“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: There’s a big test coming up.
Friend1: I’m going to study.
Friend2: I would hope so.
Friend1: I’m going to put in the required effort. There is no laziness on my part.
Friend2: Way to go.
Friend1: Still, I’m not going to leave anything to chance. As you know, outcomes are not guaranteed, despite every precaution taken.
Friend2: We think we are the sole doer, but that is not the case. The modes of nature must first give sanction:
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
Friend1: Glad you mentioned that. In order to ensure a proper outcome, I will pray to one of the managers of the material creation.
Friend2: Let me see. The examination is a test of knowledge, so you will pray to the goddess in charge of that.
Friend1: Knowledge, learning – basically the same thing. Yes, I will seek the favor of Goddess Sarasvati.
Friend2: Nice. I know that you are not in school, so are you explaining something you did in the past?
Friend1: I’m going through a hypothetical situation that leads to demigod worship.
Friend2: Oh, okay.
Friend1: You can take different situations and reach the same outcome.
Friend2: Wherein something material is desired.
Friend1: Exactly. Good health. Fortune. Prosperity. From Vedic literature we have examples of really big things asked for. It’s like going to the great Santa Claus and giving a Christmas list.
Friend2: Haha, a wonderful comparison. People like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana were like that.
Friend1: They wanted invincibility. That’s a big ask. The devas that were approached were pleased enough to grant boons that came as close as possible to granting immortality.
Friend2: But just one percent vulnerability is enough to qualify for mortality, which means guaranteed death.
Friend1: So here is what I was thinking the other day. Has anyone ever prayed for renunciation?
Friend2: What do you mean? As in, do people go to the demigods to ask to get rid of their stuff?
Friend1: Not even that specific. Forget possessions and the like. Just the overall spirit. Say I wanted to be detached from things, especially the highs and lows of life. Say that I wanted to consider happiness and sadness to be like the seasons, as Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita [2.14].
Friend2: Okay. I understand now.
Friend1: Which deva would I approach?
Friend2: As in, is there demigod worship that corresponds with that desire?
Friend1: There you go. Yes. I can’t think of any examples.
Friend2: Neither can I.
Friend1: Really? You’re supposed to be the expert here.
Friend2: You’ve stumped me.
Friend1: I should be proud of myself, but I’m not.
Friend2: I will say that there is renunciation required in order to win the favor of demigods in ordinary worship. That is one of the reasons the process exists. Remember, it is passed on in the Vedas, which are an extension of the Supreme Lord.
Friend1: Because everyone already has desires.
Friend2: There is no reason to change suddenly. Keep your desires, but go to a higher power to fulfill them. The requirements for the worship automatically instill a sense of renunciation and austerity. Hiranyakashipu and Ravana went to the extreme in renunciation in order to get their boons.
Friend1: Okay, but why throw all the progress away after the fact? You go through these austerities, get what you want, but the stuff you get makes you attached all over again.
Friend2: There you go. You should write a book. That is one of the reasons Krishna declares demigod worship to be reserved for the less intelligent, alpa medhasam. People get insulted hearing that, but it is true.
Friend1: There shouldn’t be any anger, if you think about it. Each one of us is less intelligent at the time of birth. That is the starting point. Human life is for changing from less intelligent to more.
Friend2: Well said. I will also point out that worship of God the person automatically brings renunciation. Bhakti includes jnana and vairagya. Bhakti is like the shining lamp, and jnana and vairagya follow like the shadow created by the light. Moreover, if you worship Krishna in bhakti, He might take things away from you. If He sees there are material attachments serving as impediments to progress, He will remove them. The devas don’t offer such mercy, as that is not included in the role.
Friend1: Therefore if I want renunciation, I might as well worship Krishna or Vishnu.
Friend2: Exactly. Look at the greatest Vaishnava, Lord Shiva. He is the most renounced person. He never asks for it, either. It comes automatically with attachment to the lotus feet of Bhagavan.
Devas so many things can give,
Like in full opulence to live.
From Vedas so much shown,
Like kings with great wealth to own.
But asking for renunciation none,
Because with benedictions attachment some.
Through Krishna included everything already,
Works to keep bhakta’s mind steady.