(Click to enlarge photo of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
Guest: You say you worship the deity photograph of someone who has gone. But the photograph of a spiritual teacher can be very helpful to teach them to love him because the photograph of a spiritual teacher is not material value, but it symbolizes the truth from which the, he has come.
Prabhupada: Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He's not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear? In the absolute stage there is no difference. Just like we are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. The Kṛṣṇa is the name of the Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So this name and Kṛṣṇa is nondifferent. Do you realize it? There is no difference between Kṛṣṇa who is in His supreme abode and the name Kṛṣṇa which you are chanting. That is the same. There is no difference. This is absolute conception. Whereas if I am thirsty and if I call the name of water, "Water, water, water," I require the substance water actually. Simply by calling "water" will not do. That is the difference between matter and spirit.
And actually, if we are not getting some spiritual enlightenment by chanting Kṛṣṇa then do you think that we are simply wasting our time? No. We're not wasting our time. We're actually getting spiritual ecstasy because there is no difference. But you take similarly, the name of water or something else, what you want, that will not be fulfilled. This is the absolute and relative conception. In the absolute stage there is no difference, name, quality, form, pastime, entourage, everything the same. If you chant Kṛṣṇa's name it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. If you see Kṛṣṇa's form it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. If you think of Kṛṣṇa's activities it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. This realization is spiritual realization. Therefore a first-class devotee who is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he sees everything Kṛṣṇa. Nothing different from Kṛṣṇa.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, September 16, 1966)