Formless God Can Be Depicted As An Old Man?

Differing Opinion: Formless God Can Be Depicted As An Old Man

You wrote:

"God must be all-powerful. Otherwise there is no meaning to the concept of God. And since God is all-powerful does it make sense that He would allow time, which is one of His energies, to deteriorate Him in any way? Since God controls everything, there is no question that time could have any kind of deteriorating effect on the Supreme Person. So why should we foolishly depict God as an old man with beard, as he is painted in the Sistine Chapel in Rome? This does make any sense. It is merely the speculation of a person who does not realize who and what is God."

I really enjoy reading your newsletter everyday. However, this time, I think you are missing the point. Jesus and the Christians love to call God their "father". The depiction of God as an old man expresses his superior position as a "father", his superior wisdom, his mildness and goodness and fatherly loving heart. (Although to many people he is rather the strict and punishing father.)

Kindly note that even in Bhagavad-gita 9.17 Krishna calls himself the "father", the "mother" and the "grandfather" of the world. (cf. Bhagavad-gita 14.4)

The fact that Krishna is never depicted as an old man can be explained because he never acts as an old man in the sacred scriptures. If bodily depictions of God were taken literally, the form of Narasimha would appear even more foolish than the form of an old man. Also it seems to me, that your argument is a bit similar to the one that Christians and Muslims use against your own religion. They call it a worship of idols. Of course, God is greater than all idols, but why should we not use idols as a means to bring to our minds the wonderful qualities of God?

Answer: God Should Be Depicted As His Form Actually Is
I appreciate very much that you have taken the time and trouble to share your thoughts/feelings with me. This revealing of the heart is one of the most important aspects of advancing along the spiritual path.

You have expressed your understanding that the scriptural bodily depictions are not to be taken literally because God is ultimately formless. While this understanding is certainly the accepted understanding in many circles, it is not the accepted understanding of the great acaryas (saintly spiritual teachers) who guided the Indian civilization for thousands of years. According to Vedic understanding Krishna has form and is literally an eternal youth and Lord Narasimha also has form and is literally a half lion and half man. Krishna or God does not require an old man's body to be the father of all living beings and to be the oldest of all persons. This is the inconceivable nature of God that He can simultaneously be the youngest and the oldest.

Some philosophers hold to the principle that God has no form but that we imagine Him as possessing different types of forms to help our minds become fixed in meditation. But the great Vedic authorities all affirm that God indeed has form. And also from the standpoint of logic God must have form. Otherwise how so many forms have been able to come into existence? We have no experience of forms arising from formlessness, but yet we have millions of experiences of forms coming from other forms. Therefore the original of all existence must possess factual form, not simply imaginary form.

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