The Tattva Matrika is a work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan about the Sri Vaishnava philosophy of Visistadvaita. Among the topics discussed are the five types of manifestations of Vishnu described in the Pancharatra Agamas: Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Antaryami, and Archa. Para refers to the supreme form of Vishnu who dwells in Vishnu’s highest abode of Paramapadam; Vyuha refers to Vishnu’s four forms known as Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha; Vibhava refers to Vishnu’s avatarams or incarnations; Antaryami refers to the form in which he dwells in the heart of living beings; and Archa refers to the form Vishnu takes in his statues. In this excerpt from the Tattva Matrika, Vedanta Desikan discusses the glories of the Archa form:
In this Image Form, there is a harmonious blending of the two states of master and vassal (seshi and sesha). Universally, Bhagavan is the Seshi while all the souls are his seshas; whereas in the Image Form, the devotee becomes the seshi and Bhagavan, the Sesha! The Lord remains under the control of the priest and the devotees, allows Himself to be decorated by them in the manner they choose, and also accepts all types of food offerings made by them, and at the times chosen by them. Thus He exhibits infinite patience while remaining under the control of His devotees. Further, He condones the deficiencies in their prayers and offerings. Another indication of His voluntary subordination to His devotees, which arises out of His supreme independence, is that He allows Himself to be transferred from one devotee to another just as a piece of property, as in cases of division of Salagramas in households, on partition of a bequest. However, in order to establish that this Image Form is no less divine and powerful than the other four Forms, Bhagavan Krishna has declared in the Mahabharata (Mausala-parva) that His Para Form in Sri Vaikuntha has voluntarily appeared as the Image Form in the created world for the benefit of mankind. Hence those who worship the Image Form are really worshipping the Transcendental Para Form.
I’m interested in the part in bold. My question is, where does Krishna discuss Vishnu’s Archa form in the Mahabharata?
The translator says it’s in the Mausala Parva of the Mahabharata. You can read the Mausala Parva here; I can’t seem to find it. So is it in some other part of the Mahabharata? In any case it wouldn’t be surprising, considering that Krishna discusses worship of Archa forms in the Uddhava Gita.