“Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.20)
Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, applies discrimination. He is not obligated to give sanction to requests. He already witnesses everything through His feature of Supersoul, which resides in the heart next to the individual soul, atma.
Krishna is the personal side of God, and those who approach Him may have ulterior motives. Perhaps they want wealth. Maybe they are in distress and looking for a way out. There may be inquisitiveness as to just what is the meaning to “personal” when it comes to the Divine. There also can be a firm understanding of the difference between matter and spirit going in, with a desire to advance further in spiritual practice.
Whatever the point of entry, the approach has a purifying effect. Krishna does not leave the worshiper worse off. At the same time, there is no guarantee that what is asked for will manifest. This is the meaning to discrimination. The Supreme Lord makes an assessment, and sometimes just the opposite of what is desired will be beneficial for the worshiper.
In other kinds of worship this mercy is absent. The interactions are more like business transactions, which carry some flaws.
1. Does the liquor store care about ruining your life?
There is a difference between purchasing alcohol to celebrate an occasion and repeatedly indulging in intoxication, day after day. The establishment selling the alcohol does not really mind. Surely, they don’t want anyone ruining their life in addiction, but at the same time if everyone were to practice temperance there would be no business.
2. Does the phone manufacturer care that you are ruining your social skills?
Go out into public these days and who isn’t constantly looking at their smartphone? Even during times requiring strict attention, such as when crossing a street, the head is down instead of up. There are so many distractions on that single device, though so much good can be accomplished, as well.
The phone manufacturer does not discriminate. They do not make character judgments, and neither do they ask the intended use of the object they are selling. Both a terrorist and a priest can purchase a smartphone and use the device to serve their own purposes.
3. Does the car manufacturer concern themselves with the dangers of speeding?
Look at a few television commercials for popular automobiles and invariably there is a shot or two of an extended roadway. It serves as a sort of racetrack, used to exhibit the performance capabilities of the car. There is a warning in small print, that the scene was filmed on a closed road, not out in ordinary circumstances.
The manufacturer is not concerned about the dangers of speeding. Responsibility is left to the driver. Freedom is in their hands. The establishment selling the cars is only concerned about proper payment. If there is enough money from the purchaser, the exchange is made.
4. Does the demigod worry about how you will use their benedictions?
Business is a necessary aspect of life, and it is not to say that the people in any of the above mentioned examples are behaving improperly. When the same is seen in spiritual life, there should be red flags. If the divine figure you approach doesn’t care about how you will use their benedictions, is their association really benefitting you?
From Vedic literature we have the notable examples of Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They both received tremendous boons from demigods, who are residents of the heavenly realm. These figures possess high character, and that purity contributes to their eligibility for distributing such rewards, i.e. for being a demigod.
Hiranyakashipu and Ravana used the gifts they received for evil. They did not make the world a better place. They persecuted the innocent. They attempted to rid the world of the pious. Though they wanted their own property protected, they did not extend the same courtesy to others. The demigods were not implicated in the subsequent sinful activity, since it is not their role to influence the behavior of their worshipers.
All signs point to bhakti-yoga, devotional service. The discrimination Krishna applies is for everyone’s benefit. No one knows if He will agree to a request, but it is firmly understood that whatever decision He reaches, it will be for the worshiper’s good.
How afterwards with car faring,
Manufacturer of impact not caring.
Neither owner of store liquor selling,
Potential for disaster beyond telling.
Smartphone for terrorist and priest alike,
Users stuck to screen, seeing not car in sight.
Supreme Lord only discrimination applying,
The wise on His judgment relying.
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