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Demigod Worship is for the Less Intelligent; Krishna Worship is for the Truly Intelligent
If demigod worship is ultimately futile, why do most people still worship the demigods? Because demigods give quick material benefits and that is what most people want. Therefore in the Vedic scriptures, a person wanting a particular boon is advised to worship a particular demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship Surya, the sun-god; a person wanting education is recommended to worship the goddess of learning, Sarasvati; and a person wanting a beautiful wife is told to worship the goddess Uma, the wife of Lord Shiva. In this way there are recommendations in the scriptures for different classes of people. The nature of the promises given to the demigod worshipers is: "You do this puja for 8 weeks; you will get a good wife." "You do this puja for 14 weeks and you will be successful in your court case." For example, the Ganesh stotra states: jape ganapathis stotram shadbhir maase phalam labhet. "By chanting this Ganapati stotra one can achieve results within 6 months." The stotra continues:
vidyarthi labhate vidyam dhanarthi labhate dhanam
putrarthi labhate putram moksharthi labhate gatim
A student will get good education, a man desirous of wealth will acquire wealth, a man aspiring for a son will get a son, and a man after liberation will achieve a higher destination."
In this way. many material benefits are dangled in front of people. Those who want quick results are attracted by such allurements and thus they worship demigods.
These facilities are given for less intelligent people who are motivated by material desires. An intelligent person surrenders to Krishna in order to achieve ultimate liberation. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that, although those worshiping the demigods are actually worshiping Him, such indirect worship is for the less intelligent people and is worship done in a wrong way. Why such worship is considered wrong is explained in the Shrimad Bhagvatam (4.31.14)
yatha taror mula-nisecanena trpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopasakhah
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam tathaiva sarvarhanam acyutejya
"As pouring water on the root of a tree energizes the trunk, branches, twigs and everything else, and as supplying food to the stomach enlivens the senses and limbs of the body, simply worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service automatically satisfies the demigods, who are parts of that Supreme Personality." When a man pours water on the leaves and branches of a tree without pouring water on the root, he does ¦so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. Similarly, the process of providing nourishment to the different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach.
Foolish people confidently propound a sweet-sounding yet absurd philosophy. 'All paths lead to the same goal; worship of all gods is the same.' This is like saying, "All the nine holes in the body serve the same purpose. You can put food in any of them and it will automatically reach the stomach." Does it make any sense? If our goal is to supply food to the stomach, in how many ways can we do so? The only way is through the mouth, and not through the cars, nose, anus etc. Similarly there is only one way to conquer death and enter into the kingdom of God, as stated in the shruti mantras: tarn eve viditvati mrtyum eti nanyah pantha vldyate ayanaya "Only by knowing the Supreme Lord can one conquer death." (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.8) It is clearly stated herein nanyah pantha, meaning that there is no other way.
The demigods are, so to speak, different officers and directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government, not by the officers and directors. Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only. That will automatically satisfy the different officers and directors of the Lord. The officers and directors are engaged as representatives of the government, and to offer some bribe to them is illegal. Similarly the demigods are representatives of the Supreme Lord and to worship them separate from the Lord is considered avidhi-purvakam, worship done in a wrong way.