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Why does God assume a form?

God is also called Swayambhu. Swayambhu (स्‍वयंभू) has been derived from two words svayam (स्‍वयं) and bhu (भू ) meaning the one who has originated from Himself. In other words He is the one who manifests from the unmanifest, formless state. God is also referred to as Prabhu (प्रभु) in the same context. The word Prabhu is derived from pra (प्र) and bhavaha (भव:) meaning the one who originates or manifests with Divine intensity. It is said that, which prescribes the code of conduct is Righteousness (Dharma) (‘आचारप्रभवो धर्म:’) and that Righteousness is none other than Shrīvishnu(‘धर्मो वै विष्‍णु:’). ‘धर्मस्‍य प्रभु अच्‍युत:’ means Achyut (Shrivishnu) is the creator of Righteousness [Eknathi  Bhāgwat - adhyay (chapter) 14]

In the Shakta sect, He is called Ādi-shakti (Primal Energy). This word is not of the feminine gender but is illustrative of His qualities.

Here assuming a form means God supports the three components assuming a visible form. It is due to the Tama component that materialisation of God’s unmanifest form occurs and He manifests Himself. The following examples will illustrate the meaning of form and formless.

  • Water and ice: Water is formless. It freezes and assumes a form. When ice melts once again, it gets transformed into formless water which assumes the form of the vessel in which it is poured. Assuming a form and becoming formless in the context of God refer to becoming visible or invisible.

  • A seed and a tree: Leaves, flowers, fruit, etc. of a tree exist in its seed in an unmanifest state, but manifest later. Similarly the unmanifest God manifests as the universe.

  • The finite (kshar) and the infinite (akshar) Being (Purush): God along with visible, perishable objects is the finite or perishable Absolute Being and The Supreme God having permanent objects as attributes is the infinite or imperishable Absolute Being.

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