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BG Chap 9 - The worshippers of demigods

Some persons, knowing the three Vedas, worship the Supreme Lord indirectly thru sacrifice, drinking the soma juice and becoming purified, pray for the heavenly planets. They attain the planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights. They are dedicated to the activities described in the Vedas. Though they do not know that the forms of Indra and other devatās are the forms of Kṛṣṇa alone, they actually worship Kṛṣṇa indirectly, situated in those respective forms by sacrifices prescribed in the three Vedas. Drinking the remnants of sacrifice, soma, and being purified of sins, they pray for Svarga. The enjoyment they obtain is actually given by Kṛṣṇa alone.

Having enjoyed the vast heavenly pleasures and exhausting their merit, they return to this mortal planet again. Following the Vedic rites and desiring objects of enjoyment, they take repeated birth and death. They attain births as brāhmaṇas and others on this earth. Again performing the duties enjoined in the three Vedas, they crave for heavenly enjoyment, and thus obtain repeated birth and death.

BG Chap 9 - The situation of the pure devotees

The happiness of the pure devotees are given by Kṛṣṇa directly, and not obtained by pious acts. Kṛṣṇa carries the burden of supply and maintenance of those who desire constant association with Him, and who think only of Him, worshipping Him alone. The devotees worship Kṛṣṇa as the reservoir of all auspicious qualities, as the reservoir of variegated, astonishing ambrosial pastimes and as the reservoir of divine powers. Kṛṣṇa carries what they lack and preserve what they have, though the devotees do not expect such things. Bhakti destroys all karma. The devotee has no karma due to lack of desire. Thus his happiness is personally given by Kṛṣṇa. The devotees are engaged in the nine fold practices of bhakti and neglect even their maintenance and do not care for liberation. Though Kṛṣṇa is self satisfied and indifferent to everything, still He has great affection for His devotee. And by giving the burden of their maintenance to Kṛṣṇa, it is not that devotees show lack of prema. The devotees do not give the burden, but Kṛṣṇa Himself, by His own will, accepts it. And He takes great pleasure in doing this, and does not do it out of duty.

This was exemplified in the life of a brāhmaṇa called Arjunācārya, who did not believe the Lord would carry what the devotee needs. So he scratched out vahāmi (carry) and inserted karomi (have it done) in the verse (Bg 9.22). The Lord personally came with Balarāma and gave food to the brāhmaṇa’s wife, when he was away and also showed the marks on His body, which was caused by the scratching out the word vahāmi.

For those who desire association with Kṛṣṇa eternally, Kṛṣṇa alone bears the responsibility for their attaining Him and preventing their separation from Him. The Lord, not the conducting deities such as the sun god and others, take the devotees to the spiritual world.

BG Chap 9 - The demigod worshippers get a different result

Those who are devoted to other gods and worship them with faith, actually worship only Kṛṣṇa but they do so in a wrong way. They worship without following the rules which would allow them to attain Kṛṣṇa, and thus they return to this world. Or they follow the rules in a wrong way against the injunctions of the śāstra and without conscious worship of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. For example, when a man pours water on the leaves and branches of a tree without pouring water on the root, he does so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. Similarly, the process of rendering service to different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach. The demigods are, so to speak, different officers and directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government, not by the officers or directors. Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only.

BG Chap 9 - The mistake of the demigods worshippers

Kṛṣṇa alone, thru the forms of Indra and others, is the enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Those who do not know this fall down and continue to take birth. Such persons consider their chosen devatā as Supreme and the giver of results of their worship. Thus lacking true knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, they return to this world. But those who worship the Lord as the form of the universe, understanding that they are worshiping Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Lord thru the form of the sun and other devatās, attain liberation. One can worship the devatās understanding that they are vibhūtis of the Lord. Demigod worshippers, after great endeavor to follow the Vedas simply fall down to material existence and do not achieve the desired goal of life.

BG Chap 9 - The destination of the different worshippers

The worshipers of devatās follow the rules of the books describing their worship, just as the Vaiṣṇavas worship Viṣṇu according to what is stated in the books dedicated to Viṣṇu worship. So there may be nothing wrong with the worship, but the destination of different worshipers is different. The worshipers of devas go to the devas, the worshipers of the Pitṛs go to the Pitṛs, the worshippers of ghosts go to the ghosts, and the worshipers of Kṛṣṇa live with Him. Those who worship Indra and others by ceremonies on the new and full moon days, being in the mode of goodness, go to those devas. Those in the mode of passion, who worship Pitṛs by śrāddha and other rituals, go to the Pitṛs. The worshipers of demons, in the mode of ignorance, who worship Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and others go to those demons. But only those who worship Kṛṣṇa, those who are beyond the modes of nature, who offer Him easily obtainable items go to Him. Though Kṛṣṇa is in the forms of the devatās, because the worshipers do not know this, they get a different result and do not attain Kṛṣṇa. And because the devas are destructible, their worshipers are destructible too. But the devotees are eternal and are not destroyed even at the time of pralaya. They experience great happiness close to Kṛṣṇa and play in His divine abode.

BG Chap 9 - Kṛṣṇa's appetite for devotion

To worship the demigods, one has to perform elaborate sacrifices by numerous priests governed by intricate rules. Worshiping Kṛṣṇa is simple. If one offers Him with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, He accepts it. His actual desire is to taste the bhakti of His devotee’s offering. The demigods are pleased by the offering; Kṛṣṇa is pleased by devotion. Thus Kṛṣṇa does not accept what is offered by non devotees with only some temporary devotion. The offering done by the devotee is out of love and not because someone told him to do it. One should have a pure mind and the sign of the purity of the devotee is they cannot give up service to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Even if there is a trace of lust or anger it is insignificant, like the bite of a toothless snake. The Lord enjoys the offering by eating the fruit and smelling the flower. Or being hungry and thirsty because of His love for the devotee, Kṛṣṇa eats everything that is offered without considering whether it is edible. Bhakti alone satisfies the Lord and not one’s status as a brāhmaṇa or one’s performance of great austerities.

A devotee not only offers these items to Kṛṣṇa with devotion but he bases his entire life on rendering pleasing service to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, the essential ingredients of an offering (the sentiments of bhakti) are not only evoked at the time of the offering but are cultivated throughout a devotee’s life. The garden in which the grains, vegetables, fruits and flowers are sown and grown is watered with devotion to Kṛṣṇa. The flowers are picked and the food cooked with devotion. Finally, the items are served and offered to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says that He accepts (aśnāmi) such offerings because His devotee’s bhakti has given Him an appetite.

BG Chap 9 - The Absolute nature of Kṛṣṇa

The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend how Kṛṣṇa accepts the offerings of His devotee. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Kṛṣṇa, the speaker of the Bhagavad-Gītā. But, in actuality, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Kṛṣṇa is absolute. Lacking senses, He could hardly be considered full in all opulences. In the Seventh Chapter, Kṛṣṇa has explained that He impregnates the living entities into material nature. This is done by His looking upon material nature. And so in this instance, Kṛṣṇa's hearing the devotee's words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting. This point should be emphasized: because of His absolute position, His hearing is wholly identical with His eating and tasting. Only the devotee, who accepts Kṛṣṇa as He describes Himself, without interpretation, can understand that the Supreme Absolute Truth can eat food and enjoy it.

BG Chap 9 - Mixed offerings to the Lord

Kṛṣṇa has explained pure devotional service in verses such as satatam kīrtayanto mām (9.14), ananyāś cintayanto mām (9.22) and patraṁ puṣpaṁ (9.26). Here the Lord is instructing the performance of bhakti with a slight mixture of karma and jñāna. Thus the Lord said that whatever one does, whatever one eats, whatever one sacrifices and gives away, and whatever austerities one perform, should be done as an offering to Him.

This is neither niṣkāma karma yoga nor bhakti yoga. The karma-yogīs offer actions prescribed in the scriptures to the Lord, but not actions they do in ordinary life. Thus this verse (9.27) does not refer to niṣkāma karma yoga. The devotees offer to the Lord all the actions of their mind, prāṇas and senses. In pure bhakti, one does not perform an action and then offer it to the Lord. Rather, the action is done simultaneously with the offering to the Lord. The devotees first surrender to the Lord and then acts. They do not make a distinction between the activity and its fruit. Everything is offered in surrender to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. The nine types of bhakti are in this category. Thus this verse does not refer to pure bhakti yoga either because this verse talks about offering all actions after performing them.

BG Chap 9 - The result of such offerings

The devotee will be free from bondage to work with its pious and sinful reactions. Being engaged in offering everything to Kṛṣṇa, he will be liberated and attain direct service to Kṛṣṇa. By offering all actions to Kṛṣṇa, one purifies his heart, and thus this sannyāsa is called yoga. Anyone who has no interest but to dedicate his life to the service of the Lord is actually a sannyāsī. Such a person always thinks of himself as an eternal servant, dependent on the supreme will of the Lord. As such, whatever he does, he does it for the benefit of the Lord. Whatever action he performs, he performs it as service to the Lord. Then one will be liberated in a special way (vimukta) since he would attain Kṛṣṇa, as well as being liberated from karma. Being special among liberated persons, such a devotee would attain direct service to Kṛṣṇa, close to Him.

BG Chap 9 - The impartial Lord who is partial

Is Kṛṣṇa partial in liberating the devotees but not the non-devotees? Kṛṣṇa is equal to all living beings. He neither hates nor favors anyone. As one surrenders, Kṛṣṇa reciprocates. All living beings are under the control of their karmas. The Lord is equal to all like the rain, which sprinkles water on all varieties of seeds. But those who worship Him with devotion are in Him, and He is also in them. There is nothing special about this since the whole universe exists within the Lord, and the Lord exists everywhere in the universe. Thus what Kṛṣṇa means is to whatever extent a person worships Him with devotion, He is attached to that person in a similar way. Those who please Him with hearing and other forms of bhakti exist in Him because of attraction to Him. He exists in them because of attraction to them.

The Lord’s love for the devotees is like the combination of jewels and gold, which mutually enhance each other, creating more beauty than either of the objects alone. Comparing Kṛṣṇa to a desire tree is only partially apt, for in the desire tree one does not see mutual affection and partiality. Though equal to all, the Lord does show partiality by having affection for those who take shelter of Him. Bhakti arises from the svarūpa śakti of the Lord, and so the affection the Lord has for His devotees is outstanding. This affection also arises from the Lord’s svarūpa, but this is not a fault but an ornament in the Lord. The affection for the devotee is an accomplished fact. The Lord does not have affection for the jñānī or the yogī, nor for the devotees of Śiva or Durgā.