The stone image is limited, whereas God is unlimited. How can it be God?

by January 27, 2014

By this argument, even the form of Krishna that Kanjibhai saw in OMG is false, because even that form was limited. In fact, by this argument, no one will be able to see God because none of us can see anything unlimited. Our eyes forever limit what we can see. Thus, this argument, if true, will create a permanent, unbreakable barrier between us and God.

That’s why the argument needs to be critically examined. It is true that God is unlimited but does that necessarily imply that he can’t manifest in a limited form? Such an idea superficially seems to preserve God’s unlimitedness, but actually ends up limiting him by making him incapable of doing something: manifesting in a specific form.

The Vedic wisdom-tradition explains that God manifests himself in many forms: as an all-pervading impersonal light called Brahmajyoti and as an all-attractive person called Bhagavan. If God didn’t have both these manifestations, then he would be incomplete and so would not be God.

To understand why, let’s first look at the definition of God. The Vedanta-Sutra (1.1.2) defines God as the source of everything. Janmady asya yatah. Another ancient text, the Brahma-Samhita (5.1), defines God similarly as the cause of all causes sarva karana-karanam. This concise definition of God is essentially in agreement with the understanding of God given by all the theistic traditions of the world. So, if God is the source of everything that we see in this world, then he should possess the essential attributes of everything, else he would be lesser than his creation. In this world, there exist both personal beings and impersonal forces, so both these aspects should be present in God. If God were not a person, then he, who by definition is the Complete Being, would be incomplete. Another simpler way of putting this is: if we as the children of God are persons, how can our father, God, not be a person? So, those who say that God is not a person are actually limiting him, by divesting him of what his creation has.

Now let’s consider the question: do personality and form not limit God? The Vedic wisdom-tradition helps us understand that what causes limitation is not form, but matter. Due to the very nature of matter, all material objects are limited, whether they have form or not. When we think of God’s form, we subconsciously project our conceptions of matter on the form of God and so think that a form would limit God. But God is not material; he is entirely spiritual. Spirit has characteristics different from matter; that which is spiritual has the potential to be unlimited, irrespective of whether it has form or not. So God’s form being spiritual does not limit him. This is how, due to his being spiritual, God is a person with a form and is still unlimited.

Now let’s consider the question: can God manifest in a stone image that is a limited material form? God’s unlimitedness requires that he be able to do anything; if there is something that he can’t do, that would limit him. So his inability to manifest as a stone image would limit him. But then his manifesting as a stone image would also limit him to a limited form.

The way out of this dilemma is again by God’s omnipotence. He preserves his unlimitedness not by becoming unable to manifest in a limited form, but by manifesting in unlimited such Deity forms. The Brahma Samhita, an important scripture, confirms this. advaitam acyutam anadim ananta rupam, He has no peers; he never falls; he has no beginning and he manifests in innumerable forms.

The fact that the unlimited manifests in so many limited forms in various parts of the world as the temple Deities is an expression of his unlimited love for all of us limited beings.

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