The worship of the demigods reaches Krishna, but the worshiper doesn’t

An oft-quoted Sanskrit saying states, “Just as water falling from the sky reaches the ocean, the worship offered to the various gods reaches Keshava.”

Does this saying imply that the worship of all gods is the same and by extension that all gods are one?

No, because it asserts Krishna’s unique position as the ultimate object of worship, just as the ocean is the water’s final destination.

When a person pours water into a flowing river, the water reaches the ocean, but the person doesn’t.

The learned Gita commentator Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura adapts the water-ocean analogy by inserting the worshiper, not the sky, as the source of the water. When a person pours water into a flowing river, the water reaches the ocean, but the person doesn’t. Similarly, the worship offered to demigods by their worshipers reaches Krishna, but the worshipers themselves don’t.

Why?

Because their heart is not devoted to Krishna, and the Bhagavad-gita (08.06) indicates that our strongest attachment determines our post-mortem destination. The Gita (09.25) makes this generic point specific with regards to the object of worship by declaring that demigod worshipers attain the demigods and Krishna’s worshipers attain him. The reason for this difference in destinations is stated explicitly in the previous verse (09.24): ignorance of Krishna’s position as the ultimate object of worship. Krishna heads the cabinet for cosmic management in which the demigods are departmental ministers.

To accommodate spiritually under-evolved souls not yet ready to worship him, Krishna sanctions the demigods as intermediate objects of worship. Just as the tributes offered to the ministers reach the king, the worship offered to the demigods reaches Krishna. But as the demigod worshipers don’t know Krishna’s position, their heart’s devotion remains restricted to the demigods.

If demigod worshipers let Gita wisdom elevate their devotion to Krishna, then they too can reach him, thereby attaining life’s supreme destination.

Explanation of article:

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Krishna is disinterested, but not uninterested
Without devotion, renunciation comes painfully; with devotion, even liberation comes joyfully
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