“Because people vary in their desires, You have distributed various holy names by Your mercy.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.17)
The Supreme Lord has different names assigned to Him by people who wish to connect with Him. The desires in each person are different, and from those desires a certain type of worldview arises. Based on that worldview there is a way to look at the Supreme Lord, as He is the superior entity in the respective comparison. As He is the holy father for every single person, no one is excluded from worshiping Him. And the more inclusive the name is, the more people there are who can benefit from its recitation.
Say, for instance, that my present goal is to get a member of the opposite sex to like me. Unrequited love does a number on the ego, and in that helpless condition the cherished desire is to have the person you adore love you back. “If only I could go back in time and change what I said. If only I could have behaved differently. Then maybe they would have fallen for me. If I just said the right thing, offered heartwarming compliments and provided the kindest treatment known to man, then perhaps my heart wouldn’t be broken today.”
In this distressed condition, one can address the Supreme Lord as Madhava, which means the husband of the goddess of fortune. A similar name is Lakshmipati, which means the husband of Lakshmi Devi, who is the goddess of fortune. These names are significant because no one is more beautiful than Lakshmi. In her original form, she is Shrimati Radharani, and she is so beautiful that she can even enchant Krishna, who is God. Krishna is known as the enchanter of the beautiful cupid, and Radha is the enchanter of the enchanter of cupid. Thus God is known for His ability to be with the most beautiful women, to never be scorned in love. In fact, everyone loves Him at the core, but in a state of ignorance that love is directed elsewhere.
Let’s say that your desire is to become very smart. You read the newspapers every day, study philosophy, and tax your brain pondering the unexplainable phenomena that are time and space. You value intelligence in others, so you try to hang around people who are smart. You value the ability to do things efficiently and to solve problems in a short amount of time. In this mindset you can worship Krishna as the original orator of the Bhagavad-gita, which is known as the Song of God. This short work packs a powerful punch. It is filled with mind-blowing facts about the soul and material nature, and how the living entity is meant to serve God. It is an intellectual work, though it was offered to a member of the warrior caste. Its message resounds with the devotees, who love God without motive. Nevertheless, its pearls of wisdom also satisfy the itch for higher knowledge.
Then there are those who pride themselves on strength and chivalry. To be strong is one thing, but to use that strength for the right purposes is another. The military men and police officers must combine these two facets together in their work. A person of these vocations can worship God as Lord Rama, who is the prince of the Raghu dynasty. Rama once defeated 14,000 ghoulish attacking creatures singlehandedly. These man-eating ogres could change shapes at will, and they showed no mercy on the battlefield. Yet Rama, using just a bow and arrow set, did away with them, killing their most powerful leader Ravana later on. He did all of this to protect the innocent members of society.
What if you take pride in charity? You want to do good unto others. “Service to man” is your motto in life, so you try to do whatever you can to raise the human condition, especially in those who are struggling. In this case you can worship Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of God who took to the renounced order of life to save the fallen souls of the Kali Yuga, the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Lord Chaitanya did not earn money for a living. He lived like a homeless beggar, having no possessions except His devotion to Radha and Krishna. Yet He freely distributed the most valuable gem, that same devotion, to others, by asking everyone He met to chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
If you are in a position where you can’t accept a personal aspect to God, where you think the highest state of life is a formless energy, a sort of void, you can still worship the Supreme Lord. His impersonal aspect of Brahman equates to this formless entity. Every living entity is part of Brahman, and so one who wishes to cease all activity, finding pleasure in statelessness, can concentrate on Brahman and hopefully merge into the impersonal effulgence at the time of death.
If you are a lover of children, you can worship Krishna as Gopala, the beloved son of Maharaja Nanda and mother Yashoda. Just as you love your children with all your heart, you can show the same parental affection to the Supreme Lord in His childhood form that roams the sacred land of Vrindavana. Gopala is the protector of the calves owned by Nanda, and He takes pleasure in playing pranks on others. His behavior is so endearing that people still worship Him to this day, offering up their sweetmeat preparations to Him for His enjoyment. The remnants are then returned as the Lord’s mercy, or prasadam, and distributed to others to sanctify the eating process.
In this way know that there are countless names for God, so no one should go without worship in their life. Rather than make it a once a week process performed out of obligation, accept that worship as a daily task, a way to remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around you. In that worship you will find the peace and comfort you are looking for, and in the process Krishna comes closer and closer to you, creating a bond that cannot break even after death.
From worshiping God none are shut out,
Connection to the divine none should live without.
If with the sting of scorned love you reside,
Worship Madhava who has Lakshmi by His side.
If you desire to reach knowledge’s highest wrung,
Worship Shri Krishna, who Bhagavad-gita sung.
If what you value most is virtue,
Worship Shri Rama of bluish hue.
If to the betterment of man you wish to contribute,
Worship Chaitanya, who holy names did distribute.
If on your children love you offer heaps,
Worship Gopala, who calves of Nanda keeps.
So many names, so why the wait?
Reach God today, whatever your state.