In truth, all Vedic literature directs the human being toward the perfect stage of devotion. The paths of fruitive activities, speculative knowledge, and meditation do not lead one to the perfectional stage, but the Lord is actually approachable by one who follows the process of devotional service. Therefore all Vedic literature recommends that one accept this process. In this regard, Caitanya Mahāprabhu quoted from the Lord's instructions to Uddhava in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.14.20-21):
- na sādhayati māṁ yogo na sāṅkhyaṁ dharma uddhava
- na svādhyāyas tapas tyāgo yathā bhaktir mamorjitā
- bhaktyāham ekayā grāhyaḥ śraddhayātmā priyaḥ satām
- bhaktiḥ punāti man-niṣṭhā śva-pākān api sambhavāt
"My dear Uddhava, neither philosophical speculation nor meditational yoga nor penances can give Me such pleasure as devotional service practiced by the living entities. I am dear only to My devotees, and I can be achieved only by devotional service. Even an extremely lowborn person will become free from all contamination if he takes to My devotional service." Devotional service is the only path by which one can achieve the Supreme Person.
Devotional service is the only perfection accepted by all Vedic literatures. Just as when a poor man receives some treasure he becomes happy, when one attains to devotional service his material pains are automatically vanquished. As one advances in devotional service, he attains love of Godhead, and as he advances in this love, he becomes free from all material bondage. One should not think, however, that the disappearance of poverty and the liberation from bondage are the goals of devotional service. Love of Kṛṣṇa, love of God, is itself the goal, and it consists in relishing the reciprocation of loving service with the Lord. In all Vedic literatures we find that the attainment of this loving relationship between the living entity and the Supreme Lord is the goal of devotional service. Our actual function is devotional service, and our ultimate goal is love of Godhead. Therefore in all Vedic literatures Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate center, and through knowledge of Kṛṣṇa all problems of life are solved.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu then quoted a verse from the Padma Purāṇa: "There are many different Purāṇas with instructions for worshiping different types of demigods, but such instructions only bewilder people into thinking that the demigods are supreme. Yet if one carefully studies the Purāṇas, he will find that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the only object of worship." For example, in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa there is mention of Devī worship, or worship of the goddess Durgā, or Kālī, but in this same Purāṇa it is also stated that all the demigods—even Durgāare but different energies of Viṣṇu. Thus the study of the Purāṇas reveals Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to be the only object of worship.
The conclusion is that, directly or indirectly, all types of worship are more or less directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. The Bhagavad-gītā (9.23) confirms that one who worships the demigods is in fact only worshiping Kṛṣṇa because the demigods are but different parts of the body of Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa, but that such worship is irregular. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.21.42–43) confirms this irregularity by answering the question "What is the purpose of the different types of worship described in the Vedic literature?" In the Vedic literature there are various divisions: one is called the karma-kāṇḍa, which describes purely ritualistic activities, and another is the jñāna-kāṇḍa, which describes speculation on the Supreme Absolute Truth. What then is the purpose of the ritualistic sections of the Vedic literature, and what is the purpose of the upāsanā-kāṇḍa, which contains different mantras or hymns for worshiping various demigods? And what is the purpose of philosophical speculation on the subject of the Absolute Truth? Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam replies that in actuality all of these methods defined in the Vedic literature indicate the worship of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. In other words, they are all indirect ways of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sacrifices contained in the ritualistic portions of this literature are meant for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. Indeed, because yajña, sacrifice, is specifically meant for satisfying Viṣṇu, another name for Viṣṇu is Yajñeśvara, or Lord of sacrifices.
Since neophytes are not on the transcendental level, the Vedic literature advises them to worship different types of demigods according to their situation in the different modes of material nature. The idea is that gradually such neophytes may rise to the transcendental plane and engage in the service of Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For example, the Purāṇas advise the neophytes attached to eating flesh to eat it only after offering it to the goddess Kālī.
The philosophical sections of the Vedic hymns are intended to enable one to distinguish the Supreme Lord from māyā. After one understands the position of māyā, one can approach the Supreme Lord in pure devotional service. That is the actual purpose of philosophical speculation, and Kṛṣṇa confirms this in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.19): "After speculating for many, many births, the philosophical speculators and empiric philosophers ultimately surrender unto Me, Vāsudeva, and accept that I am everything." It can thus be seen that all Vedic rituals and different types of worship and philosophical speculation ultimately aim at Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then told Sanātana Gosvāmī about Kṛṣṇa's multiforms and His unlimited opulence. He also described the nature of the spiritual manifestation, the material manifestation and the manifestation of the living entity. In addition, He informed Sanātana Gosvāmī that the planets in the spiritual sky, known as Vaikuṇṭhas, and the universes of the material sky are different types of manifestations, for they are created by different energies, namely the spiritual energy and the material energy, respectively. As far as Kṛṣṇa Himself is concerned, He is directly situated in His spiritual energy, or specifically in His internal potency.
To help us understand the difference between the spiritual energy and the material energy, the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives a clear analysis of the two. Śrīdhara Svāmī also gives a clear analytical study in his commentary on the first verse of the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Accepting Śrīdhara Svāmī as an authorized commentator on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Caitanya Mahāprabhu quoted his commentary as follows: "The Tenth Canto of the Bhāgavatam describes the life and activities of Kṛṣṇa because He is the shelter of all manifestations. Knowing Kṛṣṇa to be the shelter of everything, I worship Him and offer Him my obeisances."