by Shrila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami
Here are some scriptural statements forbidding worship of the devata and pitris
1. Narayana Upanishad
Worship of Shiva, Shakti (Durga), Surya, Ganapati and other devatas and pitris is not prescribed anywhere, neither by local custom nor by scripture (Purana, Smriti, Agama, Dharma Shastra, or Veda), for devotees of Vishnu – who are either householders of varnashrama or outcastes – initiated with Vishnu mantra. Rather, by doing such worship they commit offense.
Thus as first evidence, Narayana Upanishad ( of the Atharva Veda) says:
om atha purusho ha vai narayano ‘kamayata prajah shrijeyeti
narayanat prano jayate
manah sarvendriyani ca kham vayur jyotir apah prithivi vishvasya dharini narayanad brahma jayate
narayanad rudro jayate
narayanad indro jayate
narayanad prajapatih prajayante
narayanad dvadashaditya rudra vasavah sarvani chandagmsi
narayanad eva samutpadyante
ya evam veda
om atha nityo narayanah
shivash ca narayanah
shakrash ca narayanah
kalash ca narayanah
dishash ca narayanah
vidishash ca narayanah
urdhvash ca narayanah
adhash ca narayanah
antar bahish ca narayanah
narayana evedagm sarvam
yad bhutam yac ca bhavyam
nishkalanko niranjano nirvikalpo nirakhyatah
shuddho deva eko narayanah
na dvitiyo ‘sti kashcit(e)
sa vishnur eva bhavati sa vishnur eva bhavati
ya evam veda
“Then the Supreme Lord Narayana desired to create living entities. From Narayana came the life airs; from Narayana came the mind and all the senses; from Narayana came the elements – ether, air, light, water and earth, which supports the universe. From Narayana came Brahma, Rudra, Indra, Prajapati. From Narayana came the twelve Adityas, the twelve Rudras, the twelve Vasus, all the vedic metres and all the devas. Everything came from Narayana in the beginning and everything enters into Narayana at the end
Thus Narayana is the eternal being. Brahma, Shiva, Indra, time, the directions, the subdirections, up and down, inside and outside, are all pervaded by Narayana. Narayana is everything, past, present and future.Narayana is the eternal pure effulgent Lord, without a second to compare. He is Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, says the upanishad.”
bodhanca sarathim kritva manah pragrahavan puman
prayati paramam param vishnvakhyam padamavyayam
vishnavakhyam padamavyaym iti
(The author comments thus: )
Being the original cause of all causes, one without a second, being present before creation, in the present time and after the dissolution, Lord Narayana is eternal and therefore the only worshippable entity of the demigods like Brahma etc. Using this Upanishad as proof, I am explaining the meaning of the Narayanopanishad revealed by Shrimad Angira in the Atharva Veda.
(The first verse begins with “om.”)
pranavash-chandasam aham – “Among the Vedic verse, I am om.”
According to this statement, it is concluded that in the past, present and future, om is none other than Narayana Himself. The word ‘nri’ refers to a person, and “nara” refers to all those produced from him, such as sons and and grandsons. The “ayana” or shelter of all men, is Narayana. He is to be served, praised and worshipped; He is the object of all remembrance. He alone is the master of all.
After the period of destruction (maha-pralaya), the Lord desired to create. What did He desire to create? Desiring in His mind to create offspring, He created Brahma, who then performed secondary creation. The plural word “prajah” indicates that all species were born from the body and mind of Lord Brahma. Thus Indra was born from Narayana, as were the twelve Adityas, their associates and families, the eleven Rudras, their associates and their consorts, the Rudranis, and the other thirty-three million demigods such as Ganesha etc. All the different sages such as the devarshis (sages amongst the demigods), maharshis (exalted sages), and rajarishis (saintly kings) came into existence from Lord Narayana, as well as all other moving and non -moving entities. Then, at the time of annihilation, they once again all merge into the body of the Lord; in other words; after the creation they are maintained by Him until the time of the dissolution. After dissolution, all living entities beginning from Brahma reside within the Lord, until the time of the next creation. In this regard there is evidence from the Mahabharata:
yathah sarvani bhutani
yasminsh ca pralayam yanti
punar eva yugakshaye
“At the beginning of the primary creation from Lord Narayana, all living entities beginning from Brahma take birth and at the time of annihilation of the millenium, they enter into Narayana.”
The word ‘ca’ in this verse (yasminsh ca) indicates that they are also maintained by Him.
(explanation of the second verse.)
As such, Lord Narayana alone is the Supreme worshipable object in all the universe because He is eternal, imperishable and always remains so, even after the dissolution. ‘Ato Brahma ca narayanah’ – Narayana is Brahma (the creator). The thirty-three million demigods (indicated by the word ca)– Brahma’s sons, grandsons and great grandsons who are all born from his mind and body –are not independent Lords, they are not seperate from the Lord. They all worship Narayana.
‘Shivash ca narayanah’: Narayana is also Shiva, the destroyer of the universe, along with his associates. ‘shakrash ca narayanah’: Indra, the king of heaven, as well as his family members is also Narayana.The eleven Rudras along with their ghostly associates and their consorts are Narayana. The eight Vasus and the Ashvini Kumaras along with their companions are Narayana. All the sages such as the devarshis, maharshis, rajarshis are Narayana, as well as the munis, sadhyas, caranas, gandharvas, daityas, yatudhanas and kinnaras.
‘Kalas ca narayanah’: Time, Yamaraja and his scribe Citragupta, are all forms of Narayana.’dishash ca narayanah’: the ten directions — east, west, south, north, south-west, north-west, south-east, north-east, up and down — and the protective deities of them namely Indra, Anala (Agni), Yama, Nairita, Varuna, Vayu, and Kuvera along with their associates are all Narayana. ‘Adhash ca narayanah’ The lower planetary systems, their residents, the naga-purushas and their daughters the naga-kanyas, as well as the presiding deities of that region — Shri Ananta, Kurma and Varuna are all Narayana.
‘Urdhvash ca narayanah’: the higher planets such as Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka and their respective masters such as Brahma, Indra etc. are all Narayana. The incarnations such as Shri Shalagrama which appear from the Gandaki River, and the eight different types of Deity forms of the Lord, and the unembodied entities who are the worshipable objects of those who perform shraddha to the forefathers, who worship Karyavala or who offer tarpana to Bali-Vaishvadeva, are also Narayana.
‘Antar bahish ca narayanah’: inside the universe the entities like Brahma,Indra, the devas, sages, rishis, tapasvinis, siddhas, caranas, gandarvas, kinnaras, apsaras, danavas, pious men, yakshas, pretas, bhutas, pishacas, nagas, moving and non-moving creatures, humans, four-legged animals like cows, five-nailed animals (like elephants), two-hooved and one-hooved beasts, those born from sweat, insects, flies, those living on the seven islands and the highest mountains, on golden earth and in dark lands, –and those things outside the universe–darkness, the five gross elements, false-ego, the twenty-four elements–are all Narayana.
In this entire universe whatever has taken place in the past, whatever is happening at the present and whatever will happen in the future is only because of Narayana. There is nothing that is different from Narayana; everything comes from Him, therefore everything belongs to Him. Hence Brahma and others are all Narayana. He is ‘nitya’: eternal, ever existent through millions of annihilations. He is ‘nishkalam’: without parts, although all beings are part of Narayana, He Himself remains perfect and complete, as described in Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.3.27 :
kalah sarve harer eva saprajapatayah surah
“The prajapatis and demigods are all portions of the plenary portions of Shri Hari.”
The word ‘nirakhyatah’ means ‘He is invisible to the masses in general even though He is everywhere’. ‘Nirvikalpah’ refers to the one who is without any master and is one without a second. Being free from all falsehood, He is ‘niranjanah’, or Brahman. He is known as ‘shuddha’, transcendentally pure, or the one who has a pure existence. Therefore, only Lord Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
‘ato deva eko narayanah’: the purport is that the supreme object of reverence for all the residents of the universe, including Brahma, Indra, the demigods, demons and men is Lord Narayana, and no one else. Thus, among the demigods, demons and men, one who is a householder should control the intelligence and the mind, accept a bona fide spiritual master in order to understand the science of the Supreme Lord Narayana, and become determined to seek the association of devotees. Thus he will be able to understand the science of the Supreme. Then after giving up this life, he will attain Vishnu , who is called ‘ param’, ‘para’, ‘avyayam’, ‘padam’.
These four words are explained as follows; A person, according to his desire for one of the four types of liberation, performs the proper practices to achieve that end. The yogi desiring sajujya (merging in the Lord), by practice of appropriate yoga, attains Vishnu as ‘avyaya,’ the imperishable. Eradicating his identity, he merges with Vishnu . The yogi desiring a form like Vishnu’s, by appropriate practice, attains Vishnu as ‘paramam,’ supreme, taking a form like Vishnu ‘s complete with ornaments. The yogi desiring the same planet as Vishnu, by appropriate practice attains the ‘padam’ of Vishnu , the abode of Vishnu. It is said, yad gatva na nivartate, tad eva parama padam- “That place from which a person does not return is the supreme abode”. The yogi desiring closeness to the Lord, by appropriate practice, attains the ‘para’ of Vishnu , closeness to Vishnu as His associate.
There is a second meaning of the phrase “vishnavakhya avyaya padam.” Those who, after taking initiation from a bona fide guru become pure through associaton with devotees and their instructions, and become completely surrendered to the Lord by their fixed nature, attain the abode of Vishnu at death by acting as the servants of the servants of the Lord with no material motives, by following the practices of hearing and chanting about the Lord. How is that? The unalloyed devotees of Krishna who, while living on this planet, become fixed in the devotional processes of hearing and chanting. Taking the Lord’s remnants and acting as his menial servant, they attain an indestructible (avyaya) abode (padam) such as Vrindavana by dint of that practice. In the spiritual world they engage themselves ceaselessly in the Lord’s service.
Sat Kriya Sara Dipika, Part Three
Sep 24, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) — By Shrila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Printed by The Bhaktivedanta Academy, Mayapur (1995).
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