“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
चतुर्-विधा भजन्ते मां
जनाः सुकृतिनो ऽर्जुन
आर्तो जिज्ञासुर् अर्थार्थी
ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
Friend1: One of the many terms I learned from the association of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada through books and recorded lectures is “order-supplier.”
Friend2: Oh, yes. You will never hear that from others. There is a quote from Shakespearean literature about brevity being the soul of wit.
Friend1: I think that is from one of his plays, if that is what you mean.
Friend2: The idea is that the less amount of words you can use to get an idea across, the better.
Friend1: I think that’s how some of these people on social media become popular. They are limited in total characters for their posts, so they have to make their words count. Some of them are pretty smart; they come up with good posts.
Friend2: You could say the same about those memes. Put a few words on a picture and you can explain complex subjects in an understandable way.
Friend1: So the idea from Prabhupada is that we should not view God as an order supplier. Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is more than the online retail outlet.
Friend2: We shouldn’t think of Him as a store that we visit on occasion. Give me this. Give me that. Come through for me this one time.
Friend1: Viewing God as an order supplier diminishes His role. It trivializes His position.
Friend2: There is more to be gained from the relationship with Him. Another comparison we hear is to someone walking on the road, carrying a heavy load. If they should meet God, they ask Him to remove the burden. Well, that may bring short-term relief, but if you are going to ask something from the Almighty, wouldn’t you choose something more important?
Friend1: Here is where I am confused. I also know that the recommendation from the acharyas is to approach Krishna regardless. No matter our material desires, if we are hopelessly impure, controlled by the illusory energy of maya, still pray to the personal God.
Friend2: Yes. You should do that.
Friend1: Okay, but we aren’t supposed to view Him as an order-supplier.
Friend2: Hey, nobody’s perfect. To err is human.
Friend1: Not quite sure I understand.
Friend2: In Bhagavad-gita, we get the four categories that a worshiper initially falls into when approaching Shri Krishna. Someone wants money. Someone is in distress. Another is just curious about life and death and so forth. Another wants further knowledge of the spiritual side of things. None of them are perfect.
Friend1: I guess most people would fall into the “distress” category.
Friend2: Notice that they will not be turned away. If I worship a demigod, it is almost first-come, first-serve. If I really wanted to land that dream job, but someone else worshiped before me, then I am out of luck. What can the demigod really do for me?
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: The relationship basically ends there.
Friend1: What relationship?
Friend2: Between the worshiper and the benefactor.
Friend1: Oh, right. Well, at least until the worshiper wants something again.
Friend2: If you approach Krishna, the relationship doesn’t end. The association is purifying. Not only will Krishna assess my request, but He will purify me of unwanted traits and desires. He will intentionally say “no,” which the demigods cannot do.
Friend1: I see. But isn’t such worship offensive?
Friend2: You are still viewing Him as an order-supplier, but so what? Would we rather everyone become atheists? At least you are acknowledging His potency. At least you know that He exists. Whether full of desire, desire-less, or desperately seeking release from the cycle of birth and death, go towards the personal God and be benefitted in the long term.
In offensive manner to be,
When as order supplier to see.
That this wish only granting,
Then maybe your name chanting.
Better that way still,
With some hope to fill.
Because relationship bad traits to clear,
And to liberation bringing near.