Goddess Durgā

Durga

This morning I ran across this nice image of the Goddess Durgā. Durgā-devī, is actually the external energy of Kṛṣṇa, the shadow energy of the Lord. People in general worship goddess Durgā, the wife of Lord Śiva, for material prosperity. As devotees of Krishna, we do not worship the demigods or demigoddess’s. As Srila Prabhupada points out;

There is a misconception that there are many Gods. Actually that is not a fact. God is one, but there are many other powerful living entities who are in charge of different departments of administration. They are called demigods. All the demigods are servants who carry out the orders of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead.

Only the less intelligent worship the demigods for their various purposes. The most intelligent worship only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.

Sometimes we, the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, are accused of not approving of the worship of demigods….

…Because Kṛṣṇa and His energy appeared simultaneously, people have generally formed two groups—the śāktas and the Vaiṣṇavas—and sometimes there is rivalry between them. Essentially, those who are interested in material enjoyment are śāktas, and those interested in spiritual salvation and attaining the spiritual kingdom are Vaiṣṇavas. Because people are generally interested in material enjoyment, they are interested in worshiping Māyādevī, the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaiṣṇavas, however, are śuddha-śāktas, or pure bhaktas, because the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra indicates worship of the Supreme Lord’s energy, Harā. A Vaiṣṇava prays to the energy of the Lord for the opportunity to serve the Lord along with His spiritual energy. Thus Vaiṣṇavas all worship such Deities as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Sītā-Rāma, Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa and Rukmiṇī-Dvārakādhīśa, whereas durgā-śāktas worship the material energy under different names. ( from purport SB 10.2.11-12)

…But he also points out that we offer all respect to the demigods as they are all servants of the Lord.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta 1975
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Adi-lila 14.50

kanyāre kahe,–āmā pūja, āmi diba vara
gaṅgā-durgā–dāsī mora, maheśa–kiṅkara

SYNONYMS

kanyāre kahe—addressing the girls, the Lord would say; āmā pūja—”Worship Me”; āmi—I; diba—shall give; vara—nice husband; gaṅgā—the Ganges; durgā—Goddess Durgā; dāsī—maidservants; mora—My; maheśa—Lord Śiva; kiṅkara—servant.

TRANSLATION

Addressing the girls, the Lord would say, “Worship Me, and I shall give you good husbands or good benedictions. The Ganges and Goddess Durgā are My maidservants. What to speak of other demigods, even Lord Śiva is My servant.”

PURPORT

There is a misconception about the Hindu religion among people who profess other religions, such as Christians and Muslims, who say that in the Hindu religion there are many Gods. Actually that is not a fact. God is one, but there are many other powerful living entities who are in charge of different departments of administration. They are called demigods. All the demigods are servants who carry out the orders of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu disclosed this fact in His childhood. Out of ignorance, sometimes people worship the demigods to receive some particular boon, but actually, one who becomes a devotee and worshiper of the Supreme Personality of Godhead does not need to go to the demigods for any benediction because he obtains everything by the grace of the Supreme Lord. The Bhagavad-gītā (7.20, 28) therefore condemns such demigod worship:

kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ
prapadyante ‘nya-devatāḥ
taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya
prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā

“Only persons whose intelligence is lost and who are mad with lusty desires worship the demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.”

yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām
te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ

“But persons who are freed from all sinful activities and the duality of delusion engage themselves in the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with determination.”

Only the less intelligent worship the demigods for their various purposes. The most intelligent worship only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.

Sometimes we, the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, are accused of not approving of the worship of demigods. But how can we approve of this when it is condemned by Lord Caitanya and Lord Kṛṣṇa? How can we allow people to become foolish and hṛta-jñāna, bereft of intelligence? Our propaganda is simply meant to enable intelligent people to understand the distinction between matter and spirit and understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the whole spiritual identity. That is our mission. How could we mislead people into worshiping so-called gods in material bodies within this material world?

Our position of not allowing worship of the many hundreds of demigods is confirmed by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu even in His childhood. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung in this connection:

anya devāśraya nāi, tomāre kahinu bhāi,
ei bhakti parama karaṇa

“To become a staunch, pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead without deviation [ananya-bhāk], one should not divert his attention to the worship of the demigods. Such control is a symptom of pure devotional service.”

Also from the Madhya-lila 8.90

kṛṣṇera pratijñā dṛḍha sarva-kāle āche
ye yaiche bhaje, kṛṣṇa tāre bhaje taiche

SYNONYMS

kṛṣṇera—of Lord Kṛṣṇa; pratijñā—the promise; dṛḍha—firm; sarva-kāle—in all times; āche—there is; ye—anyone; yaiche—just as; bhaje—renders service; kṛṣṇa—Lord Kṛṣṇa; tāre—him; bhaje—reciprocates with; taiche—so for all time.

TRANSLATION

“Lord Kṛṣṇa has made a firm promise for all time. If one renders service unto Him, Kṛṣṇa correspondingly gives him an equal amount of success in devotional service to the Lord.

PURPORT

It is a completely mistaken idea that one can worship Kṛṣṇa in any form or in any way and still attain the ultimate result of receiving the favor of the Lord. This is a decision made by gross materialists. Generally such men say that you can manufacture your own way of worshiping the Supreme Lord and that any type of worship is sufficient to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Certainly there are different means for attaining different results in fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, mystic yoga and austerity. Crude men therefore say that if one adopts any of these methods one achieves the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s favor. They claim that it doesn’t matter what kind of method one adopts. A general example is given: If one wishes to arrive at a certain place, there are many roads leading there, and one can go to that place by any one of these roads. Similarly, these gross materialists say, there are different ways to attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They claim that one can conceive of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Goddess Durgā, Goddess Kālī, Lord Śiva, Demigod Gaṇeśa, Lord Rāmacandra, Kṛṣṇa, the impersonal Brahman or whatever, and one can chant the Lord’s name in any way and in any form. Such materialists claim that since ultimately all these names and forms are one, the result is the same. They also give the example that a man who has different names will answer if called by any one of them. Therefore, they claim, there is no need to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. If one chants the name of Kālī, Durgā, Śiva, Gaṇeśa or anyone else, the result will be the same.

Such claims made by mental speculators are no doubt very pleasing to mental speculators, but those who are actually in knowledge do not admit such conclusions, which are against the authority of the śāstras. A bona fide ācārya will certainly not accept such a conclusion. As Kṛṣṇa clearly states in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.25):

yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ‘pi mām

“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods, those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors, those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings, and those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Bg. 9.25)

Only the devotees of the Lord can be admitted to His kingdom-not the demigod worshipers, karmīs, yogīs or anyone else. A person who desires elevation to the heavenly planets worships various demigods, and material nature may be pleased to offer such devotees their desired positions. The material nature gives a person his own nature, by which he increases affection for different types of demigods. However, the Bhagavad-gītā (7.20) says that demigod worship is meant for men who have lost all their intelligence:

kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ
prapadyante ‘nya-devatāḥ
taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya
prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā

“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.”

Although one may be elevated to the heavenly planets, the results of such a benediction are limited:

anta-vat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ
tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām
devān deva-yajo yānti
mad-bhaktā yānti mām api

“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Bg. 7.23)

Being elevated to the heavenly planets or other material planets does not mean attaining an eternal life of knowledge and bliss. At the end of the material world, all attainments of material elevation will also end. Again, according to Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.55), only those who engage in His loving devotional service will be admitted to the spiritual world and return to Godhead, not others:

bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
viśate tad-anantaram

“One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.”

Impersonalists cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore it is not possible for them to enter into the spiritual kingdom of God and return home, back to Godhead. Actually one attains different results by different means. It is not that all achievements are one and the same. Those interested in the four principles of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa cannot be compared to those interested in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2) therefore says:

dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śiva-daṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ‘tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt

“Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Śrī Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, he becomes attached to the Supreme Lord.”

Those who aspire after liberation attempt to merge into the impersonal Brahman. To this end they execute ritualistic religious ceremonies, but Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam considers this a cheating process. Indeed, such people can never dream of returning home, back to Godhead. There is a gulf of difference between the goal of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa and the goal of devotional service.

The goddess Durgā is the superintending deity of this material world, which is made of material elements. The demigods are simply different directors engaged in operating the departments of material activities, and they are under the influence of the same material energy. Kṛṣṇa’s internal potencies, however, have nothing to do with the creation of this cosmic material world. The spiritual world and all spiritual activities are under the direction of the internal, spiritual energy, and such activities are performed by Yogamāyā, the spiritual energy. Yogamāyā is the spiritual or internal energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are interested in being promoted to the spiritual world and engaging in the service of the Lord attain spiritual perfection under the control of Yogamāyā. Those who are interested in material promotion engage in ritualistic religious ceremonies and economic development to develop sense gratification. They ultimately attempt to merge into the impersonal existence of the Lord. Such people generally become impersonalists. They are interested in worshiping Lord Śiva or Goddess Durgā, but their return is one hundred percent materialistic.

Following the example of the gopīs, the devotees sometimes worship the goddess Kātyāyanī, but they understand that Kātyāyanī is an incarnation of Yogamāyā. The gopīs worshiped Kātyāyanī, Yogamāyā, to attain Kṛṣṇa as their husband. On the other hand, it is stated in the Sapta-śatī scripture that a kṣatriya king named Suratha and a rich vaiśya named Samādhi worshiped material nature in the form of Goddess Durgā to attain material perfection. If one tries to mingle the worship of Yogamāyā with Mahāmāyā, considering them one and the same, he does not really show very high intelligence. The idea that everything is one is a kind of foolishness indulged in by those with less brain substance. Fools and rascals say that the worship of Yogamāyā and Mahāmāyā is the same. This conclusion is simply the result of mental speculation, and it has no practical effect. In the material world, sometimes one gives an exalted title to an utterly worthless thing; in Bengal this is known as giving a blind child a name like Padmalocana, which means “lotus-eyed.” One may foolishly call a blind child Padmalocana, but such an appellation does not bear any meaning.
In the spiritual world the Absolute Lord is always identical with His name, fame, form, qualities and pastimes. Such identity is impossible in the material world, where the name of a person is different from the person himself. The Supreme Lord has many holy names like Paramātmā, Brahman and “the creator,” but one who worships the Lord as the creator cannot understand the relationship between a devotee and the Lord in the five types of transcendental mellow, nor can he understand the conception of Kṛṣṇa. One cannot understand the six transcendental opulences of the Lord simply by understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead as impersonal Brahman.

Impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth is certainly transcendental, but this does not mean that one who has attained this realization can understand the sac-cid-ānanda form of the Lord. Similarly, Paramātmā realization-realization of the plenary expansion of the Absolute Truth within everyone’s heart-is also an incomplete understanding of the Absolute Truth. Even a devotee of the Personality of Godhead Nārāyaṇa cannot actually understand the transcendental attractive features of Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa who is attached to the sublime attractive features of the Lord does not consider Nārāyaṇa very important. When the gopīs sometimes saw Kṛṣṇa in the form of Nārāyaṇa, they were not very attracted to Him. The gopīs never addressed Kṛṣṇa as Rukmiṇī-ramaṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s devotees in Vṛndāvana address Him as Rādhāramaṇa, Nandanandana and Yaśodānandana, but not as Vasudeva-nandana or Devakī-nandana. Although according to the material conception Nārāyaṇa, Rukmiṇī-ramaṇa and Kṛṣṇa are one and the same, in the spiritual world one cannot use the name Rukmiṇī-ramaṇa or Nārāyaṇa in place of the name Kṛṣṇa. If one does so out of a poor fund of knowledge, his mellow with the Lord becomes spiritually faulty and is called rasābhāsa, an overlapping of transcendental mellows. The advanced devotee who has actually realized the transcendental features of the Lord will not commit the mistake of creating a rasābhāsa situation by using one name for another. Because of the influence of Kali-yuga, there is much rasābhāsa in the name of extravagance and liberal-mindedness. Such fanaticism is not very much appreciated by pure devotees.

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