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God is Everywhere

Ananda Vrindavan Devi

In our temple room, during the meditation class, a guest was taking photos of his friends with his back to the altar. He was standing, they were sitting, and everyone was distracted watching him instead of trying to meditate. I went up to him and whispered, “Not now during class, and not with your back to the altar.” He responded, “I believe God is everywhere” (therefore I can put my back anywhere).’ To which I responded, “Yes, and He is also there on the altar, so while you are here, a visitor to this Temple, don’t do it!” 

It’s true, God and His energies are everywhere, but he is also localized and very personal when he wants to be. 

A similar moment happened in Srimad Bhagavatam’s description of Lord Nrsimhadeva. The great devotee Prahlad’s father, the King, was angry at Prahlad for his devotion to God and at one particular moment of extreme anger said with a booming voice, “So where is your God?” Prahlad answered, “Everywhere!” This answer made the King even more angry. “Is he in this pillar?” And when Prahlad said yes, he exclaimed, “Let’s see if he will save you now!” He struck the pillar with a club. The pillar cracked open and Lord Nrsimhadeva exploded out of it. They fought, Nrsimhadeva killed the nasty King, and Prahlad was saved.

In the temple room story, God being everywhere was a way to depersonalize Him and keep him out of the center. In the Nrsimhadeva story, Prahlada’s statement of “everywhere” was a way to personalize the Lord, and take shelter of Him.

In Bhakti-yoga God is “both / and.” He is everywhere and in one place at the same time. Understanding and accommodating this simultaneous “one and difference” philosophy in our lives can open up a whole new way of seeing the world, each other, and the loving source of it all.  


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