How to Identify Finite Gods & ONE Infinite God? Two Types of Devotion/Bhakti (62)


Lesson 62 corrects the thinking which gives birth to “My God is superior”. We also discover worldly ends can be gained by invoking specific deities, however we also see every material attainment has 3 intrinsic defects. None are exempt from experiencing them. Crash course on sadhana chatushtaya (4-fold qualifications leading to jivanmukta). Finally we see how Consciousness is self-evident to everyone.

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – verse 21, 22, 23, 24


  • Last week verse 20, Krishna has begun differentiating 2 types of bhakti (devotion). Purpose is to help student align actions which lead to spiritual progression. And since spirituality is bhakti, we need to FIRST know 2 types of bhakti: Sakāma & niṣkāma-bhakti.
  • Niṣkāma: devotion & worship of infinite Lord for purpose of ultimate end / liberation. Per Upaniṣad: Sreyaḥ.
  • Sakāma-bhakti: devotion & worship of Lord for seeking material ends. Either: dharma, artha, kāma. Per Upaniṣad: Preyaḥ.
    • Since sakāma gives finite ends, Krishna presents sakāma-bhakti as worship of finite deities.
  • Next question, who is finite deity and who is infinite deity?
    • Every deity has form or picturization. Indicates finite. Thus can’t have infinite form.
    • However any deity CAN be infinite if we choose to invoke the infinite in that deity.
      • EG: Rāma form-wise is finite. Or Buddha, Jesus, Kṛṣṇa, Ganapati, etc.
      • All devatās in smṛti, śruti, purāṇa, itihāsa HAVE FORM. Thus finite.
    • And despite finite, we have choice to invoke, visualize, imagine, superimpose infinite. EG: Small flag > nation.
      • And since Lord Krishna is main deity in Bhagavad Gītā, Krishna symbolizes infinite Īśvara.
      • If one is Ganeśa bhakta, then Ganeśa would symbolize infinite. Etc.
    • Meaning deity is neither pūrṇam avatāra (incarnation) nor apūrṇam. Depends how person invokes.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 21:

yo yo yāṃ yāṃ tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayā'rcitumicchati |
tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tāmeva vidadhāmyaham ||

Whichever devotee desires to worship faithfully any particular form – I stabilise that very faith of that devotee.


  • Krishna is speaking about sakāma bhaktās who wish to have various world desires fulfilled by invoking particular devatās.
  • He says, tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayā'rcitumicchati: Depending on sakāma-bhakta’s desire, he/she will invoke a particular deity (tanum).
    • Which one? Varies on literature in karma-kāṇḍa. EG: If person has wish to cure disease:
      • If viṣṇu-bhakta > worship dhanvantari-mūrti.
      • Another bhakta: chants mantra tryambakam yajāmahe.
      • Another bhakta: mṛtyu devata pūjā.
      • Another bhakta: Lord Sūrya represents health (ārogyam).
      • Another bhakta: aśvinī kumāra represents health.
      • Another bhakta: walking in nature / ocean dip represents health.
    • Meaning sakāma-bhakta will take any of these deities for health depending on their religion, background, culture, resonance, personality.
  • Krishan also says sakāma-bhakti is valid, not sinful. Therefore will be fulfilled.
    • But what is condition? Śraddhayā. Must have faith in the deity to bring the result.
      • Meaning, quantity of benefit received is proportional to faith in the selected devata. Higher the faith = quicker and more aparā-prakṛti results.
  • What happens to sakāma-bhakta after gaining results? 2nd line (tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tāmeva vidadhāmyaham)
    • By fulfilling his/her desire, consequence is “I (Īśvara) reinforce his/her bhakti”.
    • Meaning motivation for repeated bhakti is strengthened.
    • Next time problem, bhakta runs to deity again. Also tells others. Word spreads, and soon all are worshipping that deity.
      • Explains why some temples and new-age healers get rooms filled up. One had extreme faith, it worked for them. Then told others.
  • Why does Krishna say “I fulfil their desires”, when devotee is performing pūjā (worship) to finite deity, and not infinite Īśvara? Because any quantity of finite belongs to Infinite.
    • What does Infinite mean? No finite is excluded. If a single is missing, then it’s not infinite.
  • So when desires are fulfilled, it appears the finite devata blessed the devotee. Devotee believes their deity is the all-powerful. But in reality all blessed power is because of Me (infinite Īśvara).
    • Therefore Krishna is giving blessing power to all finite devatās, who are in turn blessing the devotee.
      • In B.Gītā context, all deities bless devotee only because of Kṛṣṇa.
      • In Śiva purāṇam context, all deities bless devotee only because of Śiva.
      • In Holy Bible context, all miracles follower receives is because of Jesus Christ.
      • Parent blesses child with toys because of employer.
    • Thus all devatās (particular Gods) are intermediary. Like postman who seems to be blessing with deliveries, but source of gift is from elsewhere.
    • Hence Krishna is (stated in 5.29): (1) ultimate receiver of all worship, and (2) karma phala data
      • EG: Many flowers offered into river, all end up in ONE ocean. Similarly namaskāra to any finite devata, goes to infinite Īśvara.
      • Hence if want infinite result of mokṣa, then in context of B.Gītā, go to Krishna who represents infinite Īśvara.
        • In studying Śiva purāṇam, then for unlimited result go to Śiva.
        • Thus be not captivated by form. None is superior/inferior.
  • CONCLUSION: Infinite Īśvara receives all worship through worship of finite names/forms.
    • And the one infinite Īśvara we call by many names: Father in Heaven, Devi, Allah, Śakti, Ahura Mazda, Yahweh, Christ, Babaji, Viṣṇu, etc.
    • Thus the form/name is not important. Only invocation of infinite IN the form/name is important.
    • Although for sakāma-bhakta, their infinite = aparā-prakṛti. So unknowingly continue invoking finite, which Krishna speaks more in next verse…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 22:

sa tayā śraddhayā yuktastasya”rādhanamīhate |
labhate ca tataḥ kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān ||

Endowed with that faith, he engages in the worship of that (form) and, from that, he attains all those desires which are indeed granted by ME alone.

  • Owning to devotee’s ignorance of the one infinite Īśvara… when Īśvara fulfils desire… devotee says: “Śiva fulfilled my desire. No, Christ / Krishna is real fulfiller!”
    • Each thinking “My god is superior”, owning to ignorance of one infinite Īśvara.
  • Krishna says, sa tayā śraddhayā yukta, I allow bhakta to reach conclusion their deity is the wish-fulfiller.
    • Because it reinforces his bhakti to his/her deity, since they all ultimately point to Me.
      • EG: For Śiva bhakta… Śiva-bhakti is reinforced. Etc.
    • This is reason why mindful ācāryās, before giving japa/mantra to bhakta (devotee/truth seeker), first ASKS his/her iṣṭa-devata (someone devotee resonates with).
      • EG: Namaśivaya / nārāyanā depends on what mind attracted to.
    • Reality is most ācāryās make mistake of handing mantra to student based on ācārya’s iṣṭa-devata.
      • EG: Given Namaśivaya mantra but my iṣṭa-devata is Krishna! Constant conflict.
  • labhate tataḥ kāmān: The more worship bhakta performs ONTO their finite devata, the more desires fulfilled.
    • But condition is: MUST follow rules/regulations/protocol EXACTLY as prescribed. If violated, won’t work.
  • kāmān mayaiva vihitān: Krishna reminds us that finite devatāḥ are NOT fulfilling desired ends… but I am (the infinite Lord), THROUGH the chosen devata.
    • Hence Bhagavān is the ultimate receiver of all pūjā and ultimate fulfiller of all desires.
  • CONCLUSION: Plus point of sakāma-bhakti is it’s allowed by Lord to ask for worldly things. Not sinful. You don’t incur pāpam.
    • Some say we shouldn’t ask God anything. OR…
    • Let God choose as he knows better. Incorrect thinking! God has no permission to choose for person.
      • Reason 1: Since Īśvara = infinite, if choose for us, it would only be infinity; mokṣa. But how many are liberated? 99% chasing limited things.
      • Reason 2: Owning to prārabdha-karma, most do not want mokṣa. Couple who wish baby want a healthy child from God, not mokṣa.
      • Reason 3: If God knows what you want, then śāstra shouldn’t prescribe saṅkalpa (intention) before pūjā.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 23:

antavattu phalaṃ teṣāṃ tadbhavatyalpamedhasām |
devān devayajo yānti madbhaktā yānti māmapi ||

The result (accruing) to those indiscriminate ones is indeed finite. The worshippers of God attain the gods. The worshippers of Me attain Me only.


  • In V21/22 discussed plus point of sakāma-bhakti. World desires ARE fulfilled. No sin incurred.
  • Verse 23 discusses minus point of sakāma-bhakti.
  • Sakāma-bhakti is enjoyable because it fulfils materialist desires. Gives worldly security/happiness. However every worldly gain has 3 intrinsic defects (dośās):
    1. Duḥkham miśrita tvam: (Pain/Pleasure different sides of ONE aparā-prakṛti coin: Zero-sum game)
      • Worldly accomplishments MIXED with equal amount of pain.
        • EG: Pain in accomplishing. Fighting competition.
        • Acquisition involves struggle, tension, fear, jealousy, worry of loss.
      • Also despite best effort of preservation (concern) and care, it’s lost in time.
      • Meaning pain = directly proportional to pleasure derived.
      • 5.22: Every worldly pleasure is a potential pain.
    2. Atṛpti Karatvam: (All pleasures finite)
      • Since every accomplishment finite and limited in nature, we can’t get ourselves to enjoy gotten.
      • Sooner or later thinking of next HIGHER possibility.
      • I see someone more then me, hence I only enjoy glory for short time. Hence one suffers disease of comparison. Leads to inferiority complex/jealousy.
      • In Kaṭha Upaniṣad, Naciketa (son of sage Vājaśravas), says: vittena na tarpaṇīyo manuṣyaḥ
        • No human being can be satisfied with any amount of wealth.
          • Which explains why there’s corruption even at high level of money.
          • Meaning sakama-bhakta is a poor rich man / poor moneyed man.
        • Beggarliness or inner bankruptcy continues. Reason?
          • Money is finite. Finite money + finite money = finite money. Hence distance to infinity (all seeking) is SAME.
            • Example: Is there any difference between $1Mil & Infinity AND $100K & Infinity? No. Hence one still feels apūrṇam (not full).
          • Consequentially, one travels one apūrṇam experience to another.
    1. Bandha tatvam (enslaving capacity):
      • After having gotten success like: fame, name, attention, wealth… one can’t bear losing it.
      • Addiction for the “gotten” develops.
      • Reason why after retirement, feeling of unworthiness as significance/attention gone from society.
      • Thus dependency/neediness OR slavery OR weakness is 3rd
  • Therefore Krishna is saying sakāma-bhakti keeps individual bound to genuine demands saṃsāra.
    • There will be material progress like money & family. But invites spiritual stagnation.
    • Meaning sakāma has neither spiritual growth nor spiritual fall. Because not committing sin. Just spiritual inertia.
      • Such person is a religious saṃsāri. Lots of emotion due to attachment & loss.
  • So these sakāma-bhaktās are alpamedhasām, unintelligent / indiscriminative people. Reason?
    • Because through same time/effort, they could’ve channelled it to gaining infinite mokṣa, instead of finite ends.
  • Metaphor: Imagine Bhagavān (giver) has both hands in pockets.
    • One pocket = finite preyaḥ / aparā.
    • Another pocket = infinite sreyaḥ / parā.
    • Can pull out and give any moment it’s asked.
    • Unsurprisingly only preyaḥ / aparā hand is working. Constantly giving.
    • Other hand is resting in mokṣa pocket. Handful asking.
  • And since aparā gifts are finite (antavad tat), they are eventually EXHAUSTED. Brings pain of loss.
    • Thus Bhagavān can’t be blamed because He gives only what is asked. Person chooses limited goals.
  • devān devayajo yānti: Worshiper of finite devatās (symbolic for sakāma-bhakti) will get finite results.
    • Because according to śāstra, all Gods/deities in other orders of realities, are also ORDINARY jīvās. Deities only have exalted position because of puṇya-karma in another loka at another lifetime.
    • Even brahmāji will vacate upon cosmic pralayam. End of 100 years of bramāji. Then another 100-year life span for another brahmā (CH9).
  • Whereas madbhaktās, my devotee, my worshipper, worshipper of Krisha (represents infinite Īśvara in B.Gītā), those who are:
    • jijñāsuḥ bhakta, niṣkāma-bhakta
    • sādhana catuṣṭaya bhakta: (Devotee with 4-fold qualifications)
      1. Viveka: discriminate eternal / ephemeral.
      2. Vairāgyam: detachment from fruits of actions in this/next life.
      3. Ṣaṭ-saṁpattiḥ (6 virtues):
        1. Śamaḥ: mastery of mind (antaḥkaraṇa) due to fleeting nature. How?
          • Karma-Yoga:
            • Proper attitude: all actions done as worship to Lord.
            • Proper action: selfless. sāttvic-karmāṇi. Actions of sattvic nature.
          • Upāsana:
            • General preparatory meditation before Śravaṇam.
          • Bhakti-Yoga:
            • What is it? Remember 7.14, the fisherman/fish eg.
            • Īśvara bhakti (acknowledging __ / attachment to / faith onto / fondness for)
        2. Damaḥ: Control of external sense organs, like eyes. What expose sense to?
        3. Uparamaḥ: Observe one’s own dharma. Unwillingness to compromise values.
        4. Titikṣā: endurance of heat, cold, joy, sorrow. Accepting pairs of opposites.
        5. Śraddhā: faith of guru, vedānta, śāstra. Belief in the vision of Scriptures.
        6. Samādhānaṃ: single pointedness of mind. Concentration. Focus. How?
          • Patanjali Yoga Sutra: (Lesson 46/47)
            • yamaḥ: what to avoid.
            • niyamaḥ: what to embrace embrace.
            • āsana: posture for length of time.
            • prāṇāyāma: breath-mind connection.
            • pratyāhāra: withdrawal of sense organs (equal to damaḥ above).
            • dhāraṇā: fix mind object of meditation.
      1. mumukṣutvam: intense burning WANT for mokṣa. Like holding pee for 3 hours, can’t think of anything but peeing, despite still addressing worldly demands.
  • mām api yānthi: they (one's with above qualities) all come to Me.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 24:

avyaktaṃ vyaktimāpannaṃ manyante māmabuddhayaḥ |
parāṃ bhāvamajānanto mamāvyayamanuttamam ||

Not knowing My superior nature which is changeless and unsurpassed, the indiscriminate ones consider Me to be the unmanifest which has assumed manifestation.


  • Krishna says, 2 types of people:
    • Have not understood Īśvara properly.
    • Understood Īśvara properly.
  • What is proper Īśvara understanding?
    • Nature of Īśvara has 2 aspects:
      • Higher: Parā-prakṛti: cetana tatvam (conscious principle)
      • Lower: Aparā-prakṛti: acetana jada tatvam (unconscious matter principle)
  • Krishna say, ignorant people (abuddhayaḥ: indiscriminative) have not understood God, because only recognize Lower nature.
    • Thus mistake physical body of Lord to be REAL God.
    • For this reason their aparā-prakṛti Īṣvara has arrival/departure.
      • EG1: Avatāra śarīram born = Happy. Avatāra śarīram dies = Wait for another avatāra.
      • EG2: Krishna comes > Gopīs rejoice. Krishna goes > Gopika Gītā starts.
    • Krishna says: such devotees are ignorant, unintelligent, deluded.
  • Whereas devotee who ALSO recognizes higher/parā-prakṛti nature of Īśvara (which is consciousness principle) – there is no arrival/departure.
    • Because consciousness is self-evident to everyone – all the time. (svayam / nitya prakāśa rūpam)
      • EG1: Fact that one can mention of an object, means they are free-of/other-then the object.
        • Meaning whatever is THOUGHT/EMOTED is object of knowledge. And if it’s known, it’s other then the knower/witness (sākṣī).
      • EG2: Person talks about their ignorance of not being liberated, means the person is “above” the object of knowledge being ignorance.
      • EG3: Can not talk about a covering, unless you are BEYOND the covering. Meaning, consciousness (parā-prakṛti) is NEVER covered.
    • Therefore wise person (jñāni) has CONCLUDED Īśvara is here-now, EVER EVIDENT as Consciousness in me.
      • Logic of conclusion is: if leave consciousness out of the picture, there is only aparā, which is inert/non-conscious. But that’s impossible, because all day I am “aware-ing” aparā objects. And awareness = parā-prakṛti.
  • Whereas for unintelligent people, who mistake Lord as aparā alone, their misconception is: avyaktaṃ vyaktim āpannaṃ, think Lord has disappeared NOW (avyaktam). Then they perform tapaḥ for Lord to appear again.
  • Why do they have such misconception? ajānantaḥ, do not know of higher nature of God.
    • Higher nature is NOT physical/mind. EG: Anything channelled which is coming through person’s mind, is only lower nature of God.
  • What is higher nature of God? paraṃ bhāvam (supreme nature).
    • Caitanya svarūpam, which is everywhere. All the time. NEVER not evident.
      • EG: Hear word1, conscious. Word2, conscious. No words, conscious of silence. Word3, conscious.
      • Thus whether thoughts/perceptions PRESENT or not, I continue being conscious.
    • Also called: satcitānanda. OR: satyam jñānam ānanda brahman svarūpam.
  • What is glory of this supreme nature (paraṃ bhāvam)? Avyayam, never subject to change. Or nirvikāram (absence of modifications)
    • Logically can NOT be talking about Krishna’s body because we have: baby Krishna, butter-stealing boy, gopī’s heart stealing youthful Krishna, disappearing dead-corpse Krishna.
  • And this supreme nature (paraṃ bhāvam) which is free of change (Avyayam/nirvikāram) – is anuttmam, unsurpassable/highest.
  • Niṣkāma-bhakta knows superiority of the supreme nature, thus pursues it as main priority in this short life.


Keywords: acarya, alpamedhasam, apanna, apara, apurna, asana, ashvini kumara, asvini, atrpti, atripti, avatara, bhaktas, brahmaji, brahman svarupa, sadhana catustaya, sadhana catushtaya, devatas, dosa, dosha, dosas, dhanvantari-murti, dharana, duhkham misrita tvam, gensha, gopika gita, gopis, ishvara, itihasa, jijnasu, jnani, katha upanishad, mishrita, moksha, mrityu devata puja, mumukshutva, namashiva, namasivaya, namaskara, narayana, nirvikara, nishkama bhakti, niskama, niyama, para, param bhavam, prakasa rupam, prakasha, pranayama, prarabdha karma, pratyahara, preya, preyah, preyas, punya karma, puranas, purna, purnam, sadhana chatushtaya, sakama bhakti, sakshi, saksi, samadhana, samsara, sarira, sat sampat, satchitananda, satcitananda, satya jnana, shad sampat, shakshi, shakti, shama, sharira, shat sampat, shiva purana, shraddha, shruti, smriti, smrti, sraddha, sreyah, sreyas, sruti, surya, svarupa, svarupam, titiksa, titiksha, tryambakam yajamahe, upanishad, uparama, upasana, vairagyam, vajashrava, vajasravas, vishnu, yama


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 13 Aug, 2019



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