After the name of God and the prayer to the Lord, we intend to dwell on the subject of Krishna and Bhagavada Gita - the great book of the teachings of God, commonly assigned to Krishna.
Become one in mind with Me: be devoted to Me: sacrifice to Me: bow down to Me: you shall come to Me alone: I promise you (in) truth: you are dear to Me.
Abandoning all duties, come to Me, the One, for refuge; I shall absolve you from all sins; do not despair."
“O All-creating Devata please sweep away from us all sins, vices and miseries and grant us all that is beneficial and auspicious.”
Sacred scriptures of the Hindus, viz. Vedas, Upanishads and Gita are full of mention of the term Devata, who are being invoked in the aforementioned mantra from Rig Veda to remove all our sins, vices and miseries. We wish to point out here that Rig Veda is one of the four most important scriptures of the Hindus, the other three being the Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. The four Vedas almost entirely talk of the devatas and Hindus of yore have built several myths and legends regarding the devatas on the basis of their present understanding of the content of the Vedas.
It is clear from the aforementioned verse that things beneficial and auspicious are granted by the Devas. It is the devatas who are being invoked to sweep away the sins, vices and miseries, thereby indicating the important place that they enjoy in the cosmos, as per the Vedas.
But who are the Devatas? Do Hindus or anybody else for that matter know their identity? Are the devatas merely certain prehistoric men who are of no relevance to the man of modern times? We wish to remind you that the British translators, due to their missionary deal, used to attack Hinduism with these allegations and it was because of this that later day scholars like Rishi Dayananda Saraswati sat down to rewrite the commentary of Vedas from which he altogether removed the presence of the devatas and claimed that the Vedas were talking of scientific revolutions related to material fire, air, etc.
If there are no devatas, who are Siva and Parvati, in whose name Hindus take the seven pledges at the time of their marriage? If there are no devatas, in whose name the Hindus travel hundreds of miles to bring a token amount of water from the sacred rivers? If there are no devatas, in whose name are the Chhath celebrations undertaken? If there are no devatas, who are the people to whom several of the ancient temples of Hindus and Buddhists devoted? If there are no devatas, who is prayed to when there is no rain, who is it who is the devi of learning and wealth, and so on? More importantly, if there are no devatas, who were the people Rama and Krishna were talking about and what was the motive behind dedicating several voluminous books, including the Vedas, to the devatas?
Devatas are truly there but ask any Hindu and we do not know their identity. We have no idea at all what these devatas are doing presently, where are they based, what is their role in this cosmos, how are we related to them and how are they related to the Absolute God that Krishna talked about all through the Gita.
Devatas Used by the Kings and the Priests for their Personal Benefits
Preachers Against the True Path
“Now then, the hindrances to knowledge, O King. This is indeed the source of the net of delusion, the association of one who is worthy of heaven with those who are not worthy of heaven, that is it. Though it is said there is a grove before them they cling to a low shrub. Now there are some who are always hilarious, always abroad, always begging, always making a living by handicraft. And others are who are beggars in town, who perform sacrifices, for the unworthy, who are the disciples of Sudras and who, though Sudras, are learned in the scriptures. And others there are who are wicked, who wear their hair in a twisted knot, who are dancers, who are mercenaries, traveling mendicants, actors, those who have been degraded in the king’s service. And others there are who, for money, profess they can allay (the evil influences) of Yaksas (sprites), Raksasas (ogres), ghosts, goblins, devils, serpents, imps and the like. And others there are who, under false pretexts, wear the read rope, earrings and skulls. And others there are who love to distract the believers in the Veda by the jugglery of false arguments, comparisons and paralogisms, with these one should not associate. These creature, evidently, are thieves and unworthy of heaven. For this has it been said: The world bewildered by doctrines that deny the self, by false comparisons and proofs does not discern the difference between wisdom and knowledge.”
“Verily, Brhaspati (the teacher of the Devas) became Sukra (the teacher of the demons) and for the security of Indra and for the destruction of demons created this ignorance. By this (they) declare the inauspicious to be auspicious and the auspicious to be inauspicious. They saw that there should be attention to the law which is destructive of the (teachings of the Vedas) and the other scriptures. Therefore one should not attend to this teaching. It is false. It is like a barren woman. Mere pleasure is the fruit there of as also of one who has fallen from the proper course. It should not be attempted. For this has it been said: Widely opposed and divergent are these two, the one known as ignorance, and the other as knowledge. I (Yama) think that Naciketas is desirous of obtaining knowledge and many desires do not rend you. He who knows at the same time knowledge and ignorance together, having crossed death by means of ignorance he wins the immortal by knowledge. Those who are wrapped up in the midst of ignorance, fancying themselves alone wise and learned, they wander, hard smitten and deluded like blind men led by one who is himself blind.”
See VII.10 of the same Upanishad:
“Verily, the devatas and the demons, being desirous of (knowing) the self went into the presence of Brahma. Having bowed before him they said, Revered Sir, we are desirous of (knowing) the self, so do you tell us. Then, after having reflected a long while, he thought in himself. Verily, these demons are desirous of a self different (from the true one). Therefore a very different doctrine was told to them. On that these deluded (demons) here live their life, with intense attachment, destroying the means of salvation and praising what is false. They see the false, as if it were true, as in jugglery. Therefore what is set forth in the Vedas, that is the truth. On what is said in the Vedas, on that wise men live their life. Therefore a Brahmana should not study what is not of the Veda. This should be the purpose.”
Deviations and Steadfastness
We salute those from amongst the Indo-Aryans, who steadfastly remained on the true path, in the midst of all the hardships and unfavorable circumstances. The house of Pandavas was set on fire, Draupadi was insulted and the sons of Pandavas were killed in a night-attack. Yet the Pandavas remained on the right path – the path of Krishna. When we read of the victory of Krishna and Rama, we forget that several must have surely died to uphold truth and justice alongside their leader. The Puranas too mention few accounts of torture and killing that the adherents of the true path had to undergo. Known for their biased penchant for writing the history of the kings, historians have not mentioned how many people were killed holding Vedas to their heart when Ashoka went about converting them. Neither do we know how many Prahladas sacrificed their lives at the hands of infuriated sages or kings, because of adherance to their religious views. We also do not know how many scholars perished in floods, earthquakes, droughts, famines and Tsunamis. Only thing that is starkly visible is the change in beliefs that continued to happen and the deviations and distortions that altered the entire framework of religious thought and believes over the period of time.