Our Ishta dev (the chosen form of God we worship) is Shree Krishna, who performs sweet pastimes in the groves of Vrindavan. It is natural to be curious as to why one should accept Kunj Bihari Shree Krishna as one's Ishta dev?
Let us consider whom all we can be devoted to and make as our Ishta dev. It can be human beings, the celestial gods, demons or the Supreme Lord. Amongst them, it is better to worship humans than to worship demons, who are in the mode of ignorance. Better than just any human, is one's own mother, father, son, daughter, etc. Better than them are the celestial gods like Indra, Varun, Kuber etc. But, all these three kinds of personalities are under the influence of Maya. If we worship any of these as our Ishta dev, the result will be endless wandering in the cycle of 8.4 million species of life. We will neither get rid of sorrows and pain, nor attain eternal happiness. These divine goals will only be attained if we make some Divine personality as the object of our worship.
Now, in the spiritual realm, whom can we consider as our Ishta dev? First is the impersonal, formless aspect of God, which possesses no qualities. This impersonal aspect of God is chosen by the gyanis, who worship the attributeless Brahm. However, in Kaliyug very rarely does anyone possess the qualification for worshipping the formless Brahm. It requires hard spiritual practice and immense control over the mind. Arjun, who was a master archer and had rejected even Urvashi, the celestial beauty, admitted in the Bhagavad Geeta:
chaṁchalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛiṣhṇa pramāthi balavaddṛiṛham |
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyoriv suduṣhkaram ||
"O Shree Krishna! This mind is very unsteady and wavering. I have been defeated by its flickering nature. Its speed is faster than air." God replied, "Yes Arjun, You are right. However, with the selection of the correct path and surrender to the right form of God, we can attain our goal." Arjun replied, "There are two aspects of God - Impersonal or Formless and Personal. Whom should we make our Ishta dev, or chosen form of God for worship?" Shree Krishna answered, "Arjun! For humans to follow the path of gyan and meditate on the formless Brahm is impossible." Tulsidas ji clearly stated:
kahat kaṭhin samujhat kaṭhin sādhan kaṭhin vivek |
hoy ghuṇākṣhar nyāy jo puni prayooha anek ||
"The path of gyan is difficult both to explain and to understand. To practice it is even more difficult. It is next to impossible to attach the mind the formless God, Brahm as our ishta dev. And if by chance we make Brahm as our ishta dev, then the final result of this practice, Brahmanand (the Bliss of the formless Brahm) is inferior compared to the Bliss of the personal form of God.
The scriptures say that even if we add seventeen zeros next to one, and multiply that with Brahmanand, it will not be equal to a tiny fraction of Premanand (the Divine Love Bliss of the personal form of God). Such is the pleasure in the Divine Love Bliss of the personal form of God, Shree Krishna.
It is extremely difficult to worship the formless Brahm, as firstly one has to meet the strict criteria for entrance to the path of gyan. Secondly, the actual practice on the path is even more difficult. And if someone starts following this path, it will stop at atmagyan, or the knowledge of the self.
Hence, we do not have to consider Brahm as our chosen form of God for worship. Now let us go higher than this. Let us consider which Personal form of God we should choose as our Ishta Dev. We have Maha Vishnu, who has four arms, and is also a Form of God. He is known as the Lord of the Vaikunth abode. He sits in a very serious mood. The Mahapurushas, or Saints, of shant bhav worship Him. The demons killed by Shree Krishna go to this abode. Maha Vishnu neither performs any pastimes, nor has any associates. The devotees only have His Divine vision. They do not relish the Bliss of any leela. Maha Vishnu is a form of Shree Krishna, but the Bliss in that form is less. Sweeter than that is the Bliss of Shree Krishna in Dwarka. There, the almightiness and opulence of God is slightly hidden. But even there, the highest Bliss is not present.
In one pastime, Shree Krishna showed his Universal form to mother Yashoda. She thought, "He is God. I am committing a sin by considering Him to be my son. I scold Him, tie Him with a rope." God noted her feelings. God thought, "Now, mother really knows My identity. What will happen? She will start worshipping me like others. She will not consider my as her son."
vaiṣhṇavīṁ vyatanonmāyāṁ putrasnehamayiṁ vibhuḥ |
Shree Krishna called yogmaya, His personal power, and made mother Yashoda forget everything. She then said, "What was I thinking? I have become mad in my old age. My memory has become weak. He is my son, and nothing more than that." She forgot that Shree Krishna is God. Therefore, the Bliss of Vrindavan is the greatest of all.
In the abode of Braj, everybody including Shree Krishna's friends would forget that He is God. They would play with Him, fight with Him and tease Him. Everyday, the gopis abused Shree Krishna by calling Him a flirt and a loafer! This is how they used to address the Supreme Brahm! Shree Krishna would forget His Godliness and become their eternal servant.
In the material world, a woman always seeks a husband who will provide her the best comforts and keep her happy. She wants an IAS officer or a millionaire. If she doesn't find such a groom, that is a different issue. And after getting married to that person, she gets sorrows and pain, that is again a different thing, but every girl has this dream and thinks that her husband should be the best and everybody should respect him.
Shree Krishna has many forms, but the one who performs loving pastimes in the groves of Vrindavan is the sweetest of all. Hence, Shree Krishna from Vrindavan is the form of God we should worship. Our Ishta dev should be that form of God which gives the highest Bliss.
Translation of lecture delivered by Shree Maharajji