“The performance of different yajnas for the demigods is considered to be worship of the limbs of the Supreme Lord. The demigods are considered to be different parts of the universal body of the Lord, and therefore the ultimate purpose in worshiping them is to please the Lord by partially worshiping His different limbs.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 46)
Friend1: Let me describe a scenario for you.
Friend1: I am a first-time father. My child is still an infant.
Friend2: Boy or girl.
Friend1: People come over. They play with the baby. They make different remarks.
Friend2: Hopefully of the positive variety.
Friend1: All-positive. They keep saying how beautiful she is. Some people even make her smile.
Friend2: That is good.
Friend1: In one sense, I feel as if these people are appreciating me, as well. Granted, I have nothing to do with the child or their behavior. The only relation is biological. You could say that there are behavioral influences, but those manifest later on.
Friend2: Right. You can’t really teach an infant much about life. You can only give them love.
Friend1: Unconditional. Even if they are crying for no reason, it seems, you can’t change your disposition. They are a baby, after all.
Friend2: Yes, without conditions. Your offering of love is not dependent on how they behave in response.
Friend1: When these people say nice things, when they compliment the baby, I feel good about myself. It’s almost like I want them to say these things. They are paying honor to me, though indirectly.
Friend2: That is completely normal.
Friend1: I realize that. Here is the transition to the realm of spirituality. Are not the demigods, the devas residing in the heavenly realm, closely related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead?
Friend2: They are like His deputies. Heads of different departments of the government to manage the material creation.
Friend1: Would it not stand to reason that appreciating the demigods would please the Supreme Lord?
Friend2: Absolutely. Shri Rama says something to that effect. Those who don’t show proper respect to Mahadeva, the destroyer, will never receive Rama’s mercy.
Friend1: I get the respect angle, but what about worship? Say I am classified as a demigod worshiper. I am known to have different pujas and the like for pleasing this divine figure or that.
Friend2: What is the issue?
Friend1: I’m asking you. How is that not pleasing the Supreme Lord?
Friend2: It’s indirect. The comparison is made to the limbs of the body. You are worshiping different parts of the universal body of God, when viewing Him that way.
Friend1: What is the harm, then?
Friend2: It’s not a clear good-bad type thing. The idea is that worshiping directly will bring a higher benefit. Moreover, when worshiping only the limbs you might forget to what they belong.
Friend1: As in seeing the big picture?
Friend2: Right. You are interested in a specific aspect of material nature, while forgetting the bigger picture. You could get so lost in your interest that time runs out in the valuable human form of life. You spent it in sense gratification instead, which you could have enjoyed in any other kind of species. Better to worship the entire body and beyond: the person to whom it belongs. That is why Krishna is known to be more than the virata-rupa, or the universal form. He is the all-attractive one, and connecting directly with Him is superior to any other kind of spiritual practice.
When as giant body to see,
Demigods the limbs to be.
So for sure respect giving,
But not highest mode of living.
Benefits since indirect connection,
But mind still on reflection.
Better for the person understanding,
Who over all planets commanding.