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Devotees and Demigods

Demigods
Alvars
Buddha
Durga
Ganesa
Visvaksena and Ganesa
Kubja
Narada Muni
Pitas
Rbhus
Vasus (asta-vasus)
Visvedevas
Yaksas: pious or demoniac?

Demigods

The word "demigod" is a translation of "deva" ("shining one") used by Srila Prabhupada in his books. He's chosen this term to avoid equating devas with Visnu/Krsna (Devadeva, the lord of devas, BG 10.15, 11.13, etc., see the next paragraph) which is against sastra: agnirvai devAnamavamo viSNuH paramaH (Aitareya brAhmaNa 1.1.1) or agniravamo devatAnAM viSNuH paramaH (TaittirIya saMhitA 5.5.1) - Agni is the lowest and Visnu is the highest of devas.
Svetasvatara Upanisad describes Brahman as the origin of the devas (devAnAm prabhavaH, 3.4; devAnAm prabhavaH ca udbhavaH ca, 4.12; devaH bhUyaH sRSTvA patayaH, 5.3; tam IzvarANAM paramaM mahezvaraH taM devatAnAm paramaM ca daivatam patim patInAM paramaM parastAd, 6.7), as their master in whom all lokas are situated (yaH devAnAm adhipaH yasmil lokaH adhizritaH, 4.13), in whom the devas and sages take shelter (yasmin yukta brahmarSayo devatAH ca, 4.15).
This is illustrated in the Kena Upanisad story (1.3.1-1.4.3): Agni, Vayu and Indra are superior to other devas because they got closest to Brahman and first learned about His identity as the source of their power from Devi.
Devas are analogical to government administrators. There is a cosmic hierarchy of devas with Visnu/Krsna on top. He Himself says in the BG 7.20-23 that to worship devas is not very intelligent (alpa-medhasA) because the results of that worship are temporary and actually come only from Him. In BG 9.20-25 He elaborates on the difference between the results of worship of devas and worship of Himself.

- Devadeva:

"The lord of the devas" is the title of Visnu/Krsna. Occasionally it's used for Sesa (SB 6.16.29), Brahma (SB 3.14.7, 4.24.11, 7.3.6 by Hiranyakasipu; in SB 7.10.26 and 8.22.21 Brahma uses it for Visnu) and Siva (SB 8.7.45; in SB 8.12.4 Siva uses it for Visnu).

- number:

tridazendreNa - by the chief of the thirty (chief demigods) (SB 10.59.38)

om iti hovAca
katame te trayaz ca trI ca zatA trayaz ca trI ca sahasreti

Vidagdha Zakalya said: Who are these three and three hundred, three and three thousand?

sa hovAca - mahimAna evaiSAm ete
trayastriMzat tv eva devA iti
katame te trayastriMzad iti
aSTau vasava ekAdaza rudrA dvAdazAdityAH ta ekatriMzad aindraz caiva prajApatiz ca trayastriMzAv iti

YAjJavalkya said: There are glorious 33 devas - eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati. (Brhad Aranyaka UpaniSad 3.9.2)

trayas triMzat sahasrANi trayas triMzat zatAni ca trayas triMzac ca devAnAM sRSTiH saMkSepa lakSaNA - In summary, the Lord manifests thirty-three thousand thirty-three hundred and thirty-three gods for the cosmic rule. (= 36 333) (Mbh 1.1.39)

dvAdazaivAditeH putrAH zakra mukhyA narAdhipa teSAm avarajo viSNur yatra lokAH pratiSThitAH - O monarch, Aditi had twelve sons, headed by Lord Indra. The youngest was Lord ViSNu, in whom all the worlds reside. (Mbh 1.60.35)
trayas triMzataity ete devAs teSAm ahaM tava anvayaM saMpravakSyAmi pakSaizca kulato gaNAn - These are the thirty-three principle demigods, and I shall now relate to you their lineage, their associates, their diverse communities, and their families. (Mbh 1.60.36)

- chanting their names to attain Visnu (SB 2.6.27)

- all names belong to Visnu (Vedanta-sutra 1.4.28)

Visvanatha Cakravarti: worship of the Lord by meditating on demigods as parts of Lord's body (Purusa-sukta)

- both favorable (SB 1.19.18) or unfavorable (SB 11.4.10) to human sp. advancement. They play two roles, as does Maya (illusion and mercy), protecting and testing us.

- want to be born on earth (SB 11.20.12) since jnana and bhakti can't be attained in svarga (and naraka).

- considered liberated by Madhva: Madhva considers only one person nitya-mukta - Visnu Himself, others are nitya-baddha. His commentary on SB 2.9.1 about the cause of jiva's falldown: isvara-iccha-pratimika (desire of the Lord). God can, after all, do anything.

- in Krsna-lila as partial incarnations (Brahma-vaivarta Purana 6.177), only Yamaraja came personally as Vidura (B-v. P. 6.180)

- original, in the spiritual world (Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.8; SB 11.17.29 - Ganesa, Durga)

- in the Bible - Deuteronomy 32:43:
translated as 'gods' in ESV and CEV based on Dead Sea Scrolls text: ESV, CEV
translated as 'angels' in NLT based on Septuagint: NLT
in most of other versions absent, already in Masoretic text and Peshitta: KJV

Alvars

O.B.L. Kapoor, "The Philosophy and Religion of Sri Caitanya", Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi 1977, p.6. Quoted in Steven Rosen: "India's spiritual renaissance - The life and times of Lord Chaitanya", p. 6:

Great South Indian devotees regarded as personifications of 12 articles of Visnu's paraphernalia: Poygai (Poikai) Alvar, Bhutattar A., Pey A., Tirumalisai A., Namn-A. or Satakopa, Madhurkavi A., Kulasekhar A. (king; author of Mukunda-mala- stotra), Perriy-A. or Visnucitta, Andal A. (woman), Tondaradippodi A. (reformed sinner), Tiruppana A. (lower class origin), Tirumangai A.

Buddha

Q: (Hare Krishna Das) According to Jiva Gosvami Lord Buddha appears when two thousand years of the Kali age have passed: tatah iti ayam kaler abda-sahasra-dvitiye gate vyaktah. (Krsna-sandarbha Vol. I anuccheda 24) That means around 1102 BC. And in the first reconstruction of Hindu chronology by Sir William Jones, Lord Buddha is appointed to 1027 BC. (Vid. in Rational "Mythology", by Sadaputa Das, 1993 in BTG Jan/Feb 1994, p. 26)

But one researcher, Prasada Gokhale of Fredericton New Brunswick University, shows very interesting evidences that after the identification of Sandracottus (325 BC) mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek historian, with the Candragupta Maurya by Sir William Jones, was considered as the "sheet anchor" and base on this assumption a chronology of India history reconstructed by dating the Buddha in 500 BC under the presupposition that the Asokavarna was the Buddhist convert. But there are difficulties in this datation because the Greek records mention Xandramas and Sandracyptus as kings immediately before and after Sandracottus. These names are not in any way phonologically similar to Mahapadma Nanda and Bindusara or Asoka who were the predecessor and successor of Candragupta Maurya respectively. However, if Sandracottus refers to Candragupta Gupta, the Xandramas reckons to be his predecessor Candrasi alias Candramas and Sandrocyptus to be Samudragupta. The phonetic similarity becomes quite apparent.

Related:
Prasad Gokhale on Indian History
Four schools of Buddhism refuted by Vedanta-sutra
Pure Land Buddhism As Vaishnavism

But the question is, what is the more accurate datation of Lord Buddha? Because there are apparent historical, astronomical and archaeological evidences that Lord Buddha was on the earth in 1887-1807 BC (idem. part 5 14).

A: The Pancaratra Pradipa book, page 27, says: "This is the Buddha we all know, namely Sakya Muni, who took birth 563 BC in Kapilavastu (now in Nepal) as the son of Queen Maya devi. This Buddha is not the avatara described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as the son of Anjana, born in the province of Gaya (Bihar) (SB 1.3.24) who taught the original Buddhism. Unfortunately, Sakya Simha Buddha is now considered THE Buddha, although he was just a scholar with some inner realizations who later spread atheistic and nihilistic philosophies."

Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja in his book "Vaisnava Vijaya" gives a thorough description plus various evidences regarding who was the Siddhartha Buddha and so on.

Vadiraja Tirtha from Madhva line (15th century) writes:

om sri buddhaya namah, om sri kalkine namah

buddhavatarakavi baddhanukampakuru baddhanjalau mayi dayam kuru
sauddhodanipramukha saiddhantika 'sugama bauddhagamapranayana

kruddhahitasuhrtisiddhasikhetadhara suddhasvayanakamala
suddhantam rucipimaddhakhilanga nija maddhava kalkyabhidha bhoh

32

anvaya:

sauddhodanipramukha saiddhantika = one who is the son of Suddhodana and preaches the Buddha philosophy in public, asugama = cannot understand, bauddhagama = devatas (demigods) who are intellectuals (jnanis) liked by the philosophy which is named Buddha, pranayana = one who is created, kavibaddhanukampa = king among jnanis (intellectuals), buddhavatara = Sri Hari who manifested as Buddha, baddhanjalu = saluting through hands, mayi = myself, dayam kuru = be kind (bless me),

kruddha = got wild, ahita = enemies, asuhrti = matters concerning to stealing of life (pranapahara), siddha = getting ready, asikheta = one who is having sword and shield (gurane), suddhasvayana = one who is having pleasant horse as the vehicle, kamalasuddhanta = one who has got Sri Laksmi as queen (one who is staying in Sri Laksmi's palace), rucipimaddhakhilanga = one who is covered by the radiance with all organs of the body, kalkyabhidha = named as Kalki, bhoh = one who is Sri Hari, mam = myself, addha = more, ava = protect.

"There was a time, when the whole world (in Kali-yuga) was full of divine culture and Vaidic (sacred) environment and at the same time many demons (asuras) were also born and started following the divine culture and learning divine knowledge. Because of this dharma started to decay in their hands.

"During that time for the king of Sakya by name Suddhodana a baby was born. It is understood that Sri Paramatma in the form of this baby started talking and preached that this world is void (sunya, empty) and all things which are happening are all miseries. This is supposed to be Buddha philosophy. (Sri Hari in the form of baby has preached this).

"In order to prove to the people this philosophy is true Sri Hari has swallowed all the weapons by which devatas has attacked the baby. After seeing these wonders and these incidents the King Suddhodana and his followers started believing the new philosophy and started practicing the same by leaving aside the Vedic philosophy.

"After sometime the Paramatma who was in the form of baby has disappeared and Suddhodana's son appeared again. Suddhodana's son grown up as Buddha and started preaching Buddha philosophy which Paramatma has publicized previously. Even in Devaloka (adobe of demigods) Sri Paramatma has preached to devatas (demigods) the real essence of Buddha philosophy which He has preached as Buddha in this world. Sri Paramatma preached to demigods the essence of Buddha philosophy which is published as 'Prasantavidya' which even Suddhodana's son Buddha and his followers cannot understand.

"Sri Vadiraja is praying to Sri Hari in the form of Buddha to be kind to him by doing buddhanjali. Sri Vadiraja is praying to Sri Hari in the form of Sri Kalki as one who is destroying (killing) bewildered enemies and one who is wearing (holding) sword and shield and sitting on the pleasant horse. His body with all organs of the body are shining like splendor and Sri Vadiraja is praying that He personally protects him."

PS: The original Buddha philosophy was preached and published by Sri Narayana in the form of Buddha. The preaching is meant in two ways. The original meaning was told to demigods or devatas by himself in Devaloka. But the sinful asuras or demons understood his preaching wrongly and started practicing the same by blaming the Vaidic dharma. Like this Paramatma will incarnate to get love from asuras to devatas as has been told in Bhagavata Purana, Prathama Skanda, chapter 32, sloka 24.

In order to attract the asuras who are enemies of devatas Sri Hari will incarnate as Buddha as son of Jinana in the place called Gaya in the land of Magadha. This has been told in Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, chapter 32, sloka 139.

Further, it has also been told that after completing 1000 years of Kali-yuga when all the devatas who were there in that yuga reached Lord's abode, Tripurasura, who is killed by Rudra, was reborn in this world. At that time even Sri Vedavyasa has disappeared and divine culture was existent by removing all faulty practices. At that time even demons had the opportunity to learn divine knowledge. But devatas and Paramatma did not like the idea of demons gaining divine knowledge. All devatas went to the ocean of milk where Sri Hari is residing and prayed to Him to bless them with the solution. During the same time in the place called Gaya (land of Magadha) Tripurasura was born to Suddhodana or Jinana. Paramatma disappeared from the newborn child and incarnated as a child. When Suddhodana started doing ritual for the newborn baby, the baby started smiling. They were all stunned by this happening and the baby started preaching the new siddhanta called Buddha siddhanta. Because of the prevailing situation, i.e. divine culture, they all did not believe the new philosophy, Paramatma called His devatas and they started launching different weapons on the newborn baby. But that baby swallowed all the weapons like trisula etc. and even when Visnu attacked the baby with his discus (cakra), the Paramatma in the form of baby made it its seat. On seeing the wonders of this child, Suddhodana and his followers started believing and accepted the new philosophy by leaving divine culture which they were following. After that the Paramatma disappeared from there and preached the real meaning of the new philosophy to the devatas but demons were attracted by this new preaching and started following the same.

Even before this incident there is a mention in Bhagavata Purana that Buddha manifested earlier to attract Tripurasura's wives.

The Buddha who was supposedly born in 563 BC is not the incarnation of Sri Narayana. Gautama Buddha is one who has publicized the Buddha philosophy which was preached by Sri Narayana as a child. It should be assumed that Gautama Buddha is not the manifestation of Sri Narayana.

The original Kannada translation has been taken from the book:

Sri Vadiraja Viracita Sri Dasavatara Stuti Translated in to Kannada by Acarya Saanur Bhima Bhattaru Published by Sri Parimala Samshodhana and Publishing Mandira Nanajangud - Bangalore. 1995.

Q: It is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam that Lord Buddha was an incarnation of Krsna but Lord Buddha did not accepted Vedas, neither he accepted reincarnation, nor soul. So how is it possible that he was an incarnation of Krsna?

A: In the purport to BG 4.7, SB 1.3.24, etc. Srila Prabhupada explains that Buddha (different from widely known Sakyamuni, Siddharta Gautama) had a special mission in Lord's plan to restore Vedic dharma. He came to dismantle the degenerate approach of brahmanas of that time. They were killing animals in the name of Vedic sacrifice. Thus he rejected the Vedas to deprive them of the basis of their misconduct. Later Adi Sankara came and continued this plan by establishing the authority of Vedas but he taught that the Absolute is impersonal. After him came Vaisnava teachers like Ramanuja, Madhva etc. who preached the genuine Vedic conclusion - Absolute is ultimately a person. This supreme person is Visnu/Krsna. At last came Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and established His doctrine of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, the ultimate Vedic siddhanta. This is the gist.

Durga - additional info

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his purports on Sri Brahma Samhita, especially in 5.41 and 5.44, clearly describes Sri Durgadevi as sakti-tattva, who is related to the original sakti, RamA, as Lord Siva is related to Maha-Sankarsana.

It is described that as Lord Sankarsana gets reflected in the water of the Causal Ocean, and His reflection becomes Lord Sambhu, a tattva on his own, similarly Laksmidevi, or RamA, who is service the lotus feet of Maha-Sankarsana, gets reflected in the Causal Ocean thus manifesting as Sri Durgadevi. That is why Durgadevi is sometimes called jagal-laksmi, or 'Laksmi of this Universe".

There are a few references which shed some more light on the position of Srimati Durga devi:

"The Brahma-samhita says, chayeva yasya bhuvanani bibharti durga. Durga is not different from yogamaya. When one understands Durga properly, he is immediately liberated, for Durga is originally the spiritual potency, hladini-sakti, by whose mercy one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini-saktir asmad. The mahamaya-sakti, however, is a covering of yogamaya, and she is therefore called the covering potency. By this covering potency, the entire material world is bewildered (yaya sammohitau jagat). In conclusion, bewildering the conditioned souls and liberating the devotees are both functions belonging to yogamaya." (SB 10.1.69 add. notes)

There are two kinds of maya-yogamaya and mahamaya. Mahamaya is an expansion of yogamaya, and both these mayas are different expressions of the Lord's internal potencies. (SB 4.16.2 purp.)

yan maya-cestitam pumsah
sthity-utpatty-apyayaya hi
anugrahas tan-nivrtter
atma-labhaya cesyate

The Supreme Personality of Godhead acts through His material energy in the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this cosmic manifestation just to deliver the living entity by His compassion and stop the living entity's birth, death and duration of materialistic life. Thus He enables the living being to return home, back to Godhead. (SB 9.24.58)

aparam tv aksaram ya sa
prakrtir jada-rupika
srih para prakrtih prokta
cetana visnu-samsraya
tam aksaram param prahuh
paratah param aksaram
harir evakhila-guno 'py
aksara-trayam iritam

"The inferior infallible entity is that nature who manifests as the material world. The goddess of fortune, on the other hand, is known as the superior nature. She is pure consciousness and is under the direct shelter of Lord Visnu. While she is said to be the superior infallible entity, that infallible entity who is greater than the greatest is Lord Hari Himself, the original possessor of all transcendental qualities. In this way, three distinct infallible entities are described." (from Skanda Purana, quoted in SB 12.11.20 purp.)

Ganesa - Remover of Obstacles
Satyaraja Dasa (c) BTG

The joyous elephant-faced deity known as Ganesa is revered by one billion Hindus worldwide, and though his worship has little place in the modern-day Hare Krsna movement, his personality and pastimes are part of ISKCON's heritage.

Ganesa is often seen as the creator and remover of obstacles, as the guardian at entrances and as a spiritually potent figure who can avert all evil influences. In popular Hindu lore he is thus the god to be worshiped first, before all religious ceremonies, public and private. Things tend to start off with Ganesa and this is reflected even in common idiomatic phrases. For example, in Maharashtra when a dedication or inauguration is to be performed, a Marathi speaker may refer to the occasion as Sri ganesa karane ("doing the Sri Ganesa"). Another such expression is ganapatice kele ("to conceive a child"). Similar phrases are found in other Indian languages.

Since Ganesa is considered the lord of beginnings, for the first installment in this series about the demigods we start with him.

According to the Vedic literature, behind the workings of the cosmos stand powerful controllers known as devas, or demigods. As we people in this world control our cars or homes, the devas control various aspects of the cosmos.

Ganesa is a popular hero whose image adorns the walls of shops, homes, and temples throughout India. Even for people unfamiliar with Indian culture or the Vedic literature, Ganesa is perhaps the easiest of all demigods to identify, with his human body, elephant head, and potbelly. He is usually pictured standing, sitting, or dancing, with his jolly elephant face looking straight ahead. Ganesa is at times depicted with quill on palm leaf, for as Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata, Ganesa served as the scribe to write it down.

Ganesa is missing one tusk, a piece of which can sometimes be found in one of his four hands. In another hand he sometimes holds a hatchet (parasu), which, according to some texts, is for cutting away illusion and false teachings. Another of Ganesa's hands often gestures fearlessness and reassurance (varada-hasta-mudra). He also holds a goad (ankusa) like that used by an elephant trainer, symbolizing his insistence on proper training or spiritual discipline. He sometimes holds a noose (pasa) used for restraining wild animals, here representing the restraint of passion and lustful desires. Sometimes he is seen holding sweets (modaka), for which he is said to have an inordinate fondness. Hence the belly.

Who is this strange-looking god, and what, if anything, does he have to do with the worship of Krsna or Visnu?

Vedic texts reveal that Ganesa is the son of Siva and Parvati, although his sonship like that of his half-brother, Skanda-Subrahmanya, is peculiar. According to one version, Siva "emits" from his body a handsome son who becomes a seducer of women. Parvati is offended by her son's exploits and curses him to have the head of an elephant and a big belly - in other words, to be ugly. Though with this he would seem fated to celibacy, he gradually settles down with two wives, Buddhi ("wisdom") and Siddhi ("success"), who can see beyond his physical ugliness.

As time passes, Ganesa becomes the commander of Siva's troops (gana-isa or gana-pati) and because he becomes famous as one who creates obstacles for the demons and removes obstacles for the demigods or the devotees, he is known as Vighnesvara ("lord of obstacles") and Vinayaka ("one who removes [obstacles]"). The "obstacle" theme also tells us why Ganesa uses a rat as his vehicle. As rodents generally succeed in gnawing their way through any obstruction, the rat, it is said, symbolizes Ganesa's ability to destroy every obstacle.

In another, more popular version of the Ganesa story, Parvati, wanting to seclude herself from her passionate husband, Siva, especially while bathing, creates a son from her perspiration and appoints him the guardian of her quarters. Soon after, when Siva seeks admission into Parvati's inner chambers, Ganesa, unaware of Siva's identity, refuses him, pushing him away from Parvati's door. Not one to be slighted, the enraged Siva summons his attendants (ganas) to do away with this bothersome upstart. But Ganesa defeats them one by one. Finally Visnu arrives and drawing upon His maya (mystic potency) He creates confusion on all sides. This enables Siva to cut off Ganesa's head.

Parvati, furious at what has become of her "son," decides to send a multitude of goddesses to harass the demigods. These celestial women succeed in making it clear to the noble gods that their queen can be appeased only if her guardian is revived. Siva then tells the gods to go north and cut off the head of the first living being they see. The head is to be mystically placed on the body of the decapitated Ganesa, who will then come back to external consciousness. As fate would have it, the first living being to cross the path of the gods is an elephant.

The various Ganesa stories described above - found primarily in the Siva Purana and the Brahma-vaivarta Purana - are somewhat divergent, and tradition accounts for this by placing the variations in different cycles of cosmic time. "Because of the distinction between kalpas [ages]," the Siva Purana explains, "the story of Ganesa's birth is told in different ways." The cyclical structure of Vedic time allows for repeated descents of the Lord and His devotees, so details of the pastimes may vary.

According to popular Indian tradition, Ganesa is a benign and helpful deity who brings success and assures worldly well-being. Since devotees of Krsna are more interested in spiritual realization than in worldly security, ISKCON tends to forgo the worship of Ganesa. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.23), "Those who are devotees of other gods and worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way." Lord Krsna uses the word avidhi purvakam, "in an inappropriate way." Why is such worship of demigods inappropriate? Because it is materially motivated. As Lord Krsna says, "Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods." (Bg. 4.12)

Since we are essentially spiritual beings in a material body, material rewards can never truly satisfy us. Only spiritual rewards are satisfying for a spirit soul. Therefore Srila Prabhupada concurring with the above two Gita texts, says "[To worship] Ganapati is not required, but sometimes we do it. Just like the gopis - they worshiped Goddess Durga, Katyayani. They did not require to worship her, but that was part of the social system. But they asked, Mother Katyayani, give us the opportunity to have Krsna as our husband. Their aim was Krsna." (Morning walk, Los Angeles, January 10, 1974)

So the worship of Ganesa, like that of his mother, Durga (Parvati), is not condemned, but it should be done for the proper reasons: Ganesa is a devotee of Lord Krsna and we can pray to him to remove obstacles on the road to Krsna consciousness. In this regard, Brahma-samhita (5.50) explains that Ganesa is Krsna's devotee. The success achieved by worshiping Ganesa depends on Lord Krsna and therefore such worship should ultimately be directed to Krsna: "For the power to destroy all obstacles to progress in the three mundane worlds, Ganesa holds on his elephant head the lotus feet of Govinda. I worship Govinda, Krsna, the primeval Lord."

(Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to Back to Godhead. He has written several books on Krsna consciousness. He and his wife live in New York City.)

Reason for Ganesa having one tusk

He broke one of his tusks because he agreed to write Mahabharata only if Vyasadeva will dictate nonstop. So because it was his condition he didn't had time to go and find new pen every time it get finished, so he used his own tusk.

Brahma-vaivarta Purana, 3rd (Ganesa) khanda, gives another version:

When Parasurama visited Kailasa he was prevented from seeing Siva by Ganesa. The ensuing dialogue between them ends in a fight in which Ganesa catches Parasurama's ax on one of his tusks, and become at once Ekadanta (one-tusked).

Ganesa and Vaisnavas

Srila Gopal Bhatta Gosvami compiled Sat Kriya Sara Dipika as a vaidic samskara manual for the Vaisnava. The usual samskara manuals are compiled by those who are interested in karma (accumulating material fruits), and prescribe worship of the devatas and pitrs for material prosperity. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami recognizing that most of the Vaisnavas are grhasthas, and that they should perform the samskaras, he has given a procedure that is not contradictory or offensive to the Vaisnava ideals.

The first half of his manual is an argument for the worship of Visnu to the exclusion of devatas, with ample scriptural evidence. Accordingly, in his practical procedure for samskaras, he substitutes worship of Visnu and His associates for worship of Ganesa, the material saktis, and planetary deities. Whereas worship of devatas (who are mixed devotees), brings only material auspiciousness, worship of Visnu and His associates (who are pure devotees), brings spiritual deliverance. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami cites the alternative for the Vaisnava according to the Padma Purana:

ananya sarano bhakto nama mantresu diksitah
kada cin narcayed devan ganesadims tu vaisnavah
yatra yatra surah pujya ganesadyas tu karminam
visvaksenam sa sanakam sanatana matah param
sananda sanat kumara pancaitan pujayet tatah

"The devotee interested in pure devotion to the Lord, and initiated with Vaisnava mantra should never worship Ganesa and other devatas. Wherever the karmis prescribe worship of Ganesa and the devatas, the Vaisnava should worship the pure devotees of Visnu. Thus instead of worshiping Ganesa to remove material obstacles, the devotee should worship Visvaksena and the four Kumara brothers to remove obstacles on the spiritual path." (Padma Purana)

In the same way, instead of worshiping the nine planetary deities one should worship the nine yogendras, and instead of worshiping the dik palas (protectors of the directions) one should worship the maha bhagavatas. Instead of worshiping the matr gana (sixteen expansions of Durga, in charge of material energy) one should worship the Lord's consorts who are the shelter of spiritual energies.

Visvaksena and Ganesa
Jayapataka Swami

The Vedas describe the guru as "sarva-devamayo guru". That all devas are within the spiritual master. By worshiping and respecting guru one respects the SPoG and also all devas. Also by worshiping spiritual master one removes obstacles in the path of devotional service (which is why one worships Ganesa). Therefore most Vaisnavas worship guru initially to remove all obstacles rather than worship Ganesa. I also heard Srila Prabhupada say to chant the Om ajnana mantra to remove offenses and that Ganesa worship was included in the guru worship. I hope that this is clear now.

I have been told by authorities on the Sri-sampradaya that according to their siddhanta in the Vaikuntha planets Visvaksena, the general or faithful assistant of Lord Visnu, removes obstacles and he is represented in the material world as Ganesa. So karma kandis worship Ganesa and Sri Vaisnavas worship Visvaksena and Gaudiya Vaisnavas worship guru.

Related:
Srimad Bhagavatam sloka (11.2.36) in Ganesha Arati

Kubja
Ekanath Das

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says in his tika to SB 10.48.10: kubjeyah bhu-saktir vibhutir jneyah purva-vyakhyanat, "This Kubja, according to my earlier explanation, is the energy known as Bhu-sakti."

When VCT says "earlier explanation", that must refer to his tika to SB 10.42.1, which was quoted in the BBT edition as follows:

According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the young hunchbacked girl was actually a partial expansion of the Lord's wife Satyabhama. Satyabhama is the Lord's internal energy known as Bhu-sakti, and this expansion of hers, known as Prthivi, represents the earth, which was bent down by the great burden of countless wicked rulers. Lord Krsna descended to remove these wicked rulers, and thus His pastime of straightening out the hunchback Trivakra, as explained in these verses, represents His rectifying the burdened condition of the earth. At the same time, the Lord awarded Trivakra a conjugal relationship with Himself.

In addition to the given meaning, the word rasa-pradah indicates that the Lord amused His cowherd boyfriends by His dealings with the young hunchback.

Narada Muni
Suhotra Prabhu

He is at the same time inhabitant of material Siddhaloka (SB 4.29.80p.) and spiritual Siddhaloka. Their relation is like Bhauma and Divya Vrndavan (non different). Siddhaloka, Brahmaloka are also another names for Vaikuntha (SB 5.1.7p., 6.3.8-9). His Narayana-asrama (SB 10.10.23, 7.714) is Badarikasram in Himalayas.

SB 1.6.21-22:

Lord says Narada "is not free from all material taints" and therefore He can hardly see Him. Lord wants to increase his desire for Him and further purification (although he was already pure, SB 1.5.25-29).

Pitas (Pitrs)

1. one's deceased father, grandfather and great-grandfather 2. progenitors of mankind in general

If they are given sraddha they enjoy on Pitrloka, if not or they were sinful they suffer in hell or as ghosts (BG 1.41, SB 6.14.26).

Rbhus

(Garuda Purana 3.5.37, footnote; Rg Veda 1.111)

A group of divine beings who attained divinity by performing tapas. Angira, son of Brahma, had a son Sudhanva who had three sons: Rbhusan, Vibhvas and Vaja. They are named Rbhus.

Vasus (asta-vasus)

Gana devatas, sons of Dharma and Vasu, daughter of Daksa. (MB Adi Parva 66) Their names differ in different Puranas.

Visvedevas

Garuda Purana 3.5.36: Pururavas, Adrava, Dhuri, Locana, Kratu, Daksa, Satya, Vasu, Kama and Kalaka.

Yaksas: pious or demoniac?

Suhotra Prabhu: Different genealogical lines of them. Some appeared from universal shell when Brahma appeared, some are descendants of Kasyapa and Pulastya (Mahabharata, Agni Purana). Some are mischievous but not all. Demigods have great faith in Yaksas's king, Kuvera, and made him their treasurer.

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