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https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/9/verse/23

येऽप्यन्यदेवता भक्ता यजन्ते श्रद्धयान्विता: | तेऽपि मामेव कौन्तेय यजन्त्यविधिपूर्वकम् || 23||

BG 9.23: O son of Kunti, even those devotees who faithfully worship other gods also worship Me. But they do so by the wrong method.

There is also the "Akashat patitam toyam" verse

आकाशात् पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम् । सर्वदेवनमस्कारं केशवं प्रतिगच्छति ॥

ākāśāt patitaṃ toyaṃ yathā gacchati sāgaram । sarvadevanamaskāraṃ keśavaṃ pratigacchati ॥

Meaning:

As the water that falls down in rain from anywhere in the sky finally reaches the Ocean, the worship of any divine aspect ultimately reaches the Supreme Being.

These seem to be contradicted by

यान्ति देवव्रता देवान्पितॄ न्यान्ति पितृव्रता: | भूतानि यान्ति भूतेज्या यान्ति मद्याजिनोऽपि माम् ||25||

BG 9.25: Worshippers of the celestial gods take birth amongst the celestial gods, worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, worshippers of ghosts take birth amongst such beings, and My devotees come to Me alone.

How can an worshiper NOT worship Krishna?

EDIT: Related, but not duplicate

Does Krishna say in the Bhagavad Gita that he alone can grant liberation?

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  • If I am not wrong, this question was asked already. You might want to search.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    May 12 at 13:54
  • worshipers of other diety inthe correct sense is also worship of krishna.. because by worshipin they wroship antrayami of deity as krishna. until that connection is missing they reach that deity..
    – Prasanna R
    May 12 at 14:26
  • directly contradicting "akashat patitam toyam". no mention of any antaryami in that verse - unequivocally says worship of ANY deity reaches Krishna - just like all rainwater ultimately ends up in the ocean.
    – S K
    May 12 at 14:29

2 Answers 2

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The import of this shloka is vested in Brahma Sutra 3.2.38, 3.2.40. Accordingly, Ishwara (Supreme reality) is the sole karma-phala-dhaatha.

From this,” i.e. from Brahman alone, arises “the fruit” accruing to different individuals, in accordance with the particular duties to which they are entitled,—as He alone can be such a giver of fruits.(BS3.2.38)

dharmaṃ jaiminiḥ, ata eva . dharmaṃ—Religious merits; jaiminiḥ—(sage) Jaimini; ata eva—for the same reasons..(BS3.2.40)

The purport of this shloka Akashat patitam toyam corresponds to BG 4.11

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāns tathaiva bhajāmyaham mama vartmānuvartante manuṣhyāḥ pārtha sarvaśhaḥ
In whatever way people surrender unto Me, I reciprocate accordingly. Everyone follows My path, knowingly or unknowingly, O son of Pritha.
(Translation Swami Mukundananda 4.11)

Then , question arises, why as to the Supreme reality isn't directly worshipped for any karma phala . This is explained in BG 4.12

kāṅkṣhantaḥ karmaṇāṁ siddhiṁ yajanta iha devatāḥ kṣhipraṁ hi mānuṣhe loke siddhir bhavati karmajā
In this world, those desiring success in material activities worship the celestial gods, since material rewards manifest quickly.

Since people averse to Liberation, they worship other Gods with selfish motives for the attainment of the correlated petty results, therefore they, unlike the seekers of Liberation, do not directly worship Me, Vāsudeva. He (the Lord) says that all are not of the same temperament, on account of the difference in the gunas (sattva, rajas,tamas) which constitute their bodies
(commentary by Swami Madhusudhana Saraswati)

Whatsoever an ignorant seek (finite results by worshipping deities),is bestowed by Ishwara thru the deities , though He is the giver of infinite results / liberation(if intended by the seeker).This is the implicit sense , through the references above wrt to BG 9.25 which seems to be in correlation with BG 7.20, BG 7.21

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That is because directly worshiping Bhagavaan, alone, can lead to moksha and not the devatas. The devatas are living entities of Svarga loka and hence, cannot provide moksha. However, they can provide material benedictions, as it is Shri Vishnu who enables them to do so. As Vishnu grants the ability to devatas to bless their devotees, it is ultimately he, who receives all obeisances. That is why it is famously said, 'sarvadevanamaskaaraha Keshavam pratigachchhati' (obeisances to all devas completely go to Keshava).

The Ishopanishad says:

nainaddevaa aapnuvan puurvamarshat

Brahman cannot be approached by the devas, but he knows them earlier (since the beginning of time).

-Ishopaniṣhad, Mantra 4

Here, it is said that the devas cannot approach Brahman, which makes the distinction between the Devatas and Brahman clear.

Also, Shri Krshna says this in the Bhagavad Geeta, which is more explicit:

Those whose knowledge has been carried away by material desires surrender to the devatas. Following their own nature, they worship the devatas, practicing rituals meant to propitiate these celestial personalities. Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular deva and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality, I alone arrange these benefits. But the fruit gained by these people of little understanding is perishable. Those who worship the celestial gods go to the celestial abodes, while My devotees come to Me.

-Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 7, Shlokas 20, 22 and 23

Worshiping the devatas is not as good as worshiping Eeshvara, hence, one cannot attain moksha by worshiping them. At the most, they can be born in Svarga loka and occupy the positions of one of the devatas.

So, in conclusion: It means that those who worship the devatas can obtain benefits only through the grace of Eeshvara, but as they do not intend to worship Eeshvara, they do not get the complete benefits of doing so and do not get spiritual support. Eeshvara resides as the indweller of all beings, so it is he, who enables the deities to bless others.

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