“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
Friend1: I’m back with my favorite topic.
Friend2: The soul?
Friend1: Come on. You know what it is.
Friend2: Comparing different religions?
Friend1: Demigod worship!
Friend2: Oh, right. You do love to talk about that. What angle are you going to argue this time?
Friend1: I feel like I am an advocate for the different sides. They need to be represented, lest you get away with dominating with your slanted view.
Friend2: I’m sure the different viewpoints are generated by you alone, considering how doubtful you are about the bhakti path. Anyway, please proceed.
Friend1: I know people who feel something special by doing formal worship ceremonies in the home.
Friend1: Yes. Whatever the purpose, there is auspiciousness in the air. Everyone is benefitted as a result.
Friend2: Well, before you proceed further, remember that word “purpose.” That is the key.
Friend1: Why are you against this? Shouldn’t people be encouraged to worship in the way they prefer?
Friend2: Who says I am against it?
Friend1: Come on. I know how much you love to quote that verse from the Bhagavad-gita calling demigod worshipers less intelligent.
Friend2: “Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.23)
Friend1: Right on cue.
Friend2: What did you expect?
Friend1: That’s all you’ve got? You quote the verse and that’s it?
Friend2: Listen. Just because Krishna calls them less intelligent, it doesn’t mean that the worshipers of the demigods are completely devoid of spiritual benefit. It is good that they feel positive as a result. It is certainly much better to worship in that way than to have no connection to spiritual life at all. Remember, it is Krishna who also advises worship of the devas as a means of showing respect for receiving rainfall and the like.
Friend1: Oh yeah. That’s true.
Friend2: Getting back to that “purpose” thing you mentioned before. In these pujas, the benefit is not hidden. I’ll give you an example. In one of the pujas, it is mentioned that the fruit received is elevation to the planet of Satyaloka.
Friend1: That’s from doing the puja one time?
Friend2: Maybe it’s if you are faithful to it, such as performing it once a month. Satyaloka can refer to the material world or the spiritual world. In the case of pujas to the demigods or for the purpose of material benefit, Satyaloka is the same as Brahmaloka.
Friend1: That’s where Lord Brahma, the creator, lives?
Friend2: Right. He lives for the longest time known to man. Still, his planet is part of the material world, and thus subject to destruction.
Friend1: And your point is that the human being should follow religious life that brings eternal benefits.
Friend2: The easiest way to understand is to think of progress. Demigod worship is something like moving backwards, especially if you have the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna mentions that a person who has already been freed of sins takes up devotion to Him. This means that if you have the chance for bhakti-yoga, to chant the holy names, you have already done so many pujas in your past lives. By continuing in that path, you are essentially going backwards. Why would you want to do that? Huh? Tell me.
Friend1: [laughs] Okay, that makes sense to me. It’s like going back to learning the alphabet in school if you are already in a higher grade.
Friend2: There you go. Don’t squander the opportunity. Know that every demigod has been satisfied if you take up devotion to God the person in earnest. Move forward.
Why demigod worship to choose,
When like backwards to move?
Of temporary fruits, not to last,
Like time devouring everything fast.
Know that already in worship spent,
When devotion to Supreme Lord sent.
When with no material desires at all,
In highest stage of worship to call.