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The Artist who tried to Capture the Image of the Lord

There was once a world-famous artist. He had an extraordinary talent for figure and portrait painting. He came to Krishna, in his capital city of Dvaraka, and wanted to paint Krishna's portrait. With a beaming smile Krishna said, "Well, if you want to paint my image you can certainly do so. Tell me what I should do." The artist requested, "Swami, if you would kindly just sit still for an hour in the same place, I will draw an outline, and then later on I will fill in the details." Krishna sat down on for the artist and remained without moving. The artist made some preliminary sketches. After a while, he prostrated at Krishna's feet and said, "Swami, I am done now." Smiling, Krishna asked, "When are you going to show the picture?" The artist answered, "Swami, by tomorrow at this time I should have completed it."

Throughout the night, he worked untiringly on this difficult task of accurately painting a likeness of the Lord on canvas. When the picture was done the next morning, the artist was extremely pleased with his work. He covered the painting with a beautiful cloth and brought it to Krishna. But when the cloth was removed, it was seen that in the intervening 24 hours the form of Krishna had undergone a remarkable change. The artist put the portrait directly alongside Krishna. He looked at the picture and then looked at Krishna. He realized that there was very little resemblance between the two. Krishna also looked at the painting and pointed out, "My dear fellow, there seem to be a number of defects." The artist said, "Please forgive me, Swami. Please give me another chance. Let me try again and I will do better." It went on like this for ten days.

Each day the artist did his work over again, but it was impossible to get a proper picture. Now the artist began to feel ashamed. He decided it would be best if he just disappeared from there, and so he hurriedly left the city. On the way, sage Narada happened to meet the artist departing from the city. Narada asked the artist, "You seem quite disturbed. Tell me what is making you so unhappy." The artist explained to him all that had happened. Narada told the artist, "Well, Krishna is a master actor and a master director. He is enacting this whole drama. Using your methods you will never be able to get a true likeness of him. But if you really want to succeed then listen to my words and follow them implicitly.

The artist agreed to do exactly as Narada instructed. He returned to Dvaraka, and the very next day went to Krishna, carrying with him a picture covered with a fine cloth. He told Krishna, "Swami, I have finally been able to bring you your exact picture. Please have a look. This will always give the correct likeness of you. Whatever changes come into your expression and form, the image that is seen here will show all these changes faithfully." Then he got ready to remove the covering cloth and said, "Please accept this as my best picture of you." When the cloth came away, it revealed a clean mirror.

If you want to paint a portrait of the Lord who is permanent with temporary materials like brushes, paint, etc., you will not be able to succeed. In the physical universe everything is temporary. All forms are constantly undergoing change. Such transient forms cannot give a proper vision of the permanent Lord. If you want to have a clean and unchanging vision of the Lord, you will be able to obtain it only in the clean mirror, which is your own purified heart.