— Chapter Five —

Considering the Demigods
Independent of Krsna

All glories to Lord Sri Gauranga, the life of Sri Gadadhara Pandit; all glories to Lord Nityananda, the heart of Srimati Jahnavadevi; all glories to Sri Advaita Acarya, the Lord of Mother Sita; all glories to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya.

The principle of the Supreme Godhead Visnu

SRILA 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.

"Lord Visnu is the supreme, non-different from the Absolute Truth. He is the lord of the universe, and the possessor of a transcendental body that is always situated in pure goodness. Lord Krsna, the master of Goloka, is the essence and source of Lord Visnu. Krsna is embellished with sixty-four extraordinary excellences; He is the repository of all transcendental mellows. Lord Narayana possesses sixty of those qualities, and to a lesser degree of fullness than Him, so do Lord Visnu and the purusa-avataras.

"Lord Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha, is Lord Krsna's vilasa-vigraha or partial expansion. In Vaikuntha, Sankarsana expands as Maha-Visnu, who lies in the Causal Ocean. This is the first purusa expansion. The next purusa expansion is Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the source of Lord Brahma. He enters every universe as the purusa-avaiara. He further expands as Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Supersoul within every living entity. These three Visnus are the purusa expansions. Ksirodakasayi Visnu is the source of the incarnations like the Fish (Matsya), Tortoise (Kurma) etc. All these incarnations are forms of the Visnu principle of the Supreme Godhead, and are ornamented with sixty transcendental characteristics. The saktyavesa-avataras are,jiva-tattva in whom the potency of the Lord descends. They are the Lord's separated expansions or vibhinnamsa, and are exemplified as Parasurama, Buddha, Prthu, and so on.

"The Supreme Lord's separated parts or vibhinnamsa are of two categories. Ordinary jivas possess only the first fifty of the Lord's sixty-four transcendental characteristics, and these in miniscule quantity. But in the second category of jivas, including demigods like Lord Siva and others, the same fifty characteristics are found in full potency; additionally, the next five qualities are partially evident. However, these five qualities are exhibited in full potency only by the Visnu category. *

"Thus only the visnu-tattvas are adorned to the fullest degree with the first fifty-five qualities of the Lord. They furthermore display a degree of the next five qualities, for a total of sixty; these five qualities are visible in absolute fullness in Lord Narayana alone. Thus Lord Siva and all the demigods are the Supreme Lord Visnu's servitors. Though the demigods are superior jivas, the Supreme Lord Visnu is the master and controller of the jivas and demigods alike.

Equating the Lord with demigods is ignorance

"People who are ignorant of the visnu-tattva principle of the Supreme Godhead try to equate the Supreme Lord with the demigods. Lord Siva and all the other demigods are the order-carriers of the Supreme Lord Visnu. Mayavadis say that impersonal Brahman is formless, whereas Siva, Brahma and Visnu, the three predominating deities of the three material modes (ignorance, passion and goodness, respectively) have forms. The scriptures unequivocally declare that Lord Brahma creates the material world and Lord Siva destroys it; but Lord Narayana or Visnu, the maintainer is the eternal worshipable Lord. Whoever worships other demigods and disregards Vasudeva, the Supreme Lord Narayana, rots eternally in the hell of material existence.

"Some persons argue that, since Lord Visnu is accepted as the all-pervading Absolute Truth in the Vedas, the Lord is present in all the demigods; therefore the worship of the demigods is equivalent to the worship of Lord Visnu. 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 Visnu. In truth, Lord Visnu's worship accomplishes the worship of all the demigods. Hence, separate worship of demigods is not required.

* See-Chapter Two for the list of the sixty-four transcendental qualities of the Lord. For a detailed discussion of the subject, please see The Nectar of Devotion, Chan. 21-24. — Ed.

"The correct interpretation of the Vedic truth is this: if Lord Visnu is omnipresent, then worship of Him is automatically worship of all the demigods. By watering the roots, a tree prospers; by watering the limbs, leaves and branches, the tree withers and dies. Foolish people who forget the Vedic principles commit this mistake. Because their vision is perverted, they worship certain demigods according to their mentality. They are ignorant of the Vedic injunction that worship of Lord Visnu is an eternal activity in pure goodness, beyond the three material-modes.

"Due to the advent of Kali-yuga and the contamination of impersonalism, people have become polytheists and have disregarded the supreme position of Lord Visnu. Individual demigods can offer only limited benefits, while the Supreme Lord Visnu alone can offer all benedictions. He is the maintainer of everyone. If only these greedy materialists, would realize the advantage of worshipping Lord Visnu, they would abandon all demigod worship.

A householder Vaisnava's responsibilities

"A householder devotee of Lord Visnu or Krsna must worship the Supreme Lord Krsna on all occasions, and be free from doubt. He is not required to perform ablutions or other fruitive activities. The Vedas recommend the worship of Lord Krsna and His devotees. In worshipping forefathers and demigods, he should offer them garlands from the Deity of Lord Krsna. If, on the other hand, the householder devotee performs the sraddha ceremony according to the mayavadi's methods, or he worships other demigods, then he commits a heinous offense. To impose some dualistic concept on the Supreme Lord Visnu is a namaparadha and disqualifies one from the path of pure bhakti.

"A serious namaparadha is to consider demigods like Lord Siva to be separate supreme divinities. Polytheism is a grievous offense. Lord Visnu is the Supreme Godhead, but Lord Siva and the other demigods are also individually supreme1; this idea is incorrect: One can, however, worship the demigods as guna- avataras-, sakyavesa-avataras or as Lord Visnu's servants. No one is independent of the Supreme Lord's control, for He is the Supreme Controller and master of all energies.

Demigods like Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, Lord Ganesa, or the sun-god 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.

"Human society should conduct life according to the edicts of the varnasrama system; such a lifestyle is called sanatana-dharma or eternal religion. India is the land of piety (punyabhumi), and the varnasrama religious system was introduced and implemented here by great sages of yore. In other countries this system is also present in some form, though it never evolved into the perfected socio-religious system that was seen in India. Human nature cannot find full expression nor attain consummation without the social divisions of varna. To be sure, the eternal truth is this: like anyone else, even the low-born outcastes are fully eligible to enter the family of Krsna's devotees if they live their lives free from sin and offenses. Still, human society as a whole can neither properly exist nor function without the varnasrama system.

Advancement In devotion by following varnasrama

"A materialist must direct his life according to the directions of varnasrama-dharma. On the strength of worshipping Krsna in full surrender, one is gradually elevated through varnasrama-dharma to the platform of saintly conduct. But if one follows the varnasrama system without worshipping Lord Krsna, he is doomed. A householder must fulfil his varnasrama responsibilities. He should live with restraint and accept only what is essential for serving Lord Krsna. He should respect all formal rules and responsibilities as long as they are within the varnasrama system. One can easily accomplish all this as long as he is chanting the holy name and is engaged in devotional service. Moreover, one gains bhava or spiritual ecstasy 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 spiritual love with the attainment of bhava, the jiva's beautiful nature becomes apparent.

He'll then require no further inspiration from the dictates of varnasrama-dharma. The mood of bhava is incomprehensible to materialistic persons because it is dynamic, appearing in a person by its own volition. The Vaisnava householder must follow this path with singlemindedness to be unaffected by the contamination of mayavadi influences.

Lord Visnu's name is nondifferent from Him

"Lord Visnu's name, form, qualities etc. should never be viewed as being separate from Him. He is non-dual; as the complete whole, He is the Supreme Absolute. If, due to ignorance, someone is attached to the dualistic concept of God, then he can at best attain the namabhasa stage of chanting, but he'll never reach prema. Then again, if he receives the mercy of a bona fide spiritual master and can overcome his anarthas, he'll attain the pure name by the gradual clearing process.

The bad logic and offenses of the mayavadis

"The dualistic concept of God is often arrived at by self-opinionated persons. This concept is reprehensible and very difficult to overcome. Mayavadi philosophers propose that brahman is formless and impersonal, and that Lord Visnu's name, form etc. are all products of illusion; they expect to perceive Lord Visnu 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 Suprcme Lord is endowed with omnipotence. Omnipotent brah-man is Visnu: the difference is in name only.

"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 featureless. 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 mayayadi is conditioned by human existence. The pure devotee is the scourge of this mischievous philosophy; he establishes the scriptural edict that, the Supreme Lord is non-different from His name, form, pastimes and qualities.

The relationship between Lord Visnu and Brahman

"Lord Visnu is the Supreme Absolute Truth; both the personal and impersonal features are inherent in His divine nature. The Supreme Lord's inconceivable potencies not only include His personal and impersonal aspects, they also manifest His all-attractive beauty and silence all contradictory speculations about Him.

"Human intelligence is limited and puny. It cannot easily fathom the Supreme Lord's inconceivable energies. So when a human being tries to conceive of a Supreme Controller with his inadequate brain, he can advance only to the concept of impersonal Brahman, which is a partial representation of the Absolute Whole. In this way he is diverted from the supreme goal of worship, Lord Visnu, whose lotus feet are worshipped 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, qualities etc. of the Supreme Lord, and knows them to be non-different from Him, can chant the pure name and perceive Lord Krsna in His divine fullness.

"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 Lord Siva and other demigods to be independent of the Supreme Lord's control.

Differences between devotees and mayavadis

"The devotee who has taken single-minded shelter in the holy name is a truly elevated soul. He worships Krsna and no one else as the Supreme Lord. He does not attack other scriptures and other deities, such as the demigods; he worships and respects them as servitors of Lord Krsna.

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 Krsna. Therefore one should never criticize other scriptures and demigods; 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 Visnu, because a mayavadi's worship is impure. A mayavadi's chanting of the holy name is offensive; the Lord does not accept the offerings and worship from a mayavadi. It is also an offense to accept garlands and other remnants from demigod worship; this is detrimental to the pure devotional life. But if a devotee worships the Supreme Lord Krsna 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 always avoids offenses, chants constantly and thus 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 the Supreme Lord Visnu. The only remedy is to repent intensely and meditate on Lord Visnu, Krsna, for by this remembrance 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 imperilled brahmanas to meditate upon the lotus feet of Lord Visnu 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.

"Lord Krsna is an ocean of mercy and forgiveness; the devotee must disassociate himself from demigod worshippers and polytheists, and seek the company of devotees who exclusively worship Krsna as their Supreme Lord."

One who is blessed with love and devotion and takes pleasure in serving Srila Haridasa Thakura's lotus feet will find this book Harinama Cintamani as valuable as life itself.