Serve Incarnation or Devotee or Poor in God’s Name
O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,[April 25, 2012] Worship to God in human form can be digested only by human beings, who have completely conquered their ego and jealousy. Devotees of highest level can only reach this level of maturity of divine knowledge. Most of the human beings cannot reach this level and therefore, only energetic forms of God are prescribed for them. But, energetic forms are not available on the earth to receive the service of the devotees because such forms are prescribed only for the upper worlds in which souls in energetic bodies live. Therefore, only inert photos and statues of such energetic forms are served by most of the devotees in this world. Even photos and statues of past human incarnations are not inconvenient because such photos and statues are not alive human forms. As far as the inert statue or photo is concerned, it is immaterial whether it represents the energetic form of God like Vishnu or past human incarnation like Rama. In any case, only the non-living material is being served. Service of such inert materials is waste because the service rendered by the devotee is not received and experienced by the inert material. But, there is no other way to develop the devotion to God in the case of ordinary human devotees.
The alive human form is not acceptable and the alive energetic form is not available. Only inert photos and statues representing the alive energetic forms or past human forms are the inevitable way left over. Serving such inert statues and photos is not to be condemned because such service develops the devotion of the devotee. But, one should be careful to see that there is no wastage of useful materials in serving such photos and statues. You can wash such photos and statues by water since plenty of water is available. You can use flowers to decorate the photos and statues since such decoration develops the attraction of the devotee towards God. You can put a light before the statue or photo provided there is darkness. It is not wastage since light is required in the darkness even otherwise in the absence of statue or photo. But, burning the oil for the lights in the day time is condemned. The oil is also food material, which can be used to pacify the hunger of hungry living beings. You can use perfumes because such perfumes create a pleasant atmosphere, which can be enjoyed by the people sitting near the photo or statue.
Wastage of milk, etc. in bathing the statue is not necessary. Instead, you can offer the milk to the statue and use it to pacify the hunger of hungry living beings. Ignorant people pour the milk in the abode of the snake, which becomes waste. You can donate anything to the poor people in the name of God so that the donation is associated with the development of devotion. When you save the life of a hungry person or remove the tensions by donations, you are saving the life and giving peace so that the poor person may worship God in future. Therefore, donation to a poor person in the name of God is always appreciable. Donation to a devotee is also good because God lives in the devotees as per the Bhakti Sutra of Sage Narada (Tanmayaahite). God lives in the human incarnation and also lives in the devotees. Therefore, service to devotees, is as good as service to human incarnation. Service to poor people in the name of God also pleases God because you are helping them to develop their devotion in their future stabilized lifetimes. Hence, service to human incarnation, service to devotees and service to poor in the name of God are appreciable since God is pleased by such service.
At the lotus feet of Shri Datta Swami