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We all know that Srimad Bhagavad Gita is coming from the mouth of Sri Bhagavan. There is a well known difference between Bhagavan or The God and devatas or the deities. Sri Krishna is the God and not a deity. Why then does He use the words 'the other deities' in sloka 20, chapter 7?

कामैस्तैस्तैर्हृतज्ञानाः प्रपद्यन्तेऽन्यदेवताः।

तं तं नियममास्थाय प्रकृत्या नियताः स्वया।।7.20।।

English Translation By Swami Gambirananda:

7.20 People, deprived of their wisdom by desires for various objects and guided by their own nature, resort to other deities [OTHER DEVATAS] following the relevant methods.

Other deities can only be uttered by someone who Himself is a deity. So why does He use the words 'other deities' instead of just 'deities'?

  • 1
    "Other deities can only be uttered by someone who Himself is a deity" - that's just mental speculation and assumption. When he has made it clear throughout Gita what his position is, this is simply sophistry. – Ambi Jan 27 at 14:16
  • That's mental assumption. Krishna had made it clear who he is – Akshay S Jan 27 at 14:52
  • @UdayKrishna yes thatvsloka has clear meaning – user17294 Jan 27 at 16:35
  • @UdayKrishna yes thats okay. there are two questions: are these lower deities rudra, indra, varun etc or the Four Principal forms also.Second, what is the need of another?for ex, i can say, imam different from another man.but can not say i am different from ANOTHER cat for example:) – user17294 Jan 27 at 16:43
  • This is just a technicality. Not much should be read into this. – user15740 Jan 27 at 16:53
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This answer is based on my understanding of VisishtAdvaita Siddhantham


In his treatise on Bhagavad Gita, namely, Gita Saaram, U. Ve. Sri Thirukkallam Narasimharaghavachariar Swamigal (AasthAna VidvAn of SrI Ahobila Mutt) gives the following explanation for the verse in question, i.e., BG 7.20:

Almost all jIvAtmas desire various objects and benefits (which are constituted by the three gunAs - SattvIgam, rajas and tamas) in accordance with their vAsanas i.e., the subtle impressions gathered over their countless births. Hence, they are deprived of clear knowledge about Me. To satisfy their desire for various kinds of benefits, they resort to other deities like Indra and worship them, by observing relevant rites and rituals.[1]

It is furthered clarified that:

Desire for the different objects and benefits as also attachment to deities other than BhagavAn are only obstructions to knowledge.[1]

Having seen the above, we are now ready try to understand the meaning of the word devata (which is being translated as deity here) so that the meaning of this verse[2] is more readily understood:

  • The very meaning of the term devata is divinity i.e., a personal connection/experience with reality substantiated beyond the mundanely material. For such a personal connection to exist, it has to be backed by a personality. Therefore, the term devata, absent further qualification, connotes any divine personality satisfying the above.

  • In the context of our verse BG 7.20, these divine personalities or devatas being described are exclusively those who are ultimately adjectival[3] themselves (and thus referred as अन्यदेवताः) to the Supreme Personality or Purushottama who is none other than SrImannArAyaNa.

  • Thus, it behooves understanding that, without doubt, only peripherally speaking, these other devatas may be viewed as being capable of conferring those target benefits commensurate to their adjectival nature alongside simultaneous consideration of the aspirant's nature and extent of attachment to these divine personalities (which we express commonly as the desire of the aspirant).

  • Staying with the context of the verse, we learn that, in reality, such mundane desires (vAsanas) reaps fruit as the appropriate adjectival divine personalities are sought with scripturally prescribed but more often improvised veneration.

  • In addition, if this is done by the aspirant with realisation that these adjectival divine personalities a.k.a अन्यदेवताः are sought for the sake of aiding the aspirant as effective conduits for the aspirant's sacrifice[4] to reach SrImannArAyaNa, steadfast in the conception of SrImannArAyaNa as their AntaryAmi, it is termed as jñāna.

  • Finally as the verse alludes, it is verily known to that minuscule fraction of jIvAs, that only via SrImannArAyaNa (the singular UpAyam), the highest personal benefit befitting any jIvA namely that of Moksha i.e., attaining to service at the feet of SrImannArAyaNa (the singular UpEyam) is available.

Thus, in conclusion, PerumAl in this verse clarifies to his devotee Arjuna that almost all seek the various adjectival divine personalities commensurate to their level of ignorance and bondage to desires receiving mundane benefits while in effect alluding to the true nature of sacrifice and the destination for the seers of the same.

[1] The quoted explanations rendered in english are due thanks to Dr. N. Jagannathan.
[2] This verse when understood along with its following seven verses (i.e., verses BG 7.20-27) elaborates the glory of jñāna.
[3] in accordance with prakAra-prakArI tattvam.
[4] for the sake of whose desire(s) the sacrifice is done
  • Sri Krishna says in Gita that He is worshipped by four types of fortunate people:distressed, inquisitive,desirous and wise. So for fulfillment of desires, Sri Bhagavan is worshipped, not only the other deities. So this does not provide a clear picture I think – user17294 Jan 27 at 16:12
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    @ParthaBanerjee refer third bulleted point. It is covering in general what you are trying to articulate. – DirghaChintayanti Jan 27 at 16:16
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    @ParthaBanerjee And in the same Gita, Krishna says no matter who is worshipped, the worship is to him alone even if done indirectly. So there is no contradiction there. – Ambi Jan 31 at 9:54
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Many a spiritually related slokas should be studied, discussed and understood studying the issue as a whole. Otherwise it will convey a different meaning and results in confusion.

The 7th chapter of BG is the continuation to the last sloka of previous chapter, ie.6th chapter.

Sri Krishna was stating that those who practises sadhana (austerities) fixing one's concentration on HIM will attain the ABSOLUTENESS.

योगिनामपि सर्वेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना।

श्रद्धावान्भजते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मतः।।6.47।।

Even among all the yogis, he who adores Me with his mind fixed on Me and with faith,he is considered by Me to be the best of the yogis.

श्री भगवानुवाच

मय्यासक्तमनाः पार्थ योगं युञ्जन्मदाश्रयः।

असंशयं समग्रं मां यथा ज्ञास्यसि तच्छृणु।।7.1।।

The Blessed Lord said O Partha, hear how you, having the mind fixed on Me, practising the Yoga of Meditation and taking refuge in Me, will know Me with certainly and in fulness.

Here one should not get mistaken that Sri Krishna made above statement as if He was an incarnation of Vishnu or something else.

Sri Krishna, being a Yogi of highest order, had merged in the ABSOLUTE,ie., the God, and thus became the ABSOLUTE. It will happen to any Yogi who reaches that state.

However, attaining this highest knowledge is not everybody's cup of tea. It is very difficult for ordinary people even to think and practice in that line for a longer period. One's desires and prarabdha will not allow one to practice in that line for longer period.

मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्िचद्यतति सिद्धये।

यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्िचन्मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः।।7.3।।

Among thousands of men a rare one endeavours for perfection. Even of the perfected ones who are diligent, one perchance knows Me in truth.

&&&&&&&&&&

In continuation to the above declaration, Sri Krishna said that those who adore deities with the object of fulfilling their materialistic desires, will pray to the deities.

कामैस्तैस्तैर्हृतज्ञानाः प्रपद्यन्तेऽन्यदेवताः।

तं तं नियममास्थाय प्रकृत्या नियताः स्वया।।7.20।।

People, deprived of their wisdom by desires for various objects and guided by their own nature, resort to other deities following the relevant methods.

It is like praying to Ganapti for removing obstacles, Lakshmi for getting riches, Saraswati for getting education, etc.

  • "had merged in the ABSOLUTE,ie., the God, and thus became the ABSOLUTE." No later he was asked to recite the gita again and he could not do that. He was during speaking the Gita in connection with god. – Wikash_ May 20 at 8:57
  • @Wikash_: Perhaps you are referring to a dialogue between Arjuna and Sri Krishna. If so, then it should be understood that Sri Krishna did not repeat because Arjuna was not in a matured state before and after the war. However, before the war it was the duty of Sri Krishna to remind about Arjuna's responsibility as he was a warrior. After the war there is no such necessity of motivating an immature person. – srimannarayana k v May 20 at 9:29
  • @ srimannarayana that is not true. Arjuna became mature after hearing the Gita. He was educated. It just shows that Krishna is not god himself. – Wikash_ May 20 at 13:38
  • @Wikash_: Understanding a Yogi of Sri Krishna's stature is not that easy. – srimannarayana k v May 20 at 13:54
  • No that is not true. You see it is hard for people to realize that Krishna's words are meant in a poetic sense. Do not take them seriously. – Wikash_ May 21 at 5:50
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The Sanskrit adjective "anya" and its antonym "ananya" has been used at many places in the Bh.Gita.

"anya-devtaah" here as in the context means different (many) and not just literally as the other deities. The context here is to tell about those foolish (in different modes of passion and/or ignorance) who worship different deities according to their own material wisdom. For example, a diseased worships big demigod sun for health and when healthy worships demigod kuber for wealth, so on and so forth.

Nevertheless, in B.Gita 9.22 He uses the antonym "ananya" in almost similar context of surrendering and clears the absolute fact of the spiritual confidentiality :

ananyah cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate, tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham.

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