“If a person goes against Shri Rama, they won’t be able to get firewood from the Vindhyachal forest or water from the oceans, and Kuvera’s house will be empty.” (Dohavali, 72)
bindhi na īndhana pā'i'ai sāgara jurai na nīra |
parai upāsa kubera ghara jo bipaccha raghubīra ||72||
Life is hard. Nothing comes easy. We think we have everything in our control, but we don’t. We reach out for help on occasion. We need others to not harm us. If there are aggressors in our midst, we need brave defenders to protect us from injury. It is understandable to give high praise and assign top status to those who help us when we are in trouble, but Goswami Tulsidas rightly points out that the sanction of one supreme person is required first in all circumstances. If you go against Him, then even your benefactor can’t help you.
ye 'py anya-devatā-bhaktā
te 'pi mām eva kaunteya
In the Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Person mentions demigod worship quite a few times. The word “demigod” is an English translation to the word “deva.” Deva is Sanskrit for “god.” Demigod is an accurate translation since there can be many devas. These are godly personalities, capable of delivering on what they promise.
What kinds of things do they promise? We can look to the infamous Hiranyakashipu for reference. He asked the deva named Brahma for immortality. Though Brahma is the creator of this universe and though he lives for billions of years, he does not have immortality. As a spirit soul, his existence is eternal, but immortality here refers to maintaining the same body-spirit connection. Brahma must die at some time, so he cannot grant the boon of immortality to anyone.
Hiranyakashipu thought he could outsmart the higher forces. He asked for protection against death in various ways. For instance, he asked that no weapon could kill him. Neither could an animal nor a human. He wanted immunity from dying at night and during the day. He thought he had all the bases covered, but the Supreme Person arriving in the form of Narasimhadeva squashed his supposed cleverness.
Generally, the demigod worshipers don’t go as extreme as Hiranyakashipu. They ask for basic things like good health, money, wisdom, protection and the like. If they worship properly, they get what they want. This only makes sense. Why would someone be considered a deva if they failed to deliver? To be godly means to do things that normal people can’t.
It is understandable to have great faith in your demigod of choice. That is a sign of gratefulness, which is a good trait to possess. A grateful person remembers good deeds done on their behalf. The human being is so forgetful that if a friend fails to deliver just one time, that blemish is what stands out. Forgotten are all the previous times that the same friend successfully came through.
Through sentiment towards one deva of choice, the status of “supreme” might get assigned. Goswami Tulsidas shows how that practice is not intelligent. In this verse from the Dohavali, he mentions that Kuvera’s house becomes empty if one goes against Shri Rama. Rama is the Supreme Person, the same one who speaks the Bhagavad-gita. He is the same Vishnu who has a lotus-like navel. From that navel comes Brahma, who is a devotee of Vishnu.
Kuvera is the treasurer-demigod. He has tremendous wealth at his disposal. Kuvera can act as a benefactor to one who worships him properly. Yet as mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, a demigod is empowered by God to grant rewards. Without the Supreme’s sanction, nothing can take place. Not a blade of grass moves without His approval.
A person might be tempted to approach Kuvera and turn against Rama, but they follow this route only in ignorance. If a person goes against Rama, they can find even a dense forest to be bereft of firewood. They can approach a vast ocean and not take away any water. This seems ridiculous, but for God it is child’s play. He simply manipulates the material elements as He sees fit. The material nature is His inferior energy, after all.
If you are fortunate enough to learn that your great benefactor himself has a benefactor, the wise choice would be to make friendship with that higher person. It is for this reason that Shri Krishna refers to demigod worshipers as less intelligent. Such worshipers don’t know of the supreme benefactor, and thus they take longer to learn the true mission of life, which is love and devotion to God.
Since benefits from them to see,
Thinking superior my demigod is he.
From ignorance since not knowing,
That their abilities to Shri Rama owing.
Only when sanction from Him first going,
Benefits to the worshiper then flowing.
Since benefactor having one above,
Better if through service to Him love.