I have an inquiry regarding the murti form of Srila Prabhupada. I feel embarrassed about my ignorance on the matter, which some might consider a basic understanding in Krishna consciousness, but I really am not sure about my relationship with Srila Prabhupada’s murti. This confusion often comes up just before his appearance day and there is a need to directly commune with him via the murti (that is, when we read our offerings to him).
Approaching his murti with great awe and reverence is very easy as we are reminded of Srila Prabhupada’s personality. However, uncertainty arises when there is a need to approach that great personality in the present tense. Srila Prabhupada, himself, pointed out that he was not omniscient, that only Krsna is omniscient.
Taking these things into consideration, I am not sure how to approach Srila Prabhupada. I wonder to myself, is he aware of our prayers and glorification, or is it the Supersoul we are addressing?
You stated your realization very well. I personally heard a devotee ask Prabhupada if he was present in his picture (New Vrindavana, 1972) and Prabhupada said he was. So I am sure he is also present in his murti. In fact, we feel and perceive that. At the same time, Prabhupada is not omniscient like Krishna as Prabhupada himself always made crystal clear. There are millions of devotees in ISKCON today, and there will be many more in the near future. So if a million devotees are praying to Prabhupada at the same time, does Prabhupada hear, understand, and mystically respond to a million devotees at the same time? I don’t think so. Prabhupada indicated that only Krishna has such powers.
So my conclusion is that Prabhupada is spiritually present in his murti and pictures, but not in the same way that Krishna is present in His murti and pictures. How is Prabhupada present? I believe Krishna imbues Prabhupada’s murti and picture with his holy presence. Krishna may also convey our prayers to Prabhupada. Or Krishna may simply bless us when He sees true devotion to his pure devotee.
In any case, Prabhupada indicated in my presence that we must honor his murti and pictures because somehow he is spiritually there. When I approach Prabhupada’s murtior pictures, I know that only Krishna is God and, thus, fully omnipresent and omniscient. At the same time, I know that I am in Prabhupada’s powerful, holy presence, and I try to act accordingly.