The Deity

The main principle of bhakti-yoga is to “always remember Krishna and never forget Him”. Krishna, Himself has given us a process by which we can easily remember Him through worship of His Deity form. Krishna and His energies are present everywhere and as Krishna is the supreme all-powerful, He can change matter into spirit and vice-versa. If proper scriptural injunctions are followed, Krishna appears in His Deity form to accept the devotional practices of His devotee. Deity worship is at the very heart of bhakti or devotional service.

sravanam kirtanam visnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam)
7.5.23

"Devotional service consists of (1) hearing about the Lord, (2) chanting His glories, (3) remembering Him, (4) serving and meditating upon His lotus feet, (5) worshiping Him, (6) praying to Him, (7) thinking oneself His eternal servant, (8) becoming His friend, and (9) surrendering everything to Him."

The fifth process mentioned here, archana or worshipping the Lord, refers to Deity worship. Krishna is so kind to the conditioned living entities that although they may not have the required spiritual vision to see the spiritual form of the Lord, they may still develop a relationship with Him through the more visitble form of His Deity.

The relationship between the Lord and His devotee is one of service and in the temple, Krishna is the king. The service is regal and the devotee tries to offer Krishna the best of everything He likes. As the devotee serves the Lord by cooking for Him, cleaning His temple, sewing His clothes, bathing and dressing Him, the consciousness of the devotee becomes purified and fixed on Krishna's lotus feet.

One should never compare Deity worship to the whimsical worship of concocted idolatry. Deity worship in the Vedic scriptures is authorized and in fact, recommended as a process whereby the aspiring devotee develops His love for Krishna and gives up all material attachments.