|Chapter 7||Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 23|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Since all the demigods in their various positions of universal management are actually manifestations of the Supreme Lord, in actuality worshipping them is worshipping Him; especially due to the fact that it is the Supreme Lord who sanctions and grants all results to their supplications; but it should be understood that there is a vast difference in the results between the adorers of the demigods and the devotees who adore and worship the Supreme Lord. It is being clarified by Lord Krishna that the result gained by persons of limited understanding who worship the demigods is perishable and has an end. This is because the demigods themselves are perishable and have a fixed span of life. Those whose propitiation of the demigods is successful go to the planet of that demigod in their next life and enjoy until that life is ended and then they return and take birth again in the material existence. But the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna attain association with Him in His abode in the spiritual worlds, which are eternal and everlasting and from where there is no returning back to the material worlds.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The conceptions of an impersonal unmanifest god is what causes illusion. People who are under the influence of an impersonal conception of god are essentially bewildered by God Himself. Only those who are aware of the Supreme Lord possessing form, qualities, attributes, personality and propitiate Him with loving devotion are able to cross over this ocean of illusion. Gross illusion is the Supreme Lord's external potency and it manifest as external energy in the form of the demigoddess known as Maya; both are under the control and subservient to the Supreme Lord Krishna. Therefore everyone should surrender without hesitation in ananya bhakti or unadulterated devotion. This ananya bhakti is uncompromising and should be know as that devotion which is dedicated to the Supreme Lord exclusively in all its entirety. This capacity of fullness of devotion has no possibility of arising anywhere else except for the Supreme Lord. Offerings to Brahma, Shiva and all other demigods should be done as a preliminary worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna and nothing more, because all of the demigods are part of Him and subservient to Him. Comprehending this one can attain Him but not by or through any other means.
Vasudeva is a name of Lord Krishna meaning the cause of all causes. He is the only whole. All else are merely parts. The only complete one is Him. The spiritually intelligent who realise this within are very rare in this world while in retrospect we are all actually looking for this internal realisation and until we achieve it are merely aspirants. Yet even after having this internal realisation those who propitiate Brahma, Shiva and other impersonal gods as being something superior; by such worshipping they enter the dark dreary worlds of obscurity, which is full of endless suffering and misery, taking birth in a family without the light of awareness. The irreplaceable awareness that only Lord Krishna is to be propitiated exclusively and no other. Without the awareness that Lord Krishna is to be propitiated first and foremost, any and all other propitiation's become disparate an have no efficacy. Knowledge then degenerated to be utilised only for the satisfaction and gratification of the temporary physical body. If by reflection and discrimination one becomes aware of the truth and achieves the realisation of Lord Krishna's supreme position then it should be understood that all other gods and demigods are all subject and subservient to Him. Worship erroneously propitiated unknowingly on false objects and inferior subjects as well as temporary gods; if later renounced causes no demerits if one does not return back to them, But it will still be cause for reincarnation and one will take birth again but in their subsequent life such a person will be blessed by the Supreme Lord to gain rapid recollection of their previous spiritual direction and be graced with proper association to continue their worship where they left off at the end of their previous life.
Thus it is clarified that for one who has realisation by spiritual intelligence, the immortal soul within the etheric heart of all sentient beings is non-different from Lord Krishna. After innumerable lifetimes one begins performing righteous actions. After many lifetimes of performing meritorious activities one achieves spiritual intelligence and from then on one is qualified to attain the mercy of Vasudeva, the cause of all causes, the Supreme Lord. Those who are devoted to lesser gods only get the temporary material rewards which such transitory gods are able to bestow. While those who worship the Supreme Lord Krishna attain the blessed eternal spiritual realms with all its bliss and felicity. Knowing the supremacy of Lord Krishna those beings who would deign to propitiate lesser gods thinking them independent of the Supreme Lord go to the dark worlds of ignorance in all obscurity. Also anyone who considers the demigods or any other gods as similar to, or capable of being equal to, or greater than will also go to the dark worlds of ignorance in obscurity
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The rewards which the unintelligent seek who worship the lesser demigods such as Indra the celestial chief or Surya the sun god are trivial and temporary. It might be asked why? It is because the votaries of those demigods end up at the planets where such demigods reside. The celestial realm of Indra is certainly opulent with all facility to experience heavenly delights and such a votary upon arriving is able to enjoy to their hearts content; but when Indra and the other demigods span of life has ended, they too must transmigrate and be reborn again falling back down into the material existence and of course this applies to all their votaries as well.
As for the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna they all perform the same activities as votaries do to the demigods such as worship, offering hymns of praise, celebrating appearance festivals etc. But the distinct difference is that the devotees of Lord Krishna perform these activities solely for His pleasure without ever thinking of seeking any reward or benefit for what they do for Him. Happily offering all results and rewards to the Supreme Lord they have nothing but Him to be attached too, thus they attain Him in His spiritual abode, which is eternal and from where there is no return to transmigration and rebirth.
In the next verse Lord Krishna will explain that the ignorant disregard His authorised avatars or incarnations as verified in the Vedic scriptures which descend from the spiritual worlds into the material worlds for the express purpose that all beings may have easy and regular access to Him in every age.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
It could be postulated that if the followers of the demigods obtain their desired enjoyments which are sanctioned by the Supreme Lord to be granted by the demigods, then they are not amiss and have dutifully fulfilled the wishes that their votaries prayed for. So what then is the distinction between the followers of the demigods and the devotees of the Supreme Lord? To this Lord Krishna states antavat tu phalam meaning the rewards are perishable, temporary, not lasting for those of meagre intelligence who worship the demigods. This is because lacking association of those who are knowledgeable of the ultimate truth they are dull-witted and earnestly seek temporary rewards for their actions hence they are not graced with the wisdom to worship the Supreme Lord directly. Those who waste time and energy ingratiating themselves to demigods like Indra the celestial chief or Surya the sungod do not realise that these demigods have a span of life that ends after a period of time also. So if the demigod themselves are perishable it is clear that whatever material boons they are able to offer are perishable as well. Whereas the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna even if harbouring some desire will gradually come to Him eternally, because He is endowed with an infinite nature full of eternity and bliss. First they will achieve their cherished desire and then becoming free from it they will attain Him. Thus the difference is that Lord Krishna's devotees although tainted by selfish motives still eventually attain Him because they worshipped Him direct and became exempt from returning to samsara or the endless cycle of birth and death which the followers of the demigods and lesser others gods are forced to return to againa nd again without cessation.