“Lord Brahma said: O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.17)
उत्तिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भद्रं ते
तपः-सिद्धो ’सि काश्यप
वरदो ’हम् अनुप्राप्तो
व्रियताम् ईप्सितो वरः
uttiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhadraṁ te
tapaḥ-siddho ’si kāśyapa
varado ’ham anuprāpto
vriyatām īpsito varaḥ
“There is a shared experience among parents of young children. You want to find the right balance between oversight and freedom. They are new to the world, after all. The children need to explore. They should engage in the time-honored tradition of trial-and-error. This is one of the best ways to learn. In fact, it is the foundation of the scientific method, on which society relies greatly today.
“At the same time, some things are too dangerous to be attempted. I don’t want my child to learn about the dangers of fire by placing their hand inside of a raging flame. It is better to warn them against the practice. Put some faith in the words of the superiors. Don’t risk obvious danger.
“There is only so much you can do. Inevitably, the child will find harm. It is up to the parents to then fix the situation. It is not uncommon for the situation to repeat. As an example, the child jumps off the sofa onto the living room floor. They get hurt. You help to alleviate the pain. The next day the child does the same thing. They should have remembered the previous incident, but they forget.
“I bring this up because from reading Vedic literature it seems like the demigods are always getting into trouble. In each case the root cause is the same. They offer a boon to someone who is not deserving. Maybe a better way of putting it is to say that the demigods are favorable to people who do not deserve favor.
“If you ran a hardware store and someone comes in to purchase items to fix their car, it is usually no big deal. However, if as the owner of the store you know that the customer is planning to use their car for illegal activity, there should be some responsibility. You will have to think twice before allowing the purchase to go through.
“To me, it looks like the demigods never think twice. Lord Shiva favors Vrikasura with a boon. The demon can then kill anyone simply by touching their head. The asura returns the favor by chasing after Mahadeva, in the hopes of having Parvati as a wife.
“Brahma and Mahadeva favor Ravana, the king of Rakshasas. Brahma, the creator, gives boons to Hiranyakashipu, who soon becomes the terror of the world. These are a few examples out of many. After a while, wouldn’t they start to wise up? Wouldn’t they change their ways?”
It should be remembered that there is no fraud in the process of worshiping the demigods. The rules are set, and anyone is eligible to approach. If they worship sufficiently, and the rewards they seek are in the hands of the benefactor, then the exchange will take place.
In the business world fraud is commonplace. For instance, one technology company allows developers to write applications to be used on their smartphone. There is a lot of time and money that goes into the process. A major investment, with people sometimes leaving their old jobs in order to start a new company based on the application and its potential sales.
Then one day, due to political differences, the smartphone manufacturer decides to ban a certain application. They give a false justification; they make one up. They really don’t need to say anything, as the application maker is now helpless. If they had known from the beginning that the hosting company would pull a move like this, they never would have invested the time.
The demigods are completely honest in their dealings. If Ravana asks for a boon, he will get it; provided the worship is proper. Hiranyakashipu went to extreme lengths to catch the attention of Brahma. These were not ordinary austerities.
Because of the rules of the game, mistakes will happen. These aren’t necessarily mistakes, but they appear as such based on the subsequent situations. Danger. Threat to life. Eradication of dharma. Saintly people forced to hide in fear.
It should be noted that there is always a remedy. Usually, all-devouring time takes care of any enemy. You don’t need a tactical strike to hit a bad guy who is otherwise closely guarded. You don’t need a massive army to start a war in order to overthrow a tyrant.
Rather, kala knows how to find every person. It approaches at different moments, but the arrival is unstoppable. Nothing can be done to erase the effects of time, and kala as death rears its ugly and fearful face for those who thought they could continue with sinful life indefinitely.
In special cases the Supreme Personality of Godhead devises a solution. This was so with Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. Vishnu always favors the demigods, since they are aligned with Him. The same favoritism is available to the asuras, but they are intent on trying to remove God from the picture entirely.
समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्
samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
These supposed mistakes by the demigods, who can be viewed as dependent children of the Almighty, lead to some of the most memorable pastimes. We still celebrate Narasimhadeva to this day, and His appearance would not have been possible had Brahma not intervened and helped in the rise to power of the evil Hiranyakashipu.
Seems like to pressure to bend,
Asuras outsmarting the trend.
When towards demigod to approach,
Where otherwise character of reproach.
Boons to them liberally giving,
Then saintly in terror living.
The Almighty causing to descend,
Sacred honor of dharma to defend.