God is equally present everywhere; He is also present in a Deity. But it is only our devotional love that makes God manifest through a Deity in His true divine form, so that we can see Him, speak with Him and He can eat what we have prepared for Him.
Once, there was a temple priest. In his temple there were many different Deities of God. This is a very common practice in temples nowadays. Generally Deities such as Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Hanuman, Garuda and others are installed so that if a devotee of any of these forms of God visits the temple, he’ll give some money as an offering. As part of his duties, this priest also served food to the Deities. It happened that some of his students invited him to their area, which was quite far from the temple. A young boy of eight years of age used to stay with the priest as a helper. The priest told him, “Son, I have to go away for one month. I want you to continue to serve the Deities like I do, alright? Make a nice meal for them, give them a bath and then close the temple at the right time so God may sleep.” The boy said, “Yes, I will do it.”
After the priest left, the boy served his first meal to the Deities. He placed the tray before them and then closed a small curtain so God could eat in private. But really, is a stone Deity going to eat? The boy kept on opening and closing the curtain to see if any of the Deities had eaten. He saw that the food remained untouched. He thought, “They must be mad because the priest has gone away. Alright, so I won’t eat either.” He took the food away.
The next day he prepared food again and said to them, “You all must be hungry by now. Here, please eat!” Again the food remained uneaten. He also went hungry. Several days passed like this. There was no one he could talk to about this because the priest had gone far away. He told the Deities, “I cannot tolerate this hunger any more. Please don’t mind but now I have to do something drastic.” He picked up a big stick and said strongly, “Alright, let’s see you not eat now!”
This little boy had firm faith that the real Hanuman and Krishna, and all the other of forms of God were present there, and that these were not lifeless Deities. Brandishing the stick he said, “Eat or else!” Each of the forms of God represented by the Deities came out and immediately started to eat. They ate so much that the boy said, “Alright, stop! Save some for me!” Unfortunately no food was left so again he remained hungry. The next day he made extra food and again it was all eaten up. Any flour that had been left in the house was quickly finished. He was forced to go numerous times to a neighbour to borrow more flour.
Sometime after this, the priest returned. When he learned about how much the boy had borrowed, he said, “How did you spend so much money on flour? You were alone!” The boy said, “What could I do? God ate it all up!” The priest said, “What is this nonsense that God ate it! Do the Deities eat?” The boy said, “Guru Ji, what are you saying? Do you think I’m lying? Come on, I’ll show you.” He again served the Deities and they all came and ate. The priest saw the food was gone, but he couldn’t see who was eating it. The boy saw that everyone came and ate, but the priest was not able to see anything. At that moment, a voice came from above, “Oh priest! You did not have any faith that we would eat and that is why we did not. But this little boy has full and firm faith, and that is why we have eaten his food.”
To be continued . . .
An English translation of a discourse delivered in Hindi by:
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj
9 January 2010
© Radha Govind Samiti