The demigods are not God

Bhagavad Gita 9.23. What does it mean when Krishna says “Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kuntī, but they do so in a wrong way.”

“Persons who are engaged in the worship of demigods are not very intelligent, although such worship is offered to Me indirectly,” KRISHNA says. For example, when a man pours water on the leaves and branches of a tree without pouring water on the root, he does so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. Similarly, the process of rendering service to different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach. The demigods are, so to speak, different officers and directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government, not by the officers or directors. Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only. That will automatically satisfy the different officers and directors of the Lord. The officers and directors are engaged as representatives of the government, and to offer some bribe to the officers and directors is illegal. This is stated here as avidhi-pürvakam. In other words, KRISHNA does not approve the unnecessary worship of the demigods.

“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.” (Bhagavad gita 7.20)

Posted 17/10/2019 by Devarsi

Demigod Worship and how to practice it properly


Laksmi Devi


Durga Devi


Lord Ganesha

“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Bhagavad gita 7.23)
Some commentators on the Gita say that one who worships a demigod can reach the Supreme Lord, but here it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to the different planetary systems where various demigods are situated, just as a worshiper of the sun achieves the sun or a worshiper of the demigod of the moon achieves the moon. Similarly, if anyone wants to worship a demigod like Indra, he can attain that particular god’s planet. It is not that everyone, regardless of whatever demigod is worshiped, will reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is denied here, for it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to different planets in the material world, but the devotee of the Supreme Lord goes directly to the supreme planet of the Personality of Godhead.
Here the point may be raised that if the demigods are different parts of the body of the Supreme Lord, then the same end should be achieved by worshiping them. However, worshipers of the demigods are less intelligent because they don’t know to what part of the body food must be supplied. Some of them are so foolish that they claim that there are many parts and many ways to supply food. This isn’t very sanguine. Can anyone supply food to the body through the ears or eyes? They do not know that these demigods are different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord, and in their ignorance they believe that each and every demigod is a separate God and a competitor of the Supreme Lord.
Not only are demigods parts of the Supreme Lord, but ordinary living entities are also. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that the brahmanas are the head of the Supreme Lord, the ksatriyas are the arms, etc., and that all serve different functions. Regardless of the situation, if one knows that both the demigods and himself are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, his knowledge is perfect. But if he does not understand this, he achieves different planets where the demigods reside. This is not the same destination the devotee reaches.

The results achieved by the demigods’ benedictions are perishable because within this material world the planets, the demigods and their worshipers are all perishable. Therefore it is clearly stated in this verse that all results achieved by worshiping demigods are perishable, and therefore such worship is performed by the less intelligent living entity. Because the pure devotee engaged in Krsna consciousness in devotional service of the Supreme Lord achieves eternal blissful existence that is full of knowledge, his achievements and those of the common worshiper of the demigods are different. The Supreme Lord is unlimited; His favor is unlimited; His mercy is unlimited. Therefore the mercy of the Supreme Lord upon His pure devotees is unlimited.

Sita Devi

Sita Devi speaking to Ganga Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 52

“Oh Ganga, protected by you, may (Rama) the son of the intelligent and mighty monarch Dashratha, execute the mandate of His father. Having spent complete fourteen years in the forest, He will return in company with His brother and myself. Then, Oh worshipful one, Oh you of auspicious fortune, having returned safely, I will, Oh Ganga, worship you, you that crown every desire. Oh you that wend in three ways, Oh revered one, you envelop the regions of Brahma. You appear in this world as the spouse of the Ocean king. I will, Oh respected one, bow down to you, Oh beauteous one, I will hymn you, when, with good fortune returned, the foremost of men has obtained the kingdom, I will, to please you, give away to brahmanas hundreds and thousands of cows, cloths, flavorful rice, and vessels of wine by thousands, and pillows. Oh worshipful one, I will worship you on Rama having returned to the city. And I will worship all the gods that dwell on your banks, as well as the holy spots and fanes, as soon as, Oh sinless one, that mighty-armed one without sin will, coming back from His abode in the forest, enter Ayodhya in company with His brother and myself.”

It is often seen that people in general have a misconception about the factual position of the demigods. They think that all demigods are equal and they are different forms of the same Supreme Lord. But this is clearly rejected by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita in so many ways. There are different demigods like Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Indra, Ganesha, Goddess Durga etc. These demigods are different parts and parcels of the supreme Lord Krishna. Therefore they cannot be equal to Narayana, Vishnu or Krishna. All the demigods belong to the material creation whereas the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna is beyond this material creation.

Demigods like Durga (Kali) Ganesh Lord Brahma Laksmi are normal living entities like you and I.  Demigods are empowered living beings or agents of the Supreme Lord, delegated with different grades of power to manage the universal affairs. They are all servants of Krishna, being subordinate to His supreme will. It is said in the scriptures that there are thirty three crore demigods in total. But non of them are God. They are never Krishna.

Worship in goodness, passion or ignorance.

Demigod worship is generally frowned upon by Vaishnavas, those who are worshipers of Lord Vishnu or Krishna. According to Vedic teachings, the purpose of human life is to develop a love for God, so any other discipline or religious practice outside of loving God is seen as second class.

The demigods, referred to as devas, are the chief deputies of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Just as a president or prime minister has assistants and cabinet secretaries, Krishna also has assigned posts for elevated living entities to manage the affairs of the material world. Their duty is to see to it that things are running smoothly and also to grant benedictions to those who please them. There are thousands of devas, but some of the more notable ones are Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi, and Durga. They each provide different material benedictions to those who worship them properly and vigilantly. Their janma, or birth, as well as their specific duties are described in most of the Puranas.

“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Bhagavad gita 7.23)

Generally speaking, those who are less intelligent worship the demigods. The reason they are considered less intelligent by Lord Krishna, is because the demigods, by rule, can only bestow material benedictions. If one is seeking great wealth, success in material endeavors, or the acquisition of great powers, they approach one of the various devas. Lord Krishna Himself describes this in the Bhagavad-gita, read text above.


The demon Ravana on the left shooting arrows

The Demon Ravana

One need only research the great Vedic texts to find examples of those who performed demigod worship. They were all generally asuras, enemies of Krishna. The great Rakshasa demon Ravana worshiped Lord Shiva (not a demigod see bottom a article) and many demigods like Durga and Lord Brahma in order to procure great material benedictions and powers. He didn’t use any of these powers for good, for he was committed to harassing the great sages performing sacrifices in the forest. His kingdom of Lanka was a sinner’s paradise, with people regularly overindulging in meat eating and intoxication. He had such a voracious appetite for sex that he regularly cavorted with his hundreds of wives in his palace. These women were always drunk, so much so that they would fall asleep on each other not knowing where they were. Other great demons such as Hiranyakashipu and Bhasmasura were also dedicated worshipers of the demigods.


Lord Rama

Lord Rama

Not all worshipers of demigods can be classified as unintelligent. In the Hindu tradition passed down for thousands of years, householders generally follow demigod worship very strictly. This is done more out of duty than anything else. The Vedas provide various forms of religion, a series of stepping-stones aimed at elevating one’s consciousness. Those in the grihastha ashrama, householder life, regularly perform worship of the devas so that their family life will be peaceful and prosperous. God Himself followed this tradition when He incarnated on earth as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Rama and His family were very pious. They all regularly offered prayers in the morning and evening. When traversing the forest, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita would worship various demigods prior to building cottages as a way of purifying their living quarters. In a very famous scene, Lord Rama worshiped Lord Shiva just prior to marching to Ravana’s kingdom of Lanka. Lord Krishna followed similar traditions:


Sita Rama Laksman and Hanuman

Sita Rama lakshmana and Hanuman

“Somewhere the Lord was seen engaged in performing different types of sacrifices to satisfy the demigods, who are only His qualitative expansions. Somewhere He was seen engaged in public welfare activities, establishing deep wells for water supply, rest houses and gardens for unknown guests, and great monasteries and temples for saintly persons. These are some of the duties enjoined in the Vedas for householders for fulfillment of their material desires.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Volume 2, Ch 2.14)

Ironically, just prior to delivering the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna wherein the Lord condemned demigod worship, Krishna ordered Arjuna to worship Goddess Durga to ensure victory in the upcoming battle of Kurukshetra.

“The holy one said,–’Cleansing thyself, O mighty-armed one, utter on the eve of the battle thy hymn to Durga for (compassing) the defeat of the foe.” (Mahabharata)

All of this can seem confusing. On the one hand, worship of the devas is condemned, and on the other hand we see Krishna Himself performing such acts. Which example is correct? For the answer, we need only look to Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. In the above referenced statements, Sita is praying to Ganga Devi, the river Ganges, to protect her husband and ensure His successful return to Ayodhya. When God took birth as Lord Rama many thousands of years ago, as part of His pastimes, He accepted a fourteen year exile sentence delivered by His father, Maharaja Dashratha. Sita, along with Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana, accompanied the Lord in His travels through the forest, for they couldn’t bear to be separated from Him. Sita’s worship of Ganga Devi took place early on in the exile period, just after Rama had sent Sumantra, the family charioteer, back home.

Sita and Rama

Sita Rama

Sita Devi only worshiped Ganga Devi so that Rama, God Himself, would be satisfied. Due to this fact, her practice of demigod worship was completely spiritual and in line with bhagavata-dharma. In general, those who are somewhat pious seek the four primary rewards of material life: dharma (religiosity), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification), and moksha (liberation). Bhakti yoga, or devotional service, is above this religious system since it involves lovingly serving God without any personal motives. Sita prayed to Ganga only for the satisfaction of Rama, and not for any material benefit. This is the highest form of religion. She didn’t resent the demigods or look down on them. Rather, she had the highest respect for them. She recognized their incredible powers and decided to take advantage of them. Sita’s only mission in life was to love Rama to the fullest extent, so she used any tool at her disposal to execute her tasks. Her worship of Ganga Devi was done with conditions. “If you help my husband, then I’ll worship you.” In actuality, Sita was doing Ganga Devi a favor since she was allowing Ganga, a demigoddess, to directly serve the Supreme Lord. Generally the demigods don’t get to directly serve God since they are busy doling out material rewards to their devotees. For this reason, taking birth as a human being is considered a greater boon than taking birth as a demigod, for humans have the opportunity to be directly engaged in God’s service.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva is Krishnas greatest devotee

Sita Devi was the perfect devotee, someone so kind and compassionate that her glories can’t be put into words. From her example, we learn that demigod worship is justifiable if we can use it for the right purpose. We can worship the Lord’s great devotee Hanuman to give us devotion to Rama. We can worship Lord Shiva to give us the power of concentration so that we may always fix our mind on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. We can humbly ask Lord Ganesha to remove the obstacles that come in our way of performing devotional service. In this way, we can combine forces with the devas to help satisfy God.


Lord Shiva is in a unique position. He’s not an ordinary living entity (jiva), he’s not an ordinary demigod (deva), nor is he in the Vishnu (God) category. Shiva has his own tattva, category of being, known as shiva-tattva. His residence, Kalilash, isn’t annihilated when the rest of the material manifestation is annihilated.

First of all, he’s the greatest Vaishnava. He and Krishna (Vishnu) are very close to each other. Shiva is very dear to Lord Krishna and vice-versa.

Brahma, in his prayer known as Brahma-samhita, compares Shiva to yogurt and Krishna to milk. By adding some culture to milk, one makes yogurt. Both come from the same substance, yet are slightly different in quality. Milk, or Vishnu, is the source. Such is the relationship between Shiva and Krishna.

Lord Krishna (Vishnu) is responsible for the maintenance of the material and spiritual worlds. Lord Shiva is responsible for the destruction of the material world. He is also in charge of the tamas (ignorance) mode of nature, although he’s not personally affected by it. Lord Shiva is constantly in meditation on Lord Vishnu; he’s extremely powerful and full of good qualities. He’s easily pleased by service and devotion to him, but he’s most pleased when his followers direct their ultimate worship to Lord Vishnu.


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