In Sri Vaishnavism, Brahman makes himself accessible to humans in 5 forms: Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa, and Antaryami.

Para refers to the form of Vishnu that exists in Vaikuntha.

Vyuha and Vibhava refer to different types of Vishnu avataras.

Antaryami is Brahman existing inside the Jiva.

And Archa avatar refers to temple statues of Vishnu. Vishnu enters into those statues through his dharmabhutajnana (consciousness) and imbues the statue with shuddha-sattva. The statues of Vishnu in Vaishnava temples are considered Vishnu himself.

So, does this mean destroying a statue of Vishnu is like killing an avatar of God?

If so, how were Muslim invaders able to kill God?

1 Answer 1


Image worship is based on the principle of love.

Master (to the teacher): “What is wrong with image worship? The Vedanta says that Brahman manifests Itself where there is ‘Existence, Light, and Love’. Therefore nothing exists but Brahman.”

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, With the Devotees at Dakshineswar (II)

The manifestation is withdrawn when the image is mistreated. No one can kill any form of God.

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