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
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.