Shandilya Rishi on Devatas and Celstial Beings
This is what he says about the Devatas in Aphorism 50 of Shandilya Bhakti Sutra.
Meaning of this statement:
Loving attachment shown to the Vibhutis, persons possessing introspective greatness, glory, might, sublimity, beauty or loveliness and many more qualities of great living beings can never be called Devotion.
They are of no use if the goal is to attain Liberation.
In this great work Rishi Shandilya has mentioned in Aphorism 46, that devotees attain Liberation on worshipping any form of Sri Vishnu (such as Sri Rama, Krishna, Narasimha or Varaha), with devotion.
That alone is Bhakti.
Men with a limited fund of knowledge may assume that if this is the case, performing Bhakti of other elevated and powerful beings can also grant liberation.
This seems logical, but far from it.
Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 46
तद्वाक्यशेषात् प्रादुर्भाविष्यपि सा
Bhakti towards other forms/incarnations of Bhagawan, Vishnu are genuine.
Purport of Aphorism 46
Lord Vishnu incarnates in various forms Like Sri Ramachandra, Sri Narasimha Dev, Sri Krishna, etc.
It is to be understood that all forms of the Lord are equally potent although they may exhibit limited characteristics.
Like for example: Sri Rama set the code of Dharma and through His life, He set an example through which mankind could apply Dharma in their day-to-day lives.
Similarly, Narasimha Deva amplifies the Love of God for His devotee.
He indicates a specific attribute of ‘saviour of His devotees.’
All incarnations are therefore intended to display the various moods of Bhagawan in detail and in no way lacks in potency.
Conflicts that arise when establishing one Vishnu-form as superior to other is not a sane argument.
The incarnations are like the petals of the same flower.
They are neither different in their quality nor in their potency.
Sri Rama displayed characteristics of a man throughout His earthly pastimes.
But, ultimately he displayed his Veera Ras by slaying the demon king Ravana.
This shows that, his potency is infinite.
But, by his own will he conceals them for that incarnation in order to display the human characteristics which was the primary purpose of the incarnation.
Are Devatas and Other Incarnations of Lord Narayana the same?
We must understand that powerful beings possess a miniscule portion of Bhagawan Vishnu’s potencies.
They represent the Vibhinamsa (विभिन्नाम्शा separated powers) of the Lord.
However, Sri Rama, Narasimha, Vamana, Narasimha etc are Sva-amsa (स्व-अंशा), the very same Lord.
They displayed some limited potencies in their pastimes as their goal was to teach a specific lesson to man.
They came for a particular cause and displayed the necessary potencies to achieve their purpose of incarnating.
We must understand that all Sva-amsas are capable of displaying all potencies of Sri Vishnu.
Sri Krishna is the direct form of the Lord who displayed all His potencies.
Sri Rama is capable of displaying all those potencies which Sri Krishna displayed.
But, in His Avatar, he chose to display only some of them.
His goal was to set the ideal values that man can follow.
If he had supernatural pastimes (displaying all his powers), common man would feel that ideal set by Sri Ramachandra are inapplicable for them.
But, this would negate the purpose of the Lord.
Hence, to meet up the requirements of the world, the Lord incarnates to guide man through His pastimes.
What do Shastras say on Devata worship ?
Therefore, Shastra proclaims worship of Sva-Amsha and Sriman Narayana as legitimate.
But, worshipping an entity possessing a body made up of the Panchabhootas is not acceptable.
Such an approach is not according to the Vidhi.
Vidhi means ‘in line with Shastra’.
Therefore, those who bear allegiance to Devatas or gurus, singularly, with unwavering faith, violate the revealed scriptures.
They do not follow the right methodology of worship.
They are said to be completely deluded by the Lord’s external potency known as Maya.
Devatas are repository of specific virtues.
Like Lord Surya is Knowledge and Vibrance, Chandra Dev represents the Mind, Indra represents Pride and Power, etc.
However, they too are temporary.
They possess these qualities only till the time Bhagawan reflects through them.
So, worshipping them alone cannot grant one liberation.
Devatas have material significance of prosperity, wealth, fame, etc.
However, they are extremely short-lived.
The wise respect Devatas because they are attendants (sevakas) of Bhagawan, but their Nishtha is towards Sriman Narayana and His Sva-Amshas alone.
Does Guru Nishtha grant Liberation?
Worshipping Guru was extremely common in prior Yugas (Saty, Dwapara and Treta Yugas).
But, in Kali Yuga, due to heavy influence of Maya and Kali, it is advisable to worship the Supreme Lord Narayana directly.
Because, every person falls under the grip of changing times, place and circumstances.
Having respect for one’s guru is important for progress.
True Gurus have the experiential knowledge of Bhagawan and this becomes an important lesson for the Sadhaka to receive.
A disciple can at best know about God either through the words of a completely enlightened master or through the golden words of the scriptures.
One must remember that the ultimate object of devotion has to be Bhagawan.
Many people get stuck to the Guru as a person and they fail to recognize the Guru-Tattva.
This becomes a cause of bondage. It stunts the spiritual growth of the Sadhaka.
Therefore, people who engage in Devata worship or hail their gurus without surrendering to Bhagawan do not qualify for liberation.
Their allegiance to other powers keeps them away from the ultimate goal of Liberation.
The Lord assures His devotees: “Those who surrender unto me, attain my eternal Abode without fail and are not subject to birth and death any more.”
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