It has been said: harim vina na srtim taranti. Without taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, one cannot attain relief from the clutches of Maya, the repetition of birth, old age, disease, and death. The Pracetas received the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the grace of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is the supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: the most exalted Vaisnava is Lord Shiva, and those who are actually devotees of Lord Shiva follow Lord Shiva’s advice and take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. The so-called devotees of Lord Shiva, who are simply after material prosperity, are in a way deceived by Lord Shiva. He does not actually deceive them, because Lord Shiva has no business deceiving people, but because the so-called devotees of Lord Shiva want to be deceived, Lord Shiva, 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, Ravana took all material benediction from Lord Shiva, but the result was that he was ultimately destroyed with his family, kingdom, and everything else because he misused Lord Shiva’s benediction. Because of his material power, he became very proud and puffed up so that he dared kidnap the wife of Lord Ramacandra. In this way, he was ruined. To get material benedictions from Lord Shiva is not difficult, but actually, these are not benedictions. The Pracetas received benediction from Lord Shiva, and as a result, they attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. This is a real benediction. The gopis also worshiped Lord Shiva in Vrindavana, and the lord is still staying there as Gopisvara. The gopis, however, prayed that Lord Shiva bless them by giving them Lord Krishna 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-gita (7.20):

kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante ‘nya-devatah
tam tam niyamam asthaya prakrtya niyatah svaya

“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 hrta jnana (“one who has lost his intelligence”). In this connection, it is to be noted that sometimes in revealed scriptures Lord Shiva is described as being nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The point is that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are so intimately connected that there is no difference in opinion. The actual fact is, ekale Isvara Krishna, ara saba bhrtya: “The only supreme master is Krishna, 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 Shiva and Lord Vishnu in this connection. Nowhere in revealed scripture does Lord Shiva claim to be equal to Lord Vishnu. This is simply the creation of the so-called devotees of Lord Shiva, who claim that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are one. This is strictly forbidden in the Vaisnava-tantra: yas tu narayanam devam. Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, and Lord Brahma are intimately connected as master and servants. Shiva-virinci-nutam. Vishnu is honored and offered obeisances by Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. To consider that they are all equal is a great offense. They are all equal in the sense that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all others are His eternal servants.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, Fourth Canto, Chapter 30 – Text 38

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