Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The One About Worshiping Someone Else

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In any case, everyone should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for He will fulfill everyone's desire. The advantage of worshiping the Supreme Person is that even if one has desires for material enjoyment, if he worships Krishna he will gradually become a pure devotee and have no more material hankering.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.21.15 Purport)

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Shivani was getting along in age. Though not a senior citizen by any stretch, and still treated as the adorable child by her parents, she reached a point where her friends were already married, with most of them having kids. She wondered when her day would come. “I need to focus on this now,” she thought to herself. Previously, school and career took priority. Personal life was neglected.

[Lord Shiva]While growing up, she had heard that to get a good husband a girl should worship Lord Shiva, one of the three principal deities in charge of the material creation. Shivani, though having a beautiful name that means the wife of Shiva, did not know much about Mahadeva or the process of worshiping him. Through asking around, she got the basic understanding. She set aside a particular day and followed the specific rituals. She made a prayer of her own at the end:

“Please, great god, grant me a good husband. I desire to start a family, with wonderful children to surround me. I know how tough it is out there to find the perfect match. Even when people do, they have a difficult time staying together. Please match me up with someone who is ideal for me, who will stay with me until the end. I will be very grateful to you if you can make this happen.”

Well, things worked out for Shivani. She got married to a husband who seemed pretty good. The next major issue in her life was finding a house to live in. After an extensive search and a few near-matches, she and her husband found the house of their dreams. Upon moving in they held a prayer ritual, where they worshiped Lord Ganesha, who is one of Shiva’s sons. He is particularly known for removing obstacles from the path of the devoted souls. So she again did the ritual and mentally offered her own prayer at the end:

“Please, Lord Ganesha, the king of elephants, the devoted son of Shiva and Parvati, remove the obstacles from our path. Married life is difficult, and I especially want my future children to be safe and sound in this home. Make sure everything goes okay, because I’ve heard of the nightmares of owning a home. Thank you.”

[Ganesha]Everything turned out fine in the home, but a few years went by and there were no children yet. Then Shivani, who was again in anxiety, held a formal worship for goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. In a very disturbed mood, she offered her prayer and eventually nice children came her way.

Many years later Shivani reflected on her previous experiences in religious life. She was starting to notice that her desires were not going away. She always thought the worship she was performing was the final one. Sort of like the child who begs their parents for a toy, “Mom and Dad, I won’t ask for anything ever again. Please.” But then after a short while, they want another toy. And so Shivani felt unsatisfied in her religious life.

She brought up these issues one day to her good friend Padma. Padma was known to worship Lord Krishna, whom Shivani considered another Hindu god. Shivani also wondered why no one had previously advised her to worship Krishna. They had ample opportunity to suggest so, but they never did.

[Lord Krishna]“That’s because your desires were all material,” said Padma.

“What do you mean? What other desires can there be?” asked Shivani.

“Material means the temporary. Like a good husband, a safe home, lots of wealth - these things don’t last. They don’t stay around forever and certainly don’t provide lasting happiness.”

“So people who worship Krishna, what do they ask for?”

“Krishna.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, as you probably know, in Hinduism, which is actually just the Vedic tradition or sanatana-dharma, there are many gods. The term “deva” refers to god. It isn’t like a buffet restaurant where you just pick and choose what you like and you get satisfied in eating. There are specific things each deva can offer, and so depending on what you want, you pick which deva to worship.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s sort of what I did.”

“And so despite there being many gods, there is a supreme god still. He is known as Vishnu, Krishna, Rama, Narasimha, or by so many other names. He has different forms, but He is the same person. And He is always above the other gods. There are many ways to see that He is supreme and one of them is in the rewards of worship. If you worship Him, eventually your material desires go away. That’s because the true benefit of worshiping Krishna is getting Krishna. He is beyond the material realm. He lives forever, and so His devotees live in service to Him forever.”

“So if I worshiped Krishna instead all this time, my mindset would have changed?”

“For sure. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Those figures you worshiped previously actually worship Krishna themselves. They are wonderful devotees, and the glories of their service know no end. If you had worshiped them in that vein, asking them to help you in devotion, the result would have been different as well.”

“So does everyone know this? Why isn’t everyone worshiping Krishna or Vishnu?”

[Lord Krishna]“They don’t want to be with Him, that’s why. They want money, wealth, fame, beauty, prestige, etc. Inherently they understand that Krishna might not give them these things, that He looks out for the wellbeing of the devotee first. Whatever the case, you can take to worshiping Him at any time and see for yourself what happens. The best way to worship Him is to recite His names, like those found in the maha-mantra.”

“Oh, that Hare Rama, Hare Krishna thing?”

“Yes. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

As they grant rewards I know,

To other devas first I’ll go.

 

That desires to vanish I presumed,

But instead by more my mind consumed.

 

Worship of Krishna for His association,

Eternally blissful in His glorification.

 

Even if mind with many desires still filled,

Chant His names with discipline instilled.

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