Polytheism or Monotheism
One God or Multiple Devtas & Devis
Are Hindus worshipers of many Gods? Do they not believe in one God? Polytheism or Monotheism what does Hinduism believe in? What does Bhagwad Geeta say on this issue?
Bhagwad Geeta gives many suggestions but, as always, no commands. According to Bhagwad Geeta worshipers of demigods are distressed or motivated by small desires and are less intelligent people. They are in ignorance (tamas) and passion (rajas) and have lost their spiritual sense. They take shelter of demigods (Devtas & Devis) for immediate fulfillment of material desires.
We present simple translation of certain slokas (verses) from Bhagwad Geeta which will throw light on the subject.
Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods (different Devtas & Devis) and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.
I am in everyone's heart as the Super-soul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.
Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.
Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.
Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. They take birth on the planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights.
When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness.
Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods, O son of Kunti, is really meant for Me alone, but it is offered without true understanding.
Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.
God has given independence to everyone; therefore, if a person desires to have material enjoyment and wants very sincerely to have such facilities from the demigods, the Supreme Lord, as Super-soul in everyone's heart, understands and gives facilities to such persons.
A person wanting some particular desire to be fulfilled is advised in the Vedic literature to worship particular demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship the sun-god; a person wanting education may worship the goddess of learning, Sarasvati; and a person wanting a beautiful wife may worship the goddess Uma, the wife of Lord Siva. Thus there are recommendations in the sastras (Vedic scriptures) for different types of worship for different demigods.
But it is further mentioned that the results achieved by the demigods' benedictions are perishable because within this material world, the planets, the demigods and their worshipers are all perishable. As all results achieved by worshiping demigods are perishable, performers of such worship are considered less intelligent in Bhagwad Geeta. Such people think that for certain purposes demigods are better than the Supreme Lord.
The demigods are actually different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord; therefore they have no independence. In the Vedic literature it is stated: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead as Super Soul is also present within the heart of the demigod; therefore He arranges through the demigod to fulfill the desire of the living entity. But both the demigod and the living entity are dependent on the supreme will. They are not independent."
Devotional service of the Supreme Lord and the worship of a demigod cannot be on the same level because worship of a demigod is materialistic and devotional service to the Supreme Lord is spiritual. Only worship of Supreme can release a person from the bondage of birth and death the ultimate purpose of religion.
Believers, nonbelievers, skeptic, antagonistic, rationalists, philosophers, logicians, worshipers of multiple Devtas, worshiper of one God, worshipers of Nirakar-Nirgun (formless), worshipers of Sakar-Sagun (with form and qualities), meditative yogis, , etc. all have place in the Vedic society. Vedic literature accommodates all of them, all have scope to evolve spiritually at their own pace and realize the Self.