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I was thinking that do gods really exist in the same form as they are shown in pictures. Or this is creation of some intelligent mind to give common man a subject to worship. There are several things which depicts this :

  1. 99% gods are in human form.
  2. People like to worship those who are powerful than them.
  3. Gods are for everyone and hence should be some abstractness.

marked as duplicate by Sarvabhouma, Triyugi Narayan Mani, The Destroyer Aug 28 '17 at 12:14

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  • @sinister OP is not asking about pictures or appearance about Lord. He is asking whether the body wear by Lord is real or just an illusion (to spread devotional faith). – Rishabh Aug 28 '17 at 7:21
  • @Rishabh Read the title and body of this question and the body of the question I linked. That question is also asking the same. Moreover, the question title says depiction ofGods. Where did you get the idea that it is not about depiction? – Sarvabhouma Aug 28 '17 at 7:29
  • @sinister First 2 lines of descriptions says the things which I mentioned as per my sense of understanding. But I might be wrong. OP need to clarify here. – Rishabh Aug 28 '17 at 7:31
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God has two forms subtle (which is without form) and gross (which has form).

Since Brahman (or God) is undivided, unimaginable, without form, without body etc worshiping it is not possible in that abstractness.

But, God does not give Bhukti (enjoyment) and Mukti (liberation) without upAsana (worsjip) either.That's why forms (that we are acquainted with) are assigned to God.

Viz-

VinA ChopAsanAm Devi na dadAti phalam nrinAm and also DhyAtah smritah pujito vA stuto vA namitohapi vA.. (a KulArnava Tantram verse)

.........

Without worship, Devi does not give sAdhaka the fruits. One has to meditate upon her, remember her, worship her or please her (with stotrams) or offer prostrations to her..

And, this is (God's murti kalpana) done for our benefits. This is what the Shastras say.

The KulArnava further says

UpAsakAnAm karyArthAm brahmano rupakalpnA.

.....

For the benefits of the upAsaka the formless Brahamn has been assigned a form.

Similarly the NArada PurAna says:

BhaktAnam mokshadAnaya bhavato murtikalpana.

....

Murtikalpana (assigning definite human-like forms) of God has been thought of for the purpose of giving moksha to the devotee.

And, the Garura PurAna says:

Amurtyeschat sthiro na swAt tato murtim vichintayet.

...

If God is without a definite form, his meditation is impossible. That's why imagine a form of God (murti chintA).

So, the murti kalpanA of God is part of the scriptures only and not our imaginations. How a deity looks, where it is standing/sitting , what is it wearing, what are it's weapons etc are contained in the so-called DhyAna sloka of that respective deity.

In YAmala Tantra, Lord Shiva elaborates this (two-fold Murtis of God) further as follows:

Sthulasukshma vivedena dhyanantu dvividam bhavet | Suksham mantravapurjyAnam sthulam vigrahachintanam || KarapAdodaRasyAdi rupam yat sthula vigraham | Sukshamcha prakrite rupam param jyAnamayam smritam || SukshmadhyAnam maheshAni ! kadAcinna hi jAyate | SthuladhyAnam maheshAni kritvA mokshmavApnyAt ||

.....

Sthula (gross) and Sukshma (subtle)- DhyAna are of two kinds. Thinking of the mantra-body of the deity is Sukshama dhyAna and thinking of the gross body of the deity is Sthula DhyAna. Gross body (Sthula Vigraha) of the deity is its form that is having limbs, torso, face etc. And, the subtle form, that is beyond Prakriti (beyond the three gunas that is), jyAnamaya is the Sukshma Vigraha. Hey MaheshAni, without Sthula dhyAna Sukshma dhyAna can never be achieved. The spiritual aspirant attains liberation by Sthula dhyAna.

One more verse from Vishnu YAmala, which explicitly mentions the reason why gross form of the deity is necessary.

MAtastat paramam rupam tanna janati kaschana | KAlyAdyah sthula yad rupam tadarcchanti divyaukasah ||

....

[Lord Vishnu says to Adi Shakti] Mother, No one knows your subtle (Sukshma) and supreme form, That's why the Gods worship your gross form which is endowed with hands-feet etc.

Vishnu YAmala.

There are many aspirants who want vision of God. For that they do purascharana of any particular mantra related to that deity. Now, if successful, then God will appear before him/her in his/her gross form i.e with human like features and not in the subtle form which is beyond senses.

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