Author: Datta Swami
Atheist says that God does not exist. For him God is nothing i.e., vacant space. This is first stage. When he sees miracles he becomes believer in God. He accepts God as some power or energy. Power or energy is also formless, like vacant space. So concept of God is near to his previous concept and thus the atheist (Scientist) accepts the formless (Nirakara) God very easily.
Third stage is God with form (Sakara).In this stage statues in human form are introduced.The training is given to do the sixteen upacharas (services) to these statues in human form.This training indicates that they have to worship God in human form in this way. The sixteen upacharas are actually related to human form only. For ex: first upachara ‘Aavahanam’ means invitation corresponds to human being only & not to inert statue. Statue in temple is better than statue in your house.
Why? Because in temple, ‘Pranaprathista’ i.e., initiation of life is done to the statue. This again indicates that you have to worship the statue with life. Concept is inert statue plus life is equal to human being. So in temple the statue indicates that you have to worship statue with life i.e., human form of God only. Like this you are trained to worship human form of God by sixteen upacharas. In this training when your egoism & jealousy is completely destroyed now human form of God is introduced. Unless your egoism & jealousy are completely destroyed you cannot accept human form directly.
So worship of inert statue in human form introduces the concept of human form, then initiation of life (Prana pratishta) introduces concept of living human form. Thus this is a gradual transformation of you by reducing your egoism & jealousy. When your egoism and jealousy are completely removed, the final human form of God is introduced. Only a particular man like Lord Krishna is God. This is Advaita, which is extended to every man due to same jealousy & egoism. If every man is God, nobody requires salvation.Advaita sixteen upacharas Saakaar