It won’t be easy for a Hindu (or anyone) to achieve liberation through mere temple prayers or rituals or sacrifices because we pray to any one, or few, of the thirty three million Hindu demigods, only to to fulfill our ‘desires’. Only to “Ask” something we “Desire”.
The Scriptures and sages tell us that the cause of man’s sorrow comes from his “Desire” and “Attachment” to things and people, and these emotions form the foundation for ‘anger’. This then becomes a ‘bondage’ to us, and the whole idea of ‘Liberation’ or ‘Moksha’ is “to be free from bondages”. This simply makes sense; the opposite of liberation is bondage. It is, in essence, a simple concept to understand. Anything that we are ‘attached’ to, binds us.
To be free, is to be detached from everything (in the mind). Loving without ownership – We don’t have to possess what we like; after all, everything is only temporary, – we may appreciate them, for now. And just this makes life so much more meaningful and enjoyable – when we appreciate everything and everyone that has come into our lives.
Therefore, when we pray to the demigods for things that actually prevent liberation, how can one be free, or liberated or be happy when one is wrapped in self-created bondage through desires and attachment formed in the mind?
To be truly liberated is to be liberated from all bondages of the world where a person is able to live off the “Self-sufficient Soul” or Atman. It needs and seeks nothing to make it happy or peaceful, It just is – a witness. Unlike the body that depends on food to live, the Soul depends on absolutely nothing and no one, but God Himself, which is the Soul Itself. “Thou art That”.
To be liberated is to be united with the Creator or God (while we are alive). In order to do this, there are ‘sastras’ or scriptures to read and follow in order to achieve the goal. Knowledge, such as, the following from the great Hindu Holy book, the Bhagavad Gita, which introduces divine thoughts as:
“Driven by desires which exist in their nature, ignorant people worship Deities with rituals.”
“Whichever god (Deity) a person wishes to worship with faith, O Arjuna, I am the one who establishes or builds his faith in that deity.”
“Thus, once these people have given their faith by Me, the devotees try to worship the Deities they choose to worship, and they ultimately achieve their desires as ordered and directed by Me, the Deity of deities.”
“But the reward of those ignorant people who worship other deities is only temporary. Those who worship other deities go to those deities after death, but those who worship Me, attain Me, and come to Me.” – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, Verses 20 – 23
The above verses from the Official Hindu Holy Book (Bhagavad Gita) states that Lord Krishna is the sanctioner of all our desires when we pray and ask from any of the deities or demigods – that He is the “Boss” or “Big Daddy” who approves or rejects, so to speak. If He says, “Yes”, we get it; “No”, we don’t – no matter which God we prayed to, He is the Boss who sanctions them; the deities are His deputies.
However, the important part to know in the last verse above is that the devotee who worships a deity shall go to his or her “loka” or “world” after death. The “World of the Demigods”, as it is known. Now, because everything is temporary in the material world and attached to desires, these demigods, it is said, were once humans, who were very good and exhausted all their karma and went to the Demigod loka (because they worshipped demigods), just as how you or I would, if we abided by all the Dharma codes in life (and worshipped demigods).
But, apparently, even this “Demigod Paradise” is temporary. It is stated that we may spend a few hundred years in this “Paradise”, where everything is excellent, with endless fun and wealth. So much wealth is there and it is everywhere that no one chases it anymore. There are heaps of precious gems and gold everywhere – wealth beyond imagination. People (demigods) are collecting them, but there is nowhere to spend them, nothing to buy, and no one to show-off to, because it is everywhere and everybody has some. Like dust, it is everywhere. But there is no food or drink, there is no hunger or thirst, – and this takes away all the joy for the soul that still‘wants’ that even endless amounts of wealth shall not quench.
Now, we realise that our lives on earth is so precious and it is based on nothing more than enjoying food and drink, and every single thing that we do on earth surrounds this simple fact – we do it for food and drink because we enjoy them so much and need them to live. Food and drink are also closely connected to families and relationships, and these feelings too will cease to exist.
This is why we need to appreciate this (rare) life that we have been given including every single person who comes into it and every event that we are presented with. We have to accept all of them as things and people we have attracted into our lives which is caused by the‘way we are’ – we attract the same. And if we don’t like what is coming into our lives, we can change it, by taking the “right path” in life for eternal bliss and freedom. All relationships are mirror images of ourselves. But when we turn to God, and put on the guise of Him, and see God in everyone and everything, our lives become Divine. It becomes magical.
So, even the demigods (after a few hundred years), start to miss food and drink, and then start to have a desire to come back to earth as human beings to enjoy. Isn’t this interesting, we pray to them, but they want to be us? And it is only though ‘knowledge’ that we get to learn and understand everything there is to know about why any of us are here and where we should head. This knowledge ends all questions, sorrows and fear, and literally liberates a person on earth so that earth becomes his Paradise. We do not need to die to experience Nirvana.
Hence, it is said that the only way to absolute liberation or Moksha is through Knowledge, and this is why anyone who can read and understand must yield to the path of “Jnana Yoga” or the “Path of Knowledge” to achieve liberation and eternal blissfulness – which should be achieved while he lives, with a realisation that God resides in himself.
– Joy Nandy