I would like to know the difference between a good man and a devotee. A good man does good karma due to which his previous karma's effect gets reduced. In a similar way, a devotee's karma is also reduced by serving the Supreme being.

Then what is the difference between those two? Is a devotee more dearest to the supreme being than a good man? Sometimes, we see good people facing miseries in their lives, however it happens very rarely in the case of devotees. Is it right?

Can a great misery happen to a devotee? I am not talking about that when he is realized, he doesn't feel it is a misery which is his feeling. I am talking, in general can misery happen to devotee?

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    as per scriptures, there are three main paths to Self realization (or moksha or mukthi however u classify the final goal): karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga. THe karma yogis are the ones you term as 'good men' they find purpose by doing good to all. The bhakti yogis are the ones you term as 'great devotees'. they find that serving God is easier and faster path to God. The jnana yogis would be termed as the 'intelligent or wise humans'. They spend their time trying to understand or rather realize what is their true reality and inner self. All of these are valid paths.
    – Sai
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 5:21
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    As for 'we see good people facing miseries in their lives', thats subjective. The karma yogi sees suffering as follows: "Whatever was done by X is coming back to X. Thus it is not suffering, it is just karma. So strive hard and change back to good".The devotee: "Whatever is good for me that is only done by GOd, so there is no suffering in this world everything is gift of GOd". The Jnani "Whatever is of this world, is unreal and thus cannot harm me or cause suffering". So suffering cannot affect who sincerely follows their prescribed path, whether karma, bhakti or jnana and thus all are valid
    – Sai
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 5:31
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    The bhakta claims "God holds bhakta as dearest of all". The karmayogis " God is dearer to men of action rather than men with empty words of praise". Finally the jnanis "God is dearest to those who endeavor to find who art thou". It is only natural for people to justify their path as Supreme just as a child claims "the chocolate given to me is tastier than yours haha". The truth is this: God loves all. A true father and mother love all their children whether or not the children praise them. God is the parent. No shoe fits all similarly each one follows one of the three paths as per His taste
    – Sai
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 6:25
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    Thus ask yourself this: "a bhakta comments that Bhakti yoga is supreme" then you must also to be fair listen to what a jnani comments and then see what the karmi says. When you hear and analyze all three statements you will understand that all three are merely suggesting that their path is supreme (rightly so). Thus what is the conclusion? All are supreme or none of them is supreme. The former makes most sense to all. The one who wears red specs sees the world as red and claims "the world is indeed red!!" The one with green specs claims "world is green" the wise knows its justrelatively true
    – Sai
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 6:35
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    What do you mean by jnana yoga? Does it mean the one who has knowledge of Vedas and Upanishads or the one who follows it or the one who has knowledge of general education like Physics etc or the one who seeks for knowledge of anything (either material or spiritual)?
    – user12458
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


The major difference between a good man and a devotee is that, a good man does everything for his own self where as a devotee does everything for his Lord. Selfless service of God is the mark of a true devotee. Therefore, while a good man has to take care of his karmic balance himself, the Lord takes care of it for the devotee and bears his necessities giving what he needs and preserving what he has:

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
[BG - 9.22]

But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.

So a devotee is superior because while a good man can get entangled in the maya and karma of the world and fall down, a devotee never perishes. No matter what, someway or the other the Lord will help his devotee. So Shri Krishna makes this declaration openly in the Gita:

kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati [BG - 9.31]
- O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.

And the most important point is that a good man by his actions, however good they may be, can never get over maya. It is because the divine maya of Lord is very difficult to overcome and only the devotees who surrender to Him get across it:

daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te
[BG - 7.14]

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

So a non-devotee will only be wandering between higher and lower planes of existences as per his karma without getting liberation.

And another point is that, a good man can mitigate his sins by performing expiatory actions if available, but it is very hard and taking care of karma is a very delicate and risky business. However, a devotee gets liberation from his past sins easily by fully surrendering to God:

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
[BG - 18.66]

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

Is a devotee more dearest to the supreme being than a good man?

Yes, he is. Generally God is impartial and He is same to everyone. But because a devotee loves Him and serves Him, a devotee is more dearer to God than any other person:

samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
[BG - 9.29]

I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.

na hy asyāsti priyaḥ kaścin nāpriyo vāsty amāninaḥ
nottamo nādhamo vāpi sa-mānasyāsamo ’pi vā
[SB - 10.46.37]

For Him no one is especially dear or despicable, superior or inferior, and yet He is not indifferent to anyone. He is free from all desire for respect and yet gives respect to all others.

How much God loves His true devotees can be guessed from what Shri Krishna once told to Uddhav thus:

na tathā me priyatama ātma-yonir na śaṅkaraḥ
na ca saṅkarṣaṇo na śrīr naivātmā ca yathā bhavān
[SB - 11.14.15]

My dear Uddhava, neither Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, the goddess of fortune nor indeed My own self are as dear to Me as you are.

God loves His devotees so much that He wants to make the whole world pure by the dust of the feet His true devotees and always walks behind them:

nirapekṣaṁ muniṁ śāntaṁ nirvairaṁ sama-darśanam
anuvrajāmy ahaṁ nityaṁ pūyeyety aṅghri-reṇubhiḥ
[SB - 11.14.16]

With the dust of My devotees’ lotus feet I desire to purify the material worlds, which are situated within Me. Thus, I always follow the footsteps of My pure devotees, who are free from all personal desire, rapt in thought of My pastimes, peaceful, without any feelings of enmity, and of equal disposition everywhere.

Can a great misery happen to a devotee?

Yes, as long as prarabdha karma is in effect anything can happen to a devotee as per his past actions. Someone may have become a devotee in the present life, but he still has many past actions to experience. Hence, as effects of the past actions any kind of misery can happen to a devotee.

Even if there is no misery in prarabdha karma, a devotee may have to face difficulties as a test from the Lord. In Bhagavatam Shri Krishna says how He bereaves His devotees from material wealth, friends, etc. Also if we see the life of saints many of them faced difficulties in life. But all these are in the primary stages or sadhana stages. Once a devotee becomes God-realized, a devotee can get rid of any misery if he wants just by praying to God and the Lord also always protects him. Nevertheless, be it God or a devotee, all respect the laws of Karma and face results of their actions accordingly.


...does good karma due to which his previous karma's effect gets reduced.

NO! Accumulating Karma in itself is kinda "BAD". Dharma of an individual, in a situation, is the path of do Karma, WITHOUT even accumulating it. Hinduism is ALL about Moksha, i.e breaking the Birth-Death Cycle. And till the time a being has "unresolved" Karma, s/he/it HAS TO TAKE BIRTH. WESTERN CONCEPT of "Good" / "Bad" do not apply here in East.

...a devotee's karma is also reduced by serving the Supreme being.

NO! You're NOT here to serve, in the first place. Everyone born, is a convict of this intangible prison of Maya. And remember that convicts are NOT Slaves of anybody else, by nature, BUT of their OWN Desires and Delusions. Being a "Das" of someone is NOT an Indian / Hindu "thing". Humans is Divine ONLY because s/he CAN actually realize HIS/HER OWN divinity.

Its an Abrahamic Religious way of thinking, and unfortunately "Baptized Hinduism" do exist, or say, was MADE to come into existence, first during Christian regime of British Rule, and then propagated by some "Aahha-Hindus" themselves.

Is a devotee more dearest to the supreme being than a good man?

NO! God DOESN'T love or hate NOBODY. ALL he "cares" is Universal Balance!

we see good people facing miseries in their lives, however it happens very rarely in the case of devotees. Can a great misery happen to a devotee?

If you mean, the so called, "devotees" are being "protected" FROM their OWN Karma, then you are WRONG again. Deity, Devotion, Awareness, Wisdom, etc. are ways to get STRENGTH to face the IMMINENT event of us "colliding" head-on with our own accumulated bulk of Karma. Nobody born, can dodge that, or is "protected" from that.

NOTE: I seldom provide references in my posts, because looking up to a book every time you "think!", is a again NOT a Hindu trait. Vedas were in souls of ancient sages, they have not mugged it up either. Reading Vedas should be a journey of Mind to soul, rather than of memory from one synapse to the other.

Mind you, that there is a difference between Vedas and books of other religion. "Vedas" are NOT "Holy" as in "Holy Bible" or "Holy Quran", but they can for sure bring out THE HOLY out of you.

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