It has been said: hariṁ vinā na mṛtiṁ taranti. Without taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, one cannot attain relief from the clutches of māyā, the repetition of birth, old age, disease and death. The Pracetās received the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the grace of Lord Śiva. Lord Śiva is the supreme devotee of Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: the most exalted Vaiṣṇava is Lord Śiva, and those who are actually devotees of Lord Śiva follow Lord Śiva's advice and take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu. The so-called devotees of Lord Śiva, who are simply after material prosperity, are in a way deceived by Lord Śiva. He does not actually deceive them, because Lord Śiva has no business deceiving people, but because the so-called devotees of Lord Śiva want to be deceived, Lord Śiva, who is very easily pleased, allows them all kinds of material benedictions. These benedictions might ironically result in the destruction of the so-called devotees. For instance, Rāvaṇa took all material benediction from Lord Śiva, but the result was that he was ultimately destroyed with his family, kingdom and everything else because he misused Lord Śiva's benediction. Because of his material power, he became very proud and puffed up so that he dared kidnap the wife of Lord Rāmacandra. In this way he was ruined. To get material benedictions from Lord Śiva is not difficult, but actually these are not benedictions. The Pracetās received benediction from Lord Śiva, and as a result they attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu. This is real benediction. The gopīs also worshiped Lord Śiva in Vṛndāvana, and the lord is still staying there as Gopīśvara. The gopīs, however, prayed that Lord Śiva bless them by giving them Lord Kṛṣṇa as their husband. There is no harm in worshiping the demigods, provided that one's aim is to return home, back to Godhead. Generally people go to the demigods for material benefit, as indicated in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.20):
- kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ
- prapadyante 'nya-devatāḥ
- taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya
- prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā
"Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." One enamored by material benefits is called hṛta jñāna ("one who has lost his intelligence"). In this connection it is to be noted that sometimes in revealed scriptures Lord Śiva is described as being nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The point is that Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu are so intimately connected that there is no difference in opinion. The actual fact is, ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya: "The only supreme master is Kṛṣṇa, and all others are His devotees or servants." (CC Adi 5.142) This is the real fact, and there is no difference of opinion between Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu in this connection. Nowhere in revealed scripture does Lord Śiva claim to be equal to Lord Viṣṇu. This is simply the creation of the so-called devotees of Lord Śiva, who claim that Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu are one. This is strictly forbidden in the Vaiṣṇava-tantra: yas tu nārāyaṇaṁ devam (CC Madhya 18.116). Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are intimately connected as master and servants. Śiva-viriñci-nutam (SB 11.5.33). Viṣṇu is honored and offered obeisances by Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā. To consider that they are all equal is a great offense. They are all equal in the sense that Lord Viṣṇu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all others are His eternal servants.