityalila so covering it is not at all good.
In SamudrikA, it states that to carve murtis of Maha-bhagavata is almost impossible to replicate unless one is also very realized to get the right proportions.
If we have the original photos of the Mahabhagavatas, they invoke much more remembrance and mercy than any deity of theirs they can carve nowadays, like for example Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s.
Also this new deity of Jagannatha dasa babaji in Nabadwip over his samadhi is so different than his original photo.
It does not evoke so much remembrance at all.
Also a photo or painting is 2D so it can be placed behind the samadhi.
Hence there is no need to place it over their samadhi and create obstacles for the acharyas to come out of their samadhis and wander around in their siddha deha in their aprakata lila unseen by our material eyes.
To conclude, I am not saying here that no one should do Deity Worship. Empowered acharyas can establish deity worship in temples knowing the desire and direct order of the Lord to them specifically.
Here, I have just humbly provided the reasons about my own personal choice not to do Deity Worship externally but rather mentally (manasika seva) worship the Lord through Smarana, Shravana, Kirtana, and Japa.