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Different Platforms of Worshipping God: Fear, Desire, Duty and Love


Although we understand that the God addressed as the one supreme in all religions is the same person, still different religions approach Him at different levels:


1)Bhaya (out of fear) :

Majority of the religions teach worship on the platform of fear. They portray God as the all powerful, grave chastiser of wrong­doers, the one who casts the atheists in the blazing fire of hell for  eternal damnation. People who worship the Lord out of stimula­tion of fear, bhaya, include those who are afraid of hell, poverty, pain, and death. This understanding of God as a frightening  per­son is not a very advanced level of understanding because it fo­cuses on only one small aspect of God as a judge who punishes the sinful: but God is much more than that.


2)Asha (for satisfying material aspirations) :

At a higher stage, one begins to realize that all of one's desires can be fulfilled only by pleading from a higher authority. When one understands that the sanction of the Lord is required to achieve or|e s desired end, one begins to follow the injunctions of the scnptures by performing sacrifice, giving charity and taking to strict vows and austerities for the fulfilment of one's desires. One ay thus aspire for material benefits like bountiful harvest, abundant wealth or progeny.    At a higher stage, one may aspire for evation to heavenly planets. Even those working for achieving mystic power through eight-fold mystic yoga or those aspiring to merge into brahman are said to be devoid of peace, because all these material desires can never satisfy the soul until he  reaches the platform of loving God without any motivation. For example Dhruva aspired for a kingdom greater than his great grandfather Brahma, and thus performed severe austerities at  Madhuvan. After he achieved the darshan of Lord Vishnu, all his material desires were vanquished.


3)Kartavya buddhi (out of a sense of duty) :

There are those who worship the Lord with feelings of grati­tude arisen from conceiving of Him as God, the creator of every­thing. The sense of duty makes them acknowledge the authority of  God and be grateful to Him for providing all the necessities of life - food, grains, fruits, air, water, sunlight, minerals etc - so that we may live happily in this world. This type of worship out of a  sense of duty is certainly superior to worship out of fear or desire because, on this duty-bound platform, a person understands God to be a loving father who provides him all that he needs for his  sustenance and protection.


4)Raga (out of genuine attraction to the Lord) :

The real platform of religion, however, is love of God, where one worships God only out of love for Him. Such a devotee does not consider God to be an order-supplier; rather he offers every­thing  he has to God out of unmotivated and uninterrupted love. It is immaterial whether one is a Hindu, Muslim or a Chris­tian. The ultimate goal of religion is to achieve pure love for God. This love is  characterized by selflessness, for we are not speaking of the love one feels toward someone who has satisfied one's needs. It is actually the opposite; this love is an expansion oi oneself, an  outward flow marked by selflessness in action, speech and thought. It seeks no reward or return; the devotee only de-:res to satisfy the senses of the Lord. The more one practices this tvpe of  love for God, the more one achieves complete freedom from all bondage and develops an intimate relationship with God,


 On the previous platforms, the worshiper is interested in God mainly as a facilitator of his material life, but on this platform, one serves God simply out of love without expecting any mate­rial  benefit. It is this pure philosophy of unmotivated love of God that the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.2.6) teaches: "The supreme oc­cupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can at­tain  to loving devotional service to the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to com­pletely satisfy the self."


This unconditional selfless love of God naturally evokes simi­lar selfless love for every living entity because every soul is a be­loved son of God. The Shrimad Bhagavatam abounds with  ex­amples of such pure devotees of the Lord. For example, Bhakta Prahlad, the exalted devotee of Lord Narasimhadeva, remained unshaken even in the face of great adversities and desired the  good of his father, the demoniac Hiranyakashipu, though the lat­ter tried to brutally murder him in numerous ways. The Bhagavatam also teaches the process by which every one of us can be  elevated to this platform of loving God and having a di­rect eternal relationship with Him.Human beings can be divided into two classes - devotees and demons. The demons do not know the laws  of God and they do not want to know the laws of God. They thrive in sinful activi­ties by deliberately disobeying God by disregarding His propri-etorship of everything. Sometimes they concoct  something about ne unfathomable God with the few grams of brain substance and rn'slead the general populace from the path of His instructions. A ^votee, on the other hand, accepts the  authority of God and follows His instructions according to the authorized scriptures like Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. There­fore, for a seeker of truth, the first step is to accept the  authority of God. Then he can understand the different types of worshiping God, namely, fear, desire, duty and love. Thus all religions are ultimately meant to gradually elevate the follower to the  highest platform of love of God. This higher un­derstanding of the common purpose of all religions - love of God resolves the superficial contradictions among them.


Consider two dictionaries - a small pocket dictionary and a big bulky Chamber's dictionary. Just as small words like 'come', 'go', 'eat' etc. can be found in both the pocket and the Chamber's  dictionaries, similarly basic instructions in the mode of goodness like 'Do not steal', 'Love everyone', 'Forgive your enemy', 'Al­ways do good to others' may be found in all religious scriptures. And  just as big words like 'cataclysm', 'corroborate' will not be found in the pocket dictionary, but can be found only in the Chamber's dictionary, similarly instructions in the mode of pure goodness,  like 'Surrender to the will of Lord out of unmotivated uninterrupted love', 'Think of God and serve Him twenty-four hours a day' and 'Renounce all worldly pleasures and have a desire to serve God  birth after birth without desiring even libera­tion' can be found only in the most advanced scriptures. There­fore authorized religions like Christianity, Islam etc are like pocket dictionaries (where  there is a partial revelation of the Truth ac­cording to the level of the audience) and the scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and the Shrimad Bhagavatam are like the Chamber's dictionary (which claim  to give complete knowledge by knowing which nothing further remains to be known).


Yet all scripture is perfect. In Islam. Sufi saints abstain frofl1 meat and intoxicants and. by following the Koran, achieve a spirtally exalted status. In Christianity, Franciscian friars and Benedictine  monks, following strict vegetarianism, sobriety and celibacy achieve a similar exalted spiritual status.