Today is Siva-ratri. Vaishnavas generally do not celebrate Siva-ratri, and to begin, I will explain why, with reference to the Bhagavad-gita. We read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 7, “Knowledge of the Absolute,” text 23.
antavat tu phalam tesam
tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam
devan deva-yajo yanti
mad-bhakta yanti mam 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.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Some commentators on the Bhagavad-gita say that one who worships a demigod can reach the Supreme Lord, but here it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to the different planetary systems where various demigods are situated, just as a worshiper of the sun achieves the sun or a worshiper of the demigod of the moon achieves the moon. Similarly, if anyone wants to worship a demigod like Indra, he can attain that particular god’s planet. It is not that everyone, regardless of whatever demigod is worshiped, will reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is denied here, for it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to different planets in the material world but the devotee of the Supreme Lord goes directly to the supreme planet of the Personality of Godhead.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
This is logical. As Srila Prabhupada remarked, if you buy a ticket to Calcutta, you cannot expect to reach Bombay. If you worship a demigod, you go to the planet of the demigod. If you worship Krishna, you reach the supreme abode of Krishna.
Here the point may be raised that if the demigods are different parts of the body of the Supreme Lord, then the same end should be achieved by worshiping them. However, worshipers of the demigods are less intelligent because they don’t know to what part of the body food must be supplied. Some of them are so foolish that they claim that there are many parts and many ways to supply food. This isn’t very sanguine. Can anyone supply food to the body through the ears or eyes? They do not know that these demigods are different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord, and in their ignorance they believe that each and every demigod is a separate God and a competitor of the Supreme Lord.
We read in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam that just as by pouring water on the root of a tree all the limbs and branches and leaves are watered and just as by supplying food to the stomach all the different limbs of the body are nourished, similarly, by offering worship or rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, all of the demigods and all living entities are served and satisfied:
yatha taror mula-nisecanena
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam acyutejya
“By giving water to the root of a tree one satisfies its branches, twigs, and leaves, and by supplying food to the stomach one satisfies all the senses of the body. Similarly, by engaging in the transcendental service of the Supreme Lord one automatically satisfies all the demigods and all other living entities.” (SB 4.31.14)
The results achieved by the demigods’ benedictions are perishable because within this material world the planets, the demigods, and their worshipers are all perishable. Therefore it is clearly stated in this verse that all results achieved by worshiping demigods are perishable, and therefore such worship is performed by the less intelligent living entity. Because the pure devotee engaged in Krsna consciousness in devotional service of the Supreme Lord achieves eternal blissful existence that is full of knowledge, his achievements and those of the common worshiper of the demigods are different. The Supreme Lord is unlimited; His favor is unlimited; His mercy is unlimited. Therefore the mercy of the Supreme Lord upon His pure devotees is unlimited.
Everything material is temporary. The demigods—their bodies—are temporary, the bodies of their worshipers are temporary, their planets are temporary, and the fruits that one obtains from worshiping them are temporary. The demigods have authority only within the material world. They can give only material benefits to their worshipers. Only Vishnu, or Krishna, can award liberation from material bondage. No demigod can grant liberation. And beyond liberation, the devotees of Krishna also achieve krsna-bhakti, or krsna-prema—the ultimate goal of life.
Srila Prabhupada said that the impersonalists want to become one with God but that the devotees actually become greater than God, because God comes under their control. We see in the Bhagavad-gita that Krishna is acting as Arjuna’s chariot driver. Arjuna is commanding Krishna, senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthapaya me ’cyuta: “Please draw my chariot between the two armies so I can see who has assembled on the battlefield to fight.” The Lord likes to be controlled by His devotees, and He comes under the control of their pure love. Of course, the Lord is supreme—no one is equal to Him or greater than Him (na tat-samas cabhyadikas ca drsyate)—but out of love He becomes subordinate to His devotee. The idea of becoming one with the Lord is repugnant to a devotee, because in that impersonal oneness there is no service, no exchange of love.