Why is it that gods do this? Adi Shankaracharya says there are 3 people stopping one from self-realization:

  1. The individual himself
  2. Other people
  3. Devas

Swami Sarvananda in his commentary on the Taittiriya Upanishad says,

This invocation is chanted because it is believed that even gods thwart the path of an aspirant striving for God-realization. So, if they are propitiated in the beginning, the course is expected to go smoother.

The invocation he is speaking of is: "Sam no Mitrasam Varunaha.... etc"

But why would Devas do this? Isn't it an Asuric or Raksha quality to stop people from worshipping? Throughout Smrti Asuras and Rakshasas disrupt Yajnas, etc.

However, in the Vedas we see Devas themselves teaching others how to realize God. Devas are probably self realized if they teach others about it. In the Kaushitaki Upanishad there is the conversation between Indra and Pratardana. Pratardana asks Indra to give him a boon that he wants, and Indra says to meditate on Brahman.

In the Bhrigu Valli of the Taittiriya Upanishad, Varuna, who is the father of Bhrigu, teaches Bhrigu about Brahman and how to meditate on him.

Now in the Itihasas Indra tries to stop people from gaining tapo-shakti, but this is different from attaining Brahma-Vidya.

So why would Devas stop people?

  • You should write English words in braket like (self realization) after Brahma VIdya because others - non hindus also read the questions & answers especially when it is in HNQ. Oct 17, 2017 at 5:18
  • @Rohit What is HNQ?
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 17, 2017 at 13:31
  • When an individual believes that all obstacles are self created he will find a way to resolve it. This is self realization. If everyone thinks this same way the second obstacle is gone. The Devas will have no role to play once people are self realized. God realization = Self realization.
    – Rama27
    Oct 31, 2017 at 9:44
  • Because.so called itihasa and puranas wants to.show puranic.avataras higher than vedic.gods and hence.such stories to malign images of gods Nov 12, 2017 at 16:36
  • Further. Adi sankara was himself accused as a.crypto buddhist. Nov 12, 2017 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


When a person gets Brahma-Vidya / Moksha then there is no rebirth for that person. And when he doesn't have birth he can't do various sacrifices and rituals for Devatas. So, Gods do not want that men should attain Brahma Vidya. It is explained in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as:

I-iv-9: They say: Men think, ‘Through the knowledge of Brahman we shall become all’. Well, what did that Brahman know by which It became all ?

I-iv-10: This (self) was indeed Brahman in the beginning. It knew only Itself as, ‘I am Brahman’. Therefore It became all. And whoever among the gods knew It also became That; and the same with sages and men. The sage Vamadeva, while realising this (self) as That, knew, ‘I was Manu, and the sun’. And to this day whoever in like manner knows It as, ‘I am Brahman’, becomes all this (universe). Even the gods cannot prevail against him, for he becomes their self. While he who worships another god thinking, ‘He is one, and I am another’, does not know. He is like an animal to the gods. As many animals serve a man, so does each man serve the gods. Even if one animal is taken away, it causes anguish, what should one say of many animals ? Therefore it is not liked by them that men should know this.

In the Smriti texts also it is explained nicely. For eg. In Shiva Gita from Padma Purana:

रामाय दण्डकारण्ये पार्वतीपतिना पुरा .
या प्रोक्ता शिवगीताख्या गुह्याद्गुह्यतमा हि सा [3]
यस्याः श्रवणमात्रेण नृणां मुक्तिर्ध्रुवं भवेत .
पुरा सनत्कुमाराय स्कन्देनाभिहिता हि सा [4]

In olden days in ‘Dandaka’ forest whatever was preached by Lord Shankara to Rama, which is a divine secret, which when implemented in life would give Salvation to human beings, that ‘Shiva Geeta’ was preached to Sanatkumara by Shanmukha (Skanda).

सनत्कुमारः प्रोवाच व्यासाय मुनिसत्तमाः .
मह्यं कृपातिरेकेण प्रददौ बादरायणः [5]

Subsequently, that Sanat Kumara preached the same to Vyasa। That sage Vyasa became graceful on me and transferred that knowledge to me.

उक्तं च तेन कस्मैचिन्न दातव्यमिदं त्वया .
सूतपुत्रान्यथा देवाः क्षुभ्यन्ति च शपन्ति च [6]

Suta further cautioned his disciples not to discourse this knowledge to anyone, else Devatas of heaven would become displeased and would curse!

अथ पृष्टो मया विप्रा भगवान्बादरायणः
भगवन्देवताः सर्वाः किं क्षुभ्यन्ति शपन्ति च [7]
तासामत्रास्ति का हानिर्यया कुप्यन्ति देवताः
पाराशर्योऽथ मामाह यत्पृष्टं शृणु वत्स तत [8]

Hearing this i said, “Hey Muni! how are you speaking like this? What harm would Gods face if someone tells this Shiva Geeta to others? Why would they become angry? Why would they curse?” When i questioned him, VedaVyasa showered his affection on me and explained me like this.

नित्याग्निहोत्रिणो विप्राः संति ये गृहमेधिनः .
त एव सर्वफलदाः सुराणां कामधेनवः [9]
भक्ष्यं भोज्यं च पेयं च यद्यदिष्टं सुपर्वणाम
अग्नौ हुतेन हविषा सत्सर्वं लभ्यते दिवि [10]
नान्यदस्ति सुरेशानामिष्टसिद्धिप्रदं दिवि
दोग्ध्री धेनुर्यथा नीता दुःखदा गृहमेधिनाम [11]
तथैव ज्ञआनवान्विप्रो देवानां दुःखदो भवेत
त्रिदशास्तेन विघ्नन्ति प्रविष्टा विषयं नृणाम [12]

In this world, the Brahmin who is a householder (gruhastha), doing Homams and Yagyams by dedicating food and beverages to Gods through fire; such Brahmins are like Kamadhenu to the Demi-Gods because from their Yagyas and Havans the Gods get their food. The Gods accept these offerings with pleasant heart and happiness. (In turn Gods maintain timely rains and help the earth produce grains properly). So, it’s a duty of Brahmins to regularly do the homams and yagyams and keep the Gods happy (to get food on earth in return). If Brahmins leave doing these fundamental duties to Gods and immerse themselves in Yoga and in learning about the absolute Brahman (Supreme Lord) and attain pleasure in serving him through the path of knowledge/bhakti, it makes Gods unhappy since they wouldn’t get their share of food through sacrifices.For that reason they may become unhappy and may curse. If someone else steals the milk giving cow and takes in a different direction the way its actual owner would feel uncomfortable and would want to get it back, same way these demi-gods also feel uncomfortable when some Brahmin deviates away from his path of normal duties towards the path of Salvation, and in order to get him back for their happiness they try to create disturbances in all possible ways on the devotee’s path towards salvation.

ततो न जायते भक्तिः शिवे कस्यापि देहिनः .
तस्मादविदुषां नैव जायते शूलपाणिनः [13]
यथाकथंचिज्जातापि मध्ये विच्छिद्यते नृणाम
जातं वापि शिवज्ञआनं न विश्वासं भजत्यलम [14]

That’s why Devotion for Parama Shiva doesn’t take birth in anyone, due to the Gods devotion for Shiva doesn’t remain constant. In case with a lot of efforts if someone manages to gain devotion for Lord Shiva, due to the disruption from the demi gods, the devotion gets inturrupted. But when that doesn’t happen, Love for Lord Shiva emerges out of the devotion.

I got translation of Shiva Gita from here.

  • But demigods are not making Kaliyuga people ignorant as there is no need (they already are). Already they are not performing rites, why would demigods worry if they strive for liberation. :P Oct 17, 2017 at 5:13
  • @Rohit. In Kali Yuga, demons/Asuras (through invisible forms by entering hearts of people) are corrupting people.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 17, 2017 at 11:37
  • 1
    @TheDestroyer I've not yet found complete Shiva Geeta. Where would I get? Oct 17, 2017 at 15:18
  • So this only applies to one who was doing yajnas and then immediately switches to meditation on Brahman? So if someone never did any yajnas, and then starts meditating on Brahman, gods don't care about him?
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 17, 2017 at 16:25

First of all, in this excerpt from his Taittiriya Upanishad Bhashya Adi Shankaracharya ties the prevention of obstacles from the Devas not to the "śaṃ no mitraḥ śaṃ varuṇaḥ" mantra as a whole, but only to the repetition of the word Shanti or peace at the end of the mantra:

The word "peace" is thrice-repeated for the purpose of destroying the threefold obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge, viz., from one's self, from the living beings and from the Devas.

These three sources of problems aren't unique to Adi Shankaracharya, here is what the first verse of Ishwara Krishna's Samkhya Karika, one of the defining texts of the Samkhya school:

duḥkhatrayābhighātāt jijñāsā tadapaghātake hetau |
dṛṣṭe sāpārthā cen naikāntātyaṅtato abhāvāt ||

On account of affliction from threefold misery, inquiry (should be instituted) into the means for its removal. If (it be said that) it is useless because of the (existence of) evident means (then we reply—) no, because of the absence of certainty and finality.

The Dukhatraya or threefold misery refers to Adhyatmika misery or misery caused within yourself, like bodily diseases and mental sadness; Adhibhautika misery or misery caused by other living beings, like threats posed by wild animals and other humans; and Adhidaivika misery or misery caused by supernatural forces, like natural disasters caused by demons and the like.

Now as to whether and why the Devas stop people from attaining Jnana, here is what this chapter of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

atha yo'nyāṃ devatāmupāste, anyo'sāvanyo'hamasmīti, na sa veda, yathā paśurevam sa devānām |
yathā ha vai bahavaḥ paśavo manuṣyam bhuñjyuḥ, evamekaikaḥ puruṣo devān bhunakti; ekasminneva paśāvādīyamāne'priyam bhavati, kiṃu bahuṣu? tasmādeṣām tanna priyam yadetanmanuṣyāvidyuḥ

Now if a man worships another deity, thinking the deity is one and he another, he does not know. He is like a beast for the Devas. For verily, as many beasts nourish a man, thus does every man nourish the Devas. If only one beast is taken away, it is not pleasant; how much more when many are taken! Therefore it is not pleasant to the Devas that men should know this.

And since I began by quoting one commentary by Adi Shankaracharya, I might as well end by quoting another:

While he, one who is not a knower of Brahman, who worships another god, a god different from himself, approaches him in a subordinate position, offering him praises, salutations, sacrifices, presents, devotion, meditation, etc., thinking, ‘He is one, non-self, different from me, and I am another, qualified for rites, and I must serve him like a debtor’—worships him with such ideas, does not know the truth. He, this ignorant man, has not only the evil of ignorance, but is also like an animal to the gods. As a cow or other animals are utilised through their services such as carrying loads or yielding milk, so is this man of use to every one of the gods and others on account of his many services such as the performance of sacrifices. That is to say, he is therefore engaged to do all kinds of services for them. The scriptural rites, with or without the accompaniment of meditation, which this ignorant man, for whom the divisions of caste, order of life and so forth exist, and who is bound to those rites, performs, lead to progress beginning with human birth and ending with identity with Hiraṇyagarbha. While his natural. activities, as distinguished from those prescribed by the scriptures, lead to degradation beginning with the human birth itself and ending with identity with stationary objects. That it is so we shall explain in the latter part of this chapter beginning with, ‘There are indeed three worlds’ (I. V. 16), and continuing right up to the end. While the effect of knowledge (meditation) has been briefly shown to be identity with all. The whole of this Upaniṣad is exclusively devoted to showing the distinction between the spheres of knowledge and ignorance. We shall show that this is the import of the whole book. Since it is so, therefore the gods can thwart as well as help an ignorant man. This is being shown: As in the world many animals such as cows or horses serve a man, their owner and controller, so does each ignorant man, equivalent to many animals, serve the gods. This last word is suggestive of the Manes and others as well. He thinks, ‘This Indra and the other gods are different from me and are my masters. I shall worship them like a servant through praises, salutations, sacrifices, etc., and shall attain as results prosperity and liberation granted by them. Now, in the world, even if one animal of a man possessing many such is taken away, seized by a tiger, for instance, it causes great anguish. Similarly what is there to wonder at if the gods feel mortified when a man, equivalent to many animals, gets rid of the idea that he is their creature, as when a householder is robbed of many animals? Therefore it is not liked by them, these gods—what?— that men should somehow know this truth of the identity of the self and Brahman. So the revered Vyāsa writes in the Anugītā, ‘The world of the gods, O Arjuna, is filled with those who perform rites. And the gods do not like that mortals should surpass them’ (Mbh. XIV. xx. 59). Hence as men try to save animals from being seized by tigers etc., so the gods seek to prevent men from attaining the knowledge of Brahman lest they should cease to be their objects of enjoyment. Those, however, whom they wish to set free, they endow with faith and the like; while the opposite class they visit with lack of faith etc. Therefore a seeker of liberation should be devoted to worshipping the gods, have faith and devotion, be obedient (to the gods) and be alert about the attainment of knowledge or about knowledge itself. The mention of the dislike of the gods is an indirect hint at all this.

  • 1
    What does RamanujAcharya say regarding this issue? Oct 17, 2017 at 5:57
  • @LakshmiNarayanan Ramanujacharya never wrote any Upanishad Bhashyas. I have Ranga Ramanuja's Upanishad Bhashyas though, so I can check what they say on this Brihadaranyaka Upanishad verse. Oct 17, 2017 at 6:07
  • Sorry, I meant to ask if there is any take on this from VisistAdvaita POV. That would be helpful! Oct 17, 2017 at 6:10
  • Hi Keshav, Any leads? Oct 22, 2017 at 15:27
  • @LakshmiNarayanan Sorry, I forgot about it. Here is the relevant portion of Ranga Ramanuja's Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Bhashya: preview.ibb.co/iYKQFm/IMG_1857.png Oct 22, 2017 at 17:43

When Brahma VidyA is attained by some he becomes knower of the Brahman. And such a person gains sovereignty over the Gods or gains authority over them.

So, that is one more reason why the Gods would not like anyone attaining the Brahma VidyA.

Rucham brAhmam janayantah (1)
DevA agre tat abruvan (2)
Yastu evam brAhmano vidyAt (3)
Tasya devA asan vashe (4) ||


When the Gods got the revelation of knowledge of Brahman (1), they declared the teaching about That (2). That sage who knows the Supreme as described before (3) will have sovereignty over Gods (for he has become the Inmost Self of all) (4).

Taittiriya Aranakya 3.13.5, VAjasaneyi SamhitA 31.21.


The way I understand it, the meaning of devas/devis is divine powers or siddhis. These are attained by doing intense tapasya. Actions done after attaining these siddhis or divine powers also bind one in maya even though these karmas are sattvic. This could act as the obstacle or going to the next stage of spiritual development which is Brahma Vidya. This is not merely theoretical knowledge which can be read by all, (just the way many read books today). Example being Nachiketa who rejected all pleasures of the world offered by Yama, and chose Brahma Vidya, the practice of which can take one to moksha.

  • Reading your answers it seems you strongly believe one does get grace only by doing intense Tapascharya, but it is other way round. One does intense tapascharya as a result of ShaktipAt or grace. Grace or ShaktipAt comes first before Tapascharya. To get grace one develops love & surrender to the Lord. Btw, it is highly recommend here to cite come sources. Nov 12, 2017 at 15:49
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a good source to understand Sadhna system Nov 12, 2017 at 15:56
  • Well, there are two mArgas - Yogaja & Vivekaja. I am into Yogaja. That's why said so - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/17049/… Nov 12, 2017 at 15:59

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