Goddess Worship

Sarasvati the Goddess of Learning

Sarasvatī, the Goddess of Learning

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The other day I was doing some service at the Hare Krishna Temple here in New Vrindavan, West Virginia, and I ran into some Indian guests. After we greeted each other one of them asked me “when did you become a Hindu?” “I never became a Hindu” I replied, “I am a Hare Krishna devotee, a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I am not a Hindu. I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Kṛṣṇa.”

So just to make things a little clearer…both to myself and others, I did some research from Srila Prabhupada’s books to find the proper understanding of Goddess Worship, or worship of the demigods.

…Worship of demigods is discouraged herein because even the greatest demigods like Brahmā and Śiva only represent part of the opulence of the Supreme Lord. (Bg 10.42)

…The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, and all-powerful demigods like Brahmā and Śiva are engaged in the worship of Viṣṇu or Lord Kṛṣṇa; therefore who can be more powerful than Mukunda (Lord Kṛṣṇa) to be factually called the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are not independently powerful; they are powerful as expansions of the Supreme Lord, and all of them are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and so also are the living entities. (from purport SB 1.18.21)

…Both the living entity and the demigods are subordinate to the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead…not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally, persons who are distressed in the material world go to the demigods, as they are advised in the Vedic literature. A person wanting some particular thing may worship such and such a demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship the sun-god; a person wanting education may worship the goddess of learning, Sarasvatī; and a person wanting a beautiful wife may worship the goddess Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva. In this way there are recommendations in the śāstras (Vedic scriptures) for different modes of worship of different demigods. And because a particular living entity wants to enjoy a particular material facility, the Lord inspires him with a strong desire to achieve that benediction from that particular demigod, and so he successfully receives the benediction. The particular mode of the devotional attitude of the living entity toward a particular type of demigod is also arranged by the Supreme Lord. The demigods cannot infuse the living entities with such an affinity, but because He is the Supreme Lord or the Supersoul who is present in the heart of all living entities, Kṛṣṇa gives impetus to man to worship certain demigods. (from purport Bg 7.21)

…Everyone thinks that his intelligence is perfect. Sometimes one employs his intelligence in the worship of Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva, in order to obtain a beautiful wife. Sometimes, when one wants to become as learned as Lord Brahmā, he employs his intelligence in the worship of the goddess of learning, Sarasvatī. Sometimes, when one wishes to become as opulent as Lord Viṣṇu, he worships the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī.

Intelligence should be employed in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As soon as one uses his intelligence in this way, the goddess of fortune automatically becomes favorable to him. The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, never remains without her husband, Lord Viṣṇu. Consequently, when one worships Lord Viṣṇu he automatically obtains the favor of the goddess of fortune. (from purport SB 4.25.28)

Full text and purports from above excerpts

Lord-Shiva-God

Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 7, Text 21

yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ
śraddhayārcitum icchati
tasya tasyācalāṁ śraddhāṁ
tām eva vidadhāmy aham

yaḥ—that; yaḥ—that; yām—which; yām—which; tanum—form of the demigods; bhaktaḥ—devotee; śraddhayā—with faith; arcitum—to worship; icchati—desires; tasya—of that; tasya—of that; acalām—steady; śraddhām—faith; tam—him; eva—surely; vidadhāmi—give; aham—I.

TRANSLATION

I am in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.

PURPORT

God has given independence to everyone; therefore, if a person desires to have material enjoyment and wants very sincerely to have such facilities from the material demigods, the Supreme Lord, as Supersoul in everyone’s heart, understands and gives facilities to such persons. As the supreme father of all living entities, He does not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that they can fulfill their material desires. Some may ask why the all-powerful God gives facilities to the living entities for enjoying this material world and so lets them fall into the trap of the illusory energy. The answer is that if the Supreme Lord as Supersoul does not give such facilities, then there is no meaning to independence. Therefore He gives everyone full independence—whatever one likes—but His ultimate instruction we find in the Bhagavad-gītā: man should give up all other engagements and fully surrender unto Him. That will make man happy.

Both the living entity and the demigods are subordinate to the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore the living entity cannot worship the demigod by his own desire, nor can the demigod bestow any benediction without the supreme will. As it is said, not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally, persons who are distressed in the material world go to the demigods, as they are advised in the Vedic literature. A person wanting some particular thing may worship such and such a demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship the sun-god; a person wanting education may worship the goddess of learning, Sarasvatī; and a person wanting a beautiful wife may worship the goddess Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva. In this way there are recommendations in the śāstras (Vedic scriptures) for different modes of worship of different demigods. And because a particular living entity wants to enjoy a particular material facility, the Lord inspires him with a strong desire to achieve that benediction from that particular demigod, and so he successfully receives the benediction. The particular mode of the devotional attitude of the living entity toward a particular type of demigod is also arranged by the Supreme Lord. The demigods cannot infuse the living entities with such an affinity, but because He is the Supreme Lord or the Supersoul who is present in the heart of all living entities, Kṛṣṇa gives impetus to man to worship certain demigods. The demigods are actually different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord; therefore they have no independence. In the Vedic literature (Taittirīya Upaniṣad, First Anuvāka) it is stated: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead as Supersoul is also present within the heart of the demigod; therefore He arranges through the demigod to fulfill the desire of the living entity. But both the demigod and the living entity are dependant on the supreme wil1. They are not independant.”

Also from Chapter 10, Text 42

atha vā bahunaitena
kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna
viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam
ekāṁśena sthito jagat

athavā—or; bahunā—many; etena—by this kind; kim—what; jñātena—knowing; tava—you; arjuna—O Arjuna; viṣṭabhya—entire; aham—I; idam—this; kṛtsnam—all manifestations; eka—one; aṁśena—part; sthithaḥ—situated; jagat—in the universe.

TRANSLATION

But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.

PURPORT

The Supreme Lord is represented throughout the entire material universes by His entering into all things as the Supersoul. The Lord here tells Arjuna that there is no point in understanding how things exist in their separate opulence and grandeur. He should know that all things are existing due to Kṛṣṇa’s entering them as Supersoul. From Brahmā, the most gigantic entity, on down to the smallest ant, all are existing because the Lord has entered each and all and is sustaining them.

Worship of demigods is discouraged herein because even the greatest demigods like Brahmā and Śiva only represent part of the opulence of the Supreme Lord. He is the origin of everyone born, and no one is greater than Him. He is samatā, which means that no one is superior to Him and that no one is equal to Him. In the Viṣṇu-mantra it is said that one who considers the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa in the same category with demigods-be they even Brahmā or Śiva-becomes at once an atheist. If, however, one thoroughly studies the different descriptions of the opulences and expansions of Kṛṣṇa’s energy, then one can understand without any doubt the position of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and can fix his mind in the worship of Kṛṣṇa without deviation. The Lord is all-pervading by the expansion of His partial representation, the Supersoul, who enters into everything that is. Pure devotees, therefore, concentrate their minds in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in full devotional service; therefore they are always situated in the transcendental position. Devotional service and worship of Kṛṣṇa are very clearly indicated in this chapter in verses eight to eleven. That is the way of pure devotional service. How one can attain the highest devotional perfection of association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead has been thoroughly explained in this chapter.

Sharma-025

Lakṣmī, the Goddess of Fortune

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto Four, Chapter 25, Text 28

Text 28

tvaṁ hrīr bhavāny asy atha vāg ramā patiṁ
vicinvatī kiṁ munivad raho vane
tvad-aṅghri-kāmāpta-samasta-kāmaṁ
kva padma-kośaḥ patitaḥ karāgrāt

tvam—you; hrīḥ—shyness; bhavānī—the wife of Lord Śiva; asi—are; atha—rather; vāk—Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning; ramā—the goddess of fortune; patim—husband; vicinvatī—searching after, thinking of; kim—are you; muni-vat—like a sage; rahaḥ—in this lonely place; vane—in the forest; tvat-aṅghri—your feet; kāma—desiring; āpta—achieved; samasta—all; kāmam—desirable things; kva—where is; padma-kośaḥ—the lotus flower; patitaḥ—fallen; kara—of the hand; agrāt—from the front portion, or palm.

TRANSLATION

My dear beautiful girl, you are exactly like the goddess of fortune or the wife of Lord Śiva or the goddess of learning, the wife of Lord Brahmā. Although you must be one of them, I see that you are loitering in this forest. Indeed, you are as silent as the great sages. Is it that you are searching after your own husband? Whoever your husband may be, simply by understanding that you are so faithful to him, he will come to possess all opulences. I think you must be the goddess of fortune, but I do not see the lotus flower in your hand. Therefore I am asking you where you have thrown that lotus.

PURPORT

Everyone thinks that his intelligence is perfect. Sometimes one employs his intelligence in the worship of Umā, the wife of Lord Śiva, in order to obtain a beautiful wife. Sometimes, when one wants to become as learned as Lord Brahmā, he employs his intelligence in the worship of the goddess of learning, Sarasvatī. Sometimes, when one wishes to become as opulent as Lord Viṣṇu, he worships the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī. In this verse all these inquiries are made by King Purañjana, the living entity who is bewildered and does not know how to employ his intelligence. Intelligence should be employed in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As soon as one uses his intelligence in this way, the goddess of fortune automatically becomes favorable to him. The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, never remains without her husband, Lord Viṣṇu. Consequently, when one worships Lord Viṣṇu he automatically obtains the favor of the goddess of fortune. One should not, like Rāvaṇa, worship the goddess of fortune alone, for she cannot remain long without her husband. Thus her other name is Cañcalā, or restless. In this verse it is clear that Purañjana is representing our intelligence while he is talking with the girl. He not only appreciated the shyness of the girl but actually became more and more attracted by that shyness. He was actually thinking of becoming her husband and consequently was asking her whether she was thinking of her prospective husband or whether she was married. This is an example of bhoga-icchā—the desire for enjoyment. One who is attracted by such desires becomes conditioned in this material world, and one who is not so attracted attains liberation. King Purañjana was appreciating the beauty of the girl as if she were the goddess of fortune, but at the same time he was careful to understand that the goddess of fortune cannot be enjoyed by anyone except Lord Viṣṇu. Since he doubted whether the girl was the goddess of fortune, he inquired about the lotus flower she was not holding. The material world is also the goddess of fortune because the material energy works under the direction of Lord Viṣṇu, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram).

The material world cannot be enjoyed by any living entity. If one so desires to enjoy it, he immediately becomes a demon like Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu or Kaṁsa. Because Rāvaṇa wanted to enjoy the goddess of fortune, Sītādevī, he was vanquished with all his family, wealth and opulence. One can, however, enjoy that māyā bestowed upon the living entity by Lord Viṣṇu. The satisfaction of one’s senses and desires means enjoying māyā, not the goddess of fortune.

Ganesh-with-his-two-mothers-Parvati-and-Ganga

Goddess Durga, the Mother of the Universe

SB 1.18.21

athāpi yat-pāda-nakhāvasṛṣṭaṁ
jagad viriñcopahṛtārhaṇāmbhaḥ
seśaṁ punāty anyatamo mukundāt
ko nāma loke bhagavat-padārthaḥ

atha—therefore; api—certainly; yat—whose; pāda-nakha—nails of the feet; avasṛṣṭam—emanating; jagat—the whole universe; viriñca—Brahmājī; upahṛta—collected; arhaṇa—worship; ambhaḥ—water; sa—along with; īśam—Lord Śiva; punāti—purifies; anyatamaḥ—who else; mukundāt—besides the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa; kaḥ—who; nāma—name; loke—within the world; bhagavat—Supreme Lord; pada—position; arthaḥ—worth.
TRANSLATION

Who can be worthy of the name of the Supreme Lord but the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Brahmājī collected the water emanating from the nails of His feet in order to award it to Lord Śiva as a worshipful welcome. This very water [the Ganges] is purifying the whole universe, including Lord Śiva.

PURPORT

The conception of many gods in the Vedic literatures by the ignorant is completely wrong. The Lord is one without a second, but He expands Himself in many ways, and this is confirmed in the Vedas. Such expansions of the Lord are limitless, but some of them are the living entities. The living entities are not as powerful as the Lord’s plenary expansions, and therefore there are two different types of expansions. Lord Brahmā is generally one of the living entities, and Lord Śiva is the via medium between the Lord and the living entities. In other words, even demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who are the chief amongst all demigods, are never equal to or greater than Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, and all-powerful demigods like Brahmā and Śiva are engaged in the worship of Viṣṇu or Lord Kṛṣṇa; therefore who can be more powerful than Mukunda (Lord Kṛṣṇa) to be factually called the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are not independently powerful; they are powerful as expansions of the Supreme Lord, and all of them are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and so also are the living entities. There are four sects of worshipful devotees of the Lord, and the chief amongst them are the Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya and Śrī-sampradāya, descending directly from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, respectively. Besides the above-mentioned three sampradāyas, there is the Kumāra-sampradāya, descending from Sanat-kumāra. All of the four original sampradāyas are still scrupulously engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord up to date, and they all declare that Lord Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and no other personality is equal to Him or greater than Him.

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