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If Demigod Worship is condemned, why do the Scriptures prescribe it
A question may be raised at this point, "If the demigods can not award any worthwhile permanent benediction, then why is their worship recommended in the scriptures?" This is because the Vedic scriptures are like a desire tree; they provide methods of elevation even for the most fallen and unintelligent so that they can be gradually elevated.Just as the educational system is designed to gradually educate even an utterly illiterate man, in the same way the scriptures prescribe worship of demigods who offer material benefits for those who are less intelligent and are full of material desires. Majority of the populace practices religion only for the sake of fulfilling their insatiable material desires. For such materialistic people, accepting the authority of the scriptures and following the standards prescribed for demigod worship is the beginning of surrender to God.
Demigod worship involves performance of tapa (austerity) and dana (charity), which helps one to become free from aham (bodily identification) and mama (false proprietorship). For example, the mantra used while making sacrificial offerings to Indra, indraya svaaha idam na mama means "This is not mine. I offer it to Indra." This sort of worship helps one to rise from bodily, material consciousness gradually so that ultimately the completely selfless platform of pure devotional service can be reached.
The worship or the mantras offered to the demigods always carries the name of Vishnu in the beginning and the end. This is the spiritual seed (like a bitter medicine coated with sugar all around) which makes a materialistic demigod worshiper recite the name of the Supreme Lord and slowly get its benefit over a period of time. For example, the worshipers of Ganesh recite the following verse from the Mahabharata (which was written by Ganesh himself):
kayena vaca manasendriyair va buddhyatmanava prakrteh svabhavat
karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai narayana yeti samarpayami
"Whatever I think, speak and do with my mind, intelligence and senses -1 offer them all at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Narayana."
By repeated chanting of the names of Lord Vishnu in such prayers to the demigods, the consciousness of a demigod worshiper k gradually awakened. Over a period extending over several Hfe. times, he becomes elevated enough to worship the Supreme Lord Krishna. In this way demigod worship is meant to elevate a soul to the highest form of worship, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, over a period of many lifetimes This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (7.19):
bahunam janmanam ante jnanvaan mam prapdyate
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare."
If the ultimate goal of demigod worshipper is to become a devotee of Lord Vishnu, why not worship Lord Vishnu directly and avoid wasting time? Therefore if an intelligent person is fortunate enough tocome in contact with a devoteeof the Lord, he can leave all the other rituals and just take to Krishna consciousness and the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra. This worship of Lord Krishna includes in itself the worship of all the millions of demigods, exactly as pouring water on the root of the tree nourishes every part of tree.