Please accept my blessings. I hope you and your family are all well. I have read your letter and noted your concern about demigod worship. You had heard correct that I daily pay my respect to Surya.
A devotee is a devotee if that devotee is sincere at heart and follows the Vedic spiritual rules that are also commanded by a scripturally authentic Spiritual Master. A Spiritual Master is a Spiritual Master if he (never she) is authorized by God (Lord Krsna, Lord Brahma and Lord Siva) and by the ancient scriptural authorities of Vedic India. No amount of notes (currency) or votes (elected or selected by the likeminded assembly of people). The scriptures are those books which are directly written by Vyasa Maharsi (we usually call him, Srila Vyasadeva). Besides the direct writing of Srila Vyasadeva no kind of other books are called (Vedic) scriptures.
A person, after spiritual initiation by a scripturally authorized Spiritual Master, is called a devotee (or a Vaisnava in the Sanskrit language). A Vaisnava (wholeheartedly) only worships two personalities with full dedication. The first personality is his (or her) scripturally authentic Guru and the second personality is Lord Krsna. Vaisnava only worships these two personalities wholeheartedly.
Once, my Spiritual Master, Srila Prabhupada, told a western devotee disciple who was acting as a pujari in his Vrindaban temple that he should only trust two people in life—a scripturally authentic true Guru and Lord Sri Krsna. If he (a devotee) trusted a third person in life then his (that devotee’s) future is in jeopardy (doomed). A devotee should not trust anyone else except Guru and Krsna, he said.
For this reason I suggest to you that you should only worship and pray to these two people in your life and unflinchingly trust these two people only because these two can never mislead anyone at anytime. A real Guru is never motivated. He selflessly guides everyone on the spiritual platform and always wished good for everyone.
In regards to devotee’s worshipping demigods, a devotee should never worship demigods. Worshipping demigods is not recommended for anyone. Especially devotee should avoid worshiping demigods because worshiping demigods is done by less intelligent people and by narrow minded people. the Vedic scriptures state the following.
Once Durga devi asked Lord Siva about the demigod (demigoddess) worship for which Lord Siva told her the following in the Rudrayamala:
ITARESAM CHA DEVANAM MANASA YADI PUJANAM
VISNU-BHAKTAS TU KURUTE HY APARADHAT PATATY ADHAH
“If a devotee of Lord Krsna (Lord Krsna is Lord Visnu also) worships a demigod (or demigods, usually called Devi Devatas in Sanskrit) even within their mind they become implicated with offenses and thus become degraded into very low life. The word ITARESAM used in this Sanskrit text indicates to worshiping anyone else besides Lord Krsna which brings offense to the worshiper.”
The Sanatkumara Samhita also states the following:
NA’NYAM CHA PUJAYED DEVAM NA NAMET SMAREN NA CHA
NA PASYEN NA CHA GAYEC CHA NA CHA NINDET KADACHANA
NANYOCCHISTAM CHA BHUNJITA NANYA-SESAM CHA DHARAYET
AVAISNAVANAM SAMBHASAM VANDANADI VIVARJAYET
“A devotee should never worship any demigod for any reason nor should ever pay any respects (obeisance with bowed head) to any demigod, nor should ever meditate on any demigod for any reason, nor should go to see any demigod regularly, nor should pray to any demigod daily, nor should criticize any demigod. A devotee should never make a habit of eating food that was offered to a demigod, nor should wear anything that was worn by the demigod deity (like NIRMALYA or a garland that came from the demigod deity), nor should keep close connection with those people who are not yet transformed into vaisnavas nor should praise the nonvaisnavas (AVAISNAVAS) for any reason.”
The Padma Purana also states the following:
YATHA DHRTVA SHUNAH PUCCHAM TARTUM ICCHET SARIT-PATIM
TATHA TYAKTVA HARIM SEVYAM ANYOPASANAYA BHAVAM
“Just as a person who tries to swim across the vast ocean by holding the tail of a dog because dog knows how to swim. Such an unintelligent person becomes drowned in due course of time because dog cannot swim for too long and dies in the ocean. Similarly, a person who worships a demigod or worships a demigod along with worshiping Lord Krsna that person becomes drowned in the ocean of birth and death because demigods themselves cannot become liberated as does dog who by itself cannot go across the ocean.”
Now you may wonder what is about those who are not yet spiritual initiated and worship demigods? Can they worship demigods? In answer to this the Narada Purana states the following:
SRI VISNU NAMA MANTRA ADIKSITA BRAHMANANAM API ANYA DEVARCHANE MAHAN DOSAH.
BRAHMANO’PI MUNIR JNANI DEVAM ANYAM NA PUJAYET
MOHENA KURUTE YASTU SADYA CHANDALATAM VRAJET
SADANYA DEVATA BHAKTIR BRAHMANANAM GARIYASI
VIDURAYATI VIPRATVAM CHANDALATVA PRAYACCHATI
“Even those who are not yet spiritually initiated into Vaisnavism by a scripturally authentic Spiritual Master and are still avaisnavas even then they are not allowed to worship demigods for any reason because such demigod worship implicated them with grievous sins (offenses).”
“Those who are Brahmanas and perform Sandhya-vandanam regularly by chanting Gayatri mantras they are called Munis (learned) or Jnanis in Sanskrit. Even though they are not yet spiritually properly initiated they should not worship demigods. If such uninitiated Brahmanas worship demigods due to Moha (illusion or due to ignorance or due to receiving money) then their Vipratvam (learned Brahminical quality) becomes destroyed and thus become equal to chandala (lowest of low category of people). For this reason everyone should avoid worshiping demigods and only worship Lord Krsna for every reason.”
I do not worship Surya, I look at Surya under Surya Mudra while chanting Surya Mantras. I do this because without doing this a devotee cannot and should not worship Lord Krsna. Without Surya Mudra a devotee is not allowed to look at Surya.
I hope I have answered all your questions. Usually a disciple should ask their questions to their Guru and should not seek answers from another’s Guru because the answer given may differ to the instructions given by their own Guru. Your name matches with a Vedic name. Are you initiated into Vedic life? If you are spiritually initiated then you should follow your Guru and no one else. The Vedic rule is that a sincere disciple should not follow or even hear another Guru. A disciple should only follow their own Guru and should not even read books that are written outside of their own spiritual tradition and succession. If a disciple finds a Guru who is perfectly pure, most learned and scripturally authentic and a true devotee who is able to clear all the spiritual doubts then a disciple is allowed to switch and change their Guru as an intelligent person does change a ten carrot gold-ring into a twenty-four carrot gold-ring.
Please carry on with your spiritual practice, someday your ultimate desire will be fulfilled.
Jai Sri Radhe.
Your ever well-wisher,
Krsna Balaram Swami
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Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Radha Govindaji!
Just read your most wonderful reply to Purusottama regarding the worship of demigods. It was so perfect. Thank you so much.
So can be well prepared if we are attacked with this type of question, could you please kindly elaborate on the reasons for the existence and singing daily at the Lord Siva’s corner at the Red Stone Temple? You explained it to me once in Vrindavan in 2016 when I asked, and was personally very satisfied with your explanation. But for the public at the large, an (detailed) answer directly from you on this matter would help prevent criticism because someone could easily accuse us unjustly of demigod worship because of this.
Thank you Swamiji! Jay Sri Radhe!
Your humble servant,
29 May 2020, Lithuania
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Dear Krsna Kirtan,
Please accept my blessings. I hope you both are well. Vrijabasi just came and showed me your letter. Thank you for asking me for a clarification.
Devotees do neither follow anyone nor worship outside their scripturally authentic guru and Lord Krsna. But sometimes it may externally seem that sincere devotees are worshiping or following someone third. Such a sight is believed by ignorants. Those who have spiritual philosophical background they always remain free from committing offense from external sights.
For example Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s birth place has Lord Siva’s temple and it’s worship and care takes place daily but such worship and care is not to be understood as demigod worship. Lord Siva is worshipped there as a witness for Lord Chaitsnya’s arrival to let everyone know that Lord Chaitanya is God, Lord Krsna Himself.
Lord Siva is also worshipped in Vrindaban since 5000 years due to his arrival in disguise as a Gopi to participate in Lord Krsna’s Rasaleela dance. He is not worshipped as God or as a demigod but as a witness that Lord Krsna’s Rasaleela is and was supernatural and was not like that of a lascivious man of this world. Moreover those who visit Vrindaban their visit remains incomplete until they visit Lord Siva in his Gopisvara form because he was given such a blessing by Lord Krsna for his service of proving His Rasaleela pastime to transcendental. What a great service, just see.
We also have a temple in the premises of Sri Radha Govinda Red Stone Temple in Vrindaban where daily Kirtan and a short worship goes on daily but it is not worshipping him like God or a demigod but he is honored for guarding Lord Govinda. Lord Siva came to this land uninvited long before we thought of construction. He was brought and placed by a Brahmin from Rishikesh about 400 miles away from Vrindaban. We did not invite him nor told him to bring but he brought him, and unknown to us he placed him [Lord Siva] within the premises. It means Lord Siva wanted to witness and build and function as protector for Lord Govinda. He functions here as a guard for Lord Govinda, and his name is Govinda Raksaka Mahadeva meaning he is 24 hour on duty as a protector guard for Lord Govinda. We as devotees do not worship anyone else except Lord Krsna and our guru. We love and trust these two but while existing in this world we have to cooperate with many just to live peacefully. But this does not mean we are breaking the spiritual law of trust.
Lord Siva is Lord Krsna’s greatest devotee and he is happy when Vaisnavas honor him as such. He becomes unhappy when he is thought to be a god and honored.
Thinking Lord Siva to be God is an offense and Lord Siva becomes angry with such thinkers and worshipers.
Jai Sri Radhe.
Your ever well-wisher,
Krsna Balaram Swami