Question: I would like to know why your students keep your picture on their shrines.

Sri Chinmoy: Very good. Thank you. It is a matter of inspiration. You may like to keep flowers on your shrine for inspiration or you may like to watch the flame of a candle. You can burn an incense stick or you can sit in front of a swimming pool. It is up to you how you want to be inspired. Your children feel from within that when they keep my picture in front of them, then they get a tremendous sense of inspiration. But others, who do not see anything in me but see something in some other person or object, may feel it is totally wrong for them. They are at perfect liberty to feel this way, and they are doing the right thing for them.

I am not God. As I told you before, I am not even the Guru. No, God is somebody else. He is in Heaven, He is inside us. God is also the Guru. I am only the elder brother in our spiritual family. God, the Father, gives the message to the firstborn and tells him to bring the message to the younger ones. The eldest one goes on helping and serving and teaching the younger ones until they come to the Father, and then his role is over. So here also, when my students reach God, my role will be over.

To come back to your question, my students are under no obligation to use my picture. I have not forced them. Far from it! But if they feel that they can get inspiration from my picture or from anything else, then what right have I to tell them no, they must not use it? My main concern is for them to make progress in the spiritual life, and the sooner the better, because we are walking along a long road, Eternity's road. If we have discovered something that will expedite our journey, naturally we shall do it. Tomorrow they may feel they can get more inspiration from a mountain top or from the sun or the moon, and then they will meditate on that. The picture is not the real Guru, the picture is not God, but if it helps them in their aspiration to look at it, then it is a good thing they are doing.