What is wrong with worship of devatas if one understands them to be devotees of Krishna?
Trahscribed by: Geetanjali Nath
Question: If worshiping devatas , our understanding that they are the devotees of Supreme Lord, is also mentioned int he scriptures, then why is that discouraged now a days. Why do sometimes lecture say that we should not worship devatas.
Answer: This is something which is context specific, that means , there are multiple context which will determine what one should do and what one should not do . Now we see that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when he would go to holy places, if he went to Vishnu Kanchi , ………………Shiva Kanchi and he went to Shiva Kanchi also and he offered his respects to Lord Shiva. but when he was in his pilgrimage, he was not specifically going to Shivaite pilgrimage places, he was gong to vaishnavaite place, but if there is temple then he would go to the Shiva temple also, In contrast, there is a story of how Ramanujacharya when he sort of criticized the way Jagannath was worshiped, said at time that Jagannath came and slapped him and because of the slap he flew away from Jagannath Puri and mystically he was transported to Kurma khetra and he found himself inside a Kurma temple, now when he woke up and he saw where am I , He thought that that is Lord Shiva’s temple, and he felt that Oh … so , I have committed to aparadh for Vishnu, by entering a temple of Lord Shiva. So the defining metaphor that many vaishnavas use is that our wives will enter the home of her husband, but the wife will not go to the home of any other man. So in that sense they consider that as not going to temple of Lord Shiva, as a action that expresses the faithfulness, the diverted, unalloyed faithfulness of their devotion. Now we may say that , hey but actually Lord Shiva is servant to |Lord Vishnu, so why do you consider Lord Shiva to be a , like another man as a competitor, Now the thing is , the acharyas has different view, their context they have different …………., in terms of their ontological position, ontological means in terms of the nature of the reality, in terms of ontological position, yes, there is one devata who is Supreme, and the there is Vishnu Krishna who is supreme and other devatas are their servants. But in terms of popular conception , there is the idea that there are these various devatas and they are competitors . So in order to avoid that misconception which is there as per peoples mind, so Ramanuncharya avoided that, and now sometimes this can go to some extreme. I know one Sri Vaishnava, he is prominent leader and he is intelligent, he will go for interfaith conferences to mosque and churches but he will not go to Shiva temple. which is I would say extreme. Bhakti Vinoda Thakura says that if we go to a place where God is worshiped in a different way than our way of worship, we should stand there and in mood of prayers and think that how merciful the Lord is that he manifested in this way to elevate these people,and we should feel inspired to become more devoted to the Lord in the manifestation we are familiar with. So that means as a now as a institutions , in terms of siddant , in the ISKCON temples it-selves, we will generally not have any demigods, because we are Krishna worshiping, now in terms of individual practitioners is it that ISKCON devotees are banned from going to demigod temples, obviously not, cannot have anything ban like that, but in terms of principle, as devotees would like to demonstrate through their lives the clear understanding of the vedic conclusion, so they in general will avoid going to demigod temples. That is not a matter of disrespect, if we happen to pass by demigod temple , now there is no harm in folding the hands and offering respects, not to speak of no harm, if we can, we should do it, they are also vaishnavas, we can pray for their blessings and guidance, but whether we need to go specifically to pilgrimage to a particular devata’s temple, that is not required. So for example the tuesday the day for siddivinayak, is the devotees to chant for Siddivinayak ? not required, but there are also exceptions. for example, now if one belongs to a community where a particular devata has been worshiped for a long time, and there one is , if there is some social expectation that is there, that one should do the particular kind of puja take particular darshan , family pressure is there , so now unless there is , if somebody is brahamachari , one does not have to do that, but if somebody is grahasta or living in the world, then there are certain activities which one may do out of deference to the local tradition, deference means, out of respect to the local tradition, so when one does that, it is described the the Bhagavataam in the forth canto that when maharaj …. would perform the yagnas, now the yagnas are themselves are being performed they involved elements of worship of the devatas, and he did the yagnas, although he was a pure devotee, why ? so it is described, that he internally was remembering that ultimately all the worship goes to the supreme Lord and he knew that not everyone , even in his kingdom, was capable to worshiping the supreme Lord purely. So the performance of yagnas is often the karmakanda sacrifice, its dharma of the …. that level of worship, that is often required for general people. For them to have the motivation to do that , they need to see that their king doing that, so he would do that, so in general , devotee should never disrespect the demigods and now whether they should worship a particular devata or not by going to their temple, in general it’s not required, but in specific situations, if it is going to create too much social disruption, and if going to that demigod temple is not going to disrupt out devotion in major way, its not that a devotee should make it a practice to go the demigod temple every week , or something like that, but occasionally , if there is some special occasions then there is certainly, a devotee can go and worship the devata in the mood of that devata being a great devotee whose blessings we can seek.