Hare Krishna Dear Devotees,
Please accept my dandavat pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva.
It was a wonderful mail from H.G.Kalachakra prabhu regarding the position of devatas in relation to Khatvanga's story. A similar story is present in Srimad Bhagavatam that of King Mucukunda where he helped the devas in fighting with the asuras. After the war, he asked the devas to grant immortality. In reply the devas said,
varam vrinishva bhadram te / rte kaivalyam adya nah
eka evaishvaras tasya / bhagavan vishnur avyayah
"All good fortune to you! Now please choose a benediction from usanything but liberation, since only the infallible Supreme Lord, Vishnu, can bestow that."
Here the devas acted as spiritual guide for the King who was serious about getting liberation from material existence and they directed him towards Lord Vishnu. When we worship the devas for material benefits, we're blessed with the fulfillment of those desires based on our qualification and such benefits may keep us in continued material existence. However when we approach them with the desire for liberation, they direct us to Lord Vishnu, as they themselves are exalted devotees of Lord Vishnu. So it is bound duty of a Krishna conscious devotee to offer homage and respects to the devas with the understanding that they are great devotees of Lord Vishnu. Any offense directed towards them is considered as Vaishnava aparadha (as in the case of Daksha offending Lord Shiva). But if we consider the devas and Supreme Lord to be equal in all respects , then it becomes an offense to the holy name which prevents us from attaining pure taste for chanting. Acharya Madhva states that a person cannot repay for the help he attains from the spiriutual master, the Supreme Lord and the devas for their blessings in advancement in spiritual life. There is an interesting story from Padma purana explaining the role of the devas in bringing a person to devotional service.
Once there lived a person called Ghantakarna (Ghanta-bell, Karna-ear) who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He tied a bell to each of his ears and hence he got this name. He was having much hatred for Lord Vishnu and whenever some person would talk to him about the glories of Lord Vishnu, he would immediately shake his head vigorously. The bells would make lot of noise and in this way he would avoid hearing the glories of Lord Vishnu. He performed a severe penance to Lord Shiva, who appeared before him and granted him a boon. Ghantakarna asked, "Please give me liberation from material existence". In reply to this Lord Shiva said, "mukti pradaataa sarveshaam vishnur eva na samshayah (Lord Vishnu alone is the giver of liberation to everyone)". Lord Shiva initiated Ghantakarna in Krishna bhakti and blessed him to perform devotion in Badrikashrama. By the blessings of Lord Shiva, he became relieved of his hatred to Lord Vishnu. Ghantakarna then performed fiery devotional service in Badrikashrama, accepting Lord Shiva as his spiritual master and Vishnu as his Lord. Soon Lord Vishnu appeared before him and blessed him with liberation from material bondage.
Thus there are many instances in the puranas where the devas have helped sincere persons in Krishna Bhakti. Gopis worshipped Mother Katyayani, Arjuna worshipped Lord Shiva etc. only to advance in Krishna bhakti. However the devas do this favor only if the intention of the worshiper is pure. Otherwise, they just stop with giving the material benefits we pray for and we may not derive any spiritual benefit from that worship.
Finally, all said and done, it is best to forget about all these intricacies and let Krishna decide what to bestow upon us according to His wish and carry on with our unmotivated devotional service unto Him with full intensity without bothering about whom to worship, what to ask them, how to ask them etc. The only solution is to attain the mindset - Krishna is the only shelter (krishna eka sharanam).
I pray at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva for their blessings so that I'll get the humility to attain this mood.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna Dasa.
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