“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
“You often reference the interactions between the demons and the demigods in the scope of worship. I am not talking about their perennial conflict, symbolizing the fight between good and evil since time immemorial. There is plenty of that to unpack from Vedic literature. There could be a whole series of published works simply describing what went down and then diving into the subtleties and nuance; such as how a person described as a god, deva, would ever be under threat from someone who isn’t in that category.
“Today I am referring to the peaceful interactions, wherein the asuras approach the demigods for help. The classic example is Hiranyakashipu, the king of the Daityas. This is a specific race of people, tracing their lineage to the woman name Diti. All the sons of Aditi were demigods, or saintly in nature. Her sister, Diti, gave birth to the demon race.
“You often say that the worship of the demigods is something like a business transaction; with which we are quite familiar. In the traditional case, we visit the store. We pick out the items we want and bring them to the checkout register. The cashier scans the items and then asks for payment, which we provide.
“There is no extended interest. The storeowner doesn’t really care what we will do after leaving the building. The customer doesn’t really care about the cashier’s political views, the color of their skin, or what struggles they have gone through in life. Everything is about the good or service being sold and the customer willing to part with money as a means of exchange.
“I can see why you would categorize the interactions from the demon side in this way, but what about the demigods? Is it not insulting to compare Lord Brahma, the creator, to a storeowner? Isn’t Lord Shiva, the great-god, much more than an order supplier, ready to offer whatever a nefarious character wants?”
The demigods honorably fulfill the role assigned to them by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are to be appreciated even more for making such a sacrifice, as their primary concern is to please the Almighty. They are aligned with the godly principles; hence they are known as deva.
If playing such a role were demeaning, then we could say the same of the sun. We could curse that large object in space for emitting endless heat and light to the material world. This land of birth and death, mrityu-loka, is where the bad guys thrive. They rise to power and punish the innocent. They try their best to make sure the nice guys finish last, that honesty never pays. They lie, cheat, steal and kill for a living, with scant visible consequences.
The demons thrive on the support of nature, which is controlled by the demigods. The sun, the moon, the stars, the clouds, the mountains, the rivers, and so forth would be culpable under this flawed model of accountability. The rap sheet for these coconspirators would fill endless volumes of published books.
On the contrary, Brahma and Shiva are the most dedicated servants to Vishnu. They have no other interest; highlighted by the fact that they originate different lines of disciplic succession: sampradaya. They are spiritual masters in the study of Vaishnava philosophy and culture. They are symbols of sacrifice in that sense, and so they are worthy of the highest respect and honor.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
Though the boons they offer to the demons cause some trouble in the world every now and then, Vishnu is always standing by. He will correct any cases of egregious misconduct in a direct way. He already indirectly accounts for right and wrong through the system of karma, which is entirely fair. For the powerful offenders like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana, He personally descends as an avatara. Brahma and Shiva play a role in these wonderful occasions, further increasing their glories.
Like business transaction considered,
Goods for proper payment delivered.
The demon obvious this way,
But why for the demigod to say?
Not for demeaning meant,
To that role by Hari sent.
Servants obligations fulfilling,
Paving way for avatara thrilling.