Is there a difference between God and Devi-Devta or are they same? As we know there are thousands of devis and devas, are they the same as God or is there any difference between them? If they are different, then what is the difference?

What is the exact count of God, Devi, Devtas? Are there crores of Devi Devtas?

  • I think this question is not duplicate. There is some mention of this question in that question but that question do not answer my question completely. I asked this question because I also dont know completely about this thing. and I think most of the person have confusion about this concept , and I think question is totally clear and not duplicate. – Dinesh Kaushik Jun 22 '14 at 13:05
  • It's okay. Your question won't be closed unless there are 5 people who think.. and moreover, it can be reopened. – Vineet Menon Jun 22 '14 at 13:08
  • I too think that there is a bit of overlap in the two questions, but they are not duplicates. It is certainly a nice question. @DineshKaushik Please avoid asking for upvotes as such. If someone thinks your question is worthy upvoting, he/she shall do it themselves. – user3459110 Jun 22 '14 at 13:17
  • From what was taught to be by a reliable acharya, Devi is Moola Prakriti and Devtas are cosmic administrators equivalent to Angels. God in the absolute sense is Atma which is the most primordial. – Naveen Apr 26 '15 at 5:21

Yes, there is a difference between Gods and Devtas.

In Hinduism, the Trimurti is the God. Bhagvatam further clears that Krishna is the supreme God (verse here).

Devtas are God's helpers. All the Devtas are given some jobs. They are thus classified into each of their own department.

Like Indra Dev looks into weather. Surya Dev is responsible for giving energy and light to plants, animals etc. Vayu Dev takes care of the flow of wind etc.

Devas also take in return materialistic things. Like in Yagnas etc, we offer Aahuti to devas. The people of Mathura gave fruits and other stuff to Indra Dev, so that he can protect them from rain and thunder. This practice, though, was condemned by Krishna himself because taking something forcefully for not harming them is bad. Things given by will can be accepted. Anyways, offering anything materialistic to Devas should be avoided.

You can further imagine it this way:

The entire universe is the office. Trimurti is the founder of the office. Devas are the workers/managers of specific departments.

I would also like to clear a common misconception that there are 33 crore devis/devtas. There is nothing like that. Crore means categories. People started thinking of crore as a number, and so did the confusion arise. There are devtas of 33 categories - 33 departments. They are NOT 330 million in number.

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No, they are not the same!

God is the supreme fundamental entity, known as Brahman (not Brahmā), from which everything in the universe, including the universe itself, comes forth:

yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante yena jātāni jīvanti
yatprayantyabhisaṃviśanti tadvijijñāsasva tadbrahmeti
[Tait. Up. - 3.1]

That from which all these beings are born, having born by which they live, That into which having departed they enter, seek to know That, That is Brahman.

janmādyasya yataḥ [Brh. Su. - 1.1.2]
-- From where origin etc. take place.

While God is the cause of the universe, devi-devta (gods and goddesses) are part of the universe itself. Hence, God is the source of all gods, goddesses and sages:

aham ādir hi devānāṁ maharṣīṇāṁ ca sarvaśaḥ [BG -10.2]
I am indeed the source of gods and sages in every respect.

Some differences

They are not eternal and came into existence just like us. Just like we exist on bhu-loka (earth), they are believed to exist in the swarga-loka (heaven). While God is the Supreme Being, gods and goddesses are one kind of higher beings like the pitaras (manes). While all of us, including the gods and higher beings are under the influence of māyā (illusion), God is the lord of māyā:

mama māyā duratyayā [BG - 7.14]
My illusory energy is difficult to overcome.

māyinaṃ tu maheśvaraṃ [Sve. Up. - 4.10]
But God is the lord of māyā

While gods and goddesses are propitiated by sacrifices and rituals, God being the source of everything needs nothing from us. But if one wants to attain God (parameswara), then only through devotion He can be achieved:

na sādhayati māṃ yogo na sāṅkhyaṃ dharma uddhava
na svādhyāyas tapas tyāgo yathā bhaktir mamorjitā
[SB - 11.14.20]

Neither yoga brings Me under control, nor knowledge and virtue. O Uddhava, neither study of the scriptures, nor penance and renunciation brings Me under control like unalloyed devotion to Me does.

Number of God and gods

God being the supreme fundamental entity is one without a second:

ekam advitiyam brahma [Chg. Up - 6.2.1] - Brahma is one without a second

brahmaitad advitīyaḿ [SB - 11.9.31] - This Brahma is one without a second

But gods and goddesses of higher planes of existences being manifested beings just like us, are innumerable in number. However, just like we have a countable number of authorities (presidents or prime ministers) for every country, there is a specific number of gods who have authority over many aspects of our world. The scripture [Brihadaranyaka Upanishad - 3.9] gives the number as thirty three (33) and states that the other form of gods (3306) are just their powers:

कतमेतेत्रयश्च त्रीच शतात्रयश्च त्रीच सहस्रेति
Which are the three hundred three and three thousand three gods?

सहोवाच महिमान एवइषामेते,त्रयस्त्रिंशत्त्वेवदेवाइति
He (Yajnavalkya) said, "Those are their powers, but gods are only thirty three."

Which are the thirty three?

अष्टउवसव ,एकादश रुद्रा ,द्वादशादित्यास् , तएकत्रिंशद् , इन्द्रश्चैवप्रजापतिश्च त्रयस्त्रिंशाविति
Eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas. These are thirty one, Indra and Prajapati make it thirty three.

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The question of “god” is a complicated one in Hinduism, and depending on how the English word “god” is translated into Sanskrit, different ideas will emerge. If the word “god” is translated as “deva,” which refers to an individual deity, then there are literally millions of gods in Hinduism, most of whom are worshipped by some Hindu or the other. On a practical level, however, many devas are obscure, and any particular Hindu probably worships less than ten. These include Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. In this sense, Hinduism can be described as polytheistic or even pantheistic religion. It should be noted that the devas do not correspond to the Judeo-Christian “angels;” since many individual devas have the attributes, such as immortality, omniscience, omnipresence, and the like, that are usually the hallmark of the one God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

If, however, the word “god” is instead translated as “Brahman,” which refers to divinity in the abstract, then there is only one god in Hinduism. Brahman is one of the three substances that exist in the universe. The other two are chit and achit. Achit refers to all physical matter. Chit refers to nonphysical essence. Humans and animals possess an atma, meaning soul or self, which is made of chit. Both chit and achit were created by and depend upon Brahman. Achit is constantly being created and destroyed, so our physical bodies are mortal and life always comes to an end. The atma, on the other hand, is eternal and unchanging because it is made of chit. The gods are also immortal because they are made of Brahman. Only achit is transitory and imperfect. Since humans were created by the gods, the purpose of life is to please them, and the end goal is Moksha, end of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, where one can reunite with the Brahman from which we came.

(Note: I first posted this answer in Meta.)

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  • Could you please add a reference concerning the second part of your answer, where you explicate the three building blocks Brahman, achit and chit? According to your explication that unifying model looks simple but powerful. – Jo Wehler Feb 8 '15 at 18:59
  • @jowehler Here's a reference: srivaishnavam.com/philosophy/vedartha_sangraha2.htm – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 8 '15 at 19:08
  • Heavy going, a hierachy of commentaries. Nevertheless thank you for pointing out the viewpoint of Vishistadvaita. Probably the concepts of achit and chit have an affinity with todays scientific concepts "particle field" and "information processing system" - of course without any transcendent connotations. On the other hand, the concept of Brahman is not defined by better known concepts. That vague notion is presupposed. At the end of the source I find "Vishnu [...] is the Brahman". This agrees with Sia's summary and states the equation "Brahman = Vishnu". Do you know e.g., what Shaivas reply? – Jo Wehler Feb 8 '15 at 20:05
  • @jowehler Well, according to Vaishnavism, Vishnu has both a formless aspect which is Brahman and a formed aspect which is the four-armed god we see depicted in pictures. Shaivites believe the analogous thing about Shiva. And Smarthas (followers of Adi Shankaracharya) believe that Brahman has many forms, among the most prominent of which are Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Ganesha, and Durga. In any case, if you want to understand what Brahman actually means, then that is one of the key questions discussed in the Upanishads. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 9 '15 at 2:16
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    @jowehler Yes, I agree that the Upanishads can often be quite cryptic in their discussions of Brahman. That's why I recommended that you read the Brahma Sutras (preferably with the help of a commentary). The Brahma Sutras are based on the Upanishads, but they take the teachings of the different Upanishads and put them together into a coherent characterization of Brahman. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 11 '15 at 7:40

The concept of multi-theism or mono-theism in religions is a very hotly contested topic.

If you look at creation as it is today, I will try and pick the cues from things which we can see around us.

I wil start with Pancha Bhootas. So, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and Space. If I leave space aside, which is just a fabric, that leaves us 4 elements, which we can touch, or feel or experience.

The question I have is as follows.

  1. In all of creation - say human life or animal life, it became possible, when all these 4 elements came together. If we leave one element aside, then we would end up with a non living thing.

Some examples :

Stone - Lot of Earth, Little or no Water, Little Air, No fire. Wood - Same as above Animals - Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. Humans - same as above. Plants - All the 4 .

So, from a point of view of Creation, it is a proven concept that without bringing the 4 elements together life cant happen. Now there is a force which is bringing together the 4 elements in way to create life itself. It is an invisible force.- Which we call GOD.

So, the recipe for making a living thing is

  1. A cook - God
  2. A set of ingredients - 4 elements
  3. A passion or goal - Consciousness or soul

The Devis, and Devtas are in a way the ingredients, and God would be cook.

So, in a way, if food were to be grateful to somebody for its success, it should be thankful to the ingredients that made it, and to the cook who made it, and to the passion that made it taste better.

So, multi-theism is a point of view of religion, where you thank all the things that made the great food possible.

  1. Dont we appreciate the cook ?

  2. Dont we also appreciate the ingredients ?

  3. And dont we appreciate the passion and energy that made it all happen ?

Mono-theism gives all the credit to the cook, and refuses to acknowledge the role of the ingredients, and the passion. ( in an analogous way).

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God is one and does not take birth he is away from death as well.but he often comes to earth lives like we live in the middle of us whom we say a Avatar. The Avatar is like human being but its his last birth.its was not his first birth although. He was like us but for last many births he has been creating & restoring immense love and strong urge for GOD who is the creator for everything.then one last day comes in his life when he feels the power of God enters him and he becomes super human God like man or Avtar. Ram, Krishna, Vashishta, and many were same Avatar of past yugas and Kabeer, Fareed, Guru Nanak were in kalyuga. Now what are devis devtas? They are created by God to organize his will in different fields.tops most devtas are Vishnu ji ,Shiva ji and Brahma ji or Dharam Raj ji. After this there are many like Indra deva , Agni deva, Vayu deva , many devis in which mainly we know Ganga devi, Laxmi devi, Sarasvati which are sub-categories of Durga and Kali. Many Bir like Hanumanta bir , Bhairo Bir , Patla Bir and ......

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You can imagine in such a way that the Devathas are great positions hold by great souls. These souls are not reached perfection, they may proceed forward and become one with god(Braman) or by their bad karma go down spiritually and reborn again as man.

From Manvantara

Each Manvantara is created and ruled by a specific Manu, who in turn is created by Brahma, the Creator himself. Manu creates the world, and all its species during that period of time, each Manvantara lasts the lifetime of a Manu, upon whose death, Brahma creates another Manu to continue the cycle of Creation or Shristi, Vishnu on his part takes a new Avatar, and also a new Indra and Saptarishis are appointed.

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TL;DR This sets up the tone for the rest of the answer. Basically, everyone believes that there's only one supreme God, but everyone, Shakites, Vaishnavites, Krishnites and Shiivites call it by different names.

God in Hinduism,

Forms of explicit monotheism find mention in the canonical Bhagavad Gita. Explicit monotheism in the form of emotional or ecstatic devotion (bhakti) to a single external and personal deity (in the form of Shiva or Vishnu) became popular in South India in the early medieval period. Ecstatic devotion to Krishna, a form of Vishnu, gained popularity throughout India during the Middle Ages and gave rise to schools of Vaishnavism. Ecstatic devotion to Goddess Durga became popular in some parts of India in the later medieval and early modern ages. Vaishnavism, particularly Krishnaism, Shaktism and some forms of Shaivism remain the most explicit forms of monotheistic worship of a personal God within Hinduism. Other Hindus, such as many of those who practice Shaivism, tend to assume the existence of a singular God, but do not necessarily associate God with aspects of a personality. Rather they envisage God as an impersonal Absolute (Brahman), who can be worshipped only in part in a human form.

"Great indeed are the devas who have sprung out of Brahman." — Atharva Veda

 Auṃ – That supreme Brahman is infinite, and this conditioned Brahman is infinite. The infinite proceeds from infinite. If you subtract the infinite from the infinite, the infinite remains alone. --Ishopanishad


In Hinduism, Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is conceived as personal ("with qualities"), impersonal ("without qualities") and/or supreme depending on the philosophical school.

The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through the development of self-knowledge ([atma jnana][2]). According to Advaita, a liberated human being (jivanmukta) has realised Brahman as his or her own true self.

The later Vedic religion i.e. Vedanta produced a series of profound philosophical reflections (Upanishads) in which Brahman is now considered to be the one Absolute Reality behind changing appearances; the universal substrate from which material things originate and to which they return after their dissolution. The sages of the Upanishads made their pronouncements on the basis of personal experience (revelation or sruti) as an essential component of their philosophical reflection. 1

[2]: pp.77, http://www.abebooks.com/Principal-Upanishads-Edited-Introduction-Text-Translation/10209859264/bd

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  • This is all western speculation, not Hinduism. It does not even answer the question, but instead creates confusion. The problems are too many to be rectified. E.g. Īšopanišad doesn't even mention Brahman in that verse, it says "this" and "that". Vēdānta-sūtra (anta=end) came after the upanišads, not before. Medieval Indian periods are all bogus conceptions, etc. – MKaama Jul 1 '14 at 13:32

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