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Even though we cannot see God with our present eyes, but God is so merciful that He becomes present before us in a manner by which we can see Him. That is this vigraha, arca-vigraha

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"So even though we cannot see God with our present eyes, but God is so merciful that He becomes present before us in a manner by which we can see Him. That is this vigraha, arca-vigraha" |"That is this vigraha, arca-vigraha"

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

So even though we cannot see God with our present eyes, but God is so merciful that He becomes present before us in a manner by which we can see Him. That is this vigraha, arcā-vigraha. God is beyond our sensual perception, adhokṣaja. But those who are neophyte, they may become atheist that "We cannot see God, that... How can I serve Him?" But those who are advanced, they can see God every moment, although physically others cannot see.
Lecture on SB 1.15.33 -- Los Angeles, December 11, 1973:

Pradyumna: Translation: "Kuntī, after overhearing Arjuna's telling of the end of the Yadu dynasty and disappearance of Lord Kṛṣṇa, engaged in the devotional service of the transcendental Personality of Godhead with full attention and thus gained release from the course of material existence." (SB 1.15.33)

Prabhupāda: So Kṛṣṇa has got two kinds of existence: prakaṭa and aprakaṭa. Prakaṭa means when you see Kṛṣṇa personally. When Kṛṣṇa is present on this planet, everyone can see Kṛṣṇa. And actually, everyone saw. But only the devotees could understand that "Here is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." So that is called prakaṭa, "physically present." And there is another phase, which is called aprakaṭa, "not physically present." But that does not mean Kṛṣṇa is dead or God is dead. That does not mean. Prakaṭa or aprakaṭa, physically present or not present, it doesn't matter.

So after all, He is adhokṣaja. This word is used, adhaḥ. Adhaḥ means subdued. And Akṣa, akṣa means eyes or senses. Akṣaja. Ja means generated. So our senses are there—eyes, ears, hands, legs, nose, so many. Ten senses are there. So we are acquiring knowledge, generated. Knowledge is generated from the senses. But so long our senses are materially contaminated, we do not get real knowledge. We have to acquire knowledge through the senses, but unless our senses are purified, we do not have real knowledge. So we cannot appreciate or understand God, His form, His name, His quality, His pastime, His entourage, nothing of them we can understand by our these present material senses. That is not possible. Therefore His name is Adhokṣaja. Adhaḥ. Adhaḥ means cut (curbed) down. You cannot approach the Supreme by your these blunt material senses. That is not possible. Therefore His name is Adhokṣaja. Adhah-kṛta akṣaja-jñānaṁ yatra. The adhokṣaja means... Jñāna means experimental knowledge. Just like these modern scientists, they believe in experimental knowledge. But they are so rascal, in their own case, they will say, "Yes, we are trying. In future it will be successful." Why not experimental knowledge now? If you say that life is generated from matter... You are writing so many books and getting Nobel Prize. Why not by experimental knowledge prove that "Here are some matters and chemicals and here is life"? That they say, "We are trying." This is their escape. But actually, science means two things: observation and experiment. If you do not experiment practically in the laboratory, simply observation is not sufficient. That is not science. That is theory.

Anyway, this experimental knowledge is not very helpful in the matter of understanding the Supreme. Experimental knowledge there is, but not by these blunt senses. When the senses are purified, then that experimental knowledge, that means spiritual experimental knowledge, that is perfect. Therefore it is said adhokṣaja. And our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to understand that Adhokṣaja. Adhokṣaja means who is beyond the perception of these material senses. This is our subject matter. Our subject matter is not anything material. Material is within the purview of my material senses. But our subject matter is beyond the senses. Adhokṣaja, therefore it is said. Adhokṣaja. Just like Kuntī and others. Kṛṣṇa was not present before their eyes. Kṛṣṇa has already gone to His abode. But still, it is said that ekānta-bhaktyā bhagavaty adhokṣaje. Adhokṣaje. The same word is used. But if you cannot see God now, how there can be ekānta-bhakti?

Ekānta-bhakti means unalloyed devotion. This is the secret of devotional life. Even God is not physically present, a devotee can be very much exalted by devotional service. That is the teaching of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Because the sahajiyās... Sahajiyā means persons who take things very easily, according to his sense perception, manufactured. They are called sahajiyās. But these Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, the devotees following the footprints of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they are not sahajiyās; they are devotee of the Adhokṣaja. Beyond the sense perception, still, they are devotee. This is the secret of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava. Beyond the sense perception. Just like Gosvāmīs. They were living at Vṛndāvana. And what sort of living? Simply in separation and search. Caitanya Mahāprabhu also taught us like that. He was searching, "Where is Kṛṣṇa? Where is Kṛṣṇa?" and feeling separation. Just like you feel sometimes with your lover separation and you search, this is our process. Always feel separation from Kṛṣṇa and try to search out. This is ekānta. This is explained here, ekānta-bhaktyā bhagavaty adhokṣaje. Adhokṣaje, "He is beyond my perception. Still, my devotion is unalloyed." Not that "I cannot see where is God. Oh, what is devotion?" Just try to understand. It appears to be contradictory. Because foolish people say that "If you cannot see God, where is the question of devotion? You want to serve God, but if you cannot see God, then how you can serve?" Therefore, particularly this word is used, ekānta-bhaktyā bhagavaty adhokṣaje niveśitātmopararāma saṁsṛteḥ. That is the process.

So even though we cannot see God with our present eyes, but God is so merciful that He becomes present before us in a manner by which we can see Him. That is this vigraha, arcā-vigraha. God is beyond our sensual perception, adhokṣaja. But those who are neophyte, they may become atheist that "We cannot see God, that... How can I serve Him?" But those who are advanced, they can see God every moment, although physically others cannot see. The example is that Hiraṇyakaśipu and Prahlāda. Prahlāda is seeing God, but his father, he is asking, "Where is your God? Where is your God?" He was saying to the column, pillar: "Is your God there?" But he is seeing God there; he says, "Yes." So he became angry. He broke the column, and actually God came out.

So it is the question of advancement. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His followers taught us that if you feel separation... How you will feel separation unless you love? And you simply worship the Supreme in a feeling of separation, then that is perfection. Then that is perfection. Therefore the Gosvāmīs, their prayer, their method of worshiping the Lord at Vṛndāvana... They left their ministerial post and went to Vṛndāvana by the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So what was their process? The process was tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīṁ sadā tuccha-vat. They gave up their materialistic way of life as very insignificant. They were ministers. They were ministers. Their associates were very big, big men. But tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati. Maṇḍala-pati means leaders, leaders of the society, poli..., big, big politician, businessmen, important men. Because they were minister, everyone used to come to see, and they were associated with. But they gave up. Tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīm. How it was given up? Sadā tuccha-vat: "Oh, it insignificant. What is this? There is no need of..." And bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karu... Why? Why they gave it up? Because they thought... Under the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they understood that "So many mass of people are suffering without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So we have to do something for them." Therefore they gave up. Not a fancy, "I become naked, that's all." What is the use of your becoming naked? You must do something. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Not that "I have become mendicant. I have given up all material things." You cannot give material things. Instead of coat, pant, you may have a shabby cloth. That's all. You cannot give up. That is not possible. You have to accept something. But they are thinking that "Because I have given up this coat, pant, and I am now a shabby dress, I have become advanced." Not that. You must some positive engagement. And that is...

We find in the life of Gosvāmīs,

tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīṁ sadā tuccha-vat
bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā kaupīna-kanthāśritau

Kaupīna-kanthāśritau, loincloth only, minimizing the bodily necessities of life. Bhūtvā. Because they were prepared, dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā, to give mercy to the mass of people. Mass of people. If you become so much dependent on the bodily necessities of life, then you cannot become fully and wholly for the benefit of the mass of people. Our Gandhi, he imitated this. For the mass of people... But that was to extent, to a certain extent successful. But it was political purpose. It was political purpose. These things are not for any material purpose. Then it will be failure. If you imitate spiritual life for material benefit, then it will be failure. So the Gosvāmīs did not do so. They gave up this material opulence for spiritual advancement, positive. If you don't get something positive, simply by negative process you will never be happy. Then again you will fall down.