The Three Phases Of Praying For Stuff From The Devas

[Krishna's lotus feet]“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)

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One aspect of proper vision is seeing the future. To actually see means to detect the changes that are constantly occurring. What is in front of us right now won’t remain so, even for an inanimate object like a statue. There is human effort, paurusham, along with time, kala.

The changing nature of the material world is incorporated into Shri Krishna’s characterization of demigod worship. Popular in the Vedic tradition, devas are satisfied in order to earn their favor. The opinion is that ultimately the practice is reserved for the less intelligent. From studying the stages of demigod worship we detect a pattern.

1. Desire

I want something. It doesn’t have to be a physical object, necessarily. Maybe I want good health. I want my brain to function properly for an upcoming exam. I don’t want obstacles along my path in an important journey.

Of course desire could be about money and things. This is the first stage. Now that I know what I want, I have to figure out how to get it. I could do the work myself, but the wise declare that the living entity is not the doer. Nature must cooperate for any result to manifest.

“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)

Better to take the case to a higher authority. Devas are known to satisfy desires. These are god-like figures, and there are plenty of them. I have a choice. Today’s desire has an accompanying deva, and tomorrow’s desire might require approaching a different heavenly figure.

2. Renunciation

I know what I want. I know where to get it. Now comes the “how.” This involves renunciation and austerity. I have to worship properly. I’m not at the level of possessing the prapti siddhi of yoga, where I can get something just by contemplating it.

[religious ritual]Whatever the approved process, some sacrifice is involved. I have to give something to get something. The process can be for only a day or it can extend over a few weeks. Whatever needs to be done, I will do. This desire must be met.

3. Success

I got what I wanted. I went through the trouble and it paid off. I am now so happy. This demigod worship stuff really works. It’s not a myth. I guess that explains why so many people follow it.

Here’s the problem. My success hasn’t changed my life significantly. I still have desires. That renunciation and austerity I put towards attaining my goal haven’t carried over into everyday life. I am just as much attached to stuff as I was before.

The more intelligent recognize this cycle. They understand that life should be progressive; there should be advancement in the consciousness as time goes on. If the individual is stuck chasing one desire after another, how is even approaching a divine figure helping them?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Those with more brain substance, su-medhasam, approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. Should they be full of material desires, kama, Bhagavan’s association will purify them. He may even deny the requests. There is discrimination involved. It is not like making a transaction with a retail outlet. Shri Krishna is not selling anything, though there are many buyers. He is giving His association, which can remain forever. This only goes to those who want it, and through practice in bhakti-yoga the desire, which is pure, gradually comes about.

In Closing:

Worship in pattern flowing,

First by desire into going.

Then into austerity sent,

Sacrifices for rituals spent.

Success, but then at stage the same,

Not extinguished is desire’s flame.

Towards Krishna better believe,

Highest value to receive.

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