God in Advaita Vedanta has been described as the formless and infinite ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda consciousness. However this One Infinite Godhead, being the all-powerful creator of the Universe, can take up any form in which, a devotee worships Him with faith.
This fact has been revealed by Sri Ramakrishna, who has emphasized that God is both with form and without form. It all depends upon the concept of God that a devotee holds dear.
For this reason, a devotee struggling on the path of God-realization, must not become a fanatic and think that only his/her particular notion of God is right, and all other ideas are false.
This truth about the multiple aspects of One God, was beautifully revealed to Sardar Hari Singh of Jaipur, who had been an ardent believer in the formless aspect of God and thus could not reconcile himself to the idol worship of many Hindus.
However through the infinite grace of Swami Vivekananda, the Sardar’s dilemma was resolved when Swamiji bestowed upon him, a vision of God with form. The details of this incident have been wonderfully captured in the book: The Life of Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and Western Disciples, Volume 1. Enclosed is an excerpt:
At Jaipur the Swami (Swami Vivekananda) became very intimate with Sardar Hari Singh, the Commander-in-Chief of the State. He passed many days in his home discussing many interesting and instructive spiritual and scriptural subjects.
One day the subject was the efficacy of image-worship. A strong believer in the doctrines of the Vedanta, Hari Singh did not believe in images and even after hours of discussion with the Swami he remained unconvinced.
In the evening they went out for a walk. As they were passing along the footpath they came upon some devotees carrying the image of Shri Krishna and singing devotional songs as they went. The Swami and the Sardar watched the procession for a while as it passed.
Suddenly the Swami touched Hari Singh and said, “Look there, see the living God!” The eyes of the Sardar fell on the image of Lord Krishna, and he stood there transfixed with tears of ecstasy trickling down his cheeks.
When he returned to ordinary consciousness, he exclaimed, “Well, Swamiji, that was a revelation to me. What I could not understand after hours of discussion, was easily comprehended through your touch. Verily I saw the Lord in the image of Krishna!”
Once Sri Ramakrishna had the following conversation with his disciple Mahendranath Gupta:
Sri Ramakrishna: “Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?”
Disciple: “Sir, I like to think of God as formless.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Very good. It is enough to have faith in either aspect. You believe in God without form; that is quite all right. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false. Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form. But hold fast to your own conviction.”
– From the book, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta.
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