yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 9.25

Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

If one has any desire to go to the moon, the sun or any other planet, one can attain the desired destination by following specific Vedic principles recommended for that purpose, such as the process technically known as darsa-paurnamasi. These are vividly described in the fruitive activities portion of the Vedas, which recommends a specific worship of demigods situated on different heavenly planets. Similarly, one can attain the Pita planets by performing a specific yajna. Similarly, one can go to many ghostly planets and become a Yaksha, Raksha or Pishaca. Pishaca worship is called “black arts” or “black magic.” There are many men who practice this black art, and they think that it is spiritualism, but such activities are completely materialistic. Similarly, a pure devotee, who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead only, achieves the planets of Vaikuntha and Krishnaloka without a doubt. It is very easy to understand through this important verse that if by simply worshiping the demigods one can achieve the heavenly planets, or by worshiping the Pitas achieve the Pita planets, or by practicing the black arts achieve the ghostly planets, why can the pure devotee not achieve the planet of Krishna or Vishnu? Unfortunately many people have no information of these sublime planets where Krishna and Vishnu live, and because they do not know of them they fall down. Even the impersonalists fall down from the brahmajyoti. The Krishna consciousness movement is therefore distributing sublime information to the entire human society to the effect that by simply chanting the Hare Krishna mantra one can become perfect in this life and go back home, back to Godhead.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

“But they are just worshipping those particular devatas according to the rules established in the books describing the method of worshipping those devatas. The vaisnavas worship visnu according what is stated in the books dedicated to Visnu worship. What is wrong if those worshippers follow the instructions of those books?”

That is true, but the rule is this: the devotees of those particular devatas will attain only those particular devatas.

And because the devatas are destructible, how can the worshippers of those devatas become indestructible? But it is understood that the devotees of the Lord are eternal, like the Lord.

aham tv anasvaro nityo mad-bhakta apy anasvarah

I am indestructible, eternal, and my devotees are also indestructible.

bhavan ekah sisyate sesa-samjnah

At that time, You alone remain, and You are known as Ananta. SB 10.3.25

eko narayana evasin na brahma na ca sankarah

Narayana alone existed, not Brahma or Siva. Maha Upanisad 1

parardhante so ‘budhyata gopa-rupo me purastad avirbabhuva

At the end of Brahma’s night, he arose from yoga nidra and appeared before me as before in the form of a cowherd boy. Gopala Tapani Upanisad 1.27

na cyavante ca mad-bhakta mahati pralaye ‘pi

My devotees are not destroyed even at the time of pralaya. Skanda Purana

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

9.25 The term ‘Vrata’ in the text denotes will, intention or motive. Those who intend to worship gods, like Indra and others with the resolution, ‘Let us worship Indra and other gods by ceremonies like the new moon and full moon sacrifices’ — such worshippers go to Indra and other gods. Those who intend worshipping manes, resolving ‘Let us worship the manes through sacrifices,’ — such worshippers go to the manes or others resolving — ‘Let us worship the Yaksas, Raksasas,’ Pisacas and other evil spirits’ — they go to them. But those who, with the same rites of worship, worship Me with the intention, ‘Let us worship Lord Vasudeva, the Supreme Self, whose body is constituted of gods, the manes and the evil spirits’ — they are My worshippers and they reach Me only. Those who intend worshipping gods etc., attain gods etc. After sharing limited enjoyment with them, they are destroyed with them when the time comes for their destruction. But My worshippers attain Me, who has no beginning or end, who is omniscient, whose will is unfailingly effective, who is a great ocean of innumerable auspicious attributes of unlimited excellence and whose bliss too is of limitless excellence. They do not return to Samsara. Such is the meaning. Sri Krsna continues to say, ‘There is also another distinguishing characteristic of My worshippers.’

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

Now Lord Krishna explains the destinations of worship according to the desires of the particular worshippers. Those who worship the demigods like Indra the raingod and Surya the sungod go to Swargaloka the heavenly planets. Those who perform sraddha or worship of the manes or ancestors go to Pitriloka the planet of the forefathers. Those who worship the spirits and the female demigods go to the realm of the spirit. But the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures attain Him and the eternal spiritual worlds never to be born again.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Lord Krishna explains the results of worship according to the choice of the worshipper. It is up to each human being to exercise their gift of free will and use their discrimination. Since the Supreme Lord is the ultimate goal of all worship, His propitiation is encouraged by the result of attaining Him.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

The question may arise that since the votaries of the demigods fall continuously back into samsara the cycle of birth and death then why did Lord Krishna advocate the worship of the demigods as He did in earlier in chapter 3, verses 10 and 11. In this regard it should be clarified that Lord Krishna did not state that worship of the demigods has no value at all but that worship of the demigods has no permanent value as the demigods themselves are not eternal. But it should be understood that one receives the merit and reward in accordance to what their object of worship is qualified to bestow. The adorers and worshippers of the Supreme Lord have a preponderance of sattva guna the mode of goodness. The propitiators of ceremonies for the ancestors have a preponderance of raja guna or the mode of passion and the ritualistic panderers of the demons, ghosts and spirits have a preponderance of tama guna or the mode of ignorance. All these worshippers if successful in their propitiation are bequeathed with the rewards sought after by their respective object of worship achieving their realm, in close proximity and association sharing all the delights offered there until one has exhausted their merit where they fall back into samsara. But the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna having an extreme preponderance of bhakti or loving devotion are endowed with pious virtues possessing all good qualities and as such they attain the Supreme Lord Himself, Lord of lords, God of gods who is beyond birth and death. Full of innumerable transcendental qualities and attributes like eternal existence, infinite knowledge and immeasurable bliss. The purport is that Lord Krishna’s devotees knowing Him to be the are endowed with a nature exclusively devoted to Him are untouched by actions of duality and ignorance and are totally different from the devotees of other gods.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

9.25 Deva-vratah, votaries of the gods, those whose religious observances [Making offerings and presents, circumambulation, bowing down, etc.] and devotion are directed to the gods; yanti, reach, go to; devan, the gods. Pitr-vratah, the votaries of the manes, those who are occupied with such rites as obsequies etc., who are devoted to the manes; go pitrn, to the manes such as Agnisvatta and others. Bhutejyah, the Beings such as Vinayaka, the group of Sixteen (divine) Mothers, the Four Sisters, and others. And madyajinah, those who worship Me, those who are given to worshipping Me, the devotees of Visnu; reach mam, Me alone. Although the effort (involved) is the same, still owing to ingorance they do not worship Me exclusively. Thereby they attain lesser results. This is the meaning. ‘Not only do My devotees get the everlasting result in the form of non-return (to this world), but My worship also is easy.’ How?

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

9.23-26 Ye’ pi etc. upto prayatatmanah. Even those who worship [gods] with other names, they too [in fact] worship Me alone, becaue there is nothing (no god) to be worshipped apart from the Brahman. But the difference is that [they do so] by non-injunction. Non-injunction : different injunctions. [This amounts to saying that] having the innate nature of the Absolute Brahman-Existence, I am indeed worshipped by manifold injunctions (i.e., sacrifices enjoined by injunctions). But non-injunction should not be explained as ‘by defective injunction’ as it has been done by others (other commentators), who acquire dirts of great sins by insulting other systems of philosophy. If their view is correct then the declarations that are actually found viz., ‘They offer sacrifice to Me alone’, and ‘I am alone the enjoyer of all sacrifices’ – all would be inconsistent. Enough of talk with the sinful ones. Our preceptors, however, explain [ye’pyanya-etc.] as follows : Those who, following the principle of the doctrine of duality consider certain deity as different from their own Self and as devoid of the innate nature of the Brahman, and offer sacrifice to that deity only-but it is only to Me, their own Self that even those men offer their sacrifices, however by non-injunction i.e. by faulty injunction of the nature of duality-view. That is why [the Lord] says (in verse 25) ‘They do not recognise Me, their own Self, correctly as that deity itself, i.e., as the enjoyer [of the oblation of the sacrifice]. Hence they move away from My nature . Why ? By being votaries of gods, they attain the gods etc. (verse 26). It amounts to say that this [fact of attaining these gods] is itself nothing but moving away [from Me, the Self]. On the other hand, those who realise My nature (i.e. Me) as being not different [from their Self], they offer sacrifices to Me alone, even though those sacrifices etc. are for the gods, goblins and manes.’ [The Lord] is going to conclude [the present topic] as : ‘(Thus) offering sacrifice to Me they attain Me alone.’ (IX-29,35). But that alone is called a deity which is aimed at [according to injunction], for offering things (i.e. oblation). Hence, how can a sacrifice be offered to one’s own Self, a category that cannot be aimed at ? For example, there is the injunction: ‘The oblation [of rice] of the rite prayana, crooked in the milk, is intended for the deity Aditi’; and hence this Aditi becomes the object intended [in the sacrifice], because that particular deity is an adjunct of an injunction, and because it is included in the injunction as one to be aimed at. But [in the present case], there is no injunction that concerns the Self. Having [these objections] in mind [the Lord] says : [They offer sacrifice] to Me following non-injunction. The idea is this : An injunction is required only in the case of a deity that is different from one’s own Self. For, the injunction is one of the nature of imparting the knowledge only of that particular thing which is not known [otherwise]. But, one’s own Self, the Absolute Lord, is known, not following any injunction. For, the knowledge of the Self is not brought by injunction. Certainly no action is undertaken not aiming the Self. Therefore in all cases [of offerings], intended for the deities like Indra etc., this Self of one’s own is certainly intended , as the Self is, by nature, the illuminator of the entire Universe; as It is like a thread in a garland; and as It is illumining [on Its own accord], asserting Its superiority [over all others] and only serving as a background (bhittih, ‘a screen’, or ‘a wall’) of the manifestations of the deity so intended by him [in the sacrifice]. Thus it is established by logic that even the votaries of gods offer sacrifices to Me (the Absolute) alone, becuase ‘I’ depends on no injunction. As far as these sacrificers are concerned, the principal effect of the sacrifice viz., attaining ‘Me’, is not intended by them as their own. On the other hand, they are very much satisfied with attaining the status of Indra etc., just as a priest is satisfied with limited fees. To indicate this, the parasmaipada form (yajanti) [is used]. For, it has been stated by myself (Ag.) [else-where] as : ‘One, who knows the Vedas and does not know [to intend for] the status of (or the word) Sambhu (the Absolute), would feel afflicted in despair. [For], aspiring for the heaven, and [hence] rejecting the status of [the actual] performer of of sacrifice (yajamana), [but at the same time] performing sacrifice for others (yajan), he has become a [mere] priest in the sacrifice. Indeed, the divergently flowing floods of taste for action, without exception, – even though they flow from the Absolute consciousness – do not bestow [on the performer] the mighty ocean of Bliss of one’s own Self if they do not gain a complete stability’ Thus whosoever realises in the said manner, his sacrifice, though aimed at the deities like Indra, is in fact a sacrifice offered to the Absolute Lord. Whatever may be the other actions of his, they too become acts of worshipping his own Self, the Absolute Lord, as It alone is intended in all his action. This [the Lord] says :

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino ’pi mam

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

yānti — go; deva-vratāḥ — worshipers of demigods; devān — to the demigods; pitṝn — to the ancestors; yānti — go; pitṛ-vratāḥ — worshipers of ancestors; bhūtāni — to the ghosts and spirits; yānti — go; bhūta-ijyāḥ — worshipers of ghosts and spirits; yānti — go; mat — My; yājinaḥ — devotees; api — but; mām — unto Me.