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WORSHIPING THE DEMIGODS INDEPENDENTLY OF KRSNA
IS THE SECOND OFFENSE
All glories to Lord Shri Gauranga, the life of Shri Gadadhara Pandit; all glories to Lord Nityananda, the heart of Shrimati Jahnavadevi; all glories to Shri Advaita Acarya, the Lord of Mother Sita; all glories to all the devotees of Lord Chaitanya.
Shrila Haridasa Thakura continued speaking with folded hands: "O Lord of the Universe, now I pray that You may listen to my explanation of the second offense against the holy name." Vishnutattva, or the principle of the Supreme Godhead Vishnu Lord Vishnu is the supreme nondual Absolute Truth. Though He is the ultimate lord of material creation, His own form is transcendental, being always situated in pure goodness. Lord Krishna in Goloka is the original and supreme form of Vishnu. Krishna is embellished with sixty-four extraordinary excellences, and He is the shelter of all transcendental mellows. Lord Narayana possesses sixty of those excellences, and to a lesser degree of fullness than Him, so do Lord Vishnu and the purusaavataras.
[Footnote 1 by Bhaktivinoda]
Lord Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha, is Lord Krishna's vilasavigraha or partial expansion. In Vaikuntha, the Sankarsana form of Narayana expands as Maha-Vishnu, Who lies in the Causal Ocean. This is the first purusa expansion; the next is Garbodakasayi Vishnu, the source of Brahma. He enters every universe as the purusaavatar. He further expands as Ksirodakasayi Vishnu, the Supersoul within every living entity.
The three purusa expansions are known as Lord Vishnu. Ksirodakasayi Vishnu is the source of the incarnations like Matsya, Kurma, etc. All these incarnations are different forms of the same Vishnu principle and are ornamented with sixty transcendental characteristics. The saktyavesaavataras are jiva-tattva; in them the potency of the Lord has descended. They are Lord's separated expansions or vibhinnamsa and are exemplified as Parasurama, Buddha, Prithu, and so on. [End of footnote 1]
The Supreme Lord's separated parts or vibhinnamsa are of two categories. The ordinary jivas possess only fifty of the Lord's transcendental characteristics, and these in lesser degree. But in the second category of jivas, including the demigods, the same fifty characteristics are found in full potency. Additionally, five more qualities are partially evident in Siva. These five qualities are exhibited in full potency only by the Vishnu category. Thus the Vishnu forms are adorned to the fullest degree with the fiftyfive qualities of the demigods. They furthermore display an extra five qualities for a total of sixty, which are visible to a degree of absolute fullness in Lord Narayana alone. Siva and the other demigods are the Supreme Lord's servitors. Though the demigods are superior jivas, the Supreme Lord Vishnu is the master and controller of the jivas and demigods alike.
Out of sheer ignorance, people equate the Supreme Lord with the demigods
People who are ignorant of the Vishnutattva principle try to equate the Supreme Lord with the demigods, but Siva and the other demigods are simply the order carriers of the Supreme Lord Vishnu.
Mayavadis say that Brahman is really impersonal and formless, and that the worshipable forms of God (i.e. the three predominating deities of the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance) are material. But the scriptures unequivocally declare that Brahma only creates the material world and Siva only destroys it, while Lord Narayana or Lord Vishnu maintains everything eternally, including Brahma and Siva and their cycles of creation and destruction. Therefore only He is the eternal worshipable Lord. Whoever worships other demigods and disregards Vasudeva, the Supreme Lord Narayana, rots eternally in the hell of material existence.
On the basis of the Vedas, some persons, accepting Lord Vishnu as the all-pervading Absolute Truth, argue that since the Lord is present in all the demigods, the worship of demigods is equivalent to the worship of Lord Vishnu. This argument is fallacious. The scriptures do not support the notion that the worship of the demigods is the same as the worship of Lord Vishnu. In truth, Lord Vishnu's worship accomplishes the worship of all the demigods. Hence, separate worship of demigods is not required.
The correct interpretation of the Vedic truth is: if Lord Vishnu is omnipresent, then worship of Him is automatically worship of all the demigods. By watering the roots, a tree prospers, but by watering the limbs, leaves and branches, the tree withers and dies. Only foolish people who have forgotten all Vedic principles can commit such a mistake. They fail to understand that worship of Lord Vishnu is an eternal activity in pure goodness, beyond the three material modes.
Due to the advent of Kali Yuga and the contamination of Mayavada, people disregard the supreme position of Lord Vishnu and worship the demigods independently of Him. Individual demigods offer only specific benefits, while the Supreme Lord Vishnu alone can offer all benedictions. He is the maintainer of everyone. If only these greedy materialists could realize the advantage of worshiping Lord Vishnu, they would abandon that kind of demigod worship.
A householder Vaishnava's responsibilities
The householder Vaishnava should simply worship Krishna in all of his duties and not worry about transgressing the Vedic codes. For example, in all samskaras from insemination (garbhadhana) to funeral rites (antyesthi), he should worship Krishna through the Vedic mantras. The real purport of the Vedic injunctions is that one should worship Vishnu and the Vaishnavas directly and worship the forfathers and demigods by offering them the remnants of Vishnu and Vaishnava worship.
If on the other hand the householder devotee worships the demigods or forefathers directly, as is the Mayavadi method, he commits the second offense to the holy name and is immediately disqualified from the path of pure bhakti.
Another dangerous form of this same namaparadha is to consider demigods like Siva to be separate supreme divinities. Such polytheism is a heinous offense. "Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Godhead, but Lord Siva and the other demigods are also individual supreme godheads" such thinking is completely wrong.
One can, however, worship the demigods as gunaavataras, saktyavesaavataras or as Lord Vishnu's servants. No one is independent of the Vishnu's control, for He is the Supreme Controller and master of all energies. Demigods like Siva, Brahma, Ganesa and Surya have been invested with the Supreme Lord's potencies. Hence, they are powerful. The Supreme Lord is one, the rest are His energies.
The householder devotee should abandon outright all materialism in the execution of his duties. He should increase his mood of pure devotion while satisfying his social and religious obligations according to the varnasrama system. He should be convinced that just by worshiping Krishna and His devotees, all results will be attained.
[Footnote 2 by Bhaktivinoda]
Human society should conduct itself according to the guidelines of the varnasrama system; such a lifestyle is called sanatanadharma or 'eternal religion'. India is the land of piety (punyabhumi), and the varnasrama religious system was introduced and implemented there by great sages of yore. In other countries varnasrama is also present in some form, though it never evolved into the perfected socio-religious system that was established in India. Human nature cannot find full expression nor attain consummation without the social divisions of varna. [End of footnote 2]
Even the lowborn outcastes are fully eligible to enter devotional service to Krishna. But they must live their lives free from sin and offenses; they will do that only by submitting to the duties of householder life prescribed at least for the sudra class. Without situating oneself in one of the four varnas, there is no question of dharma or religious life. Even those desiring just their own material welfare respect the customs of varnasramadharma.
On the strength of worshiping Krishna in full surrender, one is gradually elevated through varnasramadharma to the platform of saintliness. But if one follows the varnasrama system without worshiping Lord Krishna, he is doomed. Every householder is obliged to fulfil his varnasrama responsibilities. He should therefore live with restraint and accept only what is essential for serving Lord Krishna, and fulfill the formal rules and responsibilities of his varna. One easily accomplishes all this simply by chanting the holy name and engaging in devotional service. Moreover, one attains bhava or spiritual ecstacy by these same devotional practices. With the advent of bhava, one transcends the jurisdiction of rules and regulations.
As long as one needs a regulated, formal social life, he must remain within the bounds of varnasrama. But after the first stirrings of love of Godhead with the attainment of bhava, the jiva's own divine nature becomes apparent: he will then require no further inspiration from the external guidelines of varnasramadharma. The mood of bhava is incomprehensible to materialistic persons because it is transcendentally dynamic, appearing in a person by its own volition regardless of that person's varna or asrama. The Vaishnava householder who follows this path of Krishna conscious varnasramadharma with singlemindedness, shunning the Mayavadi contamination, thus transcends the limits of varna and asrama.
Lord Vishnu's name and qualities are not different from Him; lack of this knowledge is namabhasa
Lord Vishnu's name, form, qualities and so on should never be viewed as being separate from the Lord Himself. He is nondual (advayatattva); as the complete whole, He is the Supreme Absolute. If due to ignorance someone has a dualistic concept of God, he can at best rise to the namabhasa stage of chanting, but he will never reach prema. Then again, if he can get the mercy of a bona fide spiritual master and can overcome his anarthas, he will attain the pure name by the progressive clearing process.
[Footnote 3 by Bhaktivinoda]
Selfopinionated philosophers fall into duality when they try to conceptualize God with their tiny brains. Imposing duality upon Lord Vishnu is an offensive tendency that is very difficult to overcome. Mayavadi philosophers propose that Brahman is formless and impersonal, and that Lord Vishnu's name, form etc are all products of illusion; with the lifting of the veil of illusion, they expect to perceive Lord Vishnu as impersonal Brahman and nothing more. But such arguments are foolish and nihilistic. The Mayavadi viewpoint stems from madness and a stubborn ignorance of the fact that the Supreme Lord is endowed with omnipotency. 'Omnipotent Brahman' is verily a name for the Supreme Person, Lord Vishnu. [End of footnote]
The intelligence of the Mayavadi philosopher is extremely demented. Seeing that the material existence is variegated, he concludes that the spiritual existence, being opposite to the material realm, must be void. This incomplete, immature theorizing leads him to imagine Brahman as dry and impersonal. In its original state, Brahman has a name, form, qualities, pastimes and so on but the Mayavadi is incapable of accepting this truth. If he would accept it, Brahman would appear before him as Lord Vishnu.
Mayavada is the wretched condition of human existence, and the pure devotee is the scourge of this mischievious philosophy. He establishes the correct scriptural viewpoint that the Supreme Lord is nondifferent from His name, form, pastimes and qualities.
Nirvisesa and Savisesa Vishnu versus the Mayavadi notion of Brahman
Both the personal and impersonal features are inherent in Lord Vishnu's divine Being. The Lord's acintyasakti (inconceivable potency) harmoniously displays His personal and impersonal aspects (savisesa, with variety, and nirvisesa, without variety). The Supreme One, by His acintyasakti, exhibits allattractive beauty and pastimes that silence all contradictory speculations about Him.
Human intelligence is limited and puny. It cannot easily fathom the Lord's inconceivable potency. So when a human being tries to conceive of a supreme truth with his inadequate brain, he can only come as far as the impersonal Brahman, which is a partial representation of the Absolute Whole. In this way he is diverted from the supreme goal of worship, Lord Vishnu, whose lotus feet are worshiped even by the great demigods. Ignorant of the benefit he has lost, he becomes attached to the worship of impersonal Brahman. But anyone who comprehends the transcendental nature of the name, form and qualities of the Supreme Lord, knowing them to be not different from Him, can perceive Lord Krishna in His divine fullness by chanting His holy name purely.
Duality exists only on the material plane here a name is different from the object it identifies. But as this is not the case on the spiritual platform, it is a gross blunder to imagine such a difference between the Lord and His name, form, qualities and so on. The same pitfall entraps those who consider Siva and other demigods to be independent of the Supreme Lord's control.
Why devotees do not mix with Mayavadis
The devotee who has taken singleminded shelter in the holy name is a truly elevated soul. He worships Krishna and no one else as the Supreme Lord. He does not attack the deities of other scriptures, but worships and respects them as servitors of Lord Krishna. He always refrains from dry speculation. When different scriptures try to establish the superiority of other demigods, it is only to facilitate the limited ability of a particular mentality to grasp the absolute truth. These scriptures are actually trying to elevate their followers to become devotees of Krishna. Therefore one should never criticize other scriptures and the demigods described therein, for such criticism is an offense.
A devotee should not accept remnants of food or garlands from a Mayavadi, even if they were offered to Lord Vishnu, because a Mayavadi's worship is impure. A Mayavadi's chanting of the holy name is likewise offensive. The Lord never accepts the Mayavadi's offerings or worship. It is also an offense for the devotee to accept garlands and other remnants of demigod worship, for this is detrimental to the development of pure devotion. But if a devotee worships Krishna and offers His remnants to the demigods, it will not be offensive to receive these remnants, nor will one's spiritual development be hampered in any way.
A pure devotee must always avoid the second offense to the holy name and chant the name constantly. Thus he attains prema. His entire success is found in the holy name.
The remedy for the offense
Illusion and madness blind the jiva, and thus he thinks that others are also on the same platform as Lord Vishnu. The only remedy is to repent intensely and meditate on Lord Vishnu, Krishna, for by this remembrance all offenses are dissolved. Thereafter, one must meticulously avoid committing the same offense again.
Remembrance of the Lord is the most effective penance; the Vedas always recommend imperiled brahmanas to meditate upon the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu for protection. Remembering the Lord's name is the same as meditating upon His lotus feet. The holy name can disperse all previous offenses, for it acts as the devotee's best friend. The Lord is an ocean of mercy and forgiveness. Like a dear friend, he forgives one for previous mistakes.
In conclusion, the devotee must disassociate himself from demigod worshippers and polytheists and seek the company of Vaishnavas who exclusively worship Krishna as their Supreme Lord.
One who is blessed with love and devotion and takes pleasure in serving Shrila Haridas Thakura's lotus feet will find this book Harinama Cintamani as valuable as life itself.