Did His Holiness Sri Ramanuja say anya dEvata should not be worshipped? If yes, did His Holiness clarify the meaning of anya dEvata? Is it written down in any of the works of His Holiness?

  • Anyadevata means any Jiva who is a devata, like Shiva, Indra, etc. But you can worship Nityasuris like Adisesha, etc.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 14, 2020 at 15:03
  • @Ikshvaku thanks for the comment. I understand many followers of His Holiness Sri Ramanuja believe / follow what you mentioned. However my question is a little different. It is about the basis for that belief system. Is it something that was handed down from generation to generation as a matter of faith, claiming to be the instruction of His Holiness Sri Ramanuja? or Is it something that can be traced to His Holiness Sri Ramanujacharyar's writings?
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 14, 2020 at 23:04
  • Like for example is it mentioned in His work like Vedartha Sangraha? If yes I would like to know how His Holiness argues for this assertion with evidence from The Vedic passages. So my interest is more in understanding what His Holiness actually said. If this was more of a faith followed through generations, attributed to His Holiness Sri Ramanuja, then that's a different matter.
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 14, 2020 at 23:06
  • To elaborate - one can quote Vedic passages to argue Lord Shiva is Paramatma. In the Vedas Indra enjoys an exalted position. So I am interested in reading the definition of anya dEvata, basis on which Sri Ramanuja explains it etc. As we know, His Holiness quotes from Upanisads in many of his works, like The Sri Bhashyam. So I assume if this notion came from Sri Ramanuja, one of his works may have additional notes, with support from Vedic passages. I am seeking that kind of reference. That said, Personally I am of the view Lord Shiva is Parabrahman, but that is a different matter.
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 14, 2020 at 23:42
  • Anyadevata Aradhana is only forbidden for people who have done Samashrayanam. They are prohibited from worshipping Shiva, Indra, Agni, Ganesha, Parvati, etc. They can only worship Narayana, his purusha avatars, his wives, and nityasuris.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 15, 2020 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


Did His Holiness Sri Ramanuja say anya dEvata should not be worshipped? If yes, did His Holiness clarify the meaning of anya dEvata? Is it written down in any of the works of His Holiness?

I'm not sure if Ramanujacharya said that anywhere, but later disciples like Nadadur Ammal definitely have.

Nadadur Ammal in Prapanna Parijata says in chapter 6:

Those who desire Liberation should not worship the other gods

And this belief is not a later development but is based on the Pancharatra Agamas, and Nadadur Ammal cites this verse from one of the Agamas:

As the Lord said to the attentive Vishvakesena;— “Those who have been entrusted with some cosmic authority should not be worshipped by those desirous of Liberation. I shall specifically mention those partial manifestations (pradurbhavan). The four-faced Brahma was entrusted with the work of projecting the universe into being (srishthi) and the great God Shankara with the work of withdrawal of the universe (samhara). The function of Buddha was to delude and Vyasa was appointed to compile the Vedas. Arjuna was the greatest of archers and Parasurama (Jamadagni) of powerful beings. Agni is the foremost of the Vasus and Vittesha (Kubera) [of the Eight directional lords].

This is from an Agama that was recited by Narayana to Vishvaksena, but I don't know the name of it.

  • This includes sage Vyasa who is authority of Vedas and purnanas quite surprising because vyasa is avatar of sriman Narayana..and also Parasurama, why we need not worship Buddha is because his main task is for delusion of bad souls..Apart from Buddha all are worshippable.. including buddha if our anusandhana is right
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 17, 2020 at 5:05
  • @PrasannaR what you are saying is the traditional / religious view (and I don't mean there is anything wrong with taking that view). There are scholars who attribute this to the conflict between Hinduism and Buddhism in historic times. Generally religious / traditional accounts conflict with historic & research based conclusions. Similar views about Buddha are present (directly and indirectly) in many Puranas including The Vishnu Purana, and likewise views about Lord Shiva.
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 17, 2020 at 5:28
  • While it is hard to be sure either way, which is partly a reason there are multiple views, personally I subscribe to the view that all these are due to schism between various sects and religions. I don't see this religiously. There are many common elements in the literature of Buddhism and Hinduism to make the matter complicated, and I guess that's something natural in the evolution of religions, especially the ones that evolved into some form of institutionalized religion.
    – Vidyarthi
    Jan 17, 2020 at 5:30
  • @PrasannaR The reason sri vaishnavas don't worship Vyasa and Parashurama is because they are Jivatmas. They are considered avatars, but they are avesha avatars, or ordinary jivatmas empowered by Brahman.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 18, 2020 at 20:48
  • 28th manvantra Vyasa is sakshath vishnu avatar he is not avesha.. according to srimad bhagavatham Parasurama is also not avesha avatara if you have reference proof contradicting this please share.not of any srivaishnave acharyas book but orginal puranas or text supporting your statements
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 21, 2020 at 8:15

Did His Holiness Sri Ramanuja say anya dEvata should not be worshipped?

Not explicitly, at least not in the Vedartha Sangraha. It is more a logical conclusion derived from other premises.

If worshipping/meditating upon the Parabrahman (a concept accepted by all Vedantins) is the fundamental way a jIva can embark on the path towards mokSha, then worshipping the non-Parabrahman is at best inefficient and at worst detrimental to the cause of liberation.

Since all Vedantins are mumukShus by definition, Srivaishnavas/Visistadvaita-vedantins (who believe that Sriman Narayana is the Parabrahman) in their daily practices avoid the specific worship of anybody else (anya devatas). (There are nuances to this but this should suffice for the purpose of this question.)

The crux of the confusion results due to conflating terminology used in common parlance to refer to both Parabrahman and the non-Parabrahman. Ramanuja in the Vedarthasangraha is very clear in using the term deva/sura and it frequently in the compound sura-nara-tiryak-sthAvara or deva-manuShya-tiryak-sthAvara. If one stops using deva/devatA to refer to the Parabrahman, then there is no question of "anya-devatA". Every "deva/devatA" is "anya" from the Parabrahman (at least in the same way as your hand is not the same as you).

We can clearly find this information in the Vedartha Sangraha of Sri Ramanuja. It boils down the following concepts:

  1. There are no separate categories called Gods (deva / sura). It is just one of the four categories of bodies (deva/heavenly, manuShya/human, tiryak/animal, sthAvara/plant) into which jIvas enter on account of accumulated beginingless karma.

  2. Starting from the four-faced creator Brahma and descending, everybody is a jIva and are subject to karma (unlike the Parabrahman who is not subject to karma)

  3. Meditation/Worship of the Parabrahman is the means to attain Him.

Some quotes from the Vedarthasangraha:

asya jīvātmano anādy-avidyā-saṃcita-puṇya-pāpa-rūpa-karma-pravāha-hetuka-brahmādi-sura-nara-tiryak-sthāvarātmaka-caturvidha-deha-praveśa-kṛta...

The jIva has accumulated puNya and pApa karma on account of beginningless avidyA. This results in its entry into four kinds of bodies - sura, nara, tiryak, sthAvara. This applies to all jIvas starting from Brahma and descending.

atredaṃ sarvaśāstrahṛdayam ... tattatkarmānurūpajñānasaṃkocam āpannāḥ, brahmādistambaparyantavividhavicitradeheṣu praviśṭās ...tadupāsana sāṅgaṃ tatprāpakaṃ pratipadayanti śāstrāṇīti /

The following is the essence of all Sastras: ... The consequence is that the scope and breadth of their (jIvas) knowledge is curtailed in accordance with their karma. They (jIvas) get embodied in the multifarious varieties of bodies from Brahma down to the lowest species such as a tuft of grass or a stone pillar.... They (Sastras) teach meditation along with its accessory conditions as the means for attaining the Parabrahman.

There are many more such quotes in the Vedarthasangraha including references to Sruti/Smriti/Purana.

The explicit injunction to not worship "anya devatas" by mumukShus is a clarification provided by post Ramanujan acharyas as mentioned by Ikshvaku.

In recognition of the fact that several daily and occasional obligations include the propitiation of devatas, Srivaishnavas include 'bhagavat prItyartham' or 'bhagavat kainkarya rUpam' in the sankalpas of all vedic karmas.

  • Is it true that anya-devata worship immediately cancels/or can cancel sharanagati?
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 11, 2020 at 16:48
  • This is a point of controversy depending on who you speak to. I am not very familiar with the Thengalai position on this. But the Vadagalai position is mokSha can be delayed if there are any flaws in the execution of sharanagathi. Desika is very clear about this. The controversy is on the extent of the delay (whether or not it can delay to another birth).
    – hashable
    Feb 12, 2020 at 6:09
  • So if it didn't delay to the next life, then it means one's current life would just be longer?
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 12, 2020 at 14:06
  • What about this case? Suppose someone does bharanyasam with full conviction Narayana will grant moksha, and then later in life he worships some anyadevata for a phala. Would that delay moksha?
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 12, 2020 at 14:21
  • I just saw that you updated your post with this line: "In recognition of the fact that several daily and occasional obligations include the propitiation of devatas". But my understanding is that the devatas are not being propitiated in nitya karmas, but only the antaryami of devatas (Narayana) is being propitiated, or should be propitiated.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 12, 2020 at 21:15

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