We have seen that disrespecting Śrī Śiva is an offense in a previous article on Śrī Sanātana Goswami’s commentary on Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami’s Hari Bhakti Vilāsa. Here, I examine Śrī Jīva Goswami’s writings on disrespect of the devas. In Anuccheda 106 of the Bhakti Sandarbha, he first explains that one can worship the devas in three specific ways:
1. As Vaiṣṇavas (Anuchheda 106.2);
2. As manifestations of Kṛṣṇa’s opulence ( vibhūtis) (Anuccheda 106.3);
3. Or as existential seats of Kṛṣṇa’s indwelling (adhiṣṭhānas) (Anuchheda 106.4).
Next, he discusses the fault of disrespecting the devas.
Disrespecting the devas is an offense which prevents attainment of prema
I pick up the thread in Anuccheda 106.5, where he starts as follows:
avajñādau tu doṣaḥ—
śraddhāṁ bhāgavate śāstre’nindām anyatra cāpi hi [bhā.pu. 11.3.26] itivat |
But to disrespect the devas is a transgression of propriety (doṣa), just as it would be wrong to disparage other scriptures, as affirmed in this verse: “One should have faith in scriptures that disclose Bhagavān and should not deride other scriptures” ( SB 11.3.26 ).
He next cites an explicit instruction to this effect:
harir eva sadārādhyaḥ sarva-deveśvareśvaraḥ |
itare brahma-rudrādyā nāvajñeyāḥ kadācana ||iti |
That one should not disrespect the devas is stated in the Padma Purāṇa :
Only Bhagavān Hari, the Supreme Īśvara even of the Īśvaras of all the devas , is to be reverenced always. The other devas , headed by Brahmā and Rudra, should never be disrespected. (Padma Purāṇa)
While it is correct that Bhagavān Hari is to be worshipped always (first line of the verse), such an instruction does not grant license to disrespect the devas (second line of the verse). Next Śrī Jīva cites a verse that a person who disrespects the devas cannot get the para dharma, which is bhakti, even if he or she worships Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which implies that disrespect of the devas is an offense:
gopālaṁ pūjayed yas tu nindayed anya-devatām |
astu tāvat paro dharmaḥ pūrva-dharmo’pi naśyati || [gau.ta. 33.84] iti |
The Gautamīya Tantra also says:
If one worships Śrī Gopāla [Kṛṣṇa] but disparages other devatās, not only is there no question of his attaining transcendental dharma but even the positive effects of his previous pious acts are annulled. (Gautamīya Tantra 33.84)
So dangerous is disrespect to the devas, that there is an atonement for it in the Bhāgavata purāṇa which Śrī Jīva cites:
ata eva hayaśīrṣā māṁ pathi deva-helanāt [bhā.pu. 6.8.15] iti śrī-nārāyaṇa-varmaṇi tad-āgaḥ-prāyaścittam |
Therefore, in the incantation for the “Śrī Nārāyaṇa Armor,” atonement is accounted for in the event of such a transgression ( āgaḥ , i.e., doṣa ):
“May Bhagavān Hayaśīrṣa protect me from treading the path of offending the devas ” ( SB 6.8.17 ).
Disrespecting Śrī Śiva is a severe offense
Śrī Jīva Goswami affirms the teaching of Śrī Sanātana Goswami that disrespecting Śrī Śiva is a particularly severe offense:
tatra ca śivāvajñādau mahān eva doṣaḥ | yathā caturtha eva nandīśvara-śāpaḥ—saṁsarantv iha ye cāmum anu śarvāvamāninam [bhā.pu. 4.2.24] iti |
As far as affront to the devas is concerned, the disrespect of Śiva is a particularly severe offense, as shown in the Fourth Canto in the curse uttered by Nandīśvara: “May those who follow this prajāpati [Dakṣa], an offender to Śiva, rotate here in the cycle of birth and death” ( SB 4.2.24 ).
He adds that the offense is severe because Śrī Śiva is a mahā-bhāgavata:
idam api yat kiñcid eva, śrī-śivasya mahābhāgavatatvena doṣasya svayam eva siddhatvāt |
This admonition itself hardly needs mentioning, meaning that because Śiva is a great devotee of Bhagavān, it is self-evident that disrespecting him is an offense.
He emphasizes this again:
yo māṁ samarcayen nityam ekāntaṁ bhāvam āśritaḥ |
vinindan devam īśānaṁ sa yāti narakaṁ dhruvam ||[kaurme] iti |
dṛṣṭaṁ ca tathā citraketu-carite |
Therefore, it is said in the Kūrma Purāṇa :
One who worships Me constantly with one-pointed devotion but disparages Mahādeva Śiva certainly goes to hell. ( Kūrma Purāṇa ) 54
This was evident in the life of King Citraketu.
śrī-kapila-devena sādhāraṇānām api prāṇinām avamānādikaṁ ninditaṁ, kim uta tad-vidhānām | tathā hi—
ahaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu bhūtātmāvasthitaḥ sadā |
tam avajñāya māṁ martyaḥ kurute’rcā-viḍambanam || [bhā.pu. 3.29.21]
To say nothing of disrespecting a great devotee such as Śiva, Bhagavān Śrī Kapiladeva has condemned even the disrespect of ordinary living beings. This is clearly expressed in the following statement:
I am ever existent as the Supreme Immanent Self in all living entities. If a mortal being disregards any one of them ( tam ) and hence Me ( mām ), yet worships My deity form, he makes a mockery of such worship. ( SB 3.29.21 )
1. Disrespecting the devas is an offense.
2. Disrespecting Mahādeva Śiva is a severe offense.
3. One cannot get prema if one commits such offenses.
4. The devas can be worshipped as Vaiṣṇavas, as manifestations of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s opulence ( vibhūtis) or as existential seats of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s indwelling (adhiṣṭhānas).