“It is understood that once Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra, said that he knew that Narayana, the husband of Lakshmi, and Rama, the husband of Sita, are one and the same, and that there is no difference between Lakshmi and Sita, but as for himself, he liked the form of Lord Rama.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.24.31 Purport)
Girish: We’re so lucky to have come in contact with the Vedic tradition.
Shankar: That’s true, but what made you think of that?
Girish: Well, before I would pray to God, but I had no idea who He was.
Shankar: What would you pray for?
Girish: That’s the thing, I would pray for insignificant stuff. In those moments of weakness I would give thanks for all I had. You know, my friends and my family. Then I’d ask for their continued wellbeing.
Shankar: I was the same way. My prayers would be more frequent if someone I knew was in trouble.
Girish: Yeah, exactly. Obviously since I was talking to God, I considered Him to be a person. But I never knew anything about Him. I never considered what He looked like. I never thought about how He would behave and how He would interact with people.
Shankar: That’s why the term coined by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is so important: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead.” He is more than just God. He is a personality. He is part of Godhead, which means that God expands. At the top is the supreme, the leader of all forms of Godhead. He is Krishna.
Girish: Yeah, it’s so nice. I like that there is a meaning to that name. It’s not just some random word. It means “all-attractive.” And who can argue with that?
Shankar: Not me. He is so beautiful.
Girish: But I know that you don’t worship Him as your ishta-deva, or deity of preference.
Shankar: Yeah, I just can’t. Sita and Rama are it for me. I know who Krishna is but I could never look at Him the same way as I do Sita and Rama.
Girish: Yeah, what can you do? For me it’s the opposite. I can’t look at anyone except Krishna. Sometimes people argue with me. They say that Vishnu is superior, that Rama and Krishna came from Him. They tell me to worship Lakshmi and Vishnu instead.
Shankar: And by reading certain works their opinion is validated. In the Bhagavata Purana the demigods petition Vishnu to come to earth, who agrees to descend as Krishna. In the Ramayana’s Bala Kand, the same thing happens, Vishnu agrees to come to earth in a seemingly human form, this time named Rama.
Girish: The good thing is that the results of the worship are pretty much identical. If you think that Vishnu is the supreme, you’re not really harmed. He is the same person. The other gods are different. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, worshipers of the different divine figures go to their respective planets. People who worship Him go to His supreme abode.
Shankar: Yeah, even Lord Shiva has his own realm. People who worship him purely go to him. But that worship is rare, since Shiva also plays the role of handing out material benedictions. That kind of worship does not bring his association. It’s funny. He’s known as Ashutosha since he wants people to stop bothering him for material benedictions. When they ask for stuff, he gives it to them very quickly so he can go back to meditating on Rama, his ishta-deva.
Girish: The key thing to remember is that worship of a Vishnu form means liberation, freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Also, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead done impurely eventually brings purification. I can ask for stuff from Krishna, but He might not give it to me. In that way He is special.
Shankar: Yeah, that’s so nice, isn’t it? What kindness!
Girish: Still, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t worship the darling son of Nanda Maharaja. One look at Him and I’m His. I melt immediately. Then I see the love that Radha and the gopis of Vrindavana have for Him and I become even more taken. I feel like Krishna owns me. I will do whatever He wants, which He spells out through the instructions of His devoted servants.
Shankar: I know what you mean. Radha and Krishna are so beautiful.
Girish: So when are you going to come over to my side? When are you going to worship the “supreme” Godhead? You know that Goloka Vrindavana is the topmost planet, right? You know that you can play with Krishna there, that He can carry you on His back if you want?
Shankar: You’re starting this argument again?
Girish: You know I like to mess with you. People do it to me, so why shouldn’t I return the favor? They tell me to worship Lakshmi and Vishnu. I feel bad denying them. I don’t want to do anything to curb their devotion, but at the same time I have to stick up for Radha and Krishna.
Shankar: You are too funny. Listen, there is nothing I can do. When I walk into a temple and see Rama I’m just so happy. Then I see His innocent and beloved wife Sita standing next to Him and I’m completely owned. Then I look over to Rama’s right and see the fearless brother Lakshmana standing there and I make a promise to never abandon them. Then, kneeling down before them in the corner I see Hanuman.
Girish: Oh yeah, Hanuman is great.
Shankar: So he puts it over the top for me. I can’t describe to you how good I feel when I see him with Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. Hanuman is the authority for me. Whatever he says, I will do. If he worships Sita and Rama, then so will I. I don’t care what other people tell me. Actually, Hanuman could come up to me personally and tell me to abandon worship of him and Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana and I wouldn’t do it. I’ll never give them up.
Girish: Wow, that’s great. I can’t argue with you there. Hopefully we can spread the word and get others to know about the personal side to God. They would benefit tremendously. Instead of concocting all these other gods who constantly disappoint them, they would taste the fruit of an existence: bhakti.
Vishnu forms there are many,
Granting liberation can any.
Krishna looking all-attractive so,
How to any other one can go?
Rama the same with lotus-like eyes,
Lakshmana and Sita always by His side.
Hanuman the complete picture to make,
Authority of his forever I will take.